Learning to Travel at 53

In June, I turned 53. It wasn’t a big deal, and during my years, I had traveled a little bit. Mostly for pleasure, only a few times for business. However, in June, I took a new job and got a crash course in learning how to travel properly for business.

Shortly after I started my new job as a National Trainer, I got a call from my boss who said; I need you to catch a plane–today and head to Detroit. I was like, what? But after a few minutes, I was like, Okay, I got this. I learned how to book my flight, hotel, and rental car in 30 minutes. 3 hours later, I was at the airport and heading to Detroit. A city I never thought I would ever see again.

Ironically, I was assisting at a class only twenty minutes from where I graduated high school. I got a chance to drive past it and walk down memory lane when I found my old house.

I think my favorite part of that trip was learning that I could do it. I also loved that our company has a contract with a car rental company, and all I did was walk out and climb right into a car I got to choose. Not one they gave me, but one in the Aisle for me to choose from. Now, that was kind of fun. It remains my favorite part of traveling. I like to see what kind of car I get each time.

What I also learned recently was that O’Hare is a madhouse, and they really need to fix their signage. They have signs pointing outside that say rental cars, but outside is NOT where you get rental cars. You have to take a train to pick them up. A train! Who knew? Now that was fun.

I also learned how to deal with six delays of a flight and then have it canceled on me at 9:30 at night. Ugh! The airline rebooked me and put me up in a hotel overnight, and that alone was a lesson in how to deal with stress and exhaustion at the same time. Not to mention how messed up it is to get a hotel shuttle at O’Hare at 10 o’clock at night. I also learned that getting a taxi at 3:30 in the morning is not easy, but I managed to catch my plane.

Funny story… My new flight was set to board at 6:00. I was there, and the plane started boarding. Halfway through, they stopped the process, said there was a mechanical issue, and that they would reboard soon. I figured it was a good time to use the restroom. I hustled over, did my business, and then came right back. Except, when I returned less than five minutes later, my gate was EMPTY.

I stared at the empty seats, utterly confused. Had I fallen asleep in the bathroom? Had they resumed boarding? The sign on the gate had a new city destination. Had I entered the twilight zone? I had only walked across the hall. Less than 100 feet! Where did everyone go??? I knew they were at THIS gate. THIS GATE! So, where did they all go? I pulled out my phone just as a notification came down that my gate had been moved by one location. As I started that way, I was in a daze and saw people I recognized. Whew. No twilight zone. Thank God!

Instead of a direct flight from Chicago to Philadelphia, I traveled to Houston Texas, sat there for three hours, and then flew to my destination. I ended up getting less than 3 hours of sleep in about 36 hours before I arrived safely home and collapsed in my husband’s arms. It took me two days to catch up on sleep, but I love my new job. I finally have a purpose again, one that makes a difference in other people’s lives.

One of my other trips took me to Grayslake ILL, near where my son was born. Another trip took me to Naperville, where I also lived as a child. I found my old school and my house there too. I’ll be in Toledo, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Clarksville, MD, and Vermont this month. I’m not sure where my travels will take me next month yet, but we shall see what travel lessons I have to learn then.

I am learning more about the travel process with each trip, and I can promise some of these stories will flow into my writing. Especially the funny parts, or the parts that were so stressful that I had to find them funny afterward.

Safe Travels everyone!