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Such a travel-novice

By Lydia Dare (the Tammy half)

Travel is a very new thing for me. I never did it, aside from short trips to the beach with the husband and kids, or a day trip to the zoo or some other family-centered activity. My first actual plane ride was three years ago, when I went to the national convention for the Romance Writers of America in San Francisco. Before that, I’d never even considered flying. Much less traveling long distances. Yet, there I was, on a plane from NC to CA. All by my lonesome, too.

Now, I’m hooked. Since then, there have been quite a few trips. I’ve flown to Boston. The moment I stepped off the plane, everyone looked at me like they needed a dictionary to understand a southern drawl. But that was all right. I persevered. And had a great time traipsing around Salem, doing witchy research for the series with a good friend. I also went by train to Washington DC, for last year’s RWA conference. Now, that is the way to travel. Lots of room to stretch out your legs. You can get up and walk around. The bathrooms are big enough that you can turn in a circle without brushing anything really disgusting. (Word to the wise -- don’t wear long skirts!)

I was not fond of the subway, not in the least. Probably because I got slammed between the doors before it took off. Don’t know what in the world possessed me and made me think the doors would spring open if I stuck my body in there. (You did catch the travel-novice part, right?) They didn’t. They just squeezed. Tightly. Through that whole week, I flinched every time an elevator door started to shut. It was traumatic, to say the least.

Yet, my love for travel was born, and I can’t wait to try out more locations, meet more people, and see more fun and exciting places. I’m still learning travel etiquette, like how much to tip a cab driver and a bell hop. Those things are new to me, too. But, I’m a quick study.

I’m already planning the trips for this year. There’s Romantic Times in April, which I hear is great fun. And then RWA again in Nashville in July. Both of them require a flight, which is not so bad. I’ve gotten quite fond of one particular airline, because you have a good chance of sitting by yourself if you’re on it. I won’t mention names, but I do like to avoid rubbing elbows with strangers if I can help it, so this airline fits me.

And Lydia Dare will be even more places (there are two of us, after all) like the Spring Fling in Chicago. That one won’t be me; it’ll be Jodie.

In the grand scheme of things, I’m really glad my writing got me to step out of my comfort zone and take that first trip to RWA in San Francisco. Because it opened up a whole new world to me. It’s bigger and it’s busier. Who knows? I might even take the husband and kids some time. :-)

Have you stepped outside your box, be it traveling or anything else, and found that something really isn’t as scary as it once may have seemed?


  1. Fun post. All this talk about traveling and facing fears has made me remember that I've never ridden a roller coaster.
    Any suggestions?

  2. When I worked in DC and had to take the subway to the Pentagon, I loved it. Very clean and safe. Now, if you have to take one into NYC, a whole 'nother story. :) Where I picked it up in Silver Town, NJ, it was fine. The closer to NYC I got, the scarier. :)

  3. Oh, and MM, I HATE roller coasters, but the only one I loved was in Space Mountain at Disney World. Because of the dark, it didn't feel as terrifying to me. :)

  4. Yeah, that trip to DC was the one where I proved to myself that I could drive myself to the airport and get to the hotel and back again all by myself! It was quite liberating!

    BTW,I've ridden a roller coaster, MM. Once. NEVER AGAIN!!!!

  5. I was born and raised in a college town in Texas. Other than a few vacations (Disney World with the HS band, Montreal with my grandmother), I hadn't ever left the state. And then one day, a couple of friends told me they were moving to Juneau, Alaska. I decided on the spot that I was going with them. I'd never seen snow. I'd never seen mountains. I'd never seen the ocean. That all changed really quickly. I lived there with my friends for a year, and it was the best experience of my life (even though parts of it could be amongst the worst, as well).

  6. Great post, Lydia. As an Air Force brat, I started traveling young, and I think that was a good thing (despite the immunization shots).

  7. Oh you poor thing with those crushing doors! The metro is scary sometimes, lol.

    I'm glad you've started to get around :) What fun!

    My grandparents lived in France when I was growing up, so we travelled a lot. I love to travel, even if it is just day trips. With small kids its been hard, but we're slowly getting back into it. The kids love it too. Its such an eye opener to see new places, and obviously filled with interesting things for stories. I'll be at Nationals, hope to see you there :)


  8. I traveled to England by myself about 10 years ago. It was scary to try and navigate everything by myself, but I did it. Now I have to travel with a baby! That's a whole new experience!

