I always forget that traveling to someplace exciting means actually having to travel to someplace exciting, and that bit isn’t really exciting at all. I’ve arrived at my first night’s accommodation in Auckland, New Zealand a sweaty, dirty, exhausted mess, roughly 46 hours after I left my home in Tiffin, Ohio. I’ve navigated airports in Columbus, Denver, Los Angeles, Sydney, and Auckland, and I’m so tired I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be not tired. I probably would have even forgotten my own name if it weren’t so conveniently typed out for me on my passport, boarding passes, and credit card.
Airports are remarkably similar the world over. There are check-in counters. There are luggage carts and security checks. There are terminals and gates, cranky babies, long lines in the women’s bathroom, and plenty of ways to part you from your money. Anecdotally I can add that airport food has gotten better, drinking fountains scarcer, and security checks more plentiful. Airports are always great places to go for a walk (particularly if you are facing a 6 hour layover). In addition to window shopping and people watching, it’s great exercise—and if you happen to fall in with a group that is late for the boarding call, you can do a little jogging. There are actually treadmills of a sort, too, but they call them moving walkways and it’s generally frowned upon if you’re using them the wrong direction when the airport is busy.
Airplanes, too, are predictable quantities, particularly if you’re flying economy class. There’s not much foot room. It’s hard to find enough space in overhead bins. Flight attendants explain in detail how to fasten your seat belt (insert the metal tab into the buckle and tighten by pulling on the strap…) Someone at some point is going to jostle your elbow. And there are still cranky babies. Getting up and walking the aisles doesn’t make a flight go any faster although it does help circulation to your feet. If you’re lucky both the in-flight entertainment and the food are free.
Having passed through multitudes of airports and airplanes, here I am, sitting in my hotel room, just outside of the airport with barely a thought to rattle around in my weary brain. I’m listening to chirping birds and the soft swish of sheer curtains as they are ruffled by a breeze, but compared to constant airport chatter and airplane engine noise, the peace and calm are amazing. The trees and shrubs are unfamiliar but the sky is a fading blue with a few fluffy white clouds. There are flowers blooming because, yes, outside it is summer. I think to myself, I’m here. I’m in New Zealand. And exhaustion just doesn’t seem to matter.