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Musings from the Seatback Table

·1757 words·9 mins·
Travel Lifestyle Musings
Joshua Blais
Joshua Blais

From the seatback table between London and Budapest and the train between Vienna and Prague.

When you travel, do you notice that more ideas seem to flow through you? Do you notice how the momentum, the “struggle of travel” (if you can call it that) and the perspective of others helps to create your own? Do you notice that you are more yourself, more open and more able to create friendships? I have made lifelong friends on transatlantic flights, have found clients on domestic interchanges, and have created memories on many an airplane. I do some of my best writing on planes and airport lounges where people usually sedate themselves and go to sleep or watch movies they’ve already seen 15 times.

I wrote a premptive post about this in 2019 from the Montreal train station. I wasn’t going anywhere, just watching the passers-by run to their trains to Toronto or Ottawa, or wherever. It went something like this:

Musings from May 14, 2019

Every single time I step into an airport (or where I’m writing this from, a train station), I am inundated with this feeling of freedom.

Of excitement. Adventure. A better tomorrow.

I start to think of the people that will come into my life at the end of the trip, the things I will learn, and the things that will change within myself by the time I get “back”.

I was lucky as a child to travel so much with my family, and I had this feeling instilled unto me by probably my mother mostly, but I’ve felt it since I realized how global this world is, and not wanting to be tied down by any one country, one location, or one mentality.

Travel is so sexy because it gets you out of your shell in zero time flat.

Each and every person becomes this beacon of story, of a lifetime of experience that you can learn from, if only you ask.

You start to see each and every person that crosses your path as a new informational source. Of a way to grow your understanding of any topic you may want to know about

I make a lot of friends on airplanes, in lounges, and in the gates.

The second I’m in the airport, I feel like a new person. Energized, ready to take on the world, talking to anyone, making new friends, and learn everything about anything.

You become this brand new person by not changing anything at all. You see the potential of a world around you that is so much bigger than you are.

You start to realize that you are this tiny speck in a planet of 7.5 billion other tiny specks. And that’s okay.

I don’t do well with people that only want to see their backyards.

Nothing against those that like to settle down, I just don’t see it in myself.

I like to move. I like to be uncomfortable.

Part of the reason that I couldn’t do real estate in Edmonton anymore - I wasn’t inspired by the city.

I think moving every 3 months is the thing that will be me for the next while of my life. I don’t like being in one place. As much as I like Montreal, I am sure that it will become the new Edmonton for me after living in a single place for an extended period of time.

I have designed my life so that I can work from anywhere, as long as I am disciplined.

My routine doesn’t change. I find a gym the very first day I get into a new city, and from there, I am good to go. I start getting up at 5am local time. I start doing my work routine, finding a coffeeshop that I love for my morning work session. I still eat at the same times - I throw my body into a routine because that’s the only way you adjust quickly.

When you start to realize that you don’t need things to be happy, and your happiness is all intrinsic, you feel happy all the time.

I think I just realized that right now, I am happy.

Sitting in a train station, going nowhere, I still feel so happy.

We are always in that rush, I am watching those rush around me, going to Ottawa, going to wherever, and here I am, happy.

I feel this absolute sense of rejuvination. Of an electric feeling running through me. I just want to touch the world man.

The best ideas come when you are moving. Experiencing something new. Becoming something other that the old you. You need to do that more.

You need to kill distraction. Because that’s all these stupid apps are - distraction, time wasters, and things to take your focus away from the realities of living a life you can actually love.

I refuse to read the news now. I refuse to look into things that just don’t matter to me anymore.

I think that it’s going to make me a force to be rekoned with. I just don’t get emotional about anything anymore“

The truth is that I love airports - they are my favorite places to go on Earth. I was lucky enough to hit some of the big ones on my most recent trip, Heathrow, Charles de Gauille, Pearson (much smaller than the first two, but a personal favorite nonetheless.) I always enjoy seeing the people, the hustle and bustle, the places we are going, or have been.

I write some of my best, and come up with some of my best ideas when I’m travelling.

There are various artists and authors that swear by the airplane as the creative utility to getting their creative work done. Some have gone so far as to book round trip tickets to simply hop on a plane and write for 14 hours straight, turn right around and write for another 14 hours on the return flight.

Maybe it is the movement, maybe it is the inspiration of the infinite potential of the human ability to create and invent - perhaps the fact that you are strapping yourself in to an aluminum can travelling nearly 1,000 kms an hour that a hundred years ago would have been unfathomable - who knows.

Whatever it is, creativity comes from new experience, from going places you never have before, and from moving your body, your soul and your mind.

Try it the next time you hop on a plane. Get to work instead of sleeping, see what you come up with.

On Hub Cities

I hail from Edmonton, Alberta - a tremendously unconnected city to the rest of the world.

