The Layover

I’m just going to come out and say it: I hate traveling so, so much. The only way I would like it is if my layover involved Anthony Bourdain.


Especially the Amsterdam episode.

However, I have to do it for work three or four times a year, and because I kind of need to stay employed, I kind of have to travel those three or four times a year.

I bring this up because it’s time to make our yearly trek to Houston, which for me starts with a 6am flight Thursday (3am alarm) and ends Monday night. We put on a party Friday night for 800 people in the industry, 300 people Saturday night and I work the trade show the whole weekend, meaning there are many 14-16 hour days.

That’s not (really) the issue.

The issue is that not only do I pack my luggage for these trips, but I also pack enough emotional baggage to weigh down a 747. I joke about things, but traveling is not something that’s emotionally or physically healthy for me.

I end up trying to negotiate some sort of sanity between my raging OCD, health issues and actual numerous professional duties while trying to find any vegetarian food in a hog-happy city with limited time and resources. When I get home, it takes at least a couple weeks to physically recover, which is one of the unspoken “fun” things associated with being underweight and OCD.

“Sign me up!” – said no one ever.

Anyway, I’m not telling you this to complain—you all have your own crap to deal with and I’ll make the most of my time while I’m gone—but rather to let you know this is one reason my blog has been a bit off lately. My head’s been kind of all over the place.

I’m also telling you this to prepare you for five days of me not being chained to my computer every second, since I’m sure at least two of you would have noticed. I don’t have the Internet on my phone—I’m old school—so computer time will be when I can get it.

But  don’t think you can forget about me and move on to some other bright and shiny blog that’s younger and more attractive with bigger boobs.

I’ll still be checking in, and of course there is my inevitable return when I vaguely recap my adventure as to protect the innocent—and my job—and give you my unique perspective on traveling with issues.

And Uncle June.

This is an old picture of him on a plane last year. I don’t know why, but I can’t put a border on this image. C’est la vie. 

Plus, if I accidentally booked my flight home for a month later than I need, get food poisoning or dragged onto the stage to dance in front of 800 people, accosted by a topless woman painted to look like a peacock or given the opportunity to get my picture taken with a former Playboy playmate/Girl Next Door, that will make for some good blog content.

And for the record, all  of those things have happened, so there’s definite potential.

Stay tuned!

Like the blog? Buy the book.

Where was the last place you traveled? Do you have any weird stories or travel mishaps you can share with the class?

48 responses to “The Layover

  1. Melanie The Spork Lover

    I have had you in my positive thoughts this week. I read this and got nervous and anxious FOR you. Hopefully the bright spots of the trip will make it bearable. I am thinking I may need to send you a vegan/veggie care package when you return home. Vegan baked goods and snack foods. Leave it to me to know where to get the unhealthy vegan stuff. 🙂

  2. Oy vey. I feel your pain. Traveling is NOT for me. I hope you return home safely.

  3. I feel ya loud and clear! I hate traveling for work based solely on loss of control over food choices. It’s silly isn’t it? As a result, I pack a carryon full of healthy food that can be eaten in a hotel room: instant gf oats, raw almonds, vega bars, vega smoothies and a couple pc of fruit. You know, just in case the state I’m traveling to hasn’t heard of fruit.. (mostly in case of long layover). Then I wing it at dinner. Usually drink too much. And inhale a portion of my mini bar at 2am. It’s the worst.

    • Well, you just described 80 percent of my carry-on bag every time (the food, not the pilfered liquor from the mini-bar.) I just get claustrophobic and anxious when my whole day is scheduled without my permission with nothing secured. While I know I’ll survive, it’s just unpleasant and I’m whining now so I don’t hit the mini bar when I’m there 😉

  4. Aww, good luck! I hope traveling goes smoothly for you. Is it weird that I really wanna know which playmate/girl next door it was?

  5. I love to travel by car, not by plane or train. Of course, being retired, I can do that. I used to have to be on the road much of the time when I was working, and it was exhausting, so you have my sympathy. Try to enjoy it if you can!

  6. Oh I didn’t tell you this but I printed the picture of you and the playmate last year and its on my fridge.

    I know you’ll live. You’ve done it before and I think its actually healthy to get out of our element and shake things up a bit. Home will be there waiting for you and I have my fingers crossed for you about the food poisoning and all that lovely stuff that’s happened to you.

    In unrealted news, I need to get me an uncle june….

    • We know I’ll live. You’re just lucky you don’t have to live around me. But if you send me that printed picture, I’ll sign it for you special and everything…

  7. Hi Abby,
    I’m outside Houston in the ‘burbs, but thought I’d give you a couple of options for food.
    Try and
    I haven’t tried either one, but the menus look good. And it looks like My Fit Foods will deliver to your hotel. Yay.
    You are set for some nice weather thru the weekend- sunny and in the 60’s. It’s stormy right now, but by Thursday it will be great.
    Good luck on your adventure…I hate planes. I don’t want to breathe the air.
    I’m kind of afraid of a topless peacock lady. WTF?
    Say hey to Uncle June.

    • Hi Tina! Thanks. I’ve done my research and there are a few places I could go if we had time, but I’m literally working from 7am-past 9pm, so my meals usually have to be close by and quick. The Houston Center food court is next door and great for fresh and healthy things, but they close on the weekends. Lame. I’m looking forward to nice weather though! Topless peacock lady actually fit in with this crowd, but she was creepy…

  8. I travel a lot for work. Those places aren’t glamourous. Teh last 5 – Bucks County Pa, southern Maryland, suburban Charlotte NC, and the Smoky Mountains area of Knoxville Tn.

    The last time i went somewhere interesting was Cancun. Watching THe Bobina sweettalk/blondely mesmerizing TSA agents to get contraband Mexican spices and food into America was an adventure.

    I like traveling. I dislike airports.

    • I’ve had to go to Tennessee a few times, but more the Gatlinburg/Sevierville area. The drive from the airport takes an hour. Wood guns, animal heads and caramel corn are sold in every store anywhere. The colors are pretty, but the tourists are not.

  9. I am so enamored of T.Bone. I just had to applaud your reference.

    I hate packing and unpacking, but it helps when you don’t have a lot of “stuff”. I don’t need 5 pairs of shoes and 3 toiletry bags. I’m just not that girl. Nothing wrong with it! It’s just a lot simpler when you are a minimalist.

    My dad travels a lot for work. This week he is in 3 cities and doesn’t come home at all during that time. I would hate that!

    Now that I have all of my random thoughts out of the way, I want to wish you best of luck travelling. I’ll keep reading, as long as you try and think happy thoughts (maybe about T.Bone) to help you through! Be safe!

    • I also used to overpack “just in case,” and I’ve gotten much better at that (mostly since you had to start paying for bags and weight.) It’s hard to keep in too limited though with work clothes, fancy work clothes, normal clothes and pjs. When I come home I just throw it all in the laundry–no unpacking required!

  10. StoriesAndSweetPotatoes

    Traveling and any change of routine is hard for me too, probably for most of the same issues. Good thoughts and many a green thing your way Abby.

  11. Enjoy the fun parts. For all the rest, just breathe!! (Email on the way)

  12. Stay strong! Breath and enjoy where you are right now! You never know what joy may happen in the moments in between!

  13. I’ve done a ton of travling for work and have had many layovers, BUT none of those layovers were even a fraction as nice as Anthony Bourdain. Yes, I’ve been shitfaced when my next flight boreded, but it all happened in the airport while spending a small fortune on drinks…
    If you can, enjoy the fun parts!

  14. Good luck on your trip! I’ve never had to travel for work but I can relate to feeling a need to have “control” of a situation that’s out of my hands. It’s difficult, but remember you’ve rocked it before and will again. Take pleasure in the little things (peacock chick) so you avoid getting overwhelmed by the big picture and everything that doesn’t fit your neatly organized routine. Facing the uncomfortable usually makes people feel stronger in the end, so just remember you’re awesome.

    As for the food situation specifically, coming from someone who has used a debit card in a hotel room to spread her almond butter, all I can say is, bring a plastic knife. But leave the avocado slicer at home.

    I look forward to reading about the madness when you return.

  15. I understand. I travel for work too and I don’t like leaving my house at all. I’m a vegetarian and I like things just so.

    Maybe we could create a website for people like us – and people could contribute info on best places to stay, eat, etc., and how to survive.

    Hang in there, you’ll be home soon. Have a glass of wine.

    • There is actually a site––that is pretty good for that sort of thing. My issue isn’t so much finding a place, but that I don’t have the time to take a cab there and back because of my schedule and things. But it’s a pretty good guide, and I’ll do my best, as usual 😉

  16. No offense to any Houston-lovers out there, but I don’t really want to repeat my one trip to Houston. We were stuck downtown and it was deserted on the weekend. Your trip sounds exhausting to me. I hope you can take a day or two off to rest when you get back. Good luck with everything.

    I don’t like travel much either. I wish I could be more low key about that kind of stuff (where’s my next meal coming from?! what if I can’t stop all light from coming in the hotel window?!), but I’m wound pretty tight. I’m going on a personal trip this weekend and even though it’s totally voluntary, I’m already starting to get a little twitchy.

    • Thank you! The weekends are deserted, which means nothing is open. This amazes me. Anyway, enjoy your weekend trip and relax…it supposed to be fun 😉

  17. youre gonna hate me for saying this, but i actually am more relaxed and at ease when i travel. There is an element of “uncontrol” that seems to losen me up. I know you’ll be fine. Wish i was in Houston to meet you at your layover!

  18. That last paragraph gave me chills. I would potentially slip into a coma if faced with some of those.

  19. I know it wasn’t your favorite moment, but when you booked your return flight for a month later, I thought it was the funniest thing to ever happen. 🙂

    • Robin, you know I love you, but it was NOT funny when I was freaking out with food poisoning and then found out my flight was a month away. However, you were most helpful, even if you couldn’t help 😉

  20. Try to relax and enjoy it (says the pot to the kettle). I like to pop a Xanax and chug a glass of pinot to take the edge off. Then everything feels like Disneyland!

    • I have neither of those things, but considering everything in that last paragraph has actually happened completely sober, that’s probably a good thing.

  21. Oh, Abby, I hear you.

  22. The last time I traveled was for NYE! I flew out to Chicago for a few days to visit a friend. On the way back, I almost missed my flight because of the way the airport opened (only 2 hours before the earliest flight) and of course everyone there was trying to get onto their 7:20 flight. I’ll never again book a flight that early!

  23. Well I am definitely one of those two people who would take serious notice of your absence. Hope your trip down to my home state of Tejas is an enjoyable one. Just don’t tell anyone you don’t like beef. They’ll deport your a** so fast you’ll barely be able to apologize for saying something so blasphemous. Texans’ idea of a vegetarian is someone who just eats chicken.
    Good luck Abby!

    • Trust me, I know. Plus we’re in the “industrial” part of the city so everything shuts down on the weekend except the steak places, I’m not even kidding. Want steak? No big deal. Want something that doesn’t involve an animal? Might as well ask for a unicorn to come shit confetti outside your hotel room. Oh well. C’est la vie for a few days 😉

  24. I tend to avoid going in to Houston – but there are some great healthy places to eat there – even on weekends. (maybe help here: Nikko Nikko is popular Greek place with options. Downtown is the pits and nobody is there except for business. – but Rice Village (west of Rice University) is busy all the time. Galleria area (sort of a second downtown area) has all sorts of eateries. Just take a cab ( or get the hotel to transport you) – traffic is insane – which is why I’m not there. Ordered nice weather for you – but we’ll see…it’s Houston. (New Zealand sounds much better destination)

    • Thanks. I’ve done my research and know there are places to go on the weekend when the city shuts down, but I don’t have the time to take a cab and an hour to go do stuff. I’ll work around it and make sure to hit at least one good place Sunday when my night is free. But yay for nice weather!

  25. I too used to be a travel-hater… one of the best things about travelling with a baby is that there’s just no time or energy for my emotional crap- focussing on keeping my kid from being “that baby” on the airplane is a great distraction. I say this not to belittle your anxieties, but to let you know I feel your pain. My old method of survival: xanax, red wine, and just focussing on getting through one thing at a time.

  26. Unlike Taryn (above), I used to love to travel. Actually, I still do. I just used to love to fly. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed some mild (mild??) anxiety about it.

    That does not, however, mean I’m that annoying girl on the plane panting as we take off (check any rom-com where the girl has to fly somewhere). Thanks to my don’t-even-talk-to-me-not-here-to-make-friends exterior when flying, I don’t, actually, let my anxiety show.

    Just keep it all inside.

    Travel safe and we’ll be here when you get back! Watch out for those naked peacock ladies! And make sure to take pics if you see one!

  27. I hate traveling, too! Especially for work. In fact, I’ve spent many of the last six years avoiding it (almost) altogether. I switched jobs three years ago to avoid it. I hate it…THAT much. I don’t have OCD, but I do have many issues. Like separation anxiety, social anxiety, and much, much more! And with all that you get a NEW CAR… (sorry, that just seemed to fit right there.)

    Anyway, I wish you the best of luck on your trip. Even though you’re already in the midst of it. Hope you’re able to find vegetarian fare in a hogcentric world. Hope the parties and trade show are a rousing success!

  28. For all of the travel-related mishaps that I’ve had (and I’ve had so damn many of them) and all the anxiety I carry around (and I have a ton of it) you’d think I’d be nervous about traveling. But I actually love it. I am that weird person who likes airports. I love the idea of people going to all of these places from one spot. And the excuse to buy hideous celebrity gossip magazines.

    • I actually agree with you in that once I know I have to be going somewhere, I like airports and always wonder where everyone is going or what their story is. As for the magazines? Yup. Screw books when I’m on a plane. I want Self and Psychology Today.

  29. It sounds like you will be super busy, which is too bad, since I live right here in Houston!! I hope you have a good weekend and that the Houstonians are nice to you. Can’t wait for your witty recap!

  30. What is wrong with you?

    I LOVE traveling.

    I hate gnomes though.

  31. I worked in Houston Sept 2010 til Dec 2010. I traveled to and from for 3 moonths. Houston is Atlanta with less trees, same crappy traffic, and more Tex Mex restaurants (good ones).

    I like traveling. I don’t like airports. I actually prefer driving when it’s feasible. You really see the country that way….

    Too bad you didn’t go to Houston during baseball season. Minute Maid is a cool park. You’d enjoy it.

  32. I hate traveling. I always forget something, my back hurts on the plane and I can’t poop when I travel. Those are my issues though, you my love, will be fine. Uncle June is looking out for you!

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