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The Joys of Travel… or If the World is Shrinking How Come it Takes Longer Each Year to Get Anywhere?

By Stuart Adelberg

This week Marilyn and I took a short trip down to Florida to visit my parents. Though the time spent with them was wonderful, the short journey we take a few times each year comes with the privilege of ever increasing costs, decreasing service, and absurdly growing travel times.

We chose to fly out of our small regional airport for the convenience and goal of shortened travel time, a statement that makes me laugh even as I write it. Two days before the trip we received a message from the airline instructing us to arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to our scheduled departure time in order to navigate check-in and security procedures in time for boarding.

This particular airport has a limited supply of costly long-term parking spots, making offsite options potentially more manageable. Of course, an offsite parking solution with a shuttle to the terminal adds another half hour to our plan to arrive at the airport two hours in advance of our flight. FYI, it takes approximately 30 minutes to drive from our home to the airport without traffic.

If you’re keeping track, our three hour flight has already become a six hour journey before we are anywhere close to landing in sunny Florida!

To our airline’s credit, we arrived on time. I sent a text to my Dad – happily reporting that we landed and should be with them in plenty of time for dinner. Everything seemed too good to be true. . . Or was it?

Chapter two! The next leg of the journey entailed a walk of no less than a mile to the baggage claim. I told myself that this was a good thing as it gave the airline time to get the luggage off the plane before we got there. Yes, I am foolishly optimistic and naive!! The wait wasn’t forever, but we were at baggage claim long before our suitcase!

I have never experienced what happened next at the car rental counter. Though we had made advance arrangements for a rental car, the agent tried to upsell us every additional service known to man. Once we established that I was paying for no extras and signed on the dotted line, I was told to take a seat in a very crowded waiting area as our vehicle would hopefully be available sometime in the next hour or so. What now? Only the dejected looks on the faces of everyone else already waiting kept me from having an uncharacteristic explosion! Let’s just say that I might have walked to my parent’s home in less time than it took to get our rental car!

So, in case you’re wondering, we left our home in Connecticut at 11:45am and arrived at my parent’s place in southwest Florida (a 20 minute drive from the airport) a little before 9:00pm. The shortest part of the trip was time spent in the air. The other six hours can apparently be attributed to modern ingenuity and convenience!

I am writing this column on our last day in Florida. We leave this afternoon for our return to Connecticut. Whether we will actually be home before you read it is anyone’s guess!

Stuart Adelberg has a long history of leadership and active involvement in the region’s nonprofit human services and arts communities. He appreciates the opportunity to share his occasional thoughts, opinions, and observations with Greenwich Sentinel readers.

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