The Love-Hate Relationship With Travel

Who doesn’t love traveling? Everyone loves a good vacation; so many amazing places to go, spectacles to behold, adventurous things to do, traveling is enriching and can be super awesome! Unfortunately, traveling is also expensive, and tiring, both physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Personally, traveling is one of my favorite things to do. It’s so nice to get away from Bradford, and in most cases, the farther the better. But one thing I loathe is packing. I don’t know why, but I seriously struggle to even function as a human being when packing is on my to-do list. After managing to pack, the stress of the airport comes next, and that’s really everyone’s least favorite part, I think.

Which is worse: waiting in line at security, waiting in line to board the plane, or waiting in your seat to take off? Trick question, they all suck. Even after you get off the plane, your stresses aren’t over yet, because then you either have to take a bus to the car rental place or get a taxi, and then check in to your hotel, blah blah blah, when does the fun part start?!

So, yeah, I can understand why someone wouldn’t like traveling very much, but I believe the stress is beyond worth it. It’s worth it when you’re standing at the top of the Freedom Tower, looking out over New York as the sun sets, every window gleaming and golden. And it’s worth it when you’re parasailing over water clearer than crystals, or when you see a 2,000 foot tall waterfall. It’s worth it when you try foods you’ve never even heard of before; at least, that part is important to me, maybe not so much to someone who isn’t totally obsessed with food.

The point is, there is so much to see in this world. There’s oceans and mountains and everything in between, and I intend to see as much of it as possible.

In case you didn’t know, I’m in New York right now! Brooklyn, specifically. I’m so happy to be here, but it’s also super overwhelming. Does anyone else have the problem of everything looking the same? There’s a million different shops and buildings, but I feel like every deli or corner store looks the exact same, it’s very disorientating. I can’t figure out the subway, the traffic is terrible, and there’s a thousand people to move out of the way of on the sidewalk. But I’ll be darned if I don’t enjoy every minute of being here!

Thank you to everyone who commented on my previous post about New York, your recommendations were super fun to read and I will definitely take some of them into consideration when planning what all I’m going to do while here. I will be sure to post about any amazing restaurants I try or spectacular things I see throughout the week.

Where’s the best place you’ve ever traveled to? Do you hate flying or several day long car trips more? Anyways, hope you all have a great day!

45 Comments on “The Love-Hate Relationship With Travel”

  1. It’s the stress leading up to traveling that gets me, not the traveling itself. I’m obsessive about having my flight info, rental car info, hotel info, etc., printed out and within easy reach at all times. Once I’m on the plane, though, I’m fine. Also, I don’t hate several days in the car at all. Some of the best vacations we’ve ever had have been road trips.

  2. I am 42 and in my life I’ve been all over the Continental U.S. on road trips with various members of my family. We’ve lived in Indiana, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, and now Maryland and we’ve taken trips from all of them. Coast to coast with the notable exception of everything north of Kansas and west of Illinois and Wisconsin. Which is a pretty big part of the country I’ve not visited.

    I have never left the country. I may not ever, as it would be very expensive and I loathe flying. I am an extremely big person, 6’6″ and built like a football player. I’ve never been anything but uncomfortable on planes. They just aren’t built for someone my size. The upgraded seating options would add even more prohibitive expense. That said I’d love to visit many places around the world, I have enjoyed exploring the history of the places I’ve visited here at home.

  3. There’s a million different shops and buildings, but I feel like every deli or corner store looks the exact same, it’s very disorientating.

    There’s a story by Connie Willis about that problem. I Met a Traveller in an Antique Land.

  4. Athena, I like how you’re honest about New York. I feel like I’m on Live Journal, anyways, here’s a different perspective:

    On road trips I like hotels, for air trips I like flying: I guess the novelty hasn’t worn off yet. Partly because I did neither until years after I was an adult. My family took no vacations, only “staycations.”

    Part of the reason I like hotels (besides being a science fiction fan who likes any half futuristic architecture) is that I can watch cable TV, and the science fiction channel. At home I only do DVD’s, not cable, nor even “peasant TV.” (Mainly to manage distractions, but also to save money)

    I grew up in the country, and so on long road trips, rather than hike on trails from the highway, I’d rather go into small town second hand book and used clothing stores.

  5. I’ve generally found packing easy. Count the days. Razors = days/2, shirts = days+1, socks = days*s, underclackers = days+1. Trousers = days/5.

