Thursday, September 5, 2013

Confessions from a Solo Traveler

You know what the greatest challenge flying solo is?

It’s not the ticket agents or hauling luggage through customs or removing shoes in security checkpoints. It’s not navigating the airport signs or standing confused before the electronic listing of departures and arrivals. It’s not even having a seatmate of a complete stranger.

No, the greatest challenge is rather more primal in nature.

The public restroom.

Just think—the lone wanderer returning from years (or even just weeks) overseas wants to pack light and indeed could probably get away with all her clothes and necessities crammed into one computer case (I could...), BUT the urge to bring gifts and food and artifacts and cool things back to her eager friends and family back home means utilizing that luggage allowance to its max.

And that means, with no travelling partner to watch baggage outside by the little drinking fountain, it won’t all fit in one of those teeny-tiny bathroom stalls.

So, the solo nomad has to become strategic. You quickly learn to time your restroom visits either while you are on the plane or before you need to retrieve your suitcase at the whirling baggage claim. Of course, if you managed to go through the 10 hour flight refusing the free drink (which is the ONLY free thing, so you should take advantage of it) and thus are now flirting with dehydration or you happen to have a bladder strength equivalent to a rhinoceros, you might be able to wait through all the lines of security and customs and more checking counters before finding relief... but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Then there are the variations of the bathroom dilemma—trying to order food when hauling all your worldly possessions behind you, needing to load yourself down with your carry-on and purse and jacket and computer case just so you can leave your seat and walk the 20 feet to the gate counter to find out if there is a delay in departure, attempting to look at some items in a store without knocking half the other merchandising off the shelves behind you...

Yes, they all require a certain degree of finesse. But, nothing quite beats navigating the intricacies of the airport ‘loo.

Aren’t you glad you know now? :)