It’s no secret that current events have put a damper on travel and all the best things associated with it. But one pattern I’m seeing from conversations with all of my travel friends is the sharing of memories. Now more than ever, travel stories are the stars of many catch up calls and bonding moments. I’m immeasurably grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to explore some incredible destinations and I love sharing my favorite memories. It gives me the chance to relive the best moments and by sharing them with others, they have a way of coming alive. That to me is priceless.
For me, nothing in the world compares to the feeling of waking up on the other side of the world. Somewhere unknown. But not in the present time. Not in the new normal. Because no matter how much people keep calling it that, the old normal was the only one I wanted to be acquainted with. In fact, this story is all about that original normal.
This isn’t about a specific incident but rather a specific feeling. It goes back to a different time, something I never thought a millennial would ever say but here we are. This is for all those who had just figured out how to make the most of the life they were given moments before it was all taken away. This is for the travelers craving that certain travel high. It takes one to know one.
It’s that moment your flight takes off. That’s the moment it all becomes real. Whether you had just spent months planning this trip or minutes at the gate reaping the rewards of that green check mark, you’re on your way. The momentum of the plane accelerating down the runway pushes your back into your seat and you feel the jolt in your stomach that is a mix of gravity and excitement as your flight soars into the sky. However, at this point you are about to hit the second worst moment of your trip, rivaled only by the departure back home. You are mid air, full of suspense, anticipation and impatience, and there is nothing you can do but sleep and entertain yourself with the now meaningless items you dragged onboard. What could possibly interest you at this point? If you’re like me, you are flying somewhere that your family and friends find ridiculous, whether it be the location or the company (or lack thereof). For me it was usually both. Whether as a solo female traveler going somewhere a solo female traveler “shouldn’t” or as a couple of kids going on a self guided adventure into the unknown, that concept in itself was probably half of what made it so great. The other half was my desire to transcend norms and satisfy a craving. Needless to say, I was successful.
The way I was most commonly introduced to a new location was the landing announcement as my flight approached its destination. I was always one of those gifted travelers with the special talent of falling asleep shortly after take off and waking up moments before arrival. Definitely something I’m grateful for! I had the pleasure of condensing the waiting time into a moment of rest and wake up in time to watch my destination loom into view as I looked out the window.
However, my favorite introduction was always the first morning in a new hostel. While the location was always different, the excitement was undeniably consistent. My eyes shot open, my body motionless, allowing them to explore first. Either the recognition of my surroundings was instant and the subsequent joy flooded through me just as quickly, or the confusion stepped in first, but the next sentiment was always the same – an immense sense of relief. I was somewhere else and that was all that mattered. At that initial moment of recognition, the realization of waking up in NYC equated Hong Kong. I wasn’t home. I was breaking routine and therefore living, so nothing else mattered.