    Air travel… just no. Not the 600mph in a tin can at 5 miles up thing. But the low-pressure, uncontrolled-lighting, small-seats, turn-up-3-hours-early, queue-for-security-theatre, 20-miles-out-of-the-way-each-end experience… no.

    I have the good fortune to live in Europe (at least, for the next 8 months. :( ), and there are still a few sleeper trains around. My best travel was one that didn’t quite go as planned, due to French train strikes:

    Home to London to Paris. Overnight stay opposite the Gare de Lyon, with some of the best seafood I’ve ever had in a randomly-chosen restaurant on the Rive Gauche. Paris to Zürich by TGV. Zürich to Milano, through some of the most spectacular scenery and impressive engineering I’ve met, via the Gotthard tunnel. Milano to Venezia Santa Lucia, with the Dolomites always on the horizon. Then a short walk (via the Ponte degli Scalzi, in a nod to our host) to the hotel for 7 days in Venice.

    Finally, return journey from Venice to Torino, through the Simplon tunnel, and down the Rhone valley, via even more spectacular scenery, through Montreux and Genève, back to Paris for another overnight before getting the train back home in the afternoon.

    Overall, a far more civilised and relaxing method of travel than tin cans with wings.

  6. I travel the best way possible: on my own sailboat. That way I can take my home with me and still see the wonders of the world.

  7. I love road trips, especially with my son. My favorite was when we spent a month driving coast to coast when he was 12 and had a wonderful time (it was my 3rd cross-country trip, his first). We’ve also done two day drives to vacation with friends in various places. Of course, it’s more fun when you aren’t racing to drive as far as possible in 10 hours – being able to stop and see the sights (and sites) is great. And at every stop, the first thing we looked for was a book store.

  8. I traveled solo to New York, last month. As disgusting as the humidity was, and how crowded Manhattan was, I just loved being there. The fact that I was able to go wherever I wanted and do what I wanted was liberating. In fact, I walked everywhere. Also, it was the first time in years since I’ve been on a plane. No matter, I was happy to be in a new city by myself. It was actually no joke that a week in NY isn’t long enough to see everything, but I still made the best of it. I loved the Water Taxi Tour, including the Flatiron District. Well, I definitely want to go back. Perhaps next year. :)

  9. Several years ago a relative in the midwest (I’m in CA) had a stroke and wasn’t expected to survive. I made emergency plane reservations, rushed home, and packed a suitcase. My wife was nice enough to set out clothes for me so I didn’t have to think about it. Flew out that night, rented a car, drove to the farm.

    Next morning, go to get dressed, only 1 shirt. No underwear. Did I mention my relatives live on a farm in the middle of nowhere? Nearest place to buy clothes was a 30 minute drive away, I was waiting by the door when they opened.

    Turned out my wife was putting away laundry, and that’s what I grabbed thinking she’d laid out clothes for 4-5 days.

  10. I think the best place I’ve ever visited was Prague, Czech Republic. We spent the whole time in Old Town and it was glorious. I don’t mind the packing, the airport, or the waiting to take off. It’s all part of the fun of traveling for me. I don’t like the packing again before leaving, but hopefully, the next time I have to go somewhere I’ll have fewer things to bring. Have a great trip!

  11. If you travel often by air, Precheck is worth every penny. Still air travel can be pretty awful. It’s worse for business, because you are already tense about getting there and doing whatever. Sometimes one just has to roll with the blows. I follow Joe Brancatelli who tells travelers to plan as well as they can and have a Plan B and a Plan C and so on, so when things go south, you have a clue as to your next move. He’s a guy who travels for a living, so I always love his 2003 Christmas column It captures his philosophy about life on the road so very well.

    Unless you were walking, travel has always been about waiting. waiting for a fresh mule, waiting for the coach, waiting at the border, waiting for the river to go down, waiting for the train, waiting for the ship to crawl across the Atlantic. I think of jet travel like anesthesia. Surgeons can heal you in many ways at the cost of damaging you. With anesthetics, they can hurt you even harder and longer, but this lets them cure more complicated things. Jet travel is awful, bit it’s all awful for maybe 24 hours, usually much less. In exchange for the concentrated wretchedness, one can travel to amazing places in surprisingly little time.

  12. TSA Precheck and Clear are worth every penny. No matter how busy the security lines, I’m through in less than 60 seconds. And you don’t have to go through the unregulated nuditron machines, or strip off you clothes and disassemble your gear. It’s the secret hiding in plain (plane? Ha!) sight.

