To other people it sounded exciting, traveling for work. Their eyes would glaze over at the thought of room service, housekeeping and staying in different destinations. Ruby didn’t blame them. She’d thought the same when the job offer was made. How could she resist the opportunity to travel all over the country and get paid for it?

And there definitely lots of benefits, including those that everyone assumed. Being able to visit places in a professional capacity gave her a better understanding of different states and territories, and threw into sharp relief the many subtle differences across the country. Things that you might take for granted, like road rules, could not be relied upon from state to state. There were lots of peculiarities to take into consideration, so many aspects of daily life that were much easier when you were a local.

Being geographically challenged at the best of times, Ruby was grateful for the continuing ease in which apps made the act of navigation a bit easier. Getting her head around different modes of public transport, from buses and trains to the sleek fleets of light rail that were sprouting up in major centres, was hard enough, but in most cases there were apps that made the logistical side straight forward.

She wasn’t sure how long it had taken for the novelty of flying to wear off. Early morning dashes to the airport, lining up for security checks, and the waiting had been a life lesson in patience and acceptance. She had learned to take a zen-like approach to things beyond her control, even when it had the potential to throw out tight schedules in a snowballing fashion. But there was still a sense of euphoric joy during take off, a sheer amazement of being launched into the air and being able to see places new and familiar from high above. And her heart sang each time she flew into Sydney, the majestic harbour laid out below and waiting for her return.

But her favourite mode of travel wasn’t a plane or even the various rental cars. It was by walking around the different towns and cities that Ruby felt, for a time, part of the place. She packed a pair of walking shoes with each trip, and where possible she’d walk around the streets and get a feel for the people and history of the place. This helped with getting a sense of her bearings, but also connected her for a time in her physical environment. Looking at streetscapes and plaques, at the parks and people’s front gardens, provided a glimpse of what it might be like to live there for a while. It was these small moments and memories which she packed with her as she set off for her next destination.

I’m participating in this blogging challenge for the month of January, which supports starting the year on the “write” track. You can find other posts with #bloganuary and join in the challenge.

Photo: walking shoes