On the Eve of a Departure, Reflecting on What Travel Means

I remember once telling a friend in an email that I was headed to Austria. “Don’t hit any kangaroos,” he replied.  I think about this story and the last time I was headed to this same city, Australia’s second largest metropolis–Melbourne.  Tonight’s flight will take me across the Pacific for 15 1/2 hours and some time tomorrow afternoon I’ll stagger from the plane.  Then we’ll drive a few hours south to Geeley and the next morning, I’ll commence on my long, long walk along the southern Indian Ocean.

Americans are catching up with the rest of the world when it comes to travel–now nearly 30 percent of us own passports. Compare this to the UK, where more than 80 percent have them. Some people explain this by the fact that we have so much to see and do here, it’s not as necessary to leave as it would be in say, Europe, where the countries are sort of like our states. The recently higher number of passports is also explained by the law in 2007 that requires them for travel to Mexico and Canada. Without this, I doubt we’d see a full one third of America with passports.

I travel with some degree of mixed emotion tonight. On one hand, I’m terrifically excited to be going on a real adventure. Yet there is another part of me who dreads the long flight, the being away from grandchildren, my sweetheart and the comfortable familiar of my beloved home and work lives.  But again and again, that first few days, when the excitement and newness is fresh like a spring morning, there is just nothing better. I remember in 2008  walking down by a river in Melbourne on a crisp warm summer day. I listened to music on my ipod and I had a confident stride–I was feeling so great to be right there, about to embark on another day’s adventure.

But I’m making this long trip alone, and that’s sometimes good but often, just not as much fun. I have become addicted to sharing joys in my life with a certain someone, and going all this long way without her makes me miss her–already.  But there is a story to write, and people to meet, and a challenging Great Ocean Walk to conquer.

I’m sure I’ll return happy that I took this long flight and on my way home, I’ll get the chance to fly in the great Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger plane. It has four different classes of service and holds a whopping 455 passengers.  I’ll share it all with you right here.