BTS Autistic Travel & Public Speaking – Austin to Baltimore

Behind the scenes footage of my recent trip to Baltimore to speak at Honestly Autism Day.

Should I do more vlog-style videos?

 

 

Transcript

It is just after 1am, and I am getting ready to go to the airport.  Oh, I’m not awake.  I want to go back to sleep.

David dropped me off at the airport.  Can you see him back there?  It is like, 3 in the morning right now.  Way too frickin’ early o’clock, but I’m off to Baltimore and I’m so excited.  Bye Love!  I’m really gonna miss you!  So yeah, here we go.  I have to catch a flight around 4:30. There goes my Dave!  Bye Love!  Awesome.

No waiting.  Gotcha.  No waiting.

This is Delta.  Oh wait.  That’s Southwest.  Oh, it’s close enough.  I’m going to Southwest.

Oh my gosh.  I’m going to go to the little machine, so I don’t have to talk to anybody.  It’s too early in the morning for that.  I have a thing on my phone.  I’m not checking my bags, to make it easy.  “Next kiosk please.”  Maybe I have to talk to someone – I don’t know what’s going on.  I’m going to have to put my phone down so I can talk to someone and socialize.  Like I said, it’s too early o’clock for that.  Maybe I can – no, that’s all Delta.  Wow.  I’m going to actually have to talk to a human today.  Ugh!  Sometimes I can get in and out of this terminal without talking to anyone, but I guess that’s not going to be the case today…. So, I guess I’ll have to go through the full-service line.  That’s one of my favourite things about Southwest, so a little bit of a #fail today, but it’s not the end of the world.  So, I’m traveling light, that way I don’t lose anything.  Everything I’m taking with me is super important and necessary and essential for my presentation, so I don’t want to check any bags, just to be safe.

Alrighty.  Early morning in the airport.  I’ve made it through security, and it was like … the first time ever it was a breeze.  I didn’t get a pat down or any kind of trouble.  That is really great.  I always have trouble.  Always just look confused – I think people just think I’m up to something ‘cause I’m like “Where am I going?  I’m so lost.”  So now I’ve gotta go find my gate.  I really need a drink, but I don’t think anything opens until 4am.  There’s a bad smell.  My senses are really sensitive this morning because I haven’t gotten enough sleep; everything is really intense – the music is really in my face; the smells are not good.  Ooh, JuiceLand – are they open?  Are they open?  They’re not open yet.  Dangit!  That would be the answer to all my problems.  Peached Tortilla.  Okay, no – THAT’s the answer to all my problems.  Oh, Peached Tortilla, when do you open?  Oh, I’m so down on that when they open.  This is like a local awesome thing, so unless you’re local, you probably won’t know about Peached Tortilla.  They used to be a food truck.  And then JuiceLand is where the smoothies and the fruits and the goodnesses are.  So before I hop on my plane at around 4:30, I’m going to definitely get something deliciously healthy and fuel myself.  Even though I’m honestly really nauseous just because I’m so tired, but I think I need to eat because I haven’t had a lot of nutrition and that is probably adding to why I don’t feel that very good right now… because I’m not nourished and I’m about to go give a presentation about, like, how to take care of yourself and self-care blah blah blah and I have not been doing a great job of self-care, so that’s ironic.  I’m going to have to do some self-care while I’m on this trip – I’m going to make an effort to squeeze it in.

So, I got myself a nice smoothie and a place to sit and a breakfast for later, like a vegan gluten-free bowl, and then – this… because I couldn’t resist.  And, I need more hands.  It’s going gold!  Silver … gold … so awesome. That’s fun.  I think one difference between autistic travel and non-autistic travel is I’m really like before I leave, I’m like “Oh, let me get my last bit of Austin food that I know I can count on before I head out” and someone who’s not autistic is probably like “Oh, I can’t wait to try the new food where I can go somewhere new.”  And I’m like: “Ugh – I’m gonna have to figure out what I’m going be eating when I get there.”  Like, I know JuiceLand – gluten-free, and healthy and good for me.  But I don’t know – I have no idea what I’m going to eat when I land in Baltimore, so I’m like “Hurry, get some good food now because who knows what I’m going to eat when I get there.”

