I’m traveling this week.

For the first time since 2006 I’m boarding a plane and leaving.

I am going on a four-day travel junket with other travel writers to spend a few days in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I am both excited to leave town and terrified I’m not strong enough to make this trip.

I’ll be writing several stories for the travel section of my newspaper and I’ve got two weeks after I return to get them done.

I thought it might be interesting to write what I hope happens before I leave and finish this blog with how it actually went.

So — I have my airline tickets and know where my seats are. I change planes in Atlanta. Tomorrow I should know which gates I’ll need and that will decide if I need to hitch a ride on a cart or stroll through the airport.

I’ve decided not to check a bag but travel light. This is a no brainer because 20 years of packing made me a pro. Still, I read all the new rules the TSA provided and have a good idea what’s going and what’s staying.

I am going to do the U.S. Post Office’s “If It Fits, It Ships” to send home all the stuff I get (press kits, souvenirs, stuff like that) to keep my load light.

I am starting a steroid dose pack before I leave so I will feel the best I can while I’m gone.

I have tried to pick activities on the trip that won’t tax me too much, but I do realize I will be on my feet a lot more than I have been. (Reason One for dose pack).

I picked a short trip. I have two days of activities and then I’m out.

I’m taking a cane. I don’t want to but don’t want to take any chances.


A week ago I was in Virginia and a friend took me to a discount store to buy a suitcase for all the things I bought or was given.

Yes, I’m back.

On the whole, the trip was a big success. Traveling was easy. My gates at the Atlanta airport were close enough that I could easily walk between them.

I think the dose pack was the key. It kept me flexible enough I was able to walk up and down stairs, tour museums and wineries with little trouble and keep up with everyone else.

I made it home by noon Sunday and took it easy. I could tell when the steroids wore off because the pain increased, I discovered some muscle strain in my shoulder and I was really tired.

I bought the suitcase because we were given many things that I didn’t want to leave in a box for the post office. I wound up packing all the souvenirs and gifts in a new hard-sided suitcases and wrapped all the fragile things in my clothes.

I carried on the suitcase full of interviews, notes, press kits and brochures. I could replace everything but those.

I was really lucky that I flew the day before the FAA furloughed their employees and there were slowdowns in the air. 

It’s good to know I can keep up with healthy people. One of the writers ran a half marathon while she was there. Other writers took bicycle tours through neighborhoods, hiked and stayed out late at a music festival while I found myself at mountaintop wineries, marveling at the beautiful pastoral scenes and the mountains showing their spring colors, and hitting my hotel room right after dinner.

Still, I believe I can do more of these, which makes me happy. I love to travel and now I know I can do it within reason and good planning.

The agency who books these tours has invited me to come on other trips with them. 

I believe I will.