March 29, 2020

Frequent Flier: Travel Is Great, but There’s No Place Like Home

That’s why I can’t complain about business travel, although it’s not as exciting as when I was younger and working as a corporate lawyer. Back then, I thought business travel was glamorous. Now, I’d much rather be at home with my family.

But I still do feel a lot of pleasure when I see new places and meet new people. Plus, I still like getting out of the office. For a few hours, I’m not an executive coach, a wife or a mother. I’m just a traveler.

I’m the queen of last minute, especially when I’m traveling alone for business. I like getting to the airport with minimal time between check-in and takeoff. Once I’m through security, I stop at bookstores to load up on water, pick up the tabloids and see if there are any interesting new books. Then I’ll stop and get something to eat.

My routine usually works. I missed a flight only once, and it was ridiculous. I was coming back to New York City from a meeting in London. We had just moved back to New York from London, and I was really looking forward to seeing my family.

To take advantage of those all-business-class flights between New York and London, I was flying out of Gatwick. I was just a few minutes out from the airport when I realized I had left my passport in the hotel safe. My driver couldn’t turn back because there wasn’t enough time, but the hotel did send another driver with my passport.

I begged the airline to hold the flight for a few minutes until the driver arrived. Of course, that didn’t happen, although the representatives were quite nice about it. The driver showed up with my passport about five minutes after my flight took off. He took me back to the hotel, and I left the next day. I was upset about not being able to see my children for another day. But, to be honest, I don’t think they noticed.

Most of my flights are routine, but as we’re coming up on the 12th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, I’ll always remember the trip I was supposed to take that day.

I was originally scheduled to return to London on Sept. 11. I was living in London at the time, and was attending a conference in Uruguay, so I was supposed to fly out of Montevideo, and then go to Argentina, and from there to New York City and then London. But by the sixth day at this conference, I just wanted to get back to London, so I rebooked the exact itinerary for one day earlier, Sept. 10.

The afternoon of Sept. 11, I was at my desk in London at the technology start-up where I was working as legal counsel. That’s when I heard about the attack.

I was stunned and felt very alone. I kept thinking I could have been in New York. And to be honest, I really wanted to be there. I wanted to be back on American soil. I wanted to support my city.

I know it might sound a little emotional, but since then, every time I fly back to New York from an overseas trip and an airport person greets me with “Welcome home,” I get a little choked up.

I think it’s important to remember that coming home really can be the most wonderful thing in the world.

By Karen Elizaga, as told to Joan Raymond. E-mail:

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