My first ever overseas adventure was to a tiny place called Las Vegas, Nevada USA, you may have heard of it? My boyfriend and I had planned it for over a year, and were super excited about the chance to party with midget strippers and elope in a Vegas chapel with Elvis giving me away. It was to be the holiday of a lifetime and we’d told everybody who’d listen about our trip and how much fun we’d be having. We’d see the sights of LA and finish in Mexico, but it was really all about Vegas and the crazy antics we would get up to, and the stories we’d have to tell when we came home.
Things started to get a little stressful when I changed jobs. I assumed my recruiter (who’d promised me she had) informed my new work place of my expected holiday. She didn’t. She knew my new boss was going away at that same time and she wanted her commission. The director of my new company informed me in the nicest possible way I’d have to change the dates...Um... Didn’t they know this was a holiday of a lifetime, we’d been planning it for over a year, and it was going to be SO MUCH FUN?!
Anyway, we managed to change the dates without too many hiccups (by this I mean - I spent hours working out time differences, arguing with hotel receptionists, begging airline customer service consultants to help, trying to understand and speak Spanish and generally pulling out my hair) and eventually the time for us came to fly out. As this was my first international flight I actually didn’t mind the long trip. There were plenty of new release movies to watch, it was a novelty for me that these lovely stewardess’ would bring me free wine at the press of a button and I had a great time watching the screen where it shows a little aeroplane and how close you were to your destination. I was even excited about eating the horrible aeroplane food.
Eventually we arrived at LA, and despite feeling nauseated (I put it down to the aeroplane food mentioned above) and an hour wait in customs, nothing could dampen my excitement! Here we were! The holiday of a lifetime, the one we’d been planning for over a year and it was going to be SO MUCH FUN!!!
We got a cab to Beverly Hills (yes, I did also find catching an American taxi exciting) checked in to our flash hotel and went for a wander around Rodeo Drive. I was still feeling pretty rotten, but figured it would soon pass and I was determined to enjoy every second of the adventure. We window-shopped, we got photos in front of the famous waterfall, and even ate at a real American Diner. Day 1 down and it was time to rest.
For day 2 we hired a SS Camaro convertible and the plan was to explore Hollywood Hills. This would have been amazing except I spent half the journey crawled up on the side of the road of famous people’s houses spewing all over their perfectly manicured lawns. We then tried the Hollywood walk of fame, but not even James Dean was exempt from my up-chuck reflexes, and then finished at the Santa Monica Pier where I helped contribute to the pollution in their ocean. My bad.
Day 3 and I couldn’t get out of bed. My supportive boyfriend of course took off without me and had the best day of his life hooning around and seeing the sights of LA in the convertible. He was nice enough to bring me home every drug he could find that a pharmacy would sell him (on a side note how random are American Pharmacies? They’re like big supermarkets and even sell alcohol!), but nothing would work.
The next day was our trip to the promised land, Viva Las Vegas. I had to feel better by now, we’d been planning this for over a year and it was going to be so much fun. Except I didn’t. I was sick on the flight and when we arrived I felt like I was going to drop dead right on the casino floor of the Hard Rock Hotel we were staying at. I figured the best solution was to have some drinks and hopefully it would fix everything, so I faked some enthusiasm for the big pool party we were to attend straight away and off we went.
After a couple of hours watching my boyfriend get drunk, make friends, dance and generally have a fantastic time, he eventually called it a night, and I finally got to go spew in peace in our room, instead of the crowded toilets at the party.
The next day though, when I woke up feeling worse I realised it was time to accept that this wasn’t working out to be the holiday of a lifetime and that even though we had planned it for over a year I really wasn’t having so much fun, at all.
We packed our passports, travel insurance documents, and our credit cards and found our way to the nearest medical centre. American medical centres are completely different from our medical centres back home. The receptionist demanded our credit card before we were even allowed to talk about our symptoms, and only after you’ve handed over the $500 consultation fee are you allowed to be put in the queue in the waiting room and be seen by a doctor.
Don’t get me wrong, when I was finally seen by a doctor the medical care was second to none. The doctor and nurse were both fantastic, thorough and I really felt I was in safe hands. After all, it was in Vegas and I can just imagine the things they would have seen. I was put on a drip and they ran some tests which showed I had picked up a bacterial infection, most likely from the plane. (Damn plane! I actually defended its name when people said international flights were long and boring.) Another $500 later to cover my test results, the insertion of the drip, the drip itself and the drugs we were on our way.
After two days on the drugs I started to come good. The only problem then was that’s when my boyfriend started feeling unwell...
He didn’t get as sick as I was, but he definitely wasn’t feeling enthusiastic about drinking, partying and getting a second mortgage to put everything we own on black. We didn’t wake up with a stolen lion from Mike Tyson and a random baby or even a tattoo that we would regret. We didn’t meet any midget strippers, we didn’t party with a famous person and we certainly didn’t elope. I didn’t even meet Elvis, let alone have him walk me down the aisle on my wedding day. And that was Vegas.
Eventually the time came for us to head to Mexico. We had an amazing time in Mexico and it really had nothing to do with the fact we were both feeling healthy, it was just a magical place for us both. We only chose it as an after-thought to relax after Vegas, but it was the little things like how we were welcomed with open arms by the locals, their amazing genuine friendliness and generosity, it was the food, the culture, the sunsets, and everything about the place was truly exceptional. It really did feel like the holiday of the lifetime, and that was not just the pina-colada’s talking.
After arriving safe and sound back in Australia, and traveling extensively since I’ve had some time to reflect on my first overseas trip.
What did I learn from this? Well firstly just how lucky we are as Australian’s to have such a great medical system here, thank you Medicare! But I guess the most important lesson was that even if you plan for over a year, even if it’s meant to be the holiday of a lifetime, and even if it’s supposed to be so much fun it doesn’t always work out that way. It doesn’t always go to plan or happen the way you expect it too. And that’s ok, because that’s all part of the travel experience.