Traveling with Sneakers. Or: Stuck at the airport.

I’ve grown bored of all the posts and articles that claim to teach us how to travel: things you should know before you go, how to pack, what to pack, how to get upgrades. The information is almost always the same, just recycled with different pictures and minor edits. I stopped paying attention to the advice: “Pack light!” “Roll your stuff!” “Be prepared for different climates!” I’m sure there’s new and fresh information. I wish someone would publish it.

Also: in response to a common question (“how can I not stand out as an American?”), the number one guidance is: “don’t wear sneakers, especially white ones.”

Well, from my perch at Keflavik Airport in Reykjavik (Iceland) this morning, as part of the Itinerary From Hell that is my current trip (will rant about that separately), EVERYONE but me is wearing sneakers.

sneakers
Photography: me. Models: fellow passengers

The sneaker-wearers are women and men of all ages. They are surly teenagers and hyperactive adolescents. The wearers were Americans, Icelanders, Arabs, French, Spanish, and a host of other nationalities I could not readily identify based purely on spoken language.

I know all this because I had a pretty decent amount of time during my layover (did I mention itinerary from hell?) to people-watch quite extensively. (Greatest sport of all time.)

I saw white sneakers, some with stripes, on not-American feet. There were lime-green sneakers and black sneakers and orange sneakers and a few startling shades-of-fuchsia sneakers.

There were a few sparkly sneakers too, worn mostly by 50+ not-American women. Go figure, globalization knows no boundaries nor age groups.

Anyway, because I have time before my next flight, here’s my travel advice:

  1. Pack light, because you just might have a long trip with multiple stops before your final destination. It just may be that the gods will conspire to make every escalator break down and you’ll have to lug your suitcase up and down the stairs to get to the restroom, the gate, and the coffee. These three places are not necessarily on the same floor.
  2. Take a sweater or warm scarf, because who doesn’t travel in 3 different climates on the same trip? If you don’t take some warm clothing, you may find yourself shivering in a corner of Keflavik Airport, trying to discreetly draw warmth from fellow passengers who are appropriately dressed but who now think you’re a creep.
  3. Oh, hell. I give up. Wear the damn sneakers. This is so you “blend in” when experiencing 1 and 2 above.

I survived the trip. Looking back over the past 24 hours, now that I’m back in Istanbul and finally warm, I’d say it was a tiring but good day. I got lucky with my seats on each leg of the trip: an exit row, an aisle seat on an overbooked flight, and a near-empty row on the last. It could have been so much worse.

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RafifJ

Thinker of thoughts and writer of words. American by birth. Syrian by blood. International by choice.