Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Loves and Loathe of Traveling

Finally back at home after a whirlwind trip that took me across the Atlantic, back again and to the rolling hills & rivers of Pittsburgh!  A large part of my job puts me on the go during the year and I foolishly try to combine work and personal trips all in one to maximize my time away.  Sometimes I feel like George Clooney in the airport w/ my slip on shoes, laptop out and travel size toiletry kit ready for inspection standing behind the adorable retired couple who have their luggage all over the place....(deep breaths on days like that!)

You can usually find me in an airport with  iPod on full blast sipping airborne grapefruit water and noshing on a Kashi granola bar and reading whatever "fun" book my knowledgeable roommate has loaned me (anything to not read Naval Architecture Digest again!).  Its a glamorous life I know! Don't be jealous!

I thought since I am on the road so much, I would share with all what I love and loathe about traveling.  I hope you enjoy and maybe pick up a few tips (and please share your tips with me! I am always looking for a way to lighten my carry on!)

People Watching - Is there anyplace else on the planet more suited for people watching?  I say nay!!!  Every walk of life coming and going. Some for business, some on holiday but all going somewhere.  I can sit at a gate for hours just watching the droves of people come and go.

Little Kids - I admit, I have become the jaded traveler that wants to get to my destination as quick as possible.  Nowhere are you reminded more of the simple joys in life than seeing a child at the airport or on the plane. The wonder and true excitement of floating 30,000 miles over the world is still there.  The joy of seeing a plane take or a real pilot for the first time.  Nothing relaxes me more when traveling than when I stop and appreciate the joy of traveling from a child's view.

Free Reading Time - The majority of my time reading is usually spent on regulatory or technical papers.  However, I make it a point to grab a non-work book when traveling.  It is several hours sans Blackberries, laptops and work that I can jump into another world.  Sheer dork bliss!

Airport Bars  - We have talked a lot about my stranger danger (ok ok so I have typed and hopefully you have read...)  However, for some magical reason I have ZERO issues going into an airport restaurant/bar and saddling up to the bar for a drink/meal/snack sans company.  I think part of it is knowing everyone is by themselves too...  Go figure.... perhaps I should imagine the world to be one giant airport!

Coming Home - Is there anything better than landing and hearing the flight crew welcoming you to your final destination?  Especially after marathon trips the anticipation of being home in my own apt/bed and eating all my favorite goodies is so exciting! 


Security Check-In / The over-packer! Ok, yes I have already stated that I like to whiz thru check ins but is it really that hard to take everything out of your pockets?  And really, how comfortable is it to fly in 5 inch lace up knee high boots?  You are making us all late!!!

Also, what is with the person who comes to the gate with a roller luggage, laptop bag, purse/tote, jacket AND goodie bag from duty free?!?!?!?!?!  For the love of god pack less or check something!  Because of you I am going to spend the next 6 hours holding my jacket, resting my feet on my laptop bag to make room for your gazillion things!

Jet-lag No way around it, I am a creature of habit and sleep is the #1 habit I stick too!  Me without sleep is not a pretty thing. So you can imagine the grace and beauty that is me after a 15 hour flight to Australia with airplane food and shuffled straight to the office because its only 9am there!?!  It takes me days to get on track and even longer to reset once I am home.  I wish jet lag on no one!

Stupid Fees  Dear Airlines:  I understand flying is expensive but really how can you sleep at night knowing you are charging me several hundred $$ to fly and then have the audacity to charge me $2 for headphones I can only use on your plane $6 for a stale sandwich, $5 for a bad movie and $25 to check 1 bag?!?!

Airport Food Sticking with the bad food theme... While I can note that over the past few years there are way more healthy options in Airports it is still the norm to find overpriced, low quality, high caloric food.  I have or will be sitting for the next 4-8 hours, I don't think I need that double whopper or fried chicken wrap with fries.  How about a FRESH salad or smoothie that isn't made with ice cream?!?

Must Haves when Packing: 

A snap shot of must haves when flying
Since I never really know what will be available to me when I travel I have learned to pack the essentials to keep me happy and sane when traveling.  My must haves our:

Granola Bar: Be it Kashi, Larabar or Quaker..if I get hungry I NEED to have something to curb the hunger that is not a snickers bar.

Instant Coffee & Tea:  Thanks to Starbucks and Bigelow Tea, I am never a hot pot away from caffeinated happiness!

Instant Oatmeal & Individual Nut Butters: Again all you need is a hot pot (or a microwave or really really hot tap in emergency hunger circumstances!) and you are sitting down to a hot filling snack!

Airborne:  I seem to catch colds like it was my job so the invention of airborne was a god sent!  Take this fizzy tablet a few times before and after a flight and you will be ready to go with out the sniffles!

Face Wipes: These happy little wipes DO NOT count towards your 3oz of toiletries but are perfect to freshen up at the end of a long flight or a messy encounter with the airport in general.

Also don't forget your music player and book!

What can you not travel without?