I’m in a bad habit of not recording when I’m getting onto planes and things.  I’m on the plane.  It’s really cold on the plane.  I’m really freezing, like shivering so hard right now.  It’s probably not even that cold, but I’m so cold right now.  Look at this – it’s still dark outside.  It’s still dark-thirty.  My hand’s shaking, I can barely hold the phone still.  There’s a big face on that plane over there.  It’s weird.

I’m comfy.  It should be like a 3-hour flight – not too bad.  I’m gonna put my headphones in and just listen to my talk on repeat.  It’s just like over-preparedness I just have to do, but I’m tucked in and snuggled and ready to go.  I think we’re almost ready for take-off.  Yay!  I’m ready.

<<flight attendant giving safety presentation>>

Bye-bye Austin – off to Baltimore we go.  Through the clouds, or above the clouds.  That’s the coolest part – being up above the clouds.  I just woke up, and it’s not dark anymore.  Oh, how exciting.  I don’t know when that happened.

Welcome to Baltimore.  We have begun our descent into Baltimore, and I didn’t reserve a rental car in advance.  I’m not getting a rental car, but like a car service.  There’s no way I’m going to drive in a strange city.  I can’t handle that.  But I’m going to catch a Lyft or an Uber to my hotel, and that should be about a 45-minute drive depending on traffic.

<<pilot giving final descent instructions>>

Exciting.  Look – it’s going gold.

<<flight attendant gate instructions>>

Baltimore, here we come.  So exciting.  Just waiting for it to appear through the clouds.

<<flight attendant giving descent instructions>>

That’s it – that’s it right there.

<<flight attendant giving deplaning instructions>>

No pressure

<<flight attendant giving connecting flight instructions>>

Now I’ve got to go get a ride share because I didn’t reserve a car, like I said earlier.  And it should be about a 45-minute ride to the hotel.

That’s a neat machine.  I’m just waiting to get off the plane now.  No hurry, because it’s really crowded.  This flight was really full – they didn’t even fit everyone’s luggage, it’s that kind of a flight.  That’s the first time I’ve slept on a flight.  That memory foam neck pillow was amazing.  But I couldn’t have slept in the middle… I have to sleep on the side.  I can’t hold myself up – I’m like falling over.  I need something to lean on, like “Night-night!”  Oh, I’m so ready, but there’s like no point in getting right now.

“Thank you!”  “Buh-bye.  Thank you.”

Okay.  I’m off the plane.  My knees are killing me from sitting still that long.  Fun, fun.  Ooh, it smells good.  It smells like fried chicken or pretzels or something.  Interesting.  I can’t figure out where I’m supposed to be going now.  Not that way because it’s with wall ends.  Oh gosh.  People are looking at me like I’m a weirdo.  Well, I am – I guess that’s not really up for debate.  Okay, I need to reserve my rental car.

It’s really cold over there, out there.  I’m waiting for my Uber driver.  She should be here in a couple minutes.  She was on the upper deck, and I was on the lower deck, so it’s like “She should be here – where is she?”  She was literally right above me, so now she’s circling back around – it’s like a 40-something dollar Uber and I think that’s without tip, but I don’t know. The Lyft was 50-something.  It’s really expensive here, but it is a long drive.  I don’t want to go out there.  It’s cold.  I’m looking for a white Nissan. Ugh.

Okay, I’m here.  I’ve got myself to the hotel and found myself a dark, quiet corner to sit in.  I’m so thrilled to be somewhere dark and quiet for the first time since I arrived at the airport.  Oh, thank goodness.  I am just feeling completely worn out.  I don’t know what time it is right now, but they said my room probably won’t be ready any time soon, which I knew.  I’m really early – they said maybe around noon.  So, I’ll just wait.  And I’m content with that; I’ve got things to work on here, so I’ll sit in my little quiet corner and work on some things.

This is interesting.  I have this map, but I don’t know – I can’t find my room.  I’m so confused.  This place is huge.  I literally don’t even understand how to read this map.  I’m going to have to go and say “Hey, can you please – I need someone to walk me to my room.  Like I’ve just been wandering around and I’m really confused and I don’t feel like I’m getting any closer.  I’m just walking in circles.  I don’t think I’m going to be able to find my hotel room by myself.”  Oh my gosh – this is like, really confusing.  This place is just so big.  Oh my gosh.  Okay.  This stinkin’ map, and I’m only supposed to be on the first floor.  And it’s … I’m only trying to figure out the first floor, and then I ordered my food on UberEats because it’s like, I’ve got a whole hour before I can get into my room and then by the time I get room service it’d be 1:30.  And I need to eat now, I’m dizzy… so I ordered the food, and now the food’s not going to be here until 1:30.  And I wish I wouldn’t have ordered UberEats, and now it’s too late to cancel it, so by the time I find my room, I’m going to have to go find the lobby.  I’m thinking about just letting the food go and not getting it because, I don’t know … I want to sleep.