  13. I enjoy vacations, but I loathe traveling. LOATHE it. I’m a control freak, and I’m a bit (ok, more than a bit) obsessive about planning for every possible eventuality, and I can never shake the feeling that despite all the planning, lists, contingencies and fallbacks that I am going to forget or miss something crucial. I know it’s something that I do to myself, but I can’t seem to stop it.

    Given the choice between driving and flying, I vastly prefer driving (that control freak thing), though I hate to spend days on the road. I live for the day when teleportation is possible, though I am sure that the TSA will do their level best to make that as unpleasant as boarding an airplane.

    The best place I’ve ever traveled to is unquestionably London. My spouse and I spent a couple weeks there several years ago, on what will undoubtedly be our first, last and only trip overseas, and it was an incredible experience. Hellaciously expensive, and being cooped up in a flying sardine can for eight hours each way was refined torture, but our time in London will always be a major highlight in my adult life. I kept a detailed travel journal, and I still go back and read it occasionally as a way of reliving an amazing fourteen days.

    I wish you safe and fun travels, Ms. Scalzi, and I look forward to reading about your experiences.

  14. I am very much a homebody, so I only travel to:

    1. Visit family
    2. Go see a show that isn’t coming near me

    So traveling, aside from the normal parts that suck, just puts me very out of sorts. So when I go to shows it has to be something that I feel I would regret if I didn’t go to it. And that leads to a net positive experience, but it also means that there are very few bands I would travel to see more than once.

  15. I don’t mind driving, but one-day trips (each way) are usually the most that I like to take; I drive about 600 miles each way a couple of times a year to see some friends. I prefer that to flying because I can leave on my own schedule, take whatever I want (as long as it fits in the car), stop when I feel like it, and not have to worry about wearing the right shoes or belt or packing a bunch of stupid tiny bottles or whatever.

    Flying itself doesn’t bother me at all – I can sleep pretty much anywhere, I’m small enough that I fit in pretty much any airplane, and I don’t get airsick. Back before security theater, it wasn’t as big of a deal to fly, but there’s still the scheduling part and the airport-to-destination part, although I’m fortunate enough these days that when I do fly, I can afford to rent a fun car every now and then. Plus I think it’s a lot easier to get around most cities with airports now than it was 20-30 years ago – there seems to be much more of an expectation that visitors need big signs and such, plus there’s nothing like having updated maps everywhere you go. I do not miss the days of relying on good old Rand McNally!

  16. Like Hugo, I’ve got a plan for packing, so I don’t have to think/stress out about it. If it’s for some place or event that needs unusual/lots of stuff, like an SF con or camping, I have a checklist that I update after I return (eg. burned pants, buy a new pair).
    Otherwise, I pack for a week. If I’ve packed for a week, I’ve packed for a month. Add something dressy, just in case, or buy it there. Only 3 colours, at least one of which is a neutral. Some clothes (and all underwear) should be washable in a sink or shower. Unless you just have to have full size toiletries, and are willing to pay luggage charges for them (does your shampoo really cost over $50?), this should all fit in a carry on duffle.

  17. I’ve done a lot of traveling, starting with a month-long trip to Europe in 1991. I loved it all, but Prague and Barcelona were my favorites. Prague at the time was incredibly inexpensive. Things like subway tickets cost literally pennies, and you could get a whole meal for a dollar. Not that I did a lot of eating. We were there as an afterthought, and the food I tried didn’t taste good to me. We jammed Prague into our itinerary after deciding we didn’t like Frankfurt, and we only got one day to see the city, from 7 am to midnight. We slept on trains to get there and to leave. Signs on the trains were in three languages, and none of them was English.
    Did I mention Prague was inexpensive? I changed a $20 travelers check when I arrived, and I wasn’t able to spend it all.

    I have never been back to Prague. I don’t think I’d find the same city again. I would not be the same person.

    I like New York also. I visited once in the 1990s, and then several times after 2001. I saw the ghostly silhouettes of the fallen towers and the echoes of the demolition equipment plus the burned concrete smell of the debris are etched in my mind forever. I watched the Freedom Tower rise, but I haven’t been inside it.

    I usually make it a point to visit Marie’s Crisis whenever I’m in NYC. It’s a nightclub, so over-21 only I think. It’s literally underground, only a block away from the Stonewall Inn. People stand around a piano singing show tunes. Occasionally you’ll spot a minor celebrity. Check out YouTube for Darren Criss playing piano while Lea Salonga sings. They also do a duet of A Whole New World from Aladdin. Lea of course did the singing voice in the Disney movie.

