Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Travelogue South Carolina – Departure

To quote the old song:

"All my bags are packed
I'm ready to go…"

Actually, my bags have been packed since Saturday afternoon.

I'm all checked-in, and the only thing I still have to do today is to bundle Saga into the back seat of the car and drop her (on my way to the airport) at the Doggy Resort. But as it is still well before sunrise as I sit in my home office writing this, it is way too early to think about that.

It is the waiting that I really don't like about travel. I'm a guy who likes to be doing something. If I am not driving somewhere, I like being with friends and relatives at the end of the trip. That is the pain about travel by air… there is so much waiting involved.

I once did the math. I can drive from here to my folks' place in Minnesota (about 800 miles away) in only about thirty minutes more than if I fly! Between the drive to the airport, the search for a parking place, waiting for the shuttle, waiting in line to check-in, waiting for the security checkpoint, waiting for the plane, waiting to take off, the actual flight, waiting for my baggage, waiting for the car, and then actually driving from the airport to Central Minnesota there is really no significant time savings to the flight!

I'm going to the beach this time, so the difference between flying and driving is significant. It's 2,100 miles one way and although my personal best is right at 31 hours door-to-door, that kind of pushing really takes it out of me… I need a couple days to recover after a drive like that. But today, I have taken a few precautions to minimize the hassle of the travel.

I have only flown twice before this close to the holiday; both times I was on business trips and had no choice. This is the first time that I will be flying in the holiday crowds by choice. So, to minimize the aggravation, here is the plan:

1)      I've secured myself a frequent flyer upgrade.
(Not only does sitting in First Class give me a more comfortable seat and a crewmember who will fawn over me, but it also gets you through the priority line at security.)
2)      I'm packing light.
(This allows me to breeze through the airport on both ends. I actually will be checking my bag, but that is by choice – I don't have to.)
3)      I'm leaving early.
(The thing about the lines that make most people angry is the fact that they fail to plan for them, they arrive late, and then act all surprised that they are stuck in lines. If you just plan on the lines and arrive early the stress of the lines is mitigated.)
4)      I'm dressing for Security.
(Yes, those people behind you in line have planes to catch. They don't want to watch you do a striptease as you remove half a dozen rings, a watch, a belt, six layers of metal-impregnated clothing, necklaces, hats, scarves, and other assorted accoutrements. I am wearing a belt that has a removable buckle – it snaps off in seconds, slip-off walking shoes, and no watch. Everything metal is going to be in my briefcase before I enter the security line.)
5)      I've purchased a one-day membership to the airline lounge.
(As I have written before, the seats at the airport departure lounges are more-or-less designed to be uncomfortable. At least that is how it seems. So, with the planning to arrive early and a guaranteed long wait, I've decided to wait in comfort in the airline lounge. Not only will it give me a comfortable place to wait, they offer wi-fi, and free beverages and snacks – that alone, given the exorbitant prices at the airport nearly pays for the membership!)
6)      I've mentally prepared for the worst.
(An old adage says that an optimist expects the best and is therefore always disappointed, a pessimist expects the worst and is therefore often pleasantly surprised. This is a rule to live by with today's travel industry. Look on it as an adventure! If you don't expect to ever see your luggage or loved ones again, you'll be giddy with delight when you see both at the end of your journey!)

I am hoping that these few preparations will make today breeze by! I suppose I should post this and go get a cup of coffee... perhaps play with Saga before we head out to the airport.

Wherever you are, if you are travelling for the Thanksgiving Holiday today, I wish you happy and safe travels!

Don Bergquist – November 22, 2011 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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