I recently had the opportunity to see the newly released holiday movie Up In the Air starring George Clooney. I'll be honest, George Clooney is pretty easy on the eye but he wasn't the reason for me wanting to see this movie. When I first saw the previews I thought 'This movie kinda sort of sounds like my life!'.
George Clooney's character, Ryan Bingham, is a corporate downsizer and business traveler. Ryan is constantly on the road traveling from city to city, living out of a suitcase and racking up frequent traveler points from various travel reward programs (airlines, rental car companies, hotels, etc.).
I work for a large insurance company in a department that handles catastrophic weather related events for my company. Like Ryan, I travel a LOT for my company...I am on the road about 8 - 9 months out of the year, travel from city to city, and spend most of my time living out of a suitcase. Fortunately I am not threatening other people's livelihoods due to corporate downsizing, but hopefully I am assisting to get their lives back on track after the damage they have sustained.
The following are some similarities between Ryan Bingham and I:
1) Travel Rewards - Although Ryan is a member of just about every travel program out there, his main goal was to reach 10,000,000 frequent flier miles with American Airlines.
Although I fly commercially I don't think (and hope!) that I will ever reach 10,000,000 frequent flier miles! On the other hand I am a member of many travel reward programs. My big one is Marriott Rewards. Friends and family never have to worry about paying for a hotel stay since I have more points than I'll ever use.
2) Family - Ryan is viewed as an outsider by his family. His younger sister is getting married and has chosen her future husband's uncle to walk her down the aisle.
Sometimes I feel like an outsider to my family. This past Christmas was the first time I had been home to see them in a year. Many will think 'What's the big deal?'. The big deal is that me and my family are very close and it just isn't acceptable to only see them once a year.
3) Nomads - Ryan loves (and mean LOVES!) being on the road. When his job is threatened by technology I could tell that he was really pained about returning to a 'normal' life that didn't involve travel. At one point I believe he said that he was more comfortable on the road than he was at home - never mind that home for Ryan is a sparsely furnished one bedroom apartment.
I too love the sense of adventure with traveling to a new city and seeing parts of the country that I would never have any reason to go to - like Bismark, North Dakota for example. When I first took my current position my life was in a bit of flux...someone that I loved more than life itself had died and I found myself losing my way. This job allowed me to hide and not face the realities that I needed to face.
4) Love - During the course of the movie, Ryan meets a woman (of course there has to be a love story in there!). She is just like him in regards to traveling. But for the first time, I believe Ryan really begins to open his heart and his life to let someone else in.
For so long I have used my job as a shield to hide behind from the realities of life. I have a feeling that there are some wonderful possibilities out there for me to find balance in my life. I might just be ready to hang up my travel wings too! Well, maybe...