Things You Learn When You Spend All Day Traveling

Today, I was trapped in an airport for 6 hours while my plane got more and more delayed for hours upon hours. 

With nothing to do but alternate between listening to music, reading books, and eating burritos, I had a think about what is actually true about travel and why people always want to do it, when usually, the journey stinks and your destination is really where you want to be. 

What I found out: 

  1. I was not a bird in another life. I hate flying. I don’t want the wing beneath my wings; I want the ground beneath my feet. (I would make the worst Disney princess — I’m completely unadventurous.)
  2. A crappy situation can bring strangers together and can make you feel united. 
  3. Starting a conversation with a complete stranger is way easier than you think. (But don’t talk their ear off if they’re just trying to mind their own business.)
  4. Flight attendants are super cool about you throwing up in a bag. 
  5. And even sometimes, the passengers next to you are super cool about you throwing up in a bag, which I’m so grateful for. 
  6. TSA agents sometimes have a sense of humor. (You have to in that job, right? Corralling nervous fliers all day is tough!)
  7. Suitcases are wayyyy heavier than you thought they were when you packed them. 
  8. No matter how well you pack, I promise, you’ll forget something. 
  9. Hotels are magic. Period. The staff, the food, the rooms. All of it. I don’t care if it’s a Super 8. Someone is working their butt off for you to feel like you’re in a home away from home. 
  10. But, in the end, home is really the only place you want to be when traveling. 

And that’s it! Even though it was a super long day, I am happy to snuggle up and fall asleep, knowing full well that I don’t need to be on a plane tomorrow. Ahhhh. 

The Fear of Getting Lost

I went somewhere last weekend I’ve never been before. And next weekend, I’ll be going somewhere I’ve never been before, too. Actually, I’m hoping to follow in my grandmother’s footsteps and visit all 50 states. (But the jury is still out if she was actually able to do that and if we’ll just keep adding states so that I can never catch up. Stay tuned for the next 20 years.) 

Ive found that when you’ve seen a bunch of places that you’ve never seen before and had experiences you’ve never dreamt of having, you have to ask yourself: why didn’t I do this so much earlier?

Well, it’s not due to the fact that you’re in crippling debt from going to college, and a liberal arts college, at that. That’s not it at all

It’s the fear of getting lost. Because in this GPS driven world, it’s terrifying to get lost, to suddenly have to lock your doors because you accidentally rolled through the wrong part of town. Everything has to be planned out and plotted before we move forward. It’s lunacy, though spontaneous, to just set off with a roundabout destination in mind. 

But getting lost is where we find ourselves. We learn how to problem solve, and if we’re really lucky, we find something great along the way. All the best things about our favorite places were found when we left the beaten trail. (And usually, getting lost is half the fun because you don’t have to work too hard to do it.) 

We should never fear getting lost; we should only fear getting to our destination and not wanting what we find there. 

But really, it’s a beautiful, wide world out there. Go get lost in it. 

Do It For The Story

This was both the slogan and the excuse during college.

Wait, you have a test tomorrow? No, no, no, dude. DUDE. We need to rob a bank, grab some corn dogs, jump the fence to the community center, and draw mustaches on all of the “Rent-a-Cop” posters. 

And any sensible person would at least ask why. But your friends already knew the answer: It’s so that you can be the coolest person at the party, strangers gathered around, beer in one hand and the other hand slightly raised in the air, describing how you scaled the fence to the community center only to find that your best friend was hanging from his underwear at the top. Like your friend, all of the people at the party are also hanging: on your every word.

And really, this isn’t news. Humans have a long oral history. We love stories. It’s how we communicate dangers, humor, and understanding. We are completely fascinated with telling others what has happened to us in order to warn them or simply make them laugh.

But that’s the key. To tell a story, you need an audience.

Which brings me directly to my point. You can have all the money in the world. You can jet-set to Japan to see the sunrise only to race back to New York to see it again. You can wear bikinis in Hawaii and parkas in Alaska in the same weekend. You can rub elbows, and maybe even noses, with celebrities. You can buy a mansion and have a wing just for your dog. You can invest that money, donate it to charity, and make it all back again.

And that would be great, truly. But it wouldn’t mean anything without someone to talk to about all of your adventures, all of your experiences, all of your fears. It would mean nothing if you couldn’t share it with at least one other person (romantically or platonically).

You see, as a young person who is not entirely sure what she wants to do with this box of chocolates we call life, I’ve always figured that if I had enough money, all of my problems would be solved. I could travel the world, like I want to. I could buy a house and rescue all of the homeless dogs, like I want to. I could feed the hungry and make a difference, like I want to. Yes, I could eat lots of corn dogs, like I want to.

But in the end, what would it amount to if I couldn’t tell my story to someone? Is a sunrise seen alone as sweet as one shared? For that matter, is a corn dog?

