I used to wonder what the threshold level was to pass, when I traveled enough for it to primarily define who I am. I have always traveled, but how can I reach the point where I am a traveler, much like Socrates was a philosopher and Homer was a poet? And like them, I want to be great at that thing that defines me; not in any way that makes me rich or famous, but in a way that fulfills my ambition and positively impacts those I am around. Working fairly long hours at my day job (55-70 hours), I thought that I was destined to claim that title which I dreamed of when I am much older, because this shit’s expensive and time consuming, right?
That’s absolutely right (you were probably thinking I was about to denounce that, huh?). It is expensive and takes a lot of free time, but that money and time would have been used differently had I stayed home (I am not great at saving!). I fancy myself a budget traveler, and if that adjective were to make it in with that title I aim for, I wouldn’t complain, and being a born-and-raised New Yorker makes me pretty thrifty at budgeting my time. There are many money- and time-saving things that I do to make traveling easier, and I continue to talk about them a lot in the Travel Hacking section of the site.
So, after thinking about it since New Year’s eve, I have decided that yes, I am a traveler. I haven’t discontinued working my day job, but I still find time to travel, though somewhat unconventionally. Most of my travel takes place between the time which I happily leave work Friday evening and the dreadful wee hours of Monday morning, when another workweek begins. But I get a lot done in two days abroad, and even more if I travel domestically. I am almost always traveling solo, which I don’t mind, and it helps me focus on what it was I came to do in the first place, which is to get a taste of the food, people, culture, and general atmosphere.
On New Year’s eve, I left Mexico for New York, but I had an overnight layover at RDU (Raleigh-Durham International Airport). I only went to Mexico because I needed to earn 3400 more miles until I reached the Delta Medallion Program’s Silver elite status, and I forced the layover at RDU to put me over the top. I was thinking of spending my New Year’s eve night sleeping over at RDU, on one of the benches, but then I decided to treat myself to a airport hotel (It was New Year’s, but my arm didn’t need a whole lot of twisting, either). I checked in to the hotel and ordered some takeout, which is difficult, it seems, in North Carolina after 8pm. The night was spent writing a previous blog post, but it made me happy. That’s when I realized that I could legitimately call myself a traveler. The next morning, I hopped on my flight back to New York. This January is helping me realize quite a bit of travel; Tomorrow, I head off for San Francisco to see one of my best friends, and like always, I will be leaving Saturday morning and returning on the red-eye Sunday night, to be back a few hours before work starts Monday morning. I used miles for that trip, so I paid only for the $5.00 tax that was charged to book the award flight. Next weekend, I am going to Chicago, to visit one of my other best friends. Though I have nothing yet booked for the weekend after next, the following week (the first week in February) has a tripped booked for 4 different countries; I will be visiting Montreal, Amsterdam, Warsaw, and Paris, all for a mileage run and for some fresh things to write about.
This month is probably a bit more hectic than most of my months, but I believe that I have earned the title of ‘Traveler’. Hopefully soon I can embark on longer adventures to satisfy my hunger!