Travel as a Skill

Today’s snippet comes to you from 35,000 feet.

I love to travel. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve been able to do it more than most. Quebec City, Anchorage, Ireland, London, Berlin, Prague, Doha and back and forth across the United States. Part of the reason I love it, other than the obvious result of being somewhere new and exciting at the end, is that I view it as a game. It’s not just a thing to be endured — it’s part of the fun itself.

I enjoy getting to the airport or train station early and sitting near my gate with a good book, a podcast, or some music close at hand. Like a racing video game that only continues if you hit certain checkpoints by a certain time, I know there are certain checkpoints I need to hit to keep my day going. A day of traveling is a day of using my skills to hit checkpoints as swiftly and skillfully as possible. Packing lightly, responding to my environment, keeping an even emotional keel, making a plan — these are my skills that have been honed over years of travel (but are nowhere near an elite level yet).

It may seem strange to view travel this way but packing precisely the amount I need to successfully conduct a trip, going through security as smoothly as possible, walking through the terminal as calmly and collectedly as possible, getting onto and off the plane without exerting myself or causing delays for those around me — these are just a few of the things that can go a long way to making travel a more pleasurable experience.

If I do each of these well then I am swept up in the well-honed (well, usually) process of modern travel. I hit each checkpoint with plenty of time to spare and then shift my attention to the next one. One after another with as little stress and discomfort. With as much skill as possible I move through my day. Like nearly everything I do, it’s something I try to get better at without over complicating or over burdening it with meaning.

The other option is to be stressed and annoyed and view it as an unpleasant barrier between me and my ultimate goal. The nice thing is that it’s really up to me.