As with just about every other year, 2016 had its share of ups and downs; however, many of mine this year were literal ups and downs in the form of takeoffs and landings.
For me, 2016 was The Year of Travel. As I’ve mentioned before, I work for Automattic, a fully distributed company, which means my co-workers are scattered across the globe. So part of the job is to travel 2 to 4 weeks a year to meet with co-workers. This year, however, I attended quite a lot of conferences in addition to the normal travel, which ultimately meant I was traveling on average one week per month.
For someone who came into this job a little over 3 years ago without much travel experience, this has been one of the most rewarding changes to see in myself: an overall comfort level with travel in general and air travel in particular, given my previous state of near-phobia. I’m also now very comfortable traveling alone and meeting up with people in various far-flung destinations.
My husband mentioned that it’s so nice to travel with me now because I know what I’m doing, but it’s not that. I’m just much more comfortable with the fact that I don’t always know what I’m doing.
I don’t always have a plan and when I do, it doesn’t always work. I just roll with it and it always ends up being OK. Like that time I landed early in the morning in Lisbon and realized that I didn’t have the address for the Airbnb I was staying in…no biggie, I just had a (terrible) airport cappuccino, messaged my host, and waited for her to wake up to answer me. Or the time I arrived at Gare du Nord in Paris and called an Uber driver, who could not find me in the massive crowd and spoke no English (my French isn’t so great either). He was resourceful and found a random person who spoke both languages and who graciously agreed to get on the phone to interpret (turned out to be one of the best Uber rides I’ve had). Or the time our Airbnb host contacted me the day before our flight to London to let us know there was a plumbing problem in the flat we booked, but he worked around the Airbnb booking system (a potential red flag) and made a temporary arrangement for us to stay at his friend’s place instead. We could have canceled the booking and tried to find a different place but with such short notice, we just said OK. They both turned out to be fantastic hosts.
Things don’t always work out as planned, but that often makes for a more interesting experience.
According to my TripIt stats, in 2016, I traveled almost 70,000 air miles to 26 cities in 10 countries for a total of 85 days. And I finally managed to earn status on an airline too!
2017 is shaping up to be similar to 2016 in terms of travel, but we’ll see what happens.