Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | January 30, 2002

Travel travails well worth the rewards

The ability human beings have to repress unpleasant memories is probably a survival instinct. In this modern era of birth control, what else can explain the existence of siblings, except that women suppress their recollections of childbirth?

When it comes to vacations, we remember the beautiful sights, the lovely weather and the fabulous food, but easily forget the god-awful times at the airport.

The seeming endless lines, the long, boring waits in uncomfortable waiting areas, the excruciating delays – please, someone remind me again why I want to travel. I feel so much like cattle at the airport, I sometimes have to suppress the urge to moo.

Add flying with children to the mix, and it’s no wonder we choose to forget.

Now, post-Sept. 11, those airport stories are only going to get more horrific. But, heeding comdeian Bill Maher’s words (“The only carry-on items should be diapers and insulin.”), I’m going to do my part to shorten the lines at the x-ray machines guarding the departure gates.

I’m getting ready to fly for the first time since the terror attacks in September, and I am carefully considering every item that will take up residence in my carry-on bag.

My Palm Pilot probably will not garner a spot. While the phone numbers and addresses might be convenient to have, I probably won’t need them, and I don’t want to include anything that might look suspicious to the x-ray machine. And I have enough concern that my checked luggage might disappear forever that I won’t pack it there.

The same thing goes for my 10-year-old son’s Game Boy. I think Andrew will mostly catch up on school work during the five-hour flight. He’s missing four days of school, so there should be plenty for him to do while we’re airborne. Coloring and story books will supplement Katie’s first-grade school work.

We’ll both pack books. I picked up a paperback thriller that Brad Jones and Cinda Meister, owners of Booksmart, recommended highly. Three books for Andrew should give him a break from school paper work.

My husband, however, will not be without his laptop. He’s preparing for our trip by hunting for Internet dial-up numbers for the Big Island of Hawaii. He says there’s no way he can be out of touch with his start-up company for six days straight, so be sure not to get in line behind him at the security checkpoint – I know I won’t – he’ll have every electronic device he owns in his carry-on. I’m sure security will inspect and turn on each and every one.

And in case he really holds things up, I think I’ll hold onto the airline tickets. He may want to be on-line and in touch, but I don’t want to risk missing our plane.

I want to build sand castles on breathtaking beaches, watch for whales, visit volcanoes, eat tantalizing food that someone else cooks, and be blissfully unaware of deadlines. I want to spend time in a place that never has the words “near freezing temperatures” in its weather forecasts. I want to watch my kids’ eyes grow wide with wonder at new sights and tastes.

Now I remember – that’s why I want to travel.

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