I love airports! My heart goes pitter-patter when I know a trip to an airport is part of my travel plans.
I know I’m in the minority on this, but I can’t wait to join the hustle and bustle and become part of the broad mix of people milling about at an airport – the intense, brief-cased business travelers clutching their laptops and cellphones or running to catch a flight, the laid back 20-somethings draped over the seats waiting for whatever’s next, and the elderly couples reading quietly with coordinated carry-ons at their feet.
I don’t mind waiting in security lines – considering the alternative possibility; I even enjoy the odd sense of camaraderie sliding off my shoes in the company of strangers brings (most folks are super nice at that point). I love watching families and friends reconnecting, and love savoring the nostalgic feelings evoked watching little ones drag blankets, tattered toys, and their parents from concourse to concourse.
To me, flight delays are a door to adventure, especially in international airports. Seven-hour delay in Zürich – no problem – there’s chocolate everywhere; nine hours in Istanbul is like diving into a sea of humanity and well worth the plunge; hanging out in Milan makes me feel trendy and cosmopolitan; Skopje, Macedonia leaves me wanting more, and Amsterdam is loaded with tulips and cheese! Stateside, Lexington, Kentucky is sweet and soft like the bluegrass surrounding it, Philadelphia is the perfect place for an ice cold beer, Cleveland is the gateway to family and friends, and the Tampa trams in my hometown make my coming and goings a breeze.
I’m a pretty good flier. I’ve learned to carry my favorite snacks, gum, and Chapstick, a book that I’ve previewed so I’m guaranteed a good read, and a notebook for jotting down my thoughts or planning a project – but I still over pack and I’m a sucker for those SkyMall catalogs. Who thinks of that stuff, and why is it easier to convince me at thirty thousand feet than on the ground that having a “Big Bang Theory Singing Plush” toy singing Sheldon’s favorite “Soft Kitty” song will enhance my life or that of one of my friends?
On the upside of free, in-flight reading, I usually learn something new from airline magazines, and sometimes even find an article worth dragging the entire magazine along with me to my final destination. In fact, I just reread my favorite in-flight magazine article ever, “A Family Afar” in the May issue of Hemispheres, United’s in-flight magazine. I found myself LOL at the humorous trials and tribulations of family vacations shared by readers, which quickly brought to mind the wonderfully chaotic family car trips of my youth with at least 4 of my 8 siblings in tow: The fun of yelling “shotgun” as we stepped out of the front door onto the porch (everyone knows you have to be outside to make it stick), getting to sit in the “way back”, and arguing over backseat window placement – car sickness had its privileges.
Reading the article revived even sweeter memories of my now grown sons using their beloved Fisher Price tape recorder in the backseat of our car on a trip to the Eastern Shore to record very detailed potty talk. Somehow we missed hearing their lively opinions on the subject until years later when we discovered the tape and the joy of their sweet little voices, hysterical laughter, and preoccupation with personal hygiene was more touching than troublesome. And, yes I still have it somewhere!
The article also included the fun family travel stats listed below; I thought they might bring a smile to your face, send you on a trip down memory lane, or at least prepare you for what might lie ahead this summer . . .
FAMILY TRAVEL BY THE NUMBERS
“Each year at least 5 million U.S. family vacations include representatives from three generations.
Parents traveling with children make up approximately 30 percent of U.S. adult leisure travelers.
Grandparents traveling with grandchildren represent 7 percent of U.S. adult leisure travelers.
Family travelers take an average of 4.5 trips each year (with grandparents often footing the bill).
65 percent of Americans who have been on family trips describe the experience as relaxing.
24 percent of Americans say they usually need a vacation after they return from a family trip.”
And, my favorite, “Children ages 6 and younger ask “Are we there yet?” an average of 13 times during a one-week vacation.”
Get your summer off to a memorable start, by calling your parents (they might pay); packing the car or buying some tickets. Then schedule a second vacation to recover from the first, and don’t forget to set the electronic device of your choice to “record” for your kids. You never know, it just might reduce the numbers of “Are we there yet?”, and is sure to give you something to smile about in the future. And, after all isn’t that what family vacations are all about?
What are your favorite family vacation stories and memories? We’d love to hear them. What was your best trip? Reliving the fun is a great way to start the week.
Wishful Thinking Works post #319 and counting . . .
Patrice Koerper is a life coach, consultant and blogger @ Wishful Thinking Works,
who believes everyday should feel a little bit like summer vacation!