I would love international travel so much more if it didn't require plane rides. While some people enjoy traveling by air - they're amazed at the miracle of flight, or maybe they just like having some quiet reading/music listening/nap time to themselves - I can barely even tolerate it. Yesterday's Paris-Newark-Newark-Minneapolis itinerary provided a friendly reminder of this unfortunate fact as I struggled to get through the long voyage home. The sad and slightly embarrassing truth is that I'm just not good at riding in an airplane. Oh sure, I'm great at buying tickets, packing light, getting quickly and painlessly through check-in and security, and navigating through new or unfamiliar airports, but it all goes downhill the moment the plane leaves the gate. I took my first flight when I was five years old, when, upon landing, I promptly threw up. Things haven't gotten much better from there.
My failings as an airline passenger take on many forms. First, at 5 feet 8 inches tall, I'm always uncomfortable in my seat. Even aisle seats are uncomfortable, and as an energetic movement-loving person, I just don't like being confined to a chair for hours on end regardless of the leg room situation. Speaking of my body, flying turns it into one beauty disaster after another. My hair gets filled with abnormal amounts of static from the dry cabin air, my eyes get red and puffy for the same reason, I alternate from shivering cold to sweaty and hot no matter how much I add or remove layers, and swear I gain two pounds on every leg of the trip. I don't like breathing stale airplane air, I don't like much of the food they serve on board, and I'm physically incapable of sleeping in a seated position. Then there is the fear factor. Flying scares me. I'm that white-knuckled girl gripping the arm rest for her dear life during takeoff and landing. Every bump or shake of the plane conjures up images of it bursting into flames and falling out of the sky. If all of that weren't enough to make flying an unpleasant proposition, I also easily get airsick. My first flight set in motion a life-long pattern of airborne nausea and even the occasional losing of the lunch. Yes, some people actually do use the barf bags.
A more rational person might take a look at that list of cons and decide that maybe she should just stay away from airplanes altogether. After all, that's a whole lot of unpleasantness wrapped into a few short hours for one person to have to deal with. But I've never given a second's thought to taking a flight. I love to travel, and I'm not going to let yucky food, dry air or even a fear of death by falling from 30,000 feet stop me from doing it. I might be the least enthusiastic airline passenger ever, but I'm big into traveling. If I have to fly to experience new cultures, meet new people, and have see new things, then so be it. As for the airsickness, I sincerely apologize to anyone who has had to sit next to me during one of my incidents. I fully realize that I am in no way doing my part to make this whole flying thing any more pleasant.