For the Stranded Traveler

While traveling home for the holidays, I experienced some unexpected delays and wound up being at airports or on airplanes for a total of 24 hours. While delays can (and usually are) frustrating, there are several ways to make the best of the situation.

Two people hugging

1. Be nice. This is important, as it can help you get to your destination more quickly. After my first delay, some of the people on my canceled flight began throwing fits. Literal fits. With stomping and screaming. Yes, it’s annoying, yes, you have places to be, but there is nothing you can do about the canceled flight. When rebooking with a ticketing agent, know that they’re trying to help you, and that screaming in their faces will probably not persuade them to get you the best deal possible.

Emily and Josh with umbrellas

2. Be prepared. It can be difficult to know what exactly to put in your small carry-on item, but maybe a snack or two wouldn’t hurt. Also a change of clothes. And all of your chargers. You can buy things in the airport to help you get through your newly extended layover, but everything is way overpriced. Fact: I spent $9 on a small bag of almonds.

Hands on a wall

3. Make friends. I’m an introvert, so this step was challenging. But, when you and everyone on your flight missed their connections and have to spend the night in the Subway restaurant in the San Francisco Airport, you bond with each other. And that’s a good thing, because you meet interesting people and the time goes by more quickly. Bonus: sometimes they buy you pastries.

Hong Kong Airport

4. If you’re lucky enough to be in a cool airport, walk around. Mainly, it helps to pass the time, but some airports make an effort to provide interesting spaces for travelers. For example, the San Francisco airport has a sort of sports hall of fame throughout the gates that people can check out.

Josh and Emily sleeping

5. Try to sleep. Unfortunately, sleep was not in the cards for me, but I know that I would have been much happier by the time I reached my final destination had I been able to get some shut eye. Luckily, I was arriving at home, but if you’re going to a new place, a lack of sleep will only add to your disorientation.

FTH wishes you safe travels during this holiday season!


Places to Visit: Carousels

Carousel on Santa Monica

Santa Monica Pier Carousel – Santa Monica, CA

Carousels are one of my favorite things to visit while traveling. They are beautiful pieces of history that you can actually interact with. They often operate in essentially the exact same way they did when they were first created, give us the rare opportunity to step back in time and experience something the same way our grandparents may have.

Beyond that, they are also generally inexpensive and can be a great photo opportunity.

Close up on carousel horse

Balboa Park Carousel – San Diego, CA

Close up of the body of a carousel horse

Balboa Park Carousel – San Diego, CA

The Balboa Park Carousel in San Diego is one of the last remaining with a brass ring game. Riders on the outside row of seats can try and grab for rings hanging near the outer edge of the carousel. The rider that snags the brass ring gets a free ride.

a sign advertising the brass ring game

Brass ring game at the Balboa Park Carousel – San Diego, CA

Close up of the head of a carousel horse

Historic Carousel at the Seaport Village – San Diego, CA


Guest Post: Environmentalism in Khayelitsha by Marissa Pledger


Khayelitsha, one of the many townships of Cape Town, South Africa is a sea of aluminum walls, echoing laughter and soccer balls. Almost two years ago, I was there on a bicycle tour. In the townships, cars are rare, but traffic still exists. The streets are lined with women cooking, boys fighting, children begging, and endless chatter. As we passed by, the faces turned towards us. The confusion, judgement and hatred could be seen in each of their faces—the air was riddled was tension. I met the gazes of these locals and did my best to not butcher ‘hello,’ in Xhosa: molweni! As I rode on, I tallied the smiles and waves.

Khayelitsha is the face of urban poverty, inequality and racism. Despite the politicized and marketed strides of a post-apartheid South Africa, the reality is that some eleven million people still live in townships today. During apartheid, the townships were intentionally segregated communities for the black population of South Africa. Although today, the segregation is no longer enforced by the government, it lingers on. In my time in South Africa, the only whites I saw in the townships were tourists. It was in these moments that I truly learned the depth of the world’s issues, and the immeasurable value of travel.


Since my time in South Africa, I have traveled to some 35 countries (and counting). I have seen slums, rain forests, palaces, volcanoes, dungeons, waterfalls, and way too many churches. But what I value the most about my travels are the memories that are tattooed onto my soul, the memories that so quickly turn into life lessons. One of the most important lessons I learned on my travels stems from a memory formed in the heart of Khayelitsha, during a home stay that I participated in with my study abroad program, Semester at Sea.

While on Semester at Sea, I had the opportunity to participate in multiple home stays. These experiences are so important to understanding other cultures and I always recommend them to anyone traveling and not vacationing. Home stays are the perfect ice breaker to culture-awkwardness and almost always kindle an everlasting connection. In Khayelitsha, my host mother, Mama Knox, proved herself to be nothing shy of a superstar. She was independent, incredibly strong and so kind. Mama Knox was the only host mother willing (or maybe able) to accommodate my vegan diet, and she was sure to tell me how uncommon my diet was. As we shared stories, I came to know, love and respect Mama Knox within only a few short hours. But it was in the few short minutes before I left the next morning that I came to realize how very wrong my assumptions of her life were.

The next morning, as I was saying goodbye and preparing to leave, I noticed two magnets on Mama Knox’s refrigerator that prompted a double-take. These magnets read: How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint & How to Save Water. My shock was not due to the message that these magnets were sending, it was due to the setting in which I found them: a township. Despite everything that Mama Knox had told me, her stories, all that she had overcome, I did not expect the environment to be on her list of concerns. This was because my education had taught me that the majority of environmental degradation was done by the wealthiest, and thus my conscience told me that it was then the wealthy who should fix it. For this reason, I expected her and so many others in her community to be so caught up in trying to escape poverty that they didn’t have time to be activists. What I didn’t consider was that saving the environment, escaping poverty, ending racism and the rest of the world’s problems are all interconnected—because we are all interconnected. We are one species, and despite our countless flaws, we must unite to truly make a difference.


I know now how embarrassingly wrong my assumptions were. But the shame of my ignorance is what prompted me to permanently change the way I see the world. For in that moment, I began to understand that the inhabitants of this earth have so much more in common than not—and the fact that we believe otherwise is the single largest obstacle preventing us from making deep and lasting change.

I can honestly say that in all of my travels since then, I have had equally humbling moments, and sometimes even more embarrassing realizations of my own ignorance. My travels continue to remind me that I know little to nothing about the world in which we live, but the people I meet continue to remind me of what a blessing that truly is. For although many times travel requires me to fly, it is the one thing that continues to keep me grounded.


You can follow more of Marissa’s travels on Instragram.