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Showing Up At Airports Ridiculously Early

The airport is my refuge.

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I tend to find myself showing up to airports ridiculously early for my flights. By early, I mean five or six hours before scheduled lift off if I have nothing better to be doing — at least three hours if I have something going on.

I wasn’t really sure why this was for a while. I never used to do this. This is a habit that began over the past two years or so, which could just be because more often than not I’m traveling by myself these days — you can’t logically explain such a nonsensical practice to another person. No, it wouldn’t even get to the point of being vocalized, you’d just comply with convention and go to the airport on time like everybody else, least your companion would asked the dreaded word “why?” and you’d have no good answer and be faced with your own irrationality.

But, when moving alone, I can go to the airport whenever I want to without explanation, and this sometimes means showing up at 8 PM for a 1AM flight.

Perhaps it’s apprehensiveness. I don’t enjoy being rushed because I’m late. I like to look around. I show up for everything ridiculously early. If I stroll in to somewhere on time it means that something got fucked on my way there.

Perhaps it’s because I loathe waiting to leave? I find it irritating to always be checking the time when waiting to have to go somewhere. You pack your bag, settle your accounts, and then what? You can’t really start anything in the two hours you have before go time. If you were to get into something interesting you’d just have to cut it off prematurely. If I’m probably not going to produce much during these waiting hours, so why not just go to the airport and get it over with?

Or perhaps it’s just because I like airports? People from everywhere going everywhere. It’s good action all around. I have time to just poke around — take those elevators around obscure corners to the floors that few passengers believe they’re allowed to go to.

This also gives me time to just walk around and daydream, blog a little. It’s empty moments to review the road behind, plan the road ahead, and figure out where you stand. Airport time is free time. Nobody expects anything from a guy in an airport.

I’ve become a little busy in my travels. Meetings, interviews, conferences, emails, route planning, contact making, article writing, blog posting, book researching, lecture giving. The daily round of work cycles perpetually. I’m never finished, and I like it this way. I wouldn’t want things to be any different. I finish each day and feel like I accomplished something, that I took a couple of steps closer to where I want to be. Going to bed in the same place I woke up is unfathomable.

But I also sometimes like escaping into the temporal suspension of air travel — which begins as soon as you enter an airport.

For me, the airport is a refuge.


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Filed under: Air Travel, Airports, Sri Lanka, Travel Diary

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3722 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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