Jet set lifestyle

During the past 365 days I did take off and land a total of 75 times, which inspired me to write a post on the romance of jet set lifestyle. Coincidentally, this article is started at SAS Business Lounge at Oslo airport Gardermoen and finished at Stockholm airport Arlanda, gate F26.

Jet set romance

There is something romantic driving to the airport in the middle of the night, lit by a full moon down in the horizon. After morning greetings and small talk with the airport check-in and security staff, soon I am outside, walking in the frisk, kerosine smelling morning air towards the freezing cold plane to grab my seat. I have to admit it, I’ve grown to like this feeling of departure, the ever-busy atmosphere of an airport during mornings and afternoon or the unexpected silence and tranquility of airport lounge on late Friday or Sunday evenings.

Yes, it is true, globally thinking only the few privileged have the chance to have a taste of this lifestyle. This jet set lifestyle. Rich and beautiful people passing each other at the airports, talking on their phones or isolated from the world with iPod or kindle. This generation does not talk about Stockholm, Oslo, London, New York or Seoul with their names. Oh no, they use the secret society language, IATA airport codes when they show off their travels to their peers and common people. “Next week me and my wife are going to DXB, but it’s a bit annoying because we have a layover in FRA, but that’s okay, because we looove the lounge there. Oh, and last year we went to…. bla bla bla”.

“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat” -Lily Tomlin

I remember the first time I got access to the SAS lounge at CPH (Copenhagen airport, Kastrup). It was early Friday morning and I was expecting a group of morning tipsy business men in their blazers and tack sharp haircuts and Hugo Boss glasses. But actually it was quite humane experience and the buffet snacks were good and plentiful. The mahogany colored toilet was equipped with gold-plated water taps and ambient classical music was playing in the background to relax ones rectum. However the smell was still authentic and I did not get totally carried away from this reality into the dreamy lifestyle of mileage-running and status-matching elite men in suits who compare their purchased Jaguars and trophy wives.

Then there are the wannabes, usually middle class, middle aged Finns. They are coming home from their shopping weekend getaway and the only thing they can talk about is their purchases, how they saved two euros in some fashion item just by buying it from that dirty, ugly, expensive city that they had chosen as their destination only because Ryanair has cheap flights there. Ok, seriously.. If everything is so much better at home, why bother travelling? The financially best deals you will get online anyways. But I know your secret, that does not give you the shopping rush or the sick pleasure from complaining.

“Is this the real life?” – David after dentist

Of course I can not not (don’t you not love the double negative) give a thought to the result oriented check-list travellers, the over-achievers who rush from one historic site to another snapping photos with their cheap DSLRs or expensive iPhones, visiting thirty tourist attractions in two weeks and saving the world with their likeminded peers, sitting in the cozy cafe or nightclub and having their only touch with local life and lifestyle in the pint in front of them, the locally brewed beer. Yes, most of the sites are genuine and have historical and anthropological significance, but beware, if you pay someone money to visit authentic Masai home or village, it is staged authenticity.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve visited such sites and they are interesting, impressive etc. and you should go too if you get the chance, just don’t go on living your life thinking that you have visited something 100% authentic and real. I personally believe that ticking DXB, FRA, SVG, the pyramids and the Taj Mahal off from ones lifelong to-do list gives nothing but the pleasure of achieving and increasing the length of your places-visited list to impress your neighbours.

Random observations from the real world

I don’t mind flying in first class (or Ryanair) and enjoying free wifi and snacks in lounges, but the really fulfilling life comes from other things.

Things like being comfortably lost in Milan railway station, surrounded by constant yells “Bergamo parti, andiamo, pronto pronto!”, tired like a zombie, little bit uncertain if I will find my friend who has generously arranged couchsurfing at friend of a friends place, enjoying the cafe lungo, feeling the somehow Parisian vibes of Milano, being absolutely certain that whatever happens, must happen.
Another example of what I like most in my travelling is meeting the awesome and interesting people. The “professional” couchsurfing host in Kaunas or the drunk sea captain in Riga who hated Norwegians from all of his guts and thought I was one, too.

Or asking the all-knowing taxi drivers for advice or going for a drink with the hostel staff who next day invite you to join them for a tour to an attraction, on their day off. Or trying to have a conversation with a hippie who had full-sleeve and facial tattoos and a mindset 99% opposite of that of mine. Or waking up on the backseat of my car at the roadside resting stop in Sweden to find out that I had a sleepover in a gypsy camp.

Or seeing the expression on the face of my norwegian colleagues and friends when the big white limousine comes to meet us at the Vilnius airport. Or searching for the unmarked bar in Minsk, which even the taxi driver had problems with. Or witnessing the japanese hipster coming out of a building, wearing white hard hat and Sennheiser headphones, climbing on his scooter and heading off like a madman.

You are where you choose to be

Just that I’ve achieved the elite status on a frequent flyer programme, I am leaving my job to go an a round-the-world trip to expose myself to the world so that the world can change me for the better. Who knows, maybe I’ll become a buddhist monk in Tibet. Or a hotelier in Sumatra. Or photographer for National Geographic. Or a politician in the Former Soviet Union. Life is full of options and there is no reason why you couldn’t have the same if you _really_ wanted to?

If you want to enjoy your personal lifelong pilgrimage and exploration, here’s my five hints.

  1. Challenge your comfort zone.
  2. Life in the present, be where you are, when you are.
  3. Slow down. Use more time.
  4. Keep it simple.
  5. If you want to know a place, you need to connect with the local people, this requires long-term stay.

Overall, I have learned a lot by living so many different lifestyles and in so many places. And I plan to use it to my advantage. I just loooove cherry picking. And free wifi and snacks in the lounges.

Elmo relaxing in an elite private room

Elmo relaxing in an elite private room in a secret corner of the airport.

Average Joe sleeping next to cheap shirts at gate C8

Average Joe sleeping next to cheap shirts at gate C8.

Further on the topic:

Jupiter’s Travels – Ted Simon
Mutant Message From Down Under – Marlo Morgan

Up in the Air – George Clooney movie


posted: 12 December 1
under: Lifestyle