Oh my gosh.  There’s just hallways and hallways and other hallways, and different ways to go … and I think I already came from that way.  I don’t know.  None of this makes sense.  I’m going to drop my computer.  This sucks.  This sucks a lot.  I’m pretty sure I’m just going in circles.  This is why I need David here.  I want to cry right now.  I’m not going to cry right now.  I hate this.  I just want to sleep.

I gave up and I had someone walk me to my room.  And so, I found my room, but not on my own – I had to have help.  I couldn’t do it.  What’s concerning, really concerning to me, is literally my food’s about to arrive and I have to find my way back to the lobby … and I’m not even sure I can find my way back to the lobby and then back to this room.  Oh, come on.  Oh, got it.  Okay, let’s get in here.  Ack!  All the things!  All the things!  Oh, thank goodness.  Okay.  Gosh.  I am so ready for a nap.  There’s a patio here.  I have my own little balcony.  It’s kinda nice.  A little private balcony.  I guess if people are cigarette smokers – I’m not.  Natural light.  I need to check the delivery driver for the uh, Eber, Uber … whatever the food thing is.  Man, I am not going to be able to find the lobby… or my room.  This part is going to be awkward because this hotel is so confusing.  Oh my gosh.  Okay, I’m going to settle in, guys and stuff…  ‘cause I’m just exhausted and it is time for a nap.

Okay, I can’t lay down because I got the text that my food is going to arrive at any minute.  It’s probably going to take me that entire time to find my way back to the front desk.  Ugh!  Hopefully there’s big signs for the lobby.  My UberEats is almost here.  “Please meet your courier.”  Okay… time to go get the food.  Food time, and then sleep.  Food and sleep.  Food and sleep.  I just right into the door and slammed the handle into the back of my ribcage.  I am such a disaster.  Ugh, see … I am really confused.  Where’s the lobby?  Where’s the lobby?  Lobby this way … this way.  Signs.  Okay.  Let’s see.  How fast can I find the lobby?

You see her?  I stopped recording real quick because I got embarrassed, but she’s the one who had to help me find my room.  Okay, so this way?  I’m trying to remember … wait … lobby this way.  I’m trying to remember which way I came from so I can get back to my frickin’ room after I go find my food.  This is going to be a long weekend where I get lost over and over again most likely.  That’s kind of typical for me whenever I go anyplace new.  That’s why I don’t like new places that much.

I think I may have made it. Is this the lobby?  Almost?  Yes?  Yes, I made it … I think.  I think this is where I need to be.  No … wait.  Is this where I need to be?  I don’t think this is where I need to be.  I think this is almost where I need to be.  Ugh, I thought I was doing so good.  Okay … no, this looks good.  I found it.  I’m right.  This is where I need to be.  Yup.  “Hi!  Food delivery – I don’t know if it’s come here yet.”

Okay, so finding the lobby was half the battle.  Finding my room is probably going to be the hard part again.  I’m going to try really hard.  Like, maybe I’ll watch the video back and use that to find it.  I don’t know.  My food’s not here – I beat the guy.  I speed walked here.  Food!  I have a warm coconut water.  That’s kind of unappealing.  It’s literally like, warm.  Not even room temperature, but warm.  That’s okay.  I can get ice.  Or I can put it in the fridge if there’s a fridge; I haven’t even looked yet.  Okay, try to find my room this time.  Let’s see how this goes.  Back that way, okay.  I found my biggest mistake.  My biggest mistake last time was I went that way when I should be going this way.  So that was where I went all wrong.  And then the map made me even more confused because I just completely misread it.  But that girl just like, walked me through and pointed me to all the signs.  She was so nice.  I really wasn’t going to find my room on my own.