  18. Enjoy Brooklyn, Athena! It’s a very vital and fun place. And, if you have a chance, get together with some friends and walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan. You’ll never regret it; it’s not the prettiest bridge in the world (he says, as a resident of the S.F. Bay Area), but it has great character and history, and you should not miss it. (You can come back via the Roosevelt Island Tramway to Roosevelt Island and then the subway back to Brooklyn after you’ve explored Roosevelt Island.)

    Since dinosaur days when I started international air travel (in, um, the Kennedy Administration) as an airline family brat, much has changed but the delight of strange places and unfamiliar cultures will never lose its freshness, so I encourage your way of thinking. When you have a chance, go outside your comfort zone, learn some of someone else’s language, hang out, and learn to view the world through other people’s eyes. It’ll expand your world.

    Places that delight? It differs between persons, but for me my home town (Victoria, Hong Kong) is always special and full of surprises, as is Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain. Also, Stockholm, the prettiest city in Scandinavia (which pains me as a Norwegian-American to admit, but it’s true). Also, Valparaiso, Chile, a place of great charm, especially if you like to walk and don’t mind hills.

    How to not be bothered by long trips? Bring an e-book reader; that simple. It’s magical. How on God’s green earth did we do without them? A 14-hour flight to Wellington, enn-zed, becomes just a cozy snuggle with several novels interrupted by somewhat terrible coffee.

  19. A few more tips:

    1. For heaven’s sake, go to places out of season (after making sure they aren’t shut down to a problematic degree). Usually this means the rainy season just before or just after summer, when you aren’t broiled by the sun but (much more important) aren’t stuck in crowds everywhere and paying peak hotel rates. There’s no reason to be deterred by the chance of rain. Bring a brolly, and enjoy how fantastic (e.g.) Venice looks and feels in November, entirely without being clogged with tourists. Likewise, given a choice between the rainy side of an island where the real people live, and the desert side with most of the tourist resorts, make a beeline for the rainy side where it’s green, pleasant, and uncrowded. So, Hilo and never Kailua-Kona, for example; Hana and never Kahului.

    2. Also, get the heck out of the usual hotels. Stay in a Hilton, and it’s almost like not bothering to leave home at all. Try a small place with some actual local character.

    3. Research, research, research. Before you go to a strange place, spend a few days online learning what’s really cool about it, and not just the Tourism Top Ten, either. Find the places, the foods, the features, the people that are actually distinctive as opposed to just well advertised, and make time for them. And more walking rather than less is usually a win.

    4. But, be prepared to change your plans. Some of the very best travel experiences involve serendipity (after careful planning wasn’t enough).

    And, hey, personally, if I’m in Brooklyn and have a chance to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge yet again, and keep walking through midtown Manhattan to Second Avenue Deli (which used to be on Second Avenue, but was forced by rent increases to relocate to E. 33rd Street between 3rd Ave. and 4th Ave. Why? For the pastrami sandwiches. I don’t know whether you get decent pastrami sandwiches in Ohio, but if you’re any doubt, try one at a really good NYC deli first, and then decide what a good one is.

  20. I hate travel from the moment I close the door of my house, until the moment I dump my stuff in the hotel/house/appartment/boat i’m going to be staying at. Only to hate every moment after going away again.

    I like being places, even if most of my experiences comes from only seeing the eyes of people fully covered in white suits as I travel the cleanrooms of the world. There’s something kinda sad – that you travel 12 hours to china to just on arrival, spend the next 20 hours of 48 in a cleanroom. But the food in all those places is great!

    I really dislike flying as a guy that’s 6 feet 3, you’re just not always getting upgrades if you’re economical about your travelling, its always a struggle to even get a seat with enough breathing room to not feel like your knees are getting destroyed. You find yourself praying – to the person in front of you, please don’t lower your seat, please don’t lower your seat. Which never, ever works unless you’re an asshole, and you just block them.

    I wasn’t the biggest fan of new-york, although I really liked central park, and the museums i went to, I found the city itself kinda depressing – how manhattan is these giant perfectly upkeeped skyscrapers and everything around it is in a state of disrepair.

    My favourite vacation was in schotland, when me and a couple of friends hiked from coast to coast, along the canal. seeing the nature and the sights, and staying in quaint B&Bs with a variety of colourful hosts, and a bar that was in a houseboat. Or the time we went kayaking in sweden across the lakes for 10 days.

