For several years, I have made it my mission to travel as often and as widely as I can. Often that meant for very little money. And traveling with very little money can be a bit uncomfortable. It can be sitting too close to smelly people. It can be not being able to charge your phone so you’re lost and suddenly aware of how dependent you are on your little device of choice. It can mean paying an exorbitant amount of money for the shittiest coffee you’ll drink in your life just to stay awake for your eighteenth hour of constant travel-induced anxiety.
I love it. I love all of it. There’s always some small part of me that’s watching from the shadows saying, “holy shit, this is cool. We’re doing it.” When I was walking a mile down a road in a Chinese city in manifestly inappropriate shoes to get to an international terminal with the baking heat reducing me to a puddle, there was still that part of me, that little girl from Nowhere, Georgia who was elated to be there.
I mean, don’t get me wrong- she was very quiet. But she was still there.
I know it makes me gauche to still love flying but I do. Every part of it. I love the stress of making it to my gate. (I am notorious for showing up unfashionably early.) I love trying to make it through TSA with as little fuss as possible. It’s like a game. I love finding my gate, again, unfashionably early and then snuggling up to wait with a good book and a cup of coffee. I like falling in love with strangers a dozen times and imagining rich stories. I like to be fallen in love with and imagined about by the strangers around me.
I don’t like boarding. People can get a little pushy. I just try to lead by orderly example.
I have made a promise to myself that I will always pay attention when the flight is taking off. Even if it’s a thirty minute flight, I promise I will always take time to appreciate that minor miracle of modernity.
I like being especially nice to flight attendants. Years in the service industry has taught me to respect the fine art of being trapped in a steel tube thousands of feet in the air with the customers who just don’t get it. Flight attendants are saints.
I also have a compulsive need to be liked that comes especially to the forefront when traveling if you couldn’t tell.
I’m always a little sad when the plane touches down. Truly, the getting there is often my favorite part. Even with the recycled air and the neighbor who is too close and the screaming baby and the endless layers of bureaucracy which keeps me from getting whatever vegan meal I requested through the appropriate channels months before. Even with people rushing to get off the plane before the plane has even parked (a personal pet peeve), I love flying. And I don’t care how passé that makes me.
I’m a freelance travel writer. Join me as I bounce around the planet offering some advice, telling some stories, and trying my best to figure it out with you by my side.