Wednesday, 11 July 2012

One for the road


I have travelled a lot.  And with travel I don't necessarily mean going to exotic places for fun and relaxation.  For the most part travel has been out of sheer necessity.  I went to boarding school in the UK when I was 14 and my parents continued to stay in the Middle East.  So every time I wanted to go home for holidays, half terms and what not I flew to them.  I started traveling 'properly' on my own when I was 15 and no longer counted as an unaccompanied minor.  It doesn't feel that long ago but at the time e-tickets didn't even exist yet, and now to check in all you need is an e-ticket number and your passport.  So we've come a long way.

I have also come a long way in all the years of flying between school and home.  I've not been allowed onto a plane because I didn't have a valid ticket (this was when e-tickets were first coming in and the lady at the check in desk had no idea what it was), not been allowed to clear through immigration in Manchester airport, had to evacuated the airport, got stuck in the snow saga of 2011 where it took me 3 attempts from two different airports to get home, been through countless security checks and many of them ending with a security officer accidentally finding my emergency spare tampon in the corner of my suitcase.  More times than I'd like to admit have I pulled the 'I'm a young girl traveling alone crying' technique to try and shy away from the fact that my suitcase most definitely weighs more than the allowed 22kg (this always works best on male staff).

There's something about airport travel that simultaneously gives me anxiety dreams weeks before I'm due to fly, but at the same time it's something I really look forward to.  Now that I'm out of school and flying less I really miss it even though I used to hate traveling with a passion.  But now, there's something incredibly satisfying in seeing so many people of different races, nationalities, backgrounds and beliefs all in one place going to all sorts of exciting and different parts of the world.  Everyone says that the world is small but when I'm at an airport it feels so very vast.  Looking at the departure board makes my head spin because I can't take in how many cities there are in the world and how many places I still want to see.  By traveling on my own constantly I've learned to spend time with myself and how to be vaguely independent.  If something went seriously wrong (i.e. not being let on the plane) then there was always my parents to call and cry to whilst the ground staff look on.  But most of the time when something went wrong I've had to get my shit together and just get on with it.  

Airports are a good metaphor for life: you meet all sorts of different people that you have to get along with and be nice to especially when you're sat in the window seat and they're in the aisle, and they're what stands between you and that much needed trip to the bathroom.  Bad stuff happens: your suitcase is too heavy and you have to pay excess baggage, or the airline loose your bag in Dubai and have to sent it on to you.  There's a snow storm and you're flight is delayed by a whole day.  Shit happens in the airport and sometimes it really feels like the end of the world at the particular point in time.  But it's not the end of the world.  

One way or another, you always end up getting to where you're meant to be.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” - Ernest Hemingway

2 comments

  1. I can't say I've had as many airport experiences as you have, or any particularly bad ones, but I've always loved the atmosphere of airports - as long as I'm going somewhere! I find that they're depressing if I'm just dropping someone off, because everyone else there is going off on an adventure, haha.

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