When Travel Takes Its Toll – Where Was I, Where Am I Going, Where Am I?!

travel takes its toll
Written by Charlie

When travel takes its toll, how we behave and think can become somewhat non-typical! Here are three ways that things came undone for me recently.

I love to travel, obviously! I have been fortunate to have traveled to dozens of countries and traveled around the globe a few times. But, there are times that too much travel can take a toll on you – and it happens to all of us differently. Here are three examples of how travel takes its toll on me, and quite recently.

When Travel Takes Its Toll

As regular readers know, I recently completed my 6 marathon runs on 6 continents in less than 5 days (detailed posts coming about this – I promise!). While it was certainly a fascinating trip on many levels, it also had me consume so much travel in such a short time that it took its toll on me in the one way that it can happen sometimes – geography.

I am normally very aware of everything when I travel such as where I need to go, what I need to do, flights, best directions – I have to know my plan and the schedule as I embark on a trip of any kind, just the kind of traveler I am (though I have forgotten to book a hotel room once or twice or forgot that I had booked a hotel room!). On this recent trip, I went from Greece to Egypt to Abu Dhabi to Sydney to Auckland to Santiago to Miami to Washington, DC – in a total of 9 cities on 6 continents in less than 5 days. A travel whirlwind! Especially since 6 of those cities involved running 26.2 miles in each before continuing.

Wait, Egypt Is In Africa?!

travel takes its toll

Wait, is Egypt in Africa? / Courtesy of Shutterstock

The first thing that happened did not happen until I was about to enter Sydney. Remember, this is after my best flight ever which followed running 78.6 miles in around 30 hours spread out across 3 continents. So, the first day and a half was kind of a blur, especially since I had not slept. I was filling out my form for entrance into Australia and had to check boxes for Yes or No as to whether I had been in Africa, South/Central America, or the Caribbean in the last 6 days. I was happy to check No since I had not been there and was glad because I really didn’t have time to get caught up with questions. But, as I was walking to passport control, I was in a line and saw the list of countries again – Egypt was on there list on another form. Now, I had just been in Cairo, Egypt not 30 hours before this yet I did not check it on my form. I looked back on the form and, sure enough, I didn’t check what I should have. It said Africa. And I had checked that I had not been there in the last 6 days, when I had actually been there not more than 2 days ago. What?!

See, what I missed (though I obviously know) is that Egypt is on the continent of Africa – yet I was saying on the form that I had not been to Africa. I was already messed up by the travel toll that I forgot that a country I had just been to was on a particular continent. Whoops! Of course I know that Egypt is on the continent of Africa and the official was curious why I had crossed out the No and Xed the Yes. I told him I had made a mistake, I didn’t want to go into the details about all that happened with that. 🙂 Geography mistake #1!

Where Is My Flight To Where I Am?!

travel takes its toll

Where is my flight to where I am?! / Courtesy of Shutterstock

The second mistake happened in Sydney (yes, another mistake in Australia) the next morning as I went to fly out to go to Santiago. I had cleared security and was going to walk to my gate and stopped to look at the board for the flight status. I started to become frantic as I couldn’t find Sydney on any of the flight destinations. In case you read that too fast, no, I did not make a mistake with my typing. I had forgotten which country I was in and thought I was flying to Sydney and started to panic a bit when none of the flights on the board were going to Sydney – as I stood inside of Sydney’s airport.

Fortunately, I realized my mistake before I actually went up to a representative to ask about why the flight to Sydney was not on the board – but I was in line to speak to a rep when I did realize it. 🙂 That should go without saying