I travelled this weekend.  I had a blast, managed to keep the stress to a minimum, and ate carefully to reduce my chances of a flare-up.  I was doing great until…

… I got to Union Station, Los Angeles, and was told the bathrooms were closed.

I had checked ahead of time when I made my reservations.  I was supposed to have thirty minutes to use the bathroom before they closed up for three hours.  (I won’t even go into the idiocy of closing an entire major station for three hours just to clean.  Sectional cleaning, anyone?)

My bus arrived 35 minutes late.  This meant the bathrooms had been closed for five minutes and I was out of luck.  I needed a bathroom, but not desperately, so I thought I could manage.

UC doesn’t like it much when you hold off using the bathroom.

An hour later, I passed out.  When I came to, I’d had an accident and still felt awful.  Much as I hated to do it, I lay down on the floor of Union Station with my suitcase as my pillow until the bathroom would open.  Apparently, security didn’t like that and told me I couldn’t sleep on the floor.

“I’m not sleeping, I’m sick.”

“You can’t lie on the floor.”

“I need a bathroom.”

“Bathrooms are closed.”

“Then I’m lying on the floor.”

Apparently he eventually realized I was actually sick and found a way to get me into a bathroom.  I was able to change my clothing, but I was out of wet wipes, so I couldn’t even do a decent job of cleaning myself up.  Maybe I shouldn’t have been so embarrassed to smell like one of the homeless people who live in and around the station, but I did.  I also felt awful… UC drains me.  Since I couldn’t lie down inside, I went out to a bench (security guard nearby) and went back to sleep until things got fixed.  Then I had to go home, rather than go to work, because I could barely stand up straight.

All of this would’ve been okay if I could have just used the bathroom when I needed to in the first place.  I can’t even think of a real solution to this one, since I had planned for the thirty minute window to use the bathroom “just in case”.  It’s just one more of the joys of having an “invisible” disease that people don’t know about.  Crohn’s, because of the gluten allergy, is more well-known.  Ulcerative colitis is like speaking Latin.

If nothing else, this incident definitely didn’t make me a fan of Union Station and reinforced for me the need to scout out bathrooms before I go places.

You know… like normal people.

 

 

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I spent a lot of time travelling this last weekend.  Even though I’ve always been a fairly thrifty traveler, I wasn’t as frugal as I might have liked.  I learned a few things that I’d forgotten:

  • If you want the best price on travel, you need to be flexible.  If your dates are set in stone, try to be flexible about destination or at least the time you travel.  If your destination is unchangeable, be more flexible about dates or time.  Likewise, if you can change how you travel (plane, train, bus), you can find better pricing. 
  • Driving isn’t always the most expensive option.  If you are a party of four or more, driving may actually be cheaper.  The easy way to do the math?  Miles divided by your MPG (equals gallons of gas) times cost per gallon.  For example, this past weekend, I travelled 375 miles.  The car I would have driven gets a whopping 12 mpg (or so).  Gas was about $4/ gallon.  So 375/12 = 31.25 * 4 = $125.  I’d also be putting wear and tear on the car, probably need to eat once (I get grumpy after four hours of starvation), and would have to pay for parking at my destination (around $12/day).  For me, driving was the expensive option.  However, if there had been two or three of us travelling, then the car would’ve been the same as or cheaper than most alternate forms of transportation.
  • Bring your own food and drinks.  Even without a cooler, you can get by with just an insulated bag for hours.  I have a bag from Trader Joe’s that cost me $3.99 that keeps things cool for almost 8 hours.  I wouldn’t pack meat or mayonnaise, but I feel pretty secure packing cheese, fruit, vegetables, or even bottled juices.
  • Think like a local.  If you go out to eat, find out where the locals go (yes, this means talking to people).  Better yet, get a hotel that has a refrigerator and microwave and buy groceries for most of your meals.  Even better, stay with friends and split the cost of groceries.

There are dozens of other things you can do, but these are the big ones that save money for me.  What do you do?