You learn so much from other people on Twitter chats and often times sharing your “crazy” you find a kindred soul (or ten). The topic on the Sunday Brunch Travel Chat (#sbtc) this week was “Travel Rituals” which made for a lively conversation and the realization that we are all just a bit crazy in our own way – in life and travel.
Stopping for our sundowner on safari in Sabi Sands – nice view to toast the end of the day
I hadn’t really given my rituals much thought as they are just a part of who I am and how I travel. A few of my endearing (to me only apparently) rituals (or quirks) have been pointed out more than once which leads me to believe that i might be a bit neurotic about them (just a bit though, not full on Sheldon like). So here are a few that I will admit to:
A sense of luggage humor in Santiago airport
1. Pre-Packing (triple check everything) – I used to pack the night before my trip – it made the trip real. Work was done, my desk as clean as it was going to get and I was in vacation mode. All of this was good, until the “incident” (actually two incidents) and I now strategically pre-pack with a backup plan at least a week before a trip.
The first incident was near midnight the night before my flight as I was zipping the suitcase and organizing my documents (before smartphones, emails, online check-in, etc. – you know paper) only to realize that my passport had expired two weeks prior. With little sleep thinking I would miss the trip to Dublin, I was at the local Philly passport office at 7 a.m. (5th in line!) for an emergency renewal. Luckily, Irish eyes were smiling…I renewed my passport in time to meet the group bus to Newark.
The second incident was a bit more intense – I had checked my passport which was fine but hadn’t quite packed despite leaving for almost a month to Australia/New Zealand. My flight would leave out of JFK, connect in Hong Kong and arrive in Perth. Checking in for the JFK flight online, I realized that the connecting flight to Perth had changed times and was leaving before my JFK flight would arrive. A bit of a problem. I managed to contact British Airways (I redeemed their points for the partner flights) and was able to change to the earlier JFK flight (I would need to book a private car to get me at 4 a.m. from Philly to JFK).
Arriving home around 8 p.m. to pack or as I call it “throw sh*t in a bag and hope for the best” which involved literally putting what I could in the suitcase (overpacking which got a “heavy” tag). Exhausted and knowing I would get no sleep, I’m not sure why but I packed a duffel with some stuff for NZ as a carry-on bag. As luck (or my luck) would have it, the earlier JFK flight had a mechanical problem, I missed my Hong Kong connection, was rerouted to Perth via Sydney and arrived without my suitcase more than 40 hours from when I left home. My luggage would arrive three days later. Thankfully, the airline gave me cash to shop for clothes and I was able to find my size in Australia. I vowed never again! Hence, the pre-packing, triple check I do now.
The view of Queentown, New Zealand
2. My flight food – I generally leave Philly with the following lunch/dinner for the plane ride – a sandwich from Panera or Corner Bakery, Hope’s Cookies, Sliced Apples, a bag of chips and lots of bottled water. For longer international trips – power bars, cashews, swedish fish. Not quite sure when I started this ritual but I don’t buy airport food and the folks on the plane often stare at me (usually at the cookies) but I don’t care – my food is much better than the airline’s food. The return flights are tricky internationally so I do my best (even if that involves explaining no butter on a ham sandwich in T5 Heathrow at EAT)
Capetown – a bit far from the nearest Panera/Corner Bakery
3. The Hotel book -Ii need to read the hotel book/manual/etc. when I arrive in my room. Not sure if I think I’m looking for a secret password for free wi-fi (which doesn’t exist) or not – the hotel book lists the “rules” and I love understanding the “rules”. I never realized that I do this until a few friends pointed it out (real friends should overlook/ignore friends quirky OCD stuff right?).
There was no hotel book to read in my room in Botswana
4. Unpacking – I don’t unpack at the hotel, I keep it all in the suitcase. When I return home, the minute i’m in the door, I dump it all into the washer to clean. I put everything away, organize the receipts and sort any souvenirs I’ve bought for my nieces/friends. I was in the minority on the chat as many seem to delay the unpacking by days or weeks – I don’t own that many clothes to do that.
Keukenhof clogs – a pair of shoes I can’t buy or fit on my feet!
5. The photos – years ago, it was easy after a trip – drop off rolls of film and come back two days later. Today, i take so many digital photos, rarely delete and do not edit/photoshop/etc. and it takes a week or two to upload them to my computer and post here, there and everywhere. You no longer have the packet to flip through.
Flowers in Botswana – online you might overlook, in print you could flip through
One ritual that I miss (but cherish so much) is from when I first started traveling internationally. My mom would pick me up at the airport and using my leftover currency (that I exchanged at an unfavorable rate of course), we would meet my dad at the local diner. He loved that I was paying (he always loved that!). I would crave everything that reminded me of home – mozzarella sticks, cheesesteaks, fries and Pepsi (this was before my food journal and damn calorie counting). We would go over the details of my trip and they couldn’t wait to flip though the photos in a few days. The diner is still there but life has changed so much that I sadly can’t recreate this ritual anymore.
Memories at the diner
I’m glad to have my travel rituals and quirks, they mean that I’m traveling to amazing places around the world – traveling to experience the world – that’s pretty awesome!
Above the clouds, atop Table Mountain in Capetown, South Africa – quirks and all!
Tell me I’m not in the minority and you share a few of my rituals (quirks) or have a few of your own to add?