I usually try to return to the US at least once a year. The last time I was back in the USA was in March 2017 for a couple of months. I always enjoy being able to return to the US. Of course, it is wonderful to get to see family, and I can eat food that I cannot typically get in the Middle East, but it also gives me a chance to visit countries that tend to be a bit harder to reach from the Middle East. Whenever I return to the US, I try to spend time traveling in Central America, South America, or the Caribbean since traveling to those places from the Middle East can not only be prohibitively expensive, but it also requires large numbers of flights with equally-long layovers.
When I received notification from my job that I would be given three months off in June, July, and August, I knew this would be my chance to head back to the US, get some important business done, and travel to new places in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.
Booking the flight to the US was easy enough, but the bigger challenge came in the form of where I would go for holiday. Unlike a lot of other travel bloggers, I am not the type who can just travel continuously for days and weeks with no end in sight. For me, my limit tends to be about two weeks; three weeks max before I get exhausted and need to get back to my usual routine for a bit before traveling again.
Since I had a lot of free time to kill for June, July, and August, my main goal was to try and hit more countries. My initial goal was to hit 10 new countries, but I soon nixed that idea since that plan cost way more money than I wanted to spend, and I would have to travel longer than I usually would. I knew that would exhaust me. My next goal was to hit 8 countries, but after trying to figure out every possible travel plan to fit that goal, I could not make it work since none of the times seemed to match up. Eventually, after spending huge amounts of time looking at flight plans, I finally settled on visiting 7 new countries. My goal would be to finish off the Central American countries, visit more of South America, and pay a visit to one or two Caribbean nations. In a way, I could hit three different regions separated into two separate trips.
I fully intend to document those trips in later blog entries, so please stay tuned for those.
Once all my flights were booked, the day finally came for my flight back to the US. My day started roughly at 1am in the morning. Even though I was supposed to be picked up from my apartment at 3:30am, I woke early to make sure everything was cleaned, packed, and ready despite having spent the previous day doing just that. My ride arrived on time, and soon I was on my way to the airport.
My time in the Middle Eastern airport is always somewhat scary and anxiety-inducing for me because if there is a delay or cancellation, that can easily derail all the travel plans. Thankfully, my flight with Royal Jordanian departed on time, and the flight soon arrived in Amman with two hours before my flight to the US. This time, I had learned my lesson from the past.
The last time I flew back to the US on Royal Jordanian in 2017, I did not realize that everyone on flights going to the US had to go through a detailed security check which required all bags being opened and searched and body searches. Because I did not know that the last time I went back to the US, I spent more time in the Crown Lounge than I should have, and when I got to the gate, I was one of the last people on the plane since my bags had to be thoroughly searched.
This time, I was determined to not make that same mistake. I made sure to give myself plenty of time. As a result, I had zero issues with getting on the plane or being held up by security. Even though the flight was crowded, by amazing luck, I actually ended up with a row completely to myself. This almost never happens to me, so when two other passengers who wanted to move seats approached me, I made sure to give the impression that this was my territory. Of course, I was polite to them, and luckily, they only sat in the two seats for a few minutes before moving elsewhere on the plane.
The flight itself was uneventful, and upon arrival in the US, I prepared myself for a possible detainment since I had not been back to the US in 15 months. Strangely enough, when I went up to the border officer, he gave a quick glance at my passport and waved me along. It was surprisingly fast. Usually, I get asked a slew of questions about my reasons for living and working in the Middle East. What was even better was that I did not have to wait for my baggage. Since the immigration line was rather long because of many flights coming in at once, all the Royal Jordanian luggage had already been unloaded, so it was a very simple matter of finding my bag. Before I knew it, I was out the door and in the US.
There were many reasons why I came back to the US, but one of the main reasons was to get a Yellow Fever vaccination. During my travel planning for the coming months, I realized that many of the countries I am currently targeting require the vaccination along with a Carte Jaune (Yellow Card). This would be my only chance to get the vaccination and document lest I wait another year.
I had made the appointment for the Yellow Fever vaccination a month prior to arrival in the US. I would have gotten this done last year, but I misunderstood the directions and had to cancel at the last minute. This time, I did not make the same mistake. When I arrived at the travel clinic, I was only expecting to get a Yellow Fever shot, but it did not happen like that.
The nurse and I had a consultation, and she strongly recommended several different vaccinations. Since I tend to travel quite frequently, I made the snap decision to get 4 shots at once. Even though it was pricey, I figured it is better to stay healthy than to fall ill and spend even more money on medication and hospital care if something should happen, especially since these can be rather dangerous diseases.
After all was said and done, I walked out of the travel clinic with a Yellow Fever vaccination, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, and Tetanus shot with two injections in each arm. Even though my arms were sore and later felt like someone hit me in both, I walked out with an official Carte Jaune (Yellow Card), which was my main goal. I got what I needed.
All told, my return to the US after a fifteen-month absence has been quite successful. I've managed to get what I needed done, and I actually feel like I am ahead of schedule with everything. This is somewhat uncommon. I certainly hope I can keep up this momentum.