I figure I’ve been in about 80 airports around the world. That’s a lot of time spent in airports. I started out at 7 months and just kept going. As a typical TCK, I learned to fly before I walked. By the time I was 11 months old I had been in a car, on a train, on a plane, on a boat and up a funicular. All those “at what age” questions in my baby book were full in no time.
I know some people feel at home in airports, or love being in airports. I hate them. For the most part, they are just boring. I have spent hours zoned out, jet lagged, and sleep deprived on hard benches waiting for the weather to clear or the congestion to ease up or to make up for a lost connection.
Some of my life’s most terrifying experiences happened at airports. When I was 5, my family was in a plane crash in Denver, Colorado. When I was 14, I almost missed my flight from Miami to Bogota. When I was 18, I ended up being wait-listed on a midnight flight from Geneva to Nairobi, not knowing if I would be stranded.
It seems that whenever I was in these kinds of situations, I never had much money and I never had needed contact information. I just got on airplanes and expected everything to go okay and didn’t worry about it. Had I missed that flight to Bogota, all I had was my parent’s address in Bogota. No phone number, no other contact info. I suppose I could have called my brother but I’m not even sure I had his contact info. After all I was 14 years old.
But I was lucky. There were times when things didn’t go that well, but somehow I always managed to get where I was going. Over the years, I learned there were times when you really could depend on the kindness of strangers.
Travel has become more difficult, more crowded, more expensive, more stressful. But I keep doing it. My next trip is to the Arctic via Scotland. Wish me luck!