Monday, August 21, 2006

How Normal Guy Became A Travel Pro

When I tell people I travel every week for my job, the reaction is pretty consistent: wow, lucky you. I wish that I got to travel for my job.

When I start to complain, folks look at me kind of sideways: cry me a river, their faces say. But when I let the complaints spill out, those sideways glances turn upright. "Gee," they say, "I don't know how you do it..." Okay, so they might not say "gee," but you catch my meaning...

Since April 2000 I estimate I have boarded an airplane more than 1000 times. I have flown more than 1,000,000 miles (but not on any one airline). I have held the most elite status on at least one airline in all but one of those years. There have been exactly three international round-trip voyages in all that time (all of them to Paris), and all those ticket were purchased with frequent flier miles, which means that in each year I gained 100,000 miles it was without the luxury of international distance. In other words, I've flown a hell of a lot.

Although I eventually tired of business travel, I have to say that I appreciate having had the opportunity to work for extended spells in several places I might never have otherwise come to know so intimately:
- San Francisco
- Tucson
- Costa Mesa, California
- Chicago
- Iowa City
- Baltimore
- San Juan, Puerto Rico

Although I found myself in each of the above places under the auspices of work, I have always felt that if I go someplace, I should explore. That must be a by-product of the bi-annual trips my family took from Maine to Texas, when the AAA TripTik would take us past various middle-American landmarks and historical sites. My parents would stop the car and make us look around, whether they knew anything about the place or not. Unfortunately, many of my memories of such places as Carlsbad Caverns, Lookout Mountain, and Antietam are little more than wisps, but the idea of exploring the things in your path has stuck with me. So it is that I can still tell someone how to get from Point A to Point B in Tucson, or which gallery to visit on Noches de GalerĂ­a the first Tuesday of each month in San Juan...

My love for travel is deep and true, but it is not absolute. I recently left my job because I was weary of being away from home. At no point in the last seven years have I spent 50% of the nights in a year within the four walls of my bedroom in Boston.

But Normal Girl, love of my life, will be on the road for most of October and November for her job, and I will be tagging along. These will be some of the more random travel stories you'll read on the Internet... But if there's one thing I've learned in my years traversing the United States, it's that almost every place has something new to offer. I lift my glass of Basil Hayden's to hoping you agree.


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