My current home airport is Chicago O’Hare – ORD for those of us who speak in airport code. Which can make for some very hectic attempts at traveling, especially in the northern hemisphere’s winter months.
Hence, I spent last Saturday afternoon scrambling to re-arrange my Sunday morning flight out of ORD, thanks to a gargantuan winter storm that was forecasted to bury Chicago that evening. I did finally manage to get myself on a night flight to Dallas, my only stop before boarding a 16-hour flight to Hong Kong late Sunday morning.
Was it a pain in the ass? Yes. Did I love every second of it? Just about.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Up in the Air with George Clooney, you might have had a glimpse into my particular brand of nuttiness. His observations as a road (or air) warrior, which might seem foreign to those more grounded, I couldn’t identify more with.
I’ve known my fair share of folks who don’t enjoy traveling at all. The waiting in line and overall ridiculousness of going through US airport security, the potential for delays, the further waiting in line to get on the plane, and the being crammed in like a sardine into economy…all these are heavy deterrents for plenty of people, not to mention simply being away from the comforts of home.
And certainly, travel isn’t for everyone.
The excitement of going to a destination, that’s just in my blood I think. I have been an adventurer by nature for as long as I can remember, simply loving to be off exploring. Even as a kid, before I ever flew for the first time, I can recall being thrilled just to be passing by the airport.
It begins right off the bat with the packing process, which is like a big game for me. How small of a bag/backpack can I take for a week in Yellowstone? A month in Europe? It’s like some crazy cross between Tetris and a minimalist marathon.
Now with my new job and all the additional opportunities to travel, especially internationally, I keep hearing George Clooney’s conversation with his companion Alex ringing in my ears:
“…people who get turned on by elite status.”
Of course, this is coming from one who has never, to this date, had the pleasure of flying first class. This might sound strange, but I have considered myself lucky on this count. Why? Because I’m just used to economy. It’s what I expect, so I don’t know what I’m missing in first class, and therefore I can’t miss it.
But yesterday I achieved Platinum status with American Airlines for the first time. So we shall see just what kind of elite brattiness results (as I write this to cozied up in the Admiral’s Club).
Still, as one would anticipate a traffic jam before trying to drive into a city at rush hour, I find that anticipating the lines/security ridiculousness makes the airport completely tolerable.
Of course, I recently applied and was approved for the Global Entry program, which includes TSA Precheck , so my days of standing in endless TSA lines and disrobing myself and my bags for X-ray have come to an end.
I always aim to get to the airport nice and early, because after security has successfully been conquered, I get to relax with a coffee or glass of wine and my laptop, get some quality time in on the airport’s wifi before boarding begins.
Once I’m on the plane, I have my music and either work or games and movies. I was also, at one point in my life, engaged to someone who lived in Europe. I therefore got very accustomed to flying back and forth, in economy of course, and so learned to sleep sitting up pretty well, should that be my desire.
To be honest, I kind of love my plane time. Disconnected from the world with my little nest of technology, it can be a distraction-free respite within which to write or it can be a reason to indulge in pure entertainment without the feeling of needing to be somewhere else or be doing something else.
Still, I think even the most experienced travelers each have their own brand of Achilles Heel…for me, that would be turbulence, as unfortunately I’m prone to motion sickness in certain situations.
One situation in particular is at night and in dense clouds, where looking out the window cannot save me. Luckily, I’ve never needed to use that little bag in the back seat pockets (knock on wood), but there was a time or two where avoiding that took every last ounce of willpower I had.
Yet, after all that, one of the top reasons I love traveling?
Because it always reminds me just how much I love coming home.
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Filed under: Travel