  9. My "scariest" travel was to the Sahara. It was starkly beautiful, fascinating, and not scary at all once I got there. But I traveled with an old Algerian woman who was absolutely terrified, certain we could get stuck in the sand and run out of water. My strongest memory of that trip was her never-ending Arab chants and prayers, calling on all her saints to keep us safe.

  10. I dislike flying and nearly died of fright the first time I was on a plane. Then I married a man in the army and we flew the Atlantic and the Pacific and took off from Edinburgh for Dublin just as fog closed down the airport. I still dislike flying but would do so to get to England.
    Stepping out of one's comfort zone is easy when they find cobras in your backyard or there is a mob at the gates, or having to carry coal up three flights of steps or sharing a bus with Pygmies.

  11. I am never comfortable outside of my usual zones, so I know what you mean. Yet, it is a great sense of accomplishment when you face a challenge and learn something new. Not so scary the next time.

    I am not afraid of flying, nor have I had any truly horrible experiences, but I do not like it. The pressurized air given me a headache and the stress of worrying about delayed flights, lost luggage, or whatever else could go wrong is not fun. I did take a train once when I was quite young. It was great fun, although my best memory of that trip was falling asleep in Texas and waking up several hours later still in Texas! The terrain was exactly the same and I was young enough to think we had not moved!

  12. Flying across land has not bothered me but I panic at the thought of flying across the ocean, or even sailing (no cruise for me). But, I had the opportunity to take a rather inexpensive trip to Paris, and knew I would be fool to pass it up. So I gathered my courage and made the trip. I am so glad I did and I've even gone back and planning another trip.

  13. I'm certainly not one who likes anything outside my comfort zone, though I'm constantly finding myself outside my comfort zone!
    Give me the tried and true, the familiar, and the "I've always done it this way," and I'm a happy person.

  14. Thank you for the reminder that I've always wanted to travel by train in the U.S. I just never think of it when the time comes to plan a trip.

    Had a crazy train-travel experience in Morocco once when we hopped on a train in Casablanca thinking it was SUPPOSED to take us to the airport, but instead it started heading for a town on the coast called Essaouira (a town we'd just spent two days traveling FROM). Since we'd only mastered two or three words in Arabic, French, & Berber and we couldn't find anyone who spoke English, we couldn't communicate the problem. Finally, I burst into tears, which promptly summoned all the men who wanted to "rescue" me. Turned out one of them spoke Spanish, so I was able to explain the issue and he was able to get the train stopped AND help us find a cab willing to haul us to the airport for the few Dirham we had left in our pockets.

    Suffice it to say, I hope U.S. train travel might go more smoothly than that.

    Love the blog post!


  15. The only time I was really out of my element was when my husband and I moved to Boise, ID. Stephen was a boy scout-literally. I know, you are all probably wondering what the heck was he doing with me? Believe me, I wondered too. I dated every bad boy around, but I was smart enough to marry a boy scout, or so I thought until he decided to take me backpacking. I was under the mistaken impression that mountains were only things you skied on. Who knew? When I realized there were no toilets in the great outdoors, I was shocked. I'm from Brooklyn, what do you expect? The only people I knew who did there business outside were the bums, and even then, they usually did it in the subway. There was no way I was dropping trou in the great outdoors.

    Stephen, knowing me and being the smart man he is, went right out and bought me a book called HOW TO SHIT IN THE WOODS:AN ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND APPROACH TO A LOST ART. I gotta say, the book was entertaining and had great instructional value. It was a close second to Stephen's favorite. SEX IN A TENT: A WILD COUPLE'S GUIDE TO GETTING NAUGHTY IN NATURE. He wanted to make sure we had all the bases covered.

    We did a whole lot of hiking and backpacking, I loved almost every minute of my time in the wild--almost. Both books came in handy. I never did enjoy the lost art, still, the adventures we had were amazing and well worth the price. I did, however enjoy getting naughty in nature. *grin*

  16. I traveled to Spain for a semester abroad all by myself. (Well, with the other students from Penn State.) But I'd never travelled alone before and had never been to Europe.

    Talk about a liberating experience! Nothing like having to find feminine products on your own when you're still learning to speak the language, trying to navigate those medieval-size streets and find out where the heck they sell those things!

