In a couple of days I will be traveling to Tanzania to study climate resilience and climate science. Tanzania is a beautiful country to travel to with features such as the tallest mountain in Africa and the theorized origin of the human species. What they don’t tell you about traveling from Albany, NY, to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, is that there is actually no direct flight between these cities. Instead, I have a lengthy travel experience starting at my home in Albany and ending at the hotel in the Dar es Salaam. With layovers and changes in time zones, about 40 hours will have passed before I am in the hotel room in Tanzania sleeping. I thought I would share my plan to make the most of my commute with you all.
Preparation before the start of my journey will be vital for survival and enjoyment.
First, I wanted to make sure I had the right gear to survive 40 hours of travel. I invested in a nice power bank for extra charging capabilities during travel. I am also bringing in my carry-on layers of clothes that can double as pillows and blankets or extra clothing in case extra time is needed before I can claim my checked bag. Also with me will be both my Bluetooth headphones and back up headphones with cords for when my headphones eventually die or in case the plane has little TVs with only auxiliary port plug-ins. Also in my carry-on will be bountiful amounts of Clif bars and other protein bars which I always have in my bag for travel.
The next thing I wanted to do before I left my home was download a ton of media onto my phone and laptop for times when there is no access to the internet. I first downloaded recommended readings for the Dialogue including articles about the Serengeti’s Ecosystem and scholarly articles about climate resiliency onto my laptop. Next I downloaded a book I have been meaning to read, The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, onto my phone which saves space and weight in my carry on. I also downloaded one of our virtual lectures I had missed in the week prior about mathematical modeling of environmental change. In addition to course content, I figured now was a better time than ever to crash course Swahili and Tanzanian history, so I have downloaded an audio language and culture book. Of course, I figure I will need some time for entertainment as well, so I have also downloaded the entirety of the new season of Stranger Things and some music.
Hour 0 – Albany to JFK
Maybe it’s the old person in me, but I am planning on getting to the airport plenty early. This means I need to leave my home in Albany at around 0500 (GMT-4) to get to JFK early enough. I plan to take a small nap to get through this leg of travel. While waiting for the flight at the terminal, I am planning on meeting my fellow Dialogue travelers and finishing downloading anything I might need for the flight.
Hour 6 – JFK to Doha, Qatar
The next step in my travel is a 12.5-hour flight to Doha, a hub for travel and a typical place for connecting flights. The longest flight I have been on was 6 hours, which was tough for me, so I have a specific strategy for tackling the flight. My idea is to implement my daily routine into my flight to give me a sense of the passage of time. The flight leaves in the morning, so I will do some school work, eat a meal, then do some reading, explore some of the entertainment options, eat another meal and then try to sleep when it becomes 2300 (GMT+3) the time I typically would fall asleep. Another crucial part of surviving this flight will be staying active and stretching. My long limbs are typically not conducive to sitting in one small place for too long. If you have a sister who is a physical therapist, I recommend reaching out to her too and asking for sitting and standing exercises to do every 30 minutes or so.
Hour 25.5 (+7hr included) – Layover in Doha, Qatar
Hamad Airport is a hub in the Middle East for a lot of international flights. The airport itself is a destination; however, an 11-hour layover may make waiting even at an airport as nice as this exhausting. To make the most of the layover, I am looking to take advantage of Qatar Airways’ very own hop-on/hop-off bus tour of Doha. Doing a tour when we land at 0700 (GMT+3) will also hopefully help me adjust to the new time zone. The tour stops at several cultural centers, the harbor, and a market. The air-conditioned bus is perfect for avoiding the 100℉ weather and brings you directly to and from Hamad International Airport. After this, I might get some food in the vast food court and take advantage of Doha’s sleeping pods if I am feeling tired. At an hourly rate at the airport, there are private pods available with beds and showers to unwind during a long layover. Time will also be taken to charge devices and download anything new using the Hamad WiFi.
Hour 36.5 – Doha to Dar Es Salam
At 1730 (GMT+3) it will finally be time to board the plane to Tanzania! On this 5 hour flight, I will try to sleep again and wake up in time to catch views as we fly over Mount Kilimanjaro.
Hour 41.5 – Arrival in Dar
Upon arrival, our travel guide will be picking us up from the airport in Dar. After driving to our hotel, I will be looking forward to a nice nap.
Time to start packing. I hope this guide helps and look forward to writing from Dar soon!