I am about to embark on a two week trip to Singapore and several places in Australia, all from my London base. And I realize as I do so that I am one of THOSE people. The business travelers that seem to fly in a world quite distinct from the norm. And I feel somewhat apologetic about the path that led me to this life.
Yes, I am one of THOSE people, the people that get off an airplane and look for a person holding a sign with their name written on it. I can’t imagine how I got here. I was raised to be a Super Shuttle girl, a girl who always spent an extra hour trying to get to her hotel after a long flight. A girl who almost missed her flight “home” to the midwest from SF when the driver was running around the town picking up others before going to the airport. I never took a taxi when a shared van would do. And now I look for a person booked by my car service. It’s somewhat discombobulating to realize how far I’ve come from the traveller of my early days.
Now I’m one of THOSE people. I try as best as I can to take a direct flight to my final destination. Of course, I never took a direct flight in my past life. In the US, the cheapest flights are often those that involved a lay-over in some place like Detroit or Atlanta. I certainly never prioritized a flight directly to the place I was going. I spent lots of time in St. Louis or wherever I had landed, but carried around a certain pride about the low plane fare I had won by booking this itinerary. But years of travel have taught me that the best plan is to fly direct into the closest major port: with a driver’s license, you can make up more time by giving up and driving to a connection a few hours away rather than waiting for the (near-bankrupt) airlines to provide you with a shuttle prop-plane with a potentially missed connection.
Now I’m one of THOSE people. I was always a member of a frequent flier club but it never mattered too much. Now I fly almost exclusively across major oceans. The miles add up faster than I could have dreamed as a young girl living in Minnesota, and thinking that San Francisco was the height of travel exoticism. This is the blessing and the curse that comes with living on an island in the eastern Atlantic. I have not graduated to the true life of luxury, in traveling business-class in any of my flights. But I have been upgraded to business-class twice in the past year, because I spend so much time on the road, I suppose, and because I have also been lucky.
So I prep for my trip in the knowledge that I am one of THOSE people. I have a card that gets me into the “club” lounges of the major airlines even when I am flying economy. I have changed from the days when I was living in America, when I thought that traveling 500 miles for work was a long distance (and perhaps involved a stop-over). I have changed from the person I was when I never had to carry my passport whenever I packed my bags. I am no longer the girl who thinks of travel for work as fun, but merely as a necessity of the job I have.
One never expects to be changed, to become one of THOSE people. I can see how it has happened without fully comprehending the transition. And yet, I prepare for my next trip, safe in the knowledge that I will be gathered by a car service on Friday afternoon, to start my latest adventure in Asia.
I hope, selfishly and as one of THOSE people, that the flights will be comfortable and the trip overall will not be too distracting, such that I will be able to see some sights on my visit. And that, on my return, I will be gathered into the back seat of a car to take me straight home, if only for a short visit before the next trip.