I had a childhood friend who was always going on a family vacation. Unlike my family vacations to hike at state parks or “stump the tour guide” at historical sites, she was often jetting off to faraway lands in Europe and Asia. It was a freedom she received as her birthright from a pilot father and one that mystified me.
“If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?”
When asking this question, no one expects the dream to become reality. But try to answer it honestly: “Where do you want to go?”
I had the opportunity last year to ask myself this question on a regular basis, thanks to a close friend who provided me with unlimited standby privileges from her employer, an airline not to be named.
Travel has always been my medication and I had no reason not to travel. With a carry-on full of clothes, a laptop, and a couple books, I walked the terminal at Denver International Airport with a plan but no guarantee that I would land at my intended destination.
Getting above the clouds every now and then brings clarity. That's the joy of travel.
The first time I tried out my new standby privileges, it took six attempts to board a flight to Ohio, an experiment to visit with relatives. After the second flight taxied away from the gate, I began to scan the other gates for alternative trips. It was Ohio against the world, literally, as flights took off for Seattle, Reykjavik, Munich, Tokyo and my mind traveled with the possibilities of where I might land.
“Now boarding American Airlines flight for Istanbul…final boarding call for United Airlines flight to Cancun…”
After this initial struggle, it was as if I passed a novice ritual for standby passengers and was rarely denied a seat. My dream of being a jetsetter was in play as I soared off to New York, San Francisco, and Rome twice in a six-month period.
Why not wake up and check passenger numbers on a connecting flight to Rome? Why not make weekend plans with a friend thousands of miles away? What was stopping me from packing swim trunks hoping to board the 4:35pm flight to Puerto Vallarta?
By last fall, I hitchhiked across the country with over 30 jets. More than the benefit of logging air miles, these standby privileges provided me with the personal freedom to escape.
There will always be reasons to postpone an escape, but why wait? If not now, when? Leave your routine, open up to the passenger next to you, be fascinated by what awaits you at your destination, and maybe even feel happy to return home again.
Getting above the clouds every now and then brings clarity. That’s the joy of travel.
So, where to?
Prompt: "It's all about the journey. Where did you travel this year? Did it move or change you?"