Advice to travelers, young and old

Just be flexible. That’s the advice I received before traveling abroad. I figured people meant that plans might change, or I wouldn’t be able to see everything I wanted. I could be that kind of flexible. I never thought that I would end up spending a night in the airport.

Airports. This is the theme of this edition of jet-setting with Julie. When I was young, I loved airports. They implied adventure and change which always excited me. The feeling of taking off and flying through the clouds, watching the earth and its contents shrink was momentous. It made me feel big.

As I continued to grow up, traveling became more and more vital to me. I’ve always been the type of person to get bored easily, constantly looking for some new escapade to delve into. Studying abroad was one of the scariest and most exciting things I ever decided to do. It meant flying over half of America, international waters, and an entirely new continent.

As I have continued moving from country to country, I find myself less excited to fly. It feels normal, as if it is part of my weekly routine. I study for a week, then, on Thursday or Friday, I jump on an airplane and fly to a new country. It’s sad that I lost that excitement. It’s become a matter of waiting in lines, going through security, and sitting on a stuffy flight with strangers. Luckily, this past weekend, I think I got the sense of the excitement of traveling back.

My latest journey was to Stockholm, Sweden. Now there isn’t a lot that comes to my mind when I think of Stockholm except that the band ABBA originates from Sweden, so in 2013 a museum was made in honor of them. I found someone that was equally obsessed, and we booked a flight on a whim. The trip played out nicely. ABBA the Museum was unreal and life-changing, and Stockholm is just plain stunning. Then, on our way back we got stuck at an airport in London. The train that we would normally take didn’t call at our stop (A British term meaning it didn’t stop where we needed it to). So we decided to spend the night at the airport. I got home at 7:30 in the morning and flopped onto my bed.

The problem with excessive travel is that you begin to take it for granted. I have one more trip this week and then I have a break for about a month. In that time period, I can get reacquainted with the excitement of seeing something new.

Airports are such a small part of traveling. It’s once you walk out the doors and see the sky from a completely different place that you begin to realize how exciting traveling is. Don’t rely on flexibility to get you through studying abroad. Rely on gratitude. In three months, I have seen more of the world than my mom has in her whole life. So be grateful if you get to see the world whether you go from Dubuque to Chicago or Chicago to London. Not everyone gets the opportunity. Airports get you there, but they aren’t everything.
Best of luck travelers.

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