There was a time when I simply couldn’t understand why my parents’ generation didn’t like to drive after dark, or why they preferred to stay home and sleep in their own beds. Look at all they were missing—nights on the town, travel and weekends away with friends. Then, I totally got the driving after dark thing a few years ago when I found my eyesight was just not as sharp as it used to be when I went out at night. The solution was to plan our nights out carefully so we didn’t have to drive too far, if at all. That was the first step on a slippery slope.
I’m now developing a greater appreciation for sleeping in my own bed. Much as we love traveling, nothing’s sweeter than crawling into our own bed when we get home. We just returned from a few days visiting Washington, D.C. for some sightseeing and our room at the Hyatt Regency couldn’t have been better. They’d spent the last four years renovating the hotel and everything was perfection. The elevators in the lobby atrium were glass so we could experience our ascent and descent; the furniture and decor was all fresh and new; the bathroom was large and well-appointed and the floor was slightly heated which felt wonderful on our sore feet after a day of walking miles. The sheets were smooth and delicious to slide into at the end of the day. The pillows felt like down and there were four of them. Even the television was huge, just like at home which pleased my honey enormously. Despite these comforts, it was so good to get home.
Air travel comes with its own special set of horrors which make overseas travel particularly gruesome. If one of the unions hasn’t declared a last minute work-to-rule or full-on strike, then weather delays keep us stewing in the airport holding area for hours on end. If we do manage to get on our flight at the scheduled time and we can’t afford to fly business class with the elite, then we’re jammed into teeny tiny seats with our knees touching our chins while munching dry ham and cheese “snacks”. Who among us hasn’t been trapped on a full plane upon arrival awaiting jetway clearance or waiting for the lightning to stop before we can disembark.
Americans are known and (rightly) mocked for insisting on American food (burgers and fries) when traveling in Europe, but I always take a zip-lock baggie of my own Canadian brand of Red Rose tea when we travel, so who am I to judge. We like things that are familiar and this trait only becomes more entrenched as we get older. That’s not to say we don’t like some adventure and travel, but we’re starting to feel the impact of being away from our home comforts. This insight has made me much more understanding of my parents’ preference for staying home and not visiting me in their later years.
Even staying overnight with close friends can be fraught with challenges. There’s a hilarious sketch on Baroness von Sketch on CBC that pokes fun at the numerous rules imposed by cottage owners on their weekend guests. “Don’t flush. If it’s yellow, let it mellow. No shampoo allowed; it causes algae. Keep the door shut to keep the blackflies out.” And the list goes on. Just makes you want to be in your own home, in your own bed, with your own bathroom on familiar ground. We all try to make our visiting guests feel at home when they come to stay and go out of our way to provide hotel-like amenities but we know from experience that there’s no place like home. And the older we get, the sweeter it is.