Things YOU should consider while making travel plans (part 2)

Planning a 3-week vacation itinerary is not as easy as I would imagine, I swear, having to cope with schedule, weather, attractions to go to, accommodation, budget, and pretty much everything else is hard. Luckily I have my very own OCD husband who made sure everything goes as planned and the way we wanted it to, to make sure everyone had fun. But oh well, not 100% things can be certain it will go according to plan, but when we look back at what happen, it actually made me laugh a little, because it was pretty dumb.

  1. Make sure you choose an Air BnB with (MANY) reviews before actually renting it out.

Before anything, I just want to point out, that I made this decision on renting out this Air BnB. So, it was all on me.

On the first night they landed in JFK, I was super excited, right, my family came to visit me in the US and of course I wanted the best for them. Anyhow, we booked an Air BnB, a whole house with 3 bedroom, Hafid and me, my parents and my brothers. Let me remind you, they just had a 36 hour flight from KUL to JFK, so you can imagine how tired they are. So, we drove to this house and from the outside, it looked normal, but little did I know, the house was so bad on the inside, not to mention they forgot to list that there was a cat roaming around the house freely. Why is this so bad? Well, I have cat allergies, and my parents just cannot stand all the fur lying around the house and the bed, the house was not cleaned prior before our arrival, the kitchen smells so bad, the house was a disaster. That night, my mum couldn’t sleep, Hafid and I were struggling to sleep because our whole body was itching, and boy, that was a memorable first day alright.

2. Inspect weather conditions, thoroughly.

Need I remind you that Mum is someone that cannot stand the cold, no, I am not talking about the winter cold, she can’t even stand AC cold. So, it was a bad idea to encourage her and step out of the car in DC because it was extremely chilly. The weather looked fine, it was about 10-13 C which was okay, supposedly. But they also forgot to mention that the wind’s speed was 100 mph! (Exaggerated but somehow true) Which was bad. So, although you think you know what’s going on, you may actually not. I can’t even stand that cold of a weather and unfortunately, I also dress up poorly; I wore a 1 layer of clothes and a jacket, with no other layering or protection from the cold. We were all freezing to death and the only place we feel like staying in was either our hotel room, or the minivan.

3. Make sure that your hotel room has a microwave. 

This is important why? Because when you’re travelling with two hungry hulks (make that 3! Read:me) you would want to bring extra Berahim or Maggi especially in the cold to prevent you to fully transform into Hulk 2.0. The cold really does make you hungry and a microwave could really help feed you. Okay. So, one of our night, we booked a decent hotel suite, that could fit up to 6 adults. Everything was perfect except there were no microwave! That night, thinking we booked a hotel with a microwave, we ‘selamba’ skipped our dinner  and that night everyone was so hungry we were forced to make food using the boarding school version. Those who were in boarding school, this would be an ‘aha!’ moment for you. Lol.

Having a mom and dad, which were previously long time ago in a boarding school, it is amazing how they agreed to making maggi in a huge bucket while flooding it with hot water! And where would this hot water come from, you may ask? Well, the coffee maker, of course! So, lesson learnt, read the hotel description carefully before booking so no one would starve to death. Other than that, it was a pretty cool experience.

4. Do not use the elevator in times of an emergency. Not a myth. 

No, I did not use any elevator in a fire emergency, of course, but Hafid almost did. So, while we were on vacation, we chose to stay at various Choice Hotels, and to fit up to 6 adults in a room, we would have to book a suite which costs around $150-ish per say. But in a town, I forgot where, we stayed at the Home 2 Suites by Hilton, so we thought it was like a wow moment for us to stay at one of the Hilton hotels. But read this, once we were in the hotel room, trying out new clothes we just bought from the outlets, a fire alarm went off! And what makes it funnier is that we stayed in an accessible room to have a larger space, but mainly it was for the special needs people with wheelchair, blind or deaf. So there was this additional flashing of lights in the room on top of the loud fire alarm.

My family were calm at first, they were like, “Oh, this must be a mistake, and someone might have tripped the circuit or something.” And they casually changed into another pair of clothes as the alarm went off. Need I remind you that this alarm sound is so loud and disturbing. Little did they know the fire alarm has gone off because there was a fire in the building. Me, having to watch so many American movies, knows the drill. Cehh.

I’m so hyped up, trying to apply everything that I know from movies into this current situation. So, I was like, “Okay, guys we have to go down now, this is not a fire drill, it is a real fire, the one we can die in.” Thank goodness, then, they panicked. Everyone started grabbing all their essentials, like phones, and clothes, and scarf and everything they could get their hands on to head down to the parking lot. Then this happens: Hafid trying to use the elevator, with his logic, “There is no fire in the elevator.”

We argued for a split second, and I said, “In movies, they were asked to use the stairs, not the elevator, it is dangerous in times of an emergency.”

Then Hafid was like, “Why, why, how do you know there is a fire in the elevator, it is safe.”

Moments before I counter argued another movie-reason, the hotel security shouted for us to go down the stairs quickly while he was holding the door. So we head down and everyone was outside in the cold, wearing PJs with a sleepy face. It was about 11pm at night.