    There is one good thing about flying across oceans, that’s a lot of time to read a lot of fun books.

  21. I like being places, just don’t like the process of getting there so rarely do. I suspect this goes back to me suffering really badly from travel-sickness as a child, I had a 50-50 radius of about 10 miles which some medications could extend to a reasonable distance, but a lot of the various travel sickness ‘cures’ have tranquilising effects so it could be well after arrival (long day-trips were pointless) before I was in a state to enjoy myself.

    These days I’m fine on trains or driving myself, other people driving cars depends very much on their style, long distance coaches and aircraft I’ve not done enough journeys to tell.

  22. I am 53 and don’t fly very often. I still get the rush and excitement every time I fly. Getting jammed back into your seat by the crazy acceleration on the runway, the feeling of semi-weightlessness as the wheels leave the ground and having the view of a bird as the plane ascends is awesome!

    I’ve read that the food scene in Brooklyn is crazy delicious right now. Have a super fun vacation!

  23. I fly to Japan every other year so that’s always my most stressful trip. It was awful coming back this past time in May. I had to transfer through O’Hare, and let me tell you, I am NEVER doing that again. NEVER.

  24. Traveling is awesome, but I absolutely loathe airports. Even flying is not a problem for me. But to be trapped in the terminal where the food is overpriced is ridiculous. And my first flight after 9/11, about 13 years ago, the car rental place gave me the wrong day. The agent asked why I only wanted the car for half an hour. “Um… I was supposed to pick up today, not yesterday.” Damn you, Orbitz!

    I don’t miss CVG being a hub. Delta’s service in Cincinnati was horrible back then. Now I can pretty much fly anywhere more cheaply without having to drive for two hours. But the sooner I’m in my rental car or on the hotel shuttle, the better. I HATE airports.

  25. I’ve been to 49 of the 50 states, eastern and western Canada, parts of Mexico, the Caribbean, The Republic of Ireland and the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. My favorite places, and the ones I keep going back to are Yosemite and Ireland.

    I travel every other week for my job, so I’ve learned a few things that make air travel a lot less stressful:

    1. Schedule PLENTY of time for the actual traveling. If you need to make connections, make sure you’ve got at least 90 minutes between flights so that you don’t have to race from one gate to another. Arrive at the airport at least two hours early for domestic flights; three for international. Don’t plan to DO anything the same day you arrive. Yes, you will wind up spending a lot more time sitting around or walking around an airport with nothing to do but read, buy overpriced bad food or shop for stuff you don’t want or need, but it also means that when there’s an unexpectedly lengthy line or two, or a delay of some kind, you’re still going to make your flight.

    2. When you travel frequently, Global Entry, TSA pre-check and CLEAR are worth every penny. So is the ability to wait in the airline’s frequent flier lounge vs. sitting with the general population. Hanging around with stressed-out strangers is rarely relaxing.

    3. If you have fun reading material, the waiting time for travel is no big deal. Losing myself in a fun, well-written world makes my own journey far more pleasant.

    4. When things don’t work out exactly according to plan, try to roll with it rather than fight against it.
    When you interact with other people, be NICE. Whatever it is that’s pissing you off and stressing you out is probably not their fault, and even when it is, hollering at them is not going to help you, them or anyone around you. Always take a moment to breathe, unclench and then find the humor in whatever situation you’re in.

    5. Even if you make lists, chances are there will be something vital you forget to pack. Figure out how to do without it or replace it and move on with your trip: there’s nothing to be gained by beating yourself up for making a mistake.

  26. I’ve always liked traveling, and even the TSA hasn’t managed to wreck it for me. I will add one more vote for getting PreCheck, though. You wouldn’t think the first flight of the day out of a regional airport would be busy, but if I hadn’t had PreCheck I would have been standing in a very long line at 5 AM.

    I prefer driving if I’ve got a lot to take with me (say, it’s a convention trip). I did fly to a convention earlier this year, but 1) Southwest still lets you check two suitcases for free and 2) I didn’t have to change planes, which reduces the chance of one’s luggage taking the scenic route.

    Someday I’d like to take a train trip, but the only Amtrak trains that come through here do so late at night. If I’m driving 3 hours to get to a train station that has daytime arrivals/departures, and paying to park my car while I’m gone, it’s more cost-effective to just fly or drive instead.

