Sunday, September 6, 2015

Travel vs. Transit

Penn Station, NYC
Travel and transit, while they may sound similar, they are, to me, polar opposites but inextricably tied together. As I write this I sit on the floor of gate C75 at Newark International Airport. There are no seats to be found because, as is always true in the summer, flights become delayed, gates change at rapid rates, and a great deal of people who never travel suddenly show up. So I sit on the floor contemplating for the millionth time why I continue to put myself through all of this. I determined that my reasons stemmed from my ever-growing love of travel and my ability to grin and bear the transit. 

Sikkal Train Station, India
It’s a delicate balance that I strike each time I throw my possessions in a suitcase and schlep through yet another crowded city. Right now, my love of travel outweighs my loathing of transit, so I press on. What’s the difference you ask? Travel is full of new sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and experiences. It is discovering a place for the first time, or like visiting an old friend. Transit is moving from one place to another, switching planes, trains, buses, boats, or anything in between. Most of it, however, involves a barrage of inconveniences. One after another like whack-a-mole, the difficulties pop up: getting to the airport, checking in, making sure my bag isn't too big or too heavy. Don’t get me started on security. The gate will probably change a couple times without notification, and a sorry looking turkey sandwich is $25! It’s painful, just like sitting in economy, knees squished up to neck-level. Some flights are smooth, and some are not. As Forest Gump would say, it’s a box of chocolates. Arrival includes bloodshot eyes and a disoriented expression while faced with the task of reuniting with luggage and navigating the cacophony of taxi drivers, buses, limo drivers, and many many cars driven by people who appear to be behind the wheel for the first time. If we’re lucky, someone is there waiting, and if we're like everyone else, it may just be the beginning. 

Andes Mountains from Above
And still we soldier on through nauseating bus rides and missed train connections, cancellations and hassle. Maintaining sanity is a real challenge, but attitude is everything. So as I begin my next round of transit which will involve an overnight flight and a 5 hour stretch waiting for a Greyhound bus, I must remember that there is a new city, new friends, and new adventures ahead. For now, the transit is still worth it.