When I got my new position at work about a year ago I was ecstatic. It meant an exciting job in social media and an even more exciting move to California. It also meant my days of work travel (aka spoiled produce, dead houseplants, free toothpaste, and calling the Hyatt Regency Irvine “home”) were over. While I often enjoyed my Up in the Air lifestyle, I looked forward to the idea of cooking my own dinners, having an empty TiVo, and not getting patted down on the way to the office.
But a year later, I’m starting to feel hints of withdrawal. I pick friends up from the airport and accidentally drive into the rental car return lane, on a recent trip back home to Phoenix my favorite TSA guy had forgotten my name, I have recurring dreams about Egg McMuffins, and I’m oblivious to what’s going on in the world without my regular US Weekly.
But then there are the more critical consequences. I still choke up when I remember the day my Hyatt Platinum membership card arrived in the mail. After a year of Diamond status, the red carpet has been rolled back in, and I’m going to have to start paying for my own wine. Then this morning, I squeezed the final drop of minty freshness from its travel-sized tube. I haven’t purchased toothpaste since 2008 and hell if I’m going to start now. Then there’s the final blow – I’m down to sixteen Southwest drink coupons.
I do try to count my blessings. When a friend invites me to dinner I don’t have to check Orbitz first. When I wake up in the morning I don’t have to peek out the window and look for landmarks. And best of all, when I pack my bags they’re full of vacation-bound bikinis and flip flops instead of wrinkly suits and gym shoes that will never see the light of day.
As my free rental credits dwindle into the single digits, and my once-superior packing skills diminish into checked-baggage territory, I will always have fond memories of my hectic travel days. Fond memories, two more free flights home for Christmas and at least a few more solid weeks at the Grand Hyatt Bali.