Yay!  I got it this time!  Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it.  I think I got it.  I don’t know yet – maybe I don’t got it.  Oh, do I got it?  Wait, is this right?  I don’t know if this is right now.  I’m still confused.  Maybe this is right.  I’m so full of doubt and concern.  Oh wait, maybe … yeah, yeah, yeah.  Okay.  I think this is right.  I really don’t know.  It all looks the same.  It’s warm in here at least. Uh, 1109, yeah … yes!  Oh my God, I did it!  I did it.  I really did it.  I was like, I don’t want to ask her to help me find my room a second time – that was going to be embarrassing. I was … well, I was going to ask someone else.  Where’s my key card?  I was literally going to ask someone else, like “Hey, I know, I’m lost again.”  But okay, we’re good, so maybe that means I’ll be able to find my room this weekend.  I’m going to go eat my soup, chill my coconut water for later, and take a nap… if I can open my door.  There we go.  Hallelujah.

Oh boy.  That’s enough excitement for the rest of my life.  Not really the rest of my life, but … Alright, I’m going to eat my soup now and then take a nap.  So, I have made myself … I have made myself very comfy.  I turned the heater up to 80 and I wrapped myself up in a blanket, and I have my hot and spicy vegetable soup.  Everything warm, hot, spicy – and I have my warm coconut water.  It’s actually not that bad.  I just didn’t want to go back out into the hallway again and find the ice machine.  So, I’m probably just going to eat the soup and then just pass out.  I’ve got blinds closed and I just need at least two hours I think for just a nap.  It’s been a long day.

I’m officially settled, I think.  I took a little nap – a very little nap, and then I woke up.  I was really cold, and I couldn’t warm up, so I took a scalding hot bath, and then I was overheated, and it made me dizzy, so I got out in like 15 minutes.  My body is not regulating temperature very well.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m tired or what … it could be like an overload brain-tired thing maybe.

Good morning.  I’m here.  This is my room.  And so, I’m doing the presentation twice, so that this room can be filled with people twice.  I’m really excited.  They’re all set up here.  Well, I’ve got to get myself set up, but the room’s all set up.  Look at that.  This is great.  Passion.  Persistence.  Perspective.

Okay.  Test, test, test, test, test.  So, I’ve got my computer set up.  That was the main thing, just making sure I got this all set up.  I’m about to go, after I set up my camera stand and things, I’m going to go enjoy some of the sessions and see the material that’s about to start.

So, I’m back in the airport and about to head home.  How exciting.  You can’t see that plane back there – it’s too bright outside.  It looks really awesome.  I am really worn out.  It has been a great weekend, this public speaking.  The presentation went amazing.  It’s been well received everywhere.  I’m really thrilled with how the weekend has gone.  I am really not feeling well.  I haven’t been feeling myself all weekend, and I’ve been having some digestive issues with the food.  It’s been good, but I’m so thrilled to be heading home soon.  I miss David.  I miss the dogs.  I miss the RV.  I miss my normal foods.  The speaking is easy.  It’s the travel that’s difficult.  I actually requested pre-boarding this time – the disability boarding?  I don’t usually request that, but I was just so out of it yesterday that I forgot to check in to my flight 24 hours in advance.  I don’t think right now I could handle if I accidentally got stuck where I couldn’t sit by a window and I had to sit in the middle of two people, just with how I’m feeling right now.  Today?  I couldn’t handle it, so I asked for the first time ever – I asked for priority boarding.  Usually I would just pay for it – I would just suck it up and pay for it.  I don’t know why, you know.  Why torture myself?  Those services are there for a reason, to help people… so today I felt like I needed to take advantage of that, so I did. But yeah, it’s been a great trip, and I’m ready to go home.  Check out the live video.  It’s on my Facebook page.  Bye guys.  Talk to you next time.

Published by Christa Holmans - Neurodivergent Rebel

Christa Holmans, an autistic self-advocate from Texas, runs the the internationally recognized neurodiversity lifestyle blog Neurodivergent Rebel. Neurodivergent Rebel opened her blog in 2016 as a way to introduce people unfamiliar with autism to neurodiversity. Her blog, which is sometimes released in written format and also via YouTube video, explores the ideology of neurodiversity and the creative expressions of autistic people. Holmans’ blog pushes for acceptance of neurological differences and respect for the autonomy of neurodivergent people. Holmans is also known as the pioneer of the #askingautistics hashtag, which is often accompanied by a short question about everyday autistic experiences. This simple hashtag connects neurodivergent people who would not otherwise have a reason to engage with each other to foster understanding of the autistic experience.

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