Cede control and enjoy travel’s ‘travails’


Nancy Kirsch

PROVIDENCE – Forty-seven … that is the number of states I’ve visited. The number on that counter hasn’t moved in more than a decade.

Despite my best efforts, I haven’t made it to Alaska yet; my plans to kayak there last summer didn’t pan out. South Dakota offers Mount Rushmore and the Badlands, but North Dakota … really? North Dakota doesn’t seem jammed with tourist-worthy sites.

As much as I love the novelty of visiting a new continent, country or city, I am not a good traveler. I pack too much of the wrong stuff. Time changes, directions and currency calculations sometimes send my math-phobic brain into unproductive overdrive.

Some of my travel experiences are reminiscent of “I Love Lucy” episodes. Years ago, a college friend and I drove from Indiana to New Orleans, La., and Mexico. Both natives of Indianapolis, Ind., we wasted a good hour or two unsuccessfully navigating  our way out of … Indianapolis. Later, after some critically important papers blew out the window after we had crossed into Mexico, we had to retrace our steps – 30 miles of steps! –and throw ourselves on the mercy of Mexican authorities.

On another cross-country trip, I was driving in the Colorado mountains, near dusk, when my little Honda was bombarded with surprises – a sudden snowstorm and a group of runaway horses – that left me momentarily dazed.

Then there’s the time that my daughter, then in middle school, and I eagerly anticipated seeing a particular Broadway show during her March vacation.

The night before we were due to take the train down to New York, I pulled out the theater ticket information to tuck safely into my suitcase. I looked and, dismayed, looked again, at the email confirming our ticket purchases. I had purchased two tickets to the show for the prior Thursday!

Like day-to-day life, travel presents opportunities for both joys and oys. I’m much better at rolling with the annoyances associated with travel than with everyday life, I think.

“We’re going to have an adventure” was my standard response when our kids were young and we faced unexpected flight cancellations or missed connections.

The total opposite of a white-knuckled flier, I put complete faith in pilots; I am absolutely certain that I’m not in charge … and don’t need to be. It’s liberating to turn over control to someone else.

My travels this summer – to Seattle, Wash., for an American Jewish Press Association annual meeting  – and Italy (Florence, Rome and Venice) – will not add any cities, states or countries to my “travel scorecard.” Nevertheless, I look forward to opportunities to learn and laugh, eat and enjoy, explore and study … and “have an adventure” or two.

Our “Summer Fun/Summer Travel” section includes stories about past and future summer adventures.  Enjoy the summer; before you know it, it’ll be time for our Aug. 2 “Back to School” issue.