2 09 2010

And we’re off! A 12-hour flight lies ahead of me today. Zurich-San Francisco non-stop, Seat 30A on flight LX38 to be exact. The last couple of days have been rather taxing, and the last two sleeps far too short. In fact, I will be spending more time in seat 30A today (sitting upright) than I spent in bed (lying horizontal) in the last 48 hours. Just thinking about that exhausts me. I’m getting way too old to travel across nine time zones in cattle class.

Though excruciatingly, painfully long, the actual flight – the getting there – stresses me the least. And when it comes to organizing whatever trip we are about to undertake, we also usually have all our ducks in a row. This one’s really easy: we know our way around and we speak the language.

Up, up and away!

It’s always a crunch down to the wire when I’m about to go someplace…and it seems no matter how well I prepare, there’s no way to make the last few days before departure less stressful. (And we’re not even talking about work here…) As you probably know yourself, even the best-laid plans just go to hell at the last minute. After all the traveling I’ve done since I was six years old, you would think I’d be the savviest jet-setter you have ever met.

Much of my travel stress comes from me getting way too far ahead of myself; I obsess about what it will be like to return home after vacation. And you say – “But….that’s the last thing you should be thinking about!” Well, no, it’s actually the thing that worries me most. When I walk in my front door after 3 days away or 3 months, aside from the depression of returning to real life and realizing that not a darn thing has changed since I left, I’m also bringing home a suitcase full of dirty clothes, the one or the other negative experience (along with all the good stuff, of course) and maybe even some tropical disease, for good measure. I need the place to be tidy and spotless so that I can make a new mess and drop into bed like a stone to sleep off the jetlag. Dealing with re-entry and the mountain of laundry is more manageable when I am rested and there isn’t a bathroom waiting to be scrubbed.

When we return to Switzerland in two weeks, Fall will have arrived, with foggy, frosty mornings, a bitter-cold wind and shorter days. I call it “suicide weather.” A very bad time to be getting the post-vacation blues. Therefore I need my home to welcome me home.

Then there’s the whole “What-did-I-forget-to-pack?” drama that stresses me out at least as much as the “I-must-come-home-to-a-clean-place” complex. Several checklists and excel spreadsheets usually help me not forget anything really essential, like my brain. Toothbrush, hairbrush, deodorant, check. Driver’s license, credit cards, passport, check. Laptop, Kindle (new toy!), Blackberry, check.

(Wait a second – get back here, you evil piece of office equipment….you’re not going anywhere today.)

But sometimes even checklists can’t help my faltering memory and there comes that moment of truth (and anguish) when I remember that one particular item I set aside in a prominent place at home especially so that I wouldn’t forget it as I’m running out the door. And where it still sits a couple of hours later as my plane reaches cruising altitude.

So when I collapse into my seat on LX38 this afternoon and settle in for that long haul, I expect to be served a gourmet lunch accompanied by a very good bottle of red. I’ve certainly earned it after all that self-imposed pre-trip stress.

Oh yeah, I forgot. I’m flying economy.



One response

14 05 2011
Keys to a great Roadtrip « Evelynn Starr

[…] time we were underway, in September 2010, we covered more than 3,000 miles (5,000 kilometers). We did a loop in the northwest, starting in […]

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