You guys. It’s all happening. Travel season is upon us!
I’ve been traveling for fall camps for a few weeks now, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I really felt it. That tingly transience associated with being on the road. You know the one, it sounds like zippers, tastes like peanuts and smells a little like body odor.
While I’m well acquainted with them, I’m still no pro at travel days. No matter how short, long, or complicated, every travel day will inevitably include the following experiences:
1. The hANGER.
This one really stumps me. I’ve tried it all, folks. I’ve packed lunches, purchased healthy snacks and eaten protein packed breakfasts. I always take two bags of peanuts from the flight attendants. And pretzels. People joke that calories don’t count on travel days, but for me, I don’t think it’s a joke. No matter how much I constantly consume, I cannot escape the dark depths of despair accompanied by hunger.
2. The bag lady.
So, what exactly counts as a “personal item?” Right now, I have skis, boots, poles, helmets, roller skis, water packs and backpacks, all of which at one point or another will be duct taped into a form of carry on. Sorry, not sorry.
2.5 The oversized carry on.
I’m not even sure that I’m sorry to admit it, but I have certainly been that guy. The one with the backpacking backpack, squeezing down the isle, wacking each outside passenger in the jaw with excess pockets, water bottles or running shoes, all haphazardly carabinered (just made a noun a verb) onto the brain of my pack. When I’ve done it, I’ve done it to avoid bag fees. And when I’ve done it, I’ve done all I can in my power to get onto the plane at the front of zone 3 and claim one of the last remaining overhead bin…because I need an entire overhead bin.
3. Zone 3
Is this where they put the poor people? I thought it had to do with what time I checked in, but even checking in the moment my reminder hits my inbox hasn’t gotten me into Zone 2 (let alone a coveted zone 1). As I stand in line, looking amongst my fellow zoners, I can’t discern our common denominator. Other than the hungry I-have-to-beat-these-sorry-suckers-to-the-overhead-bin look. You know, crazy eyes.
4. Water crises.
Yes, there is more than one water crisis. Do I fill my water bottle with the bathroom tap water? Or do I buy the $6 Fuji water? Should I drink it all now or should I bring it on the plane? If I bring it on the plane, it’ll pressurize and spill all over my electronics. I’ll chug it now. Now I have no water (so the cycle continues).
5. Bathroom crises.
I just drank all of my water and am sitting in seat 18b as the plane prepares for takeoff. How many air marshals will take me down if I sprint to the bathroom right now?
If I had to use one term that best describes the climate of every and all airport or plane I have visited, it would be “cold sweat.” That’s the thing about transition, you never really know where you are, how you feel, where you stand. Am I cold? I don’t know, I’m sweating, but don’t feel hot. Perhaps its the presence of so many bodies all in one place, or the tension that comes with making deadlines, but I have yet to meet someone who makes it through a travel day without pitting out. It’s science. Or something.
7. 8. Not work.
By “not work,” I mean you’re not going to run into productivity. You’re just not. For whatever reason, I always think I’m going to accomplish a huge amount of writing/homework/taxes/solvingworldhunger when I fly. In reality, I spend the day sweating, carting around luggage and thinking about how hungry I am.
It’s taken me this long, but I should probably let you know that I’m terrified of flying. It’s a control thing. Nothing shakes me more than a plane dropping in the air. Having frequented many-a-regional jet, I’ve come to expect more than one bump in the road. As a kid, the fear mixed with motion usually led me to the barf bag. Now, more often than not, I prefer to turn to over-the-counter horse tranquilizers.
9. The head drop.
You know what I’m talking about. You’re in the middle seat, exhausted from an early wake up. You close your eyes and feel fatigue wash over you. Surprised by how relaxed you are, you turn your head and begin to drift– DROP. Your neck catches you mid fall and you jolt awake, looking towards the window where your seat mate rests against the wall. She was probably in Zone 1.
It’s probably time I put something positive on this list. At least one thing. Airports are best for their people watching. While I get a kick out of watching raucous families, stressed businesspeople and enthused tourists, seeing them makes me grateful to be going where I’m going, alongside those with whom I travel. The best part of the travel day, every time, is the making it to your destination. Whether it’s a house on a hill, a hostel in a city or, like now, a hotel in the mountains, the return from the jarring bustle of the world to my own place is calming. And I always sleep well.