The Travel Bug

 

I love to travel. I love to see new places and explore new experiences. We have had some outstanding trips both as a family and I have done some amazing trips alone. One of my early goals as a parent was to instill in my children the love of travel and it has been successful. As a family, we enjoy reminiscing about the places and experiences which have been meaningful to each of us. We also love to dream of future places we want to go. Peter wants to see Hawaii. Ellie is dying to visit Machu Pichu. Alex wants to see London and often laments that his adulthood precludes more family travel.

But as much as I love adventure and new places, I have to confess that I just like riding on airplanes and traveling through airports. Post 9/11, travel has become increasingly less glamorous and downright arduous, but I still love to head to the airport, endure security and board the airplane.

Airplanes are a place to be undisturbed. Thank heavens cell phones still aren’t allowed. There is time for reading, for knitting, for napping and contemplation. I almost always fall asleep right before takeoff. I drop into a comatose state shortly after settling into my seat. It could be relaxation. The feeling of having that uninterrupted time ahead. Maybe it is the air, or lack of air, and accumulated fatigue. Whatever it is, I nap until we’re up in the air and then wake refreshed and ready to play.

I bring tons of “toys” for the airplane ride. I have several knitting projects, multiple books and my laptop. Now that I am reading on my ipad, my carry on bag is more full of electronics than paper. No problem. It leaves more space for yarn. I could travel happily for weeks with the toys at hand. If I were caught on the tarmac or marooned due to weather conditions, I would happily knit and read until the situation resolved itself.

Air travel requires a state of zen-like acceptance. The flight is delayed. The equipment is still en route. Mechanical difficulties have occasioned cancellation. It just means more time in transit. There is no guilt in being delayed in these cases. Force majeure. Circumstances outside my control. I’ll get there when I get there.

It is important to bring foodstuffs on any and every flight. Toys are important, but who wants to be stuck at 35,ooo feet with a grumbling tummy? Searching through airport food vendors is a process of discovery and selection. Do I want a salad? A sandwich? Chips? I always have permission to buy something naughty like a Snickers bar or Twizzlers. Calories don’t count on airplanes. It is the altitude. What I never have understood is why there are so few airports with ice cream. Denver has a Ben & Jerrys. But doesn’t anyone else like ice cream besides me?

De-planing is exciting, too. Heading back out down the jetway. There is that first blast of air. It is warm or cold, humid or dry, but in any case it is different and fresh with just a hint of jet fuel. People mill about the gate waiting for their flight. Follow the signs to Baggage Claim and another adventure begins.

When I was at Random House, I needed to visit California and Colorado periodically. Of course, I really loved to go see my colleagues and find out what was happening with their businesses, but I also loved the fact that I had to travel. Certain airports became familiar territory and I had routines which marked my travel. I looked forward to familiar sights and felt like the proverbial world traveler knowing which from which gate a flight would depart or where to find the best food. Travel was a break in the routine of daily life. A chance to see new people and places, a legitimate time-out from reality.

This month Ellie and I have been visiting the colleges to which she has been accepted but not yet seen. I pack my bag trying to bring no more than necessary, carefully selected clothes with no excess. I pack my toys with thoughtful care to be sure I have plenty to keep me occupied and happy. We head to the airport and I am happy to be on the road. Willie Nelson sings in my head as I drift off into that pre-take off nap. I love airplane rides.

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