In living in a non-hub - you fail to experience the potential of what travel can be. In Edmonton, we have a few direct destinations, but no real direct flights to places of any interest. Whereas, when I lived in Montreal, I could hop on a flight to one of a couple hundred destinations around the world that flew direct from Pierre Elliot Trudeau. A weekend in New York? Easy. A hop over to Amsterdam? Simple.

Living in or by a non-hub means that you have to jump on different planes, are delayed hours and give up valuable time where you could have been moving. It is a pertinant investment to move to a hub city as soon as possible in order to buy back your time. Yes, it will be more expensive than a go-nowhere town, but you will get back your investment in droves. If only for the fact that you will be inspired.

Global Cities List

There is a list of city rankings by connectivity to the world economy called the World Global Index. I invite you to take a look at it if you please:

Alpha ++ London, New York

Alpha + Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing, Dubai, Paris & Tokyo

Alpha Sydney, Los Angeles, Madrid, Toronto, Mumbai, Amsterdam, Milan, Frankfurt, Mexico City, Sao Paolo, Chicago, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow, Jakarta & Brussels

Alpha – Warsaw, Seoul, Johannesburg, Zurich, Melbourne, Istanbul, Bangkok, Stockholm, Vienna, Guangzhou, Dublin, Taipei, Buenos Aires, San Francisco, Luxembourg, Montreal, Munich, Delhi, Santiago, Boston, Manilla, Shenzhen, Riyadh, Lisbon, Prague & Bangalore

Beta + Washington DC, Dallas, Bogota, Miami, Rome, Hamburg, Houston, Berlin, Chengdu, Düsseldorf, Tel Aviv, Barcelona, Budapest, Doha, Lima, Copenhagen, Atlanta, Bucharest, Vancouver, Brisbane, Cairo, Beirut, Auckland.

Beta Ho Chi Minh City, Athens, Denver, Tianjin, Abu Dhabi, Perth, Casablanca, Kyiv, Montevideo, Oslo, Helsinki, Chennai, Hanoi, Nanjing, Philadelphia, Cape Town, Hangzhou, Nairobi, Seattle, Manama, Karachi, Rio de Janeiro, Chonqing & Panama City.

Beta – Wuhan, Manchester, Geneva, Osaka, Stuttgart, Belgrade, Calgary, Monterrey, Kuwait City, Caracas, Changsha, Bratislava, Sofia, San Jose, Zagreb, Dhaka, Xiamen, Tampa, Zhengzhou, Tunis, Almaty, Shenyang, Lyon, Minneapolis, Nicosia, San Diego, Amman, Xi’An, Guatamala City, Dalian, St Petersburg, Lagos, Quito, Jinan, San Salvador, Kampala, George Town (Cayman Islands), Muscat/Ruwi, Detroit, Edinburgh, Jeddah, Hyderabad, Lahore & Austin

Gamma + San Jose, Kolkata, Charlotte, St Louis, Pune, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Adelaide, Porto, Baku, Guadalajara, Ljubljana, Qingdao, Algiers, Suzhou, Belfast, Glasgow, Medellin, Cologne, Phnom Penh, Islamabad, Phoenix, Riga, Tbilisi, Kunming, Ahmedabad, Dar Es Salaam, Hefei, Orlando & Baltimore.

Gamma Durban, Vilnius, Gothenburg, San Juan, Nantes, Ankara, Santa Domingo, Wroclaw, Ottawa, Dakar, Malmö, Bristo, Tirana, Colombo, Turin, Valencia, Guayaquil, Taizhong/Tai hung, Managua, La Paz, Nashville, Tegucigalpa, Haikou & Wellington.

Gamma – Port Louis, Accra, Asuncion, Bilbao, Maputo, Douala, Nassau, Harare, Poznan, Luanda, Cleveland, Fuzhou, Nagoya, Kansas City, Katowice, Málaga, Queretaro, Harbin, Milwaukee, Penang, Salt Lake City, Columbus (Ohio), Kaohsiung, Limassol, Sacramento, Belo Horizonte, Lausanne, Taiyuan & Edmonton.

Living in (or close to) a city with phenomenal connectivity is a life goal of mine. These so called “hubs” are by default cosmopolitian in nature - Talk to any random person in London and you will see they come from nearly everywhere on the globe. Talk to a person in a Gamma- city and they likely are from the city in question.

I believe the reason we in Edmonton for example hate travel so much (talk to a lot of people, they don’t like it, find it a tremendous hassle, or don’t do it altogether) is because of this lack of ability to get where we want to go without issue. Sure it is called the “Edmonton International Airport” but quite frankly, we have to do a much better job before we can really call it “international”.

Maybe you’d make travelling part of your life if you lived somewhere you could just hop on a plane and go?