It’s December of 2009 and I’m about to embark on a two-month assignment with United Airlines. I’ve been selected to be part of a team helping to set up the Lagos, Nigeria airport operation. This should be an exciting moment, but it is met with mixed emotions. Why? Not because it is Nigeria, but be- cause it would be the first time Lana is not joining me for such a long adventure. She is not only my wife but she’s also my travel companion.
Charles Schulz wrote: “In Life, It’s Not Where You Go, It’s Who You Travel With.” Before I thought about my story, I might’ve said: “Phooey to that.
Doesn’t he know TCC members? It clearly is about getting to Bhutan, American Samoa and Venezuela, right?” Yes, but for those of us who have that constant travel companion(s), the one person we must see the world with, our travel equation is only partially complete when that person(s) is not by our side.
Now some of you solo travelers may be taking this as your cue to flip the page, scanning the colourful quiz photos on page 7, but stay with me. Even solo travelers can identify with this story in some way—all of us have had a travel companion at some point.
So who are these travel companions? Growing up, they start off as our parents and siblings. And then we get a little older and we explore a little more with a best friend, spouse or even a child. Somewhere along the way, we are shown … The TCC list. At this point, a metamorphosis occurs within us where we become an adventurous butterfly ready to explore the world.
So what happens with those travel companions? Some might say: “Okay. Let’s go on that Trans-Siberian rail trip together.” But most will bow out, seeking to recharge at the same all-inclusive Cancun resort year after year like a deciduous-chewing caterpillar stays on the same leaf. We almost become misunderstood to these former companions. That’s okay, we meet other travelers and locals along the way who fill that travel void.
I’m truly lucky that the person I liked, became the person I loved, eventually married, and now travel with … until death do us part. Lana is that special person who tolerates my erratic planning and shenanigans in every country we visit. She’s bought into the whole airline standby game we play, which has led us to so many spontaneous adventures. We complement each other with me taking care of the travel logistics and she diving in deep to chase an interesting experience we must share once we arrive. We’ve simply come to the conclusion that we are destined to be on this travel odyssey together.
So why did I open with my Nigerian adventure? I was thumbing through the clichéd travel quotes and found this one which made me laugh: “I would gladly live out of a suitcase if it meant I could see the world with you.” It made me laugh because it made me think about something hilarious Lana did the night before I set off for Lagos.
It is usually my role to take something to the “next level” but she takes the prize for making me smile. Even though she would eventually join me in Lagos, Lana demonstrated that she was ready to go now—quite remarkably, climbing into my suitcase. Oh my gosh! Where’s the camera?
Mr. Schultz was right in saying that who we travel with makes life more complete. It taught me that for every trip and adventure I’ve taken, when we leave home to set off to meet new people, Lana, my travel companion, is the one person I want to see the world with.