That’s a lesson this social media generation can relate to: “pictures or it didn’t happen.” Well, your life is one snapshot in a billion. If there is no one to appreciate its beauty, does it really matter that it happened?

And I know, it’s sort of like a “if a tree fell in a forest” argument, but I wonder if I didn’t have life already figured out in college, when I did everything for the story. I wonder if I’m not trying to complicate everything now that I’ve graduated.

The point is, you can rob a bank, eat corn dogs, and draw mustaches on unsuspecting Rent-A-Cops. But if you have no one to talk to, no one to laugh or cry with, no one to enjoy the stories of your life with, you have nothing.

In the end, it isn’t what we leave behind. It’s who we leave behind, and what we shared with them that truly matters. Write your story and make it a good one so that others will want to share it, too.

Excuse Me, But I Think Your Car is Smoking…

I know what you are thinking. This can’t be just a catchy title…there has to be a story behind it.

Well, you are in luck. Although, the person whose car was smoking was not in as much luck as you and me are, snuggled cozily in front of our computer screens reading humorous ramblings and chuckling along.

No, this girl went through almost four complete traffic lights before deciding that it was best to pull over, even though the smoke from the hood of her car billowed behind her like a miniature steam engine. And I get it. It was rainy. It was foggy. It was not a relatively safe area. I’m sure she must have thought Is that me? or I’m sure I can make it through one more light before my car erupts into a ball of flame. And maybe she was right. Maybe she could have made it a couple more miles. And maybe I could have mustered up the courage to drive alongside of her instead of 100 feet back, as I decided whether to flash my high beams at her to say, “Excuse me, miss, I don’t mean to be rude, but your car is smoking.” It’s also very possible that she was completely in control of the situation and knew that her car was moments from breathing flames.

But she probably didn’t know all that. And she probably would have kept going. And you know what? So would you. Because we humans don’t like facing reality. We’d much rather keep going, our lives completely on fire and burning. We just like to wave a fan over things, saying “It’s a little hot in here, isn’t it?” We like to pretend. We like to “keep calm, and carry on.”

Hey, it’s worked for millions of years. Why stop now? (“Why stop now?” Your car is smoking. Is that a good enough reason, or are you too busy texting?)

Look, I know life is busy. I know that girl probably had a “Check Engine” light on for quite some time that she ignored. And at the risk of sounding like your disapproving father who tells you to be safe and to always prepare for the worst, well. Be safe out there. And prepare for the worst. Because there are going to be times when things work out. But for all of the times in between, which we call life, you are going to be glad that you prepared ahead of time. Just learn to expect it and accept it.

And sometimes we don’t want to admit that we are facing a difficult situation in reality. That we haven’t hit rock bottom, that we haven’t found that disgusting green chip at the end of the bag. Sometimes we don’t want to admit our car is sort of, kind of on fire. But there are times that we must, and the faster it happens, the faster you can get home safe, Miss Tokyo Drift. Just please. Pull over and ask for help when you need it, on the road and in life.

Make An Excuse

One of my best friends has flown in for the week, so she can spend some quality time with my other best friend and me. We’ve jam-packed a weekend full of touristy spectacles and  gotta-do-at-least-once-adventures. We’re so happy to show her the area because she showed us her town only a few years before. So, we’ve had some time to amass a list of places we had to take her to when she arrived to our domicile, mixing our favorite hangouts with the must-see attractions. We figured we did pretty well, but then again, she has nothing to compare it to.

However, as we discussed our itinerary together, I started to realize that I had not even been to the places that we were planning to go to, and I have lived here my entire life.

What gives? I asked myself. Why hadn’t I visited places that were a mere half hour from me, places that I had heard about but never visited? What was I waiting for?

The answer is nothing. I’ve simply been doing what everyone, everywhere does. You put off going somewhere, anywhere really, until a special occasion. You zip out to foreign waters for vacation, discovering new places and having new experiences. But the cute little shopping village only one town over is still on your “to do” list. You figure, if you are going to have a vacation, you are going to go somewhere. The problem is that people don’t realize they don’t need to go far to have an adventure. They’ve lived in one place their entire lives, but they don’t really know what it’s all about.

So, what should you do? Well, you need to make an excuse. I know, counterintuitive, right? But you need to make an excuse in order to excuse yourself from your daily responsibilities. So that you can visit or do something you’ve never done before, simply in the spirit of doing something new. For me, it took one of my friends to come on a plane for me to decide that I should do something a bit different and live outside of my little box. But if I wait for her each time, well, I’ll be spending a lot of time waiting. This way, if I start now, I can at least have something new to show her and share with her when she comes again.

In the end, we all need to make time for ourselves sometimes. But more than that, we need to make excuses. We need to tell ourselves that it is A OK to visit somewhere just because it is there or do something because we want to. The point is, we should all try to see an old place in a new way so that we can all see ourselves in a new way too.