As I slog through the various airports on my journey, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Honolulu, and Auckland, I find myself wondering what happened to the golden age of air travel?
It is important to note I’m wearing my hiking ensemble, wicking t shirt, Kuhl shorts, SmartWool socks, Oboz boots, and my Backpacking the World ball cap. While I will not make Mr. Blackwell’s list even when I try my hardest, I remember as a child my family flew to Pennsylvania on Eastern Airlines (there’s a blast from the past for some of you) and we had to get dressed up. Now, travelers opt to be comfortable and the volume of flip flops and Juicy sweat pants I see all around me tells me that flying isn’t the special event that it once was.
Now we see flying as merely a step along the way in our journey. And airlines have facilitated this transition from flying as luxury to means to an end by lowering fares and packing as many people into an airplane as possible. We’ve grown accustomed to air travel when just a generation ago, air travel was barely available. I was also amazed at the things people were checking for baggage. I’ve traveled on business and taken crates of equipment to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, but watching coolers and lawn chairs being checked in made me smile. I guess you never know what you’re going to need once you get to your final destination!
I cannot help but marvel at how far we, as a species, have progressed. How much we have changed our environments to meet our needs. Need to get to the other side of the world? Hop a plane! Weather too hot? Turn on the air conditioning! Want to know what’s happening in Europe? Check the internet!
All of these things we’re fantasy to my parents generation. Yes, planes and air conditioning and newspapers existed, but the speed these things evolved to be available to the common man is mind boggling. I met a ten year old kid in Honolulu while waiting for my next plane who was teaching his father all about the features of iOS 12. His dad told me the kid knows more about computers and he learned it all in school because they, the parents, never had time to bother learning. All the dad cared about was calling and texting.
We live in a world of marvels that we take for granted every day. I think I’m glad I’ll be taking the world on foot. It brings things back into scale for me. My journey to Cape Reinga is on Monday. I’m ready to catch up on sleep and get going!