Not long after that, the police, fire department and a sheriff came from the scene and everyone was amazed at how fast they came. This is how fast they came to the scene, our car has not even reached its highest temperature of heater, and they already came with the police lights flashing all over the place. Malaysia should really learn this from the States.

Thankfully, there was not a serious fire, only someone irresponsible that had recklessly smoke in the room, that made the smoke detector goes off, and then the fire alarm. It was a relief, and everyone went back to the room after.

5. Book your ticket in advance, online. 

Living in the 21st century, please use the technology gifted to us and make full use of it. While visiting many, many tourist places and attractions and especially as Christmas and New Year coming really near, it is as if people from all over the world is trying to go the places that you are going. So, instead of queuing up for a ticket for 2 hours, you might want to get it done online because it is quick and easy. Not to mention you can plan your whole trip before hand as well.

So, this happens to us in New York, when we were at Rockefeller Center trying to get to the Top of the Rock. We bought the tickets online but I didn’t know that there was a time schedule to follow. So I brought my parents into the heart of the Big Apple and they waited for 2 hours just so that we can schedule a time to go up to the attraction place. It was a huge waste of time and I single handedly blame myself for it because I did not do enough research of the place that we are going to. But luckily after that, we still went through and everything went smoothly as planned.

I swear everyone was so lost because they didn’t know what to do at that time. I feel bad for us, but experience is an experience. And mistakes were learnt.

6. Lastly. Make extra sure that your rental car is insured at all times. 

Travelling in the US is a tad bit challenging because of the weather, you may not know if the roads are slippery or whatever could happen while you’re on the road. So, insurance comes in handy every time you want to travel. It may cost your car to become expensive, but it is the best security measure of all time.

Here’s why: Hafid rented the car for 3 weeks and Alhamdulillah nothing happened to the car while we were on our journey heading south. He rented it using Capital One, and this credit card has a 15-day period of insurance coverage that we didn’t know about in the first place. So, on the last day before we want to return the car, we hit a beaver. Yes. We killed an animal, which I think looks like a beaver and we thought nothing happened to our car. Little did we know, it was a monster beaver size of an armadillo! The front bumper of the car was damaged and we only noticed it until we got home. The front bumper split in half and there was some fur still attached to the bumper when we inspected it. Yeah, it was a legit accident.

We tried calling the credit card company and they said the coverage only covers for the first 15-day period and we were doomed. The cost of the repair was nearly $1500 but luckily we managed to settle it and everything turns out fine.

So, take my word for it. It is worth everything, including your time and money. And don’t make the same mistakes that I did because you won’t like it. I swear.

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NEW BIG 10 CHAMPIONS – WE ARE!

As a Penn Stater, it is a huge mistake not to participate in the anticipation of watching a football game, and especially the BIG 10 Championship which by the way, Penn State won!

I know I’m not much of a sports fan, but Penn State football, I cannot. I cannot contain my excitement because this is HUGE guys, HUUUUUUGEEEE!!

Okay, so Penn State was against Wisconsin, and we were losing hope when Penn State was behind 21-7 before the 2nd half. And Penn State is a team that’s well-known for being a great second-half team, meaning, they get hyped late, but win anyway. They were so far behind and suddenly, BOOM! 38-31 FINAL SCORE!

Everyone expected that Penn State could win, but I guess I wasn’t expecting that Penn State will win. I was overjoyed, I screamed and shout (like the usual me), jumped around and I still cannot believe that Penn State won.

Well, secretly I believed that I have this ritual that I follow every time Penn State has a game, that I should NOT be watching them play offensive and only watch the game when they play defensive. It actually kinda works. That’s what I did for the game against Ohio State, Iowa State, Michigan State and this, Wisconsin. So I guess they should be thanking me for winning. Aha! (No, I’m just kidding)

So, here’s the thing, whether we win or we lose last night, Penn State students will have a riot. A huge one. I swear this is the second riot I have been to here at Penn State and these people are crazy. I have no idea why we are filled with such violence last night, it’s not like we lost to Wisconsin. It’s terrible what went on yesterday. But I cannot lie and tell you it’s no fun, it’s so exciting, that we almost got shot with a paintball gun by a police. I swear I am not lying to you.

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Police went full force on this riot and there were thousands of students last night roaming around Beaver Ave just screaming “We Are! Penn State”. Some were chanting “We want Bama!” and of course, as a senior, I joined and had fun.

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It was something I never thought I would do, but looking at all of us yesterday, our Penn State pride was something I was so proud of. Although it shouldn’t be this way, but riot with police forces are so much fun.

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There were so many people and it became so violent that police were with horses, big tanks of pepper sprays and paintball guns just to clear the roads and intersections. These students are drunk, hyped up, and violent they even broke a lamp post and stop signs. Yes, we witnessed that right in front of our eyes. It’s just unbelievable, but we cheered anyway.

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I know I shouldn’t be doing this, but Penn State won guys, and this is my senior year. It is so worth it! Go Penn State! I am, for one, so proud of you! USA! USA! USA! We Are!

All pictures were taken by @afidmo.