Flying to Rwanda

Flying to Rwanda

Author’s Note: This is blog #3 of nine detailing my trip to Rwanda and Italy in 2020. Links below if you want to start from the beginning. “Winning A Trip to Rwanda” features a more comprehensive introduction. The music reviews continue as scheduled.

Simply put: It was brutal.

Flying to Rwanda is not a cakewalk. This of course, depends on where you live. So let’s rephrase:  Flying to Rwanda from Portland, OR takes a long time and you spend HOURS on a plane.

And for me, it was some of my worst fears. But before we get into that…

If you fly from the West Coast of the United States expect to spend nearly 20 hours on an airplane. The first leg of our trip was non-stop from Portland to Amsterdam. I’d never spent that much time on a plane and the idea of traveling that long inside a Tylenol capsule originally fueled my disinterest in traveling to Rwanda or even Europe.

But, the nine-hour flight on Delta was in many respects a cakewalk. If you can believe that. The international flights do a solid job of keeping you busy, feeding you and even in coach those Boeing 767s exceed the 737s by far. By the time we were on our approach to Amsterdam my wife and I both said “We could do this again.”


We only had about a two hour layover in Amsterdam before boarding a KLM flight to Kigali, Rwanda. That’s another eight hours. If you don’t like flying or spending long hours on a plane imagine getting off the first nine hour leg and then turning around and spending eight more hours inflight. And, it’s morning but your body thinks it’s after midnight.

My suggestion if you plan on this type of travel is to call it a day after the first leg and spend some time in whatever country you land first. Our trip was Portland to Amsterdam to Kigali. A second option was Portland to Newark, which featured a six hour layover, then to Brussels and finally Kigali. Thanks but no thanks.

About an hour into the second leg I started getting the same symptoms I endured taking a red eye a number of years ago.  The burning in my stomach lasted the entire flight and unfortunately resulted in multiple trips to the bathroom. I was shaky, sweaty at times, cold then hot. I was hungry, but wasn’t. I wanted water but I didn’t. The flight attendant brought me something for nausea which didn’t work all that well but I did manage to get some sleep. It was well into the wee hours for me even though I was flying midday.

At any rate, this was a primary reason why I was not all that excited in the first place to embark on long distant travel. I know people who can sleep in a puddle of dirty motor oil while others have a hard time sleeping in perfect conditions. I’m more of the latter.

Yes, all good things must come to an end so thankfully all bad things must come to an end too. It was not a pleasant trip and my initial thought that I could simply sleep the second leg of the trip went out the window pretty quick.

Some people can do it, others can’t. So when prepping a long distant trip followed by a long distant trip know yourself and plan accordingly.

One more thing, dehydration becomes a factor. When spending that long on an airplane make sure to find a way to drink enough water. For whatever reason, neither Delta nor KLM flight attendants understand a three, maybe four ounce, cup of water suffices. They don’t fill it to the top and you will need to almost hound the flight staff to bring you water routinely.

Start from the beginning:


10 thoughts on “Flying to Rwanda

  1. Geez dude that sounds like a rough flight. 20 plus hours on a plane is bonkers lol. I go from here t Vancouver and its a four hour flight and thats enough lol..
    You and your wife should have hit (see what I did there) a Amsterdam cafe for a little stomach relief in a funny cookie or two. Than you would have slept like a baby…

  2. I didn’t know you are from Portland! I have a few friends there. I swear, every time a take a flight I leave the airport with some illness. I’ve never taken a flight long enough to attempt sleeping during one but I’d bet I’d fail miserably.

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