    Then there was the 1300 mile journey for Spring Break that had me renting a car for the first time, finding out my travel mates didn't know how to A)pack light, B) read a map, nor C) drive a stick shift (this would be AFTER I picked up the little Festiva that could-barely). I read the maps, I planned our route, I drove the car, I found the hotels. 1300 miles in 10 days through countryside where the roads were NOT designed with centrifugal force, sharing the road with large trucks, nor guard rails in mind. One night when the road got a little bumpy we stopped and opened the doors to find that we were in a field. THAT was fun, trying to back up to find the road...

    But that experience shaped me. Now it's like, "Of course I can do that. I drove 1300 miles in Spain. I can do anything." (And you should have seen that 90 degree turn I had to make. Hmm... maybe you will in a blog post someday)

    Good for you for taking that first step in SF!

  17. and of course my comment follows Robin's "nature" one... sigh. I can't compete. LOL

  18. I'm having a lot of fun reading about all of your adventures! I think I've well covered my fear of flying in my earlier post (yes, I resemble that old Algerian woman Gail described).

    But today I did something outside my comfort zone - pretending to be an extrovert. I went to PLA today (librarians conference not terrorists... at least that's what I hope) and did a signing. My publisher brought a ton of books and I was terrified that no one would want one. I started trying to chat to people as they wandered by and actually started to have a good time. One of the gals there said it was great I was so outgoing (ha ha ha - me outgoing??). Anyway, I think it went well and we had a good response.

    Maybe if I do little things that make me nervous I can work my up to planes... maybe.

  19. Hi Lydia/Tammy,

    My first flight was to California, too! I can't believe how fearless I was back then. If I experienced that kind of turbulence today, I'd probably hyperventilate. When in DC last summer for RWA, I used the subway and loved it. Very easy to use.

    Terry, I hate roller coaster, too!

  20. I loved reading all your experiences! (Robin Kaye - priceless! LOL) And Amanda, good for you! I knew you could do it. You've never seemed like an introvert to me, you're always so bright and cheerful. If you are playing "Fake it 'til you make it" I say it's working. :)

    I've never liked flying, either, but I did it a lot, crossing the country several times a year from the time I was a kid, and even to Europe. I flew to DC by myself at 18 to meet a friend and had a great time. But I never liked it.

    Then I had kids, and something shifted so that I became SO fearful that I would hyperventilate just at the thought of flying. Then 9/11 happened and that was the final straw. I figured I'd never fly again, and good riddance.

    Up until last May, I hadn't flown in 16 years. BUT... The Leaky Cauldron, the best Harry Potter fan site EVER, was having their very first conference in Boston, and I knew I had to be there. (Yes, I'm a fanatic! LOL) I grabbed a friend and a healthy dose of Xanax, and it was one of the best experiences of my life.

    Now, while I'll never enjoy flying, I'm back to not letting the fear stop me. I'll be at Nationals this summer (YAY!), and my whole family is going to Florida in 2011 for Leaky's second conference, a trip to the HP theme park and the final HP movie. Harry can motivate me to do just about anything, LOL. I've got a couple of friends who are always cooking up writing retreat ideas, too, and if we ever get serious and do one, no plane is going to keep me home.

    I also never thought I'd go on a cruise. I've seen Titanic. No, thanks. But in just over 30 days, I'll be on my very first cruise ship, taking a writing workshop from Mary Buckham and Dianna Love, and I can't wait. (Thanks to the cruise, I also now have my passport, so if any of the afore mentioned writing retreats get scheduled in Europe, I'm all prepared.) We are driving all the way to LA to board the ship, but that's because my husband and I are making a vacation out of the trip. Honest. ;)

  21. MM - I have not spread out to roller coasters, yet! Let me know how that goes for you. :-)

    Cheryl - Congrats to you on getting around DC alone! Opens doors, doesn't it?

    Catherine - That took guts!

    Eliza - Hope to you, too! I can't wait for Nationals! My favorite time of the year.

    Shana - To England alone? I can't imagine. Sounds like a fun trip, though!

    RegencyResearcher - Cobras and Pygmies? You have outdone me. :-)

    Tawna - the train was one of the best travel experiences I've had. I was with about 10 other writers, so it was a LOT of fun. I bet you'd love it.

    Robin - Oh, my... I'm going to see if I can find that second book... lol

    EVERYONE - Thanks for all the comments! It was fun reading about how you all stepped outside your comfort zones.


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