The Best Piece of Travel Equipment

I do a bit of travel for work. And I love to read those Top 11 Things The Most Excellent Travelers Travel With lists:

Wrinkle-free shirts, sleeping mask, noise-cancelling headphones, ziploc bags, lip balm with SPF, a port that charges your phone, computer, Kindle in 12 seconds (while washing your socks and making you a single-origin Peruvian shot of espresso, too, presumably).

But there is something I have never found on these lists that I have found to be one of the best pieces of travel equipment: the awareness that we're connected to every other traveler out on the road.

The chap who took the last of the overhead bin space. The woman up ahead driving slower than a snail on that single lane highway. The gate agent. Our common humanness - which comes complete with pulses that beat, muscles that sprain, fears, loves, desires to be happy, all at no extra charge - connects us up together in this incredible thing called life on earth.

Now, I can judge, condemn, blame with the best of them. I can think of several choice names for the fellow who cut me during boarding. But if I'm after a meaningful life, a joyful life, never once has shutting these people out of my heart contributed to a deeper sense of meaning or joy for me.

But what has contributed is when I can remember - and this doesn't happen always - that all these folks have had breakups that hurt, spilled tomato sauce on their white shirt, felt like an outsider, been scared by a doctor's call.

When I can remember that they want to be loved and to feel safe as much as I do, I can find some room in my heart for them.

So, I pack my lip balm with SPF and that miracle charging port. And I try to never leave home without the awareness that all us travelers are tied up together in this incredible thing called life on earth.

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