02 July 2009

The travel routine

For a few days I'm going to try the theme.

I love to travel. Wait, let me be a little more clear. I love being in another geographical location, someplace that isn't home. The actual travel itself, getting to the airport, going through security, lugging my bags, sprinting across a terminal for a gate change, not so much. Although I don't mind flying in the least. I've never been a fearful flyer. I have several irrational fears myself (drowning, heights, dogs, spiders) which would make you think that I'd have empathy for those who are afraid to fly. I don't, because I don't understand it.

As Saint Augustine (Nov 13, 354 - Aug 28, 430) famously said, "The world is a book, and those that do not travel read only one page." So it baffles me that someone would choose not to travel because they're afraid to get on an airplane. Sure, sure, you run the risk of dying every time you get on an airplane. You run the risk of dying every time you cross a street, too.

I've traveled a lot over the years. When I was a child, there were yearly trips to Florida to visit my paternal grandparents and to Michigan for summer vacation. We went to Niagara Falls often, New York City once or twice, Washington DC a time or two. We almost always drove. And because there were 5 of us, quite often my dad put a luggage carrier on top of the car. So I had a bag for inside the car and one for the luggage rack. Dad (reasonably so) would not open the car carrier once we were underway, so you had to have whatever you wanted to play with or read in the bag that went in the car. Mom always had a bag with snacks and a small cooler with drinks too, because we weren't stopping for such trivialities once under way. Florida was a 24 hour drive and Michigan was 10.

As I've gotten older, I'm much more likely to fly than to drive, especially to places like Florida. But since 2001, flying has gotten to be a much bigger pain in the ass. The stepped-up security I understand, although I don't think it makes us much safer. The liquid restrictions I don't understand, and I don't think those make us safer either. Hassle factor: 10,000.

Shoes off. Belt removed. Pockets emptied. Zip-top bag of liquids out of the suitcase. Cellular phone and camera through the x-ray machine. Computer out of the bag. Boarding pass in hand. Walk through the metal detector. Gather all of your paraphernalia up, stuff you feet back into your shoes, and get the hell out of the way so the lines keep moving.

I quit checking luggage a long time ago, unless it is truly necessary, because the airlines routinely lose my luggage; as if I have an indelible mark on the bags that say "lose me"! Unless I am forced to, I just can't bring myself to turn the bags over to them. Of course, that forces me to be creative in my choices for what to pack and to slim down the number of shoes I want to take.

I have a habit for that, too. I choose what I want to take, thin it down once, stuff it all in the suitcase, and if it fits and zips shut, fine. If not, I pare down further. I'm a big believer in taking things that can be utilized several times - a black t-shirt, for instance, with jeans for casual, or under a suit for more businesslike - and I'm also a believer in "if I don't have it/forget it/or can't fit it in the suitcase, I can buy it there."

Packing takes me minutes. It takes DH hours. He didn't travel much as a kid, and I can't help but wonder if that's part of the reason. He's as much of a list maker as I am, but for some reason, he gets bogged down during the process, while I'm focused and determined.

We'll be doing the travel routine for the Fourth of July holiday; my grandmother is turning 90, and there's a party in Florida to mark the occasion. While I'm looking forward to the trip, being in South Florida in July ain't my idea of paradise. The weather just now in Oh-hia-ia is unseasonably cool, and to my mind, pleasant. I am not excited about 90 degrees (30+C) and 1000% humidity. Bleh.

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