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I Steal Plastic Forks: My Travel Quirk Confessions

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Six months into my new career as a professional development trainer a-go-go (I added the a-go-go part), I’ve traveled more than I ever thought possible.  Those people who say they travel for work but actually just commute somewhere on a Monday-Thursday basis?  Yeah.  Those people don’t travel for work.  Last week I worked in DC on a Thursday, South Texas on Friday and Saturday, and Charlotte, North Carolina on Tuesday and Wednesday (and then returned to south Texas on Saturday and returned to Charlotte on Monday, via San Antonio).  Within the span of fifteen days, I worked eight days, traveled six days, drove over 800 miles, and took off and landed a dozen times.

I am so tired.  And I smell like an airplane lavatory.

During all of this travel, I’ve developed some coping mechanisms.  Well, I call them coping mechanisms.  Others would call them compulsions.  Potato, po-tah-to.

My Travel Quirk Confessions

-When booking connecting flights, I reserve seats on opposite sides of the plane for every other leg.  So, for example, I’ll select seat 22D (right side of the plane) for my flight from Philly to Charlotte and seat 19C (left side of the plane) for my flight from Charlotte to Dallas. That sounds a bit odd.  That is, until I tell you why–then it sounds a lot odd.  You see, these are both aisle seats (I require an aisle seat).  And while sitting in an aisle seat on the left side of the plane, I can cross my left leg over my right; while sitting in an aisle seat on the right side of the plane, the opposite is true.  This way, during the course of perhaps six hours on a plane in one day, my legs are crossed in different directions and thus I feel more…evened out.

-When getting up to use the lavatory on the plane (the main reason for that aisle seat), I count my steps from my seat to the lavatory so that I can find my way back (I also do this in movie theaters).  Sure, I could just look at the numbers over the seats–or, you know, look for that one empty aisle seat with my scarf puddled in the middle–but that would just not be obsessive enough for me.

-Despite my extreme-light-packing style, I travel with a corkscrew (the kind that is mostly plastic with just the screwy part), two different sized ziplock bags (large ones for the bathing suit I never have time to use and the small ones for absolutely anything else, including stealing food from the free hotel breakfast bar to eat for lunch), and at least one plastic spoon.  I actually just used my last plastic spoon–I need to grab a new one at the next airport food court.  Oh yeah, that’s right.  I steal plasticware from airport food courts (and anywhere else that provides free plasticware).  I was actually at the grocery store at home a while ago and saw a container of plastic-wrapped plasticware; my hand reached out to grab a spork of its own free will.  I then realized where I was and reigned myself back in, slowly muttering under my breath ‘you have forks AND spoons at home, Tracy.  It’ll be ok.  You won’t have to eat yogurt with your hands…again.

-When re-packing after a more-than-one-night stay, I slowly migrate all of my possessions into the middle of the room.  I first make sure that the area east of the bed (you know, towards the horizon that is the window–it is east because that’s where the sun rises…) is free of my possessions.  Then I migrate everything west of the bed–the bathroom area and closet and other side table–into the middle as well.  I probably would look crazy should anyone be able to watch (fortunately no one can) but hey, I’ve haven’t lost anything yet!  (And now I have to knock on wood…)

-I can work anywhere.  All I need is a wifi connection, four square feet in which to sit, and a pair of ear buds.  Instant office.

-I’ve developed some odd eating habits.  My favorite grocery store items are cups of pomegranate seeds and anything from an olive bar (unless I’m lucky enough to be somewhere with a Trader Joe’s or, better, a Whole Foods.  Then it’s all prepared sandwiches and sparkling juice.) When I go out for lunch or dinner, I’ll order two soups.  And that’s it.  Yes, hello, I’d like the French onion soup and then the tomato bisque, thanks.  Because that’s normal. But do you know what is also not normal?  The way most people eat in their own home (for example, for breakfast this morning I had one meatball and four cookies).  I’ve just made the world my own kitchen.  Deal with it, world.

I’m sure this is just scratching the surface of the odd travel-thing I’ve become.  And of course, there are some things that will never change.  I will continue to take too many photos (and then overly filter and saturate them before posting them on every form of social media).  I will continue to seek out unique, local places to eat.  I will continue to drink cheap wine out of paper coffee cups in hotel rooms.  And I will continue to share my adventures–and misadventures–here on The Suitcase Scholar.  Thanks for following along with me, and here’s to a year full of new adventures in 2014!

Question: do you have any odd travel quirks of your own?  If so, please make me feel better about my own oddities by sharing your stories in the comments section.  Thanks! 

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