Head in the Clouds (By Pam Selker Rak)

PassportI travel a lot for business. My clients are dispersed all over the country so it seems that I’m always in an airplane – with my head in the clouds – going from east to west and north to south. For work, it’s necessary and, I’ll even admit that, sometimes, it can be draining.

Someday, I’m going to write a book about airports because I’ve been in nearly all of them and I can give my fellow travelers a really good overview about the best – and the worst – of them. And yes, I do have a few traveling “pet peeves.”

  • People who stand still on people-movers (it’s called “people-mover” for a reason!).
  • The Philadelphia airport, which I avoid at all costs.
  • Men on cell phones calling their wives from the airplane. “Yes, I’m boarded and we’re getting ready to take off now.” Really, guys? Really?
  • The same men who stop dead as they’re walking down a busy airport corridor to answer their phones.  “Yes, we just landed and I’m walking down a hallway now.”Really, guys? Really?

One of these days, I’m going to suggest that they just wear tracking devices. And wives, please try to trust your husband a little bit more when they travel. Because, let’s face it…if they’re going to do something bad, they’re probably not going to call you during those moments. So please spare the rest of us from suffering through these tedious airport conversations.

Oh yes, there are a lot of annoyances when it comes to business travel these days. But when it comes to traveling for pleasure, I just can’t seem to get enough. I am a firm believer in getting out and seeing as much of the world as possible. For me, it’s changed my life.

And, in fact, I love it so much that I decided that I wanted to share my passion with my nieces and nephews. When each of them graduate from college, my gift to them is a trip. There are only two stipulations: (1) The trip has to be somewhere outside of the United States; and (2) The destination has to be a joint decision between me and each of them.

Why do I feel that traveling abroad be important, especially for young people? Here are a few reasons:

  • It gets you out of your comfort zone. Life isn’t always warm and fuzzy. It’s full of challenge and difficult moments that force you to react quickly and smartly. Traveling is a great way to learn how to deal with challenging situations. Getting lost in a foreign land, not being able to communicate easily with people whose first language isn’t English, understanding a completely different monetary system are all great ways to learn how to navigate through challenges.
  • It makes you more culturally sensitive. I always believed that we are too incubated here in the United States. To better understand people, it’s imperative to see them first-hand in their own cultures. When you do this, it gives you a broader understanding; and quite frankly it makes you realize that, by and large, we are all working toward the same things as human beings.
  • It helps you get in touch with your own roots. Many of us come from families that have immigrated to the United States from different countries. There’s nothing cooler than visiting those countries to see where your roots are. And when you still have relatives who live in those countries, better yet! It opens you up to a whole new world – and a whole new understanding of who you are and where you come from.

But I think the most important thing about traveling is that it puts life in perspective. I can’t count how many times I’ve looked down at my city from 20,000 feet and realizing how tiny it looks. There’s a great big, beautiful world out there – filled with people who you should meet and who want to meet you. Don’t pass-up the opportunity to do so!

I promise you that you’ll never come home the same. A smell, a sound, a color or a picture will forever live in your mind – and change you forever. So what are you waiting for? Get your head in the clouds!

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