I LOVE TO TRAVEL. I hate to travel. I love having traveled. I hate having no planned travel. If I were to conjugate my travel issues, it would sound like that. Looney!
I LOVE planning trips. I’ve planned many for others, not just for me. My most ambitious was a trip for twenty-one to visit the museums of Dallas and Fort Worth. Inspired by the opening of an exciting sculpture museum containing the collection of a favorite Smith classmate and her husband, we were all Smith classmates with a few brave husbands. Finding buses to move us and choice restaurants for refueling us plus enlisting guides and alerting the museums kept me busy for months!
My history teacher daughter and I made three weeklong trips to Civil War battlefields with a few famous old houses and Revolutionary War sites thrown in when they were too near to our route to comfortably ignore and I was the trip planner and shared the driving on these, too. I also put together three exhausting but satisfying trips to the British Isles for small groups of six or eight. Our focus was spectacular and famous gardens and historic houses and I planned what we would see while British guides drove us and found lodgings. These trips included England, Scotland, Wales and two flavors of Ireland although not on a single adventure. Even Macbeth’s Castle and Culloden.
However, I am widely, possibly internationally, known for my over-whelming pre-trip panic. Age has exacerbated this as my agility, speed, strength and self-assurance not to mention eyesight have decreased while my arthritis and stress levels have increased. Knowing that the betting odds on my going anywhere are hugely in favor of my “chickening out” doesn’t help. Back in May I was due to fly solo from Portland, Maine to LaGuardia and back for a festive Manhattan weekend with my youngest son’s family, my Christmas gift to them. I would, of course, speed through airports by wheelchair but I would be hauling my rollator walker, an amazingly lightweight spinner carry-on and a shockingly heavy “lightweight” personal tote packed with my purse, my meds and, as loved ones who hefted it guessed, either an elephant or my weight in bricks. Because of massive construction at LaGuardia, I was told no one could easily meet the plane so I should just hail a taxi to the mid-town hotel.
I was taking about $500 cash to pay for incidentals and had been lent an around the neck safety pouch to stow it in because of “the rampant crime in urban areas”. This was the proverbial straw that while not back-breaking was ruinous to my sleep and peace of mind. While I didn’t quite believe in that, how to tip and pay without exposing my unaccustomed wealth, roughly at least $492 more than I have usually in my wallet, worried me. (I am also well known as inept with cash.) I attribute the entire comfort and success of the trip to this next brilliant move! I threw money at the problem!
I ordered from Eileen Fisher a smashingly becoming Hot Red pull-on windbreaker I had been bravely resisting for three months. It features a dashing stiff high funnel neck collar and deep twin front pockets, one on each hip with fold down flaps. I carefully figured out probable cash needed and in what denominations, allowing for some unexpected contingencies. The right hip pocket was for departure needs: boarding pass, picture I.D., reservation confirmation and expenses in Portland, mostly tips for baggage handlers and wheelchair driver. My left pocket housed arrival costs for New York including the wheelchair and a taxi into our mid-town New York hotel. Like a nervous Santa, I checked and revised my pocket packing roughly ten times. Incidentally I flew to Florida and back a week later, Hot Red jacket garbed and secure about how to deal with cash en route. A Travel Problem Solver on sale for $99! What a steal of a deal!
There’s one teeny little insignificant travel component I haven’t touched on so I will do so briefly, an adverb that could never be applied to my actual packing process. Despite detailed intelligent, well thought out lists of what to take, opening my suitcase triggers a cessation of intelligent thought in me. I love every stitch I own and know that items not worn in months, even years are the sure ticket to a joyous trip. They rarely are but I do not always come to this conclusion in time. Sometimes they no longer even manage to button or zip, which can be a devastating post arrival blow if I have not brought alternate choices which, luckily, I try always to do. So I “travel heavy” in extremely lightweight bags that I intentionally selected knowing my packing past.
Travel has benefits which I will focus on some other time so stick with me. See you soon? p