There’s something that I’ve wanted to get off my chest for the past couple of months. I’ve seen multiple Twitter conversations lately between several different people that I follow debating the end goal of accumulating miles and points for travel. And I’m not talking about the addiction of earning status or milking the system for the cheapest possible accrual.
I’m referring to the simple act of flying for flying’s sake. I’ve seen exchanges between people who describe those of us who simply travel for the experience of travel – without seeing anything at the destination – as being incorrect, “doing it wrong” or missing rewarding experiences. And I’ve remained out of those conversations on purpose planning for a post such as this one. After all, 140 characters on Twitter can only explain so much.
First, let me emphatically respond by answering, “No, sorry, I’m not doing it wrong… for me.” From the sights, sounds and even smells of an airport to the inexplicable joy I receive by gazing out the window while airborne, you have no right to tell me that my desired “destination” isn’t the journey itself.
I will, however, admit that the most educational and rewarding experiences I’ve ever had were traveling to other countries and being exposed to their people, culture, food and more. Hands down, travel is the most spectacular gift one can ever receive.
But from very early on, my primary passion remained the act of traveling itself. Even before I ever stepped onboard an airplane, I found hotels exciting when my family took road trips to visit relatives. It was fun to check into a hotel, explore the room, check out the grounds and see other people doing the same. I used to love spotting hotel signs along the roadside while traveling through cities. Remember the iconic Holiday Inn signs (if you’re old enough)?
And when I began flying, it became such an instrumental requirement for fulfillment that I began “mileage running” before mileage running existed. In the 1980s while in high school, I flew repeated (and I mean repeated) day trips from O’Hare to the airports in Detroit, Kansas City and more just to satisfy my wanderlust and desire for the experience itself.
Back then, financial resources (and lying to my parents about where I was) certainly dictated just how much I could do. But I was happy, joyful and gained such an appreciation for simply flying that flying became the destination. It didn’t matter where I was going; the magic of flight consumed me.
And the destination of flying remains as such to this day. In some cases, I will still travel simply to experience a new airline, a new onboard product, or a new airliner just for the sake of it.
Many of you won’t understand this, but in 2010 I flew (LAX-) SEA-FRA-BKK-FRA-DEN (-LAX) on Lufthansa in first class, all without staying more than about eight hours each in Frankfurt and Bangkok, simply for the experience of it. And it was brilliant for me. [Side note: This was before my blogging career began, but I posted videos of my trip on YouTube here and here.]
So… I would recommend not judging anyone that you might find crazy for flying just for the sake of flying without doing more. They, and I, are absolutely fulfilled by the experience. Between individual preferences, financial resources and/or other constraints, flying might be the most fulfilling experience one can have, regardless of destinational rewards.
Telling someone that they are “wrong” because they don’t travel for the same reasons as you is… well… just wrong.
– Follow Darren Booth on Twitter, @FrequentlyFlyin, for more airline, hotel and travel industry news, reviews and opinions.