  27. If you do any overseas traveling, then the State Department has Global Entry. It costs about the same amount as PreCheck but is run by folks who are much nicer than the TSA. And, as an added bonus, it includes PreCheck certification. So go with Global Entry!

  28. For me, the absolute worst part of traveling is dealing with airline seats. I upgrade when I can, but I’m not wealthy, so sometimes I just have to deal. I’m a large person and I have joint issues. A two-hour flight isn’t so bad, but overseas travel is torture.

    But if I don’t get in a plane, I can’t get overseas in any reasonable time, can I? So I suffer it as the price of going somewhere very different.

    Security lines bother me because they’re just time-wasting theater. I don’t typically have issues with them otherwise (the privilege of being white and middle-aged). Waiting to board doesn’t bother me either, because I don’t usually bring a carry-on other than a backpack, which can squish as needed. I just stay in a seat at the waiting area and board later. (Or if my arthritis is acting up, I have my cane and get priority boarding.) Sitting on the plane, eh, it’s all torture to me, so what’s another fifteen minutes of it.

    I love takeoff. LOVE IT. It’s like an amusement park ride.

    My favorite vacation…tough call between Ireland, Iceland, and Malta. I did not expect to love Malta as much as I did. The food in all three places was amazing!

  29. I had the same problem with the subway at first, but it turns out that Google Maps will give you subway directions in NYC and tell you which trains to take to get somewhere. It’s amazingly useful!

  30. It’s hard to pick a favorite trip, but Tahiti may still be it. Two weeks on three islands, no rental car, just relaxation and diving. Food was great and everyone we met was too. And I was traveling with friends, not family.

    To reduce travel stress, I have a trello board that I use for packing. I have cards for things like underwear, camera, chargers and columns like to pack, packed, not this trip. I also have columns for to do and done, for things like empty the trash and laundry. When I start packing, everything gets moved to the to pack and to do columns, respectively. Then as I pack things I move them to the packed column, or if I decide I don’t need it, I move it to the not this trip column. When there are no cards left in the to pack column, I know I have just about everything I’m likely to need. If I get to my destination, and realize I forgot something, I create a card for it right then so it will not be forgotten next time. I’ve been really happy with this system for both work and personal travel for the last couple of years. It has pretty much stopped the whole “OMG I hope I didn’t forget something” merry go round in my head the night before I’m supposed to leave.

  31. Some trips I do have to remind myself that the security crud we go through is jut a tiny bit of pain for a really good payoff. I’ve flown quite a few places now and as much as I dread the flight the destination usually makes it worth it. Also helps for longer flights that I splurge a bit for an aisle or emergency row seat for the extra leg room. Best trip I ever did was head over to Japan (10 hr flight) for 6 weeks. Had so much fun and got to try so many new foods and activities on top of exploring. Huzzah for backpacking and hostels!

    New York is pretty cool and the subway was easy to figure out once I associated Uptown with North and Downtown with South. Was just a matter of memorizing stops which is easy peasy after a few loops. Brooklyn and Broadway were my 2 favorite places to visit when I was in NYC.

    Driving, for cons and things has so many perks too! You see the coolest most random stuff in unexpected places or smaller cities/towns. Utah particularly comes to mind… one trip from Saskatchewan Canada to San Diego we come across a legit petting zoo in the middle of the desert… nothing for 3 hrs in either direction but this petting zoo/gas station. It had Zebras, Ostrich, Alpacas, Horses, Goats, Ducks, Buffalo…. so unexpected lol.

  32. The minute I get on an airplane my legs begin to ache. By the end of the flight, I can barely sit still they bother me so much. I’m sure the people sitting next to me wish they weren’t as I’m constantly rubbing my legs trying to get them to stop bothering me. Sometimes I try to find a space to stand in for a while, but there isn’t much space on an airplane for an extra human to hang around in.

    So, flying, not my favorite. But I do love seeing new places. Right now Scotland and Ireland are my favorite places. Galway is the best little city ever and Edinburgh is my second favorite city. But mostly, I love the small places in the middle of nowhere, and all the nowhere it takes to get there. If that makes sense.

  33. Traveling is *great.* I go as far as I can, whenever I can. We have 12 & 14-year-old kids, so were relatively grounded for a decade or so, but it’s been so fun to start traveling with them, too– their first trip out of the US was two weeks in Mexico to start immersion Spanish. Travel days are pretty much lost days, unless you luck into great food somewhere. Waiting is easier if you can pick up some kind of handwork– I always have a sock-in-progress in my purse, and if we’re traveling internationally I bring some kind of fiddly lacework knitting project in case there’s no power. Travel as much as you can now, and eat everything that looks interesting. I’ve never regretted either.

  34. Flying? I’m over it. I know that if I want to go certain places, flying is the only option. But there are other options for those of us who enjoy the journey as much (or more) than the destination.

    You sound like a “destination” person – if a teleporter existed, you’d do that. The actual traveling is an inconvenience and never over fast enough. (I wonder if you drive fast, not because of the thrill, but because you’re impatient to get where you’re going.)

    In recent years, I’ve slowed down. I’ve taken buses and trains so I could look out the window and see what lay BETWEEN the destinations. I’ve driven nearly a thousand miles to visit family rather than fly, because there were things along the way I wanted to see, and for the enjoyment of the drive. My bucket-list trip is a trip around the world on the surface of the planet: by train and by ship.

    Did you know container ships often have cabins for passengers? That you can travel across the ocean ON the ocean? A week at sea with nothing to do except chat with other passengers (if there are any), play games with the crew in the off hours, or read, or watch videos saved on a laptop. And look out the window at the sea.

    For some of us, THAT is traveling.

  35. Thinking about air travel makes me want to quote Douglas Adams in Long Dark Teatime of the Soul: “Airports are ugly.” (and great descriptors of why that you should read or listen to if you haven’t already). I absolutely detest flying. I don’t like the lines, the security theater, the overpriced food, uncomfortable seats, etc. If it is at all feasible, I will gladly drive all day to get somewhere (between travel time, wait time, delays, and lines it takes all day to fly somewhere that is only a 3 hour flight on the schedule anyway.) I would say that if you get the opportunity, you should travel by train. I’m partial to the train from San Diego to Santa Barbara because of the gorgeous ocean views along the way. Less freedom than a car, where you can control the temperature, music, stops, and food choices, but more leg room, you can get up and wander if you need to stretch, and still great views of places you’re passing.

  36. Lindy’s (the restaurant from Guys and Dolls) has a good breakfast and lunch and is decently priced. I also found the Russian Samovar to have decent food as well. Bring cash though as they’re not keen on plastic.

    And, of course the Met is always totally worthwhile.

  37. I stopped worrying about packing a few dozen trips back. I have a ‘go-bag’ of essentials (shampoo, toothbrush, makeup, etc.) that lives in a cabinet, ready to be tucked into my suitcase. Clothes are easy – multitaskers – every top must go with every bottom, so I have an array of outfits that fit easily into my rolling bag. Once I figured it out, it was easy.

    Best place I ever traveled; that’s a tough one. I love each of the places I have been for different reasons. I think as long as you travel with an open mind, you find things to love about pretty much everywhere. That said, it is a toss-up at the moment between Prague and Copenhagen. Such gorgeous cities, lovely people, history and culture and fun all packed into these wonderful packages.

  38. I have not been on a plane in 25 years. The last Amtrak I took was 10 years ago. And I don’t drive. I’ve had stretches of up to five years when I have not been outside my local tri-county area. Every vacation, I stay at home and use the time. Pure bliss.

    When it comes to traveling, I consider Wendell Urth to be my role model!

  39. I’ve gotten travel down to one backpack as a carryon, and a duffel if I really need to check luggage. As long as I have places to visit where I don’t need to impress someone, I pack clothes that I can discard with impunity once I have worn them a time or two: the t-shirt that is almost ready to become ‘wear around the house only’, the shorts with the blown-out elastic, etc. Ditto for toiletries; bring a minimal amount, and count on picking up more at your destination if necessary, then ditch the containers after use. Hiking in a national park, you usually don’t need to worry that your shirt has a few small holes, and the bulk you save on packing to come home can be used for souvenirs should you wish. The duffel is for overflow items, and if I am bringing small gifts for people. Many times I don’t need the duffel by the end of the trip, and it becomes part of Sooper Seekrit Method #2: Mail the extras home, if they will fit in a large flat rate box but not your carryon. Cheaper than checked, and you get door to door delivery.

    For extensive trips, plan on ‘down days’ where you don’t have anything scheduled. You can sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast, investigate something you just heard about, or do laundry if need be. I find 1 extra day for every 7-10 days to be a good proportion for breathing room. Count on at least one of your planned activities going pear-shaped; you may need an adjustment day.

  40. I’ve gotten travel down to one backpack as a carryon, and a duffel if I really need to check luggage. As long as I have places to visit where I don’t need to impress someone, I pack clothes that I can discard with impunity once I have worn them a time or two: the t-shirt that is almost ready to become ‘wear around the house only’, the shorts with the blown-out elastic, etc. Ditto for toiletries; bring a minimal amount, and count on picking up more at your destination if necessary, then ditch the containers after use. Hiking in a national park, you usually don’t need to worry that your shirt has a few small holes, and the bulk you save on packing to come home can be used for souvenirs should you wish. The duffel is for overflow items, and if I am bringing small gifts for people. Many times I don’t need the duffel by the end of the trip, and it becomes part of Sooper Seekrit Method #2: Mail the extras home, if they will fit in a large flat rate box but not your carryon. Cheaper than checked, and you get door to door delivery.

    For extensive trips, plan on ‘down days’ where you don’t have anything scheduled. You can sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast, investigate something you just heard about, or do laundry if need be. I find 1 extra day for every 7-10 days to be a good proportion for breathing room. Count on at least one of your planned activities going pear-shaped; you may need an adjustment day.

  41. What I dislike most is the time between landing & disembarking. We tend to fly to Europe from the US West coast so by the time we land I’ve most likely been more or less on my feet for the better part of 24 hours. Having a Global Entry Card helps a lot with TSA and US customs/immigration hassles. It gets you TSA pre on domestic flights & some int’l flights and greatly expedites clearing customs/immigration upon one’s return.

  42. Kathryne, four entries above, reminds me of what a joy it has been to fork out for a “go bag” that just sits in my car. Needless duplication? No, worth every penny, for the peace of mind.

    The bag sits in an easy-carry eco box that includes an artist’s (from an art store) flat office tower-like bright spectrum desk lamp that I can even use in an easy chair: so many expensive hotel rooms in America don’t have a proper overhead light.

    The folding bag includes a plastic crock-kettle and all the makings, for those cheaper hotel rooms that lack a coffee machine, or lack enough coffee mate.

    No kindle, because even on an Atlantic flight from the Rocky Mountains I only read one book, and it’s fun to browse the native second hand bookstores. Oxfam runs one in London’s bloomsbury district.

  43. Dear Athena,

    I’d much rather drive than fly, but I’m self-employed like John. A multi-day drive to anywhere is going to eat up a week of time that I usually can’t afford. So, it’s flying.

    I will add my vote for TSA PreCheck. Ohmigod it’s soooo worth it. It’ll save you so much time and hassle and, in a pinch, can make the difference between making your flight or missing it. If you plan on traveling out of the country, I would spring for Global Entry; it’s not a lot more expensive. It’ll save you a lot of time dealing with customs, and it will also move you faster through many international airports — PreCheck is strictly a US thing.

    Here’s another thing — fly First Class. No I’m not kidding, and no I don’t think you’re made of money. (I know nothing about intrafamilial finances in ScalziLand and I’m not asking — none of my business.) With careful shopping, a first-class ticket will cost you about twice what a coach ticket will cost. For domestic travel. Fly overseas, and they’ll charge you a fortune for anything above economy.

    Add up how much you spend on air travel each year. It’s probably less than you think. That’s the premium you will pay for traveling First Class, and it makes a huge difference in the quality of the experience. Much more comfortable accommodations, much better service, priority clearance through TSA checkpoints at airports that don’t have PreCheck, and the airline personnel will be a lot more accommodating if you arrive a little late for check-in or your luggage is a bit overweight.

    A final tip … this one won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Or even an arm. It’ll make packing a whole lot less stressful. Those personal items you take on every single trip? Buy duplicates that live in your suitcase 24-7. A lightweight bathrobe and slippers, a good hairbrush, chargers for your never-without electronic devices, everyday medicines and toiletries, whatever’s on your always-travel list. Then you never have to think about that stuff again.

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. 
    — Digital Restorations. 

  44. I hate to fly, but all the best places require at least two flights. Long flights. My favorite place to travel is sub-Saharan Africa. I love the wildlife, the landscapes, and the mix of cultures. It’s great. I highly recommend it.

  45. Traveled a ton, visited many places, loved them all. Like you, I hate to pack. Cool thing though, my wife love to pack. So I avoid the whole thing by asking her to do it. I fight with the rental car companies, hotels and deal with the general travel hassles and she does all of the planning. Great division of labor. Works well for life also.

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