i ventured to the rocky mountains and the mile high city: denver, colorado, for a getaway of a much needed kind this weekend. fall was definitely in the air and i felt content and relieved of some of the jaw clenching-teeth grinding stress i’ve been imposing on myself lately.

travel gets ya in a different mindset, ya know?

as i flew out, i thought about a few things i really treasure about travel experiences and a few musts that i always remember when packing my bags.

be polite: perhaps it’s my southern upbringing our my belief in the goodness of the human race, but it’s an absolute MUST that we be polite. i love greeting gate agents with a smile and thanking flight attendants. they see so many grumpy travelers during their work day, and i figure i should be a bright spot. (plus, sometimes you get extra special treatment)

talk to your neighbors: i don’t always follow this rule because sometimes i have my nose stuck in my book, but i have many memorable experiences of chatting it up with my row-mate or gate-mate. the range of experiences that we humans carry around with us is pretty spectacular, and i relish the stories that i hear from conversations with friendly neighbors. i once sat next to a sweet old man who explained the mid-western farm plot arrangements (those squares and circles are so ordered!) and showed me his book of frank lloyd wright’s designs. he had been an architect on a team with mr. wright, and his picture was in the back of the book. as a young teenager i was fascinated by the stories of the sweet man who sat beside me doing puzzles in his notebook to keep his mind sharp.

smile at children: children can be CRANKY on planes, and i hesitate to be the creepy stranger who interacts with your kids, but boy do you parents need a break. little boys seems to be naturally flirtatious, and i risk looking like a total goofball to make faces and get wee ones to giggle.

buy a book: my mom always buys a book at the airport, and i’ve taken to the habit (trust me, it doesn’t take much persuading to get me to buy books.) on my most recent trip i had a mini-adventure within a more grand adventure, reading about riding a horse bareback 500 miles to get to a teaching job, learning to fly planes, and running a ranch. it was fantastic.

pack light: with the recent baggage fees being imposed on passengers (rude!) the overhead bins are crazy full with passengers’ carry on luggage. i see this as a challenge: pack as light as possible. it makes unpacking easy too!

order ginger ale: there’s nothing that tastes better on a flight than ginger ale.

i’m back from my trip, feeling refreshed, but also feeling very restless. i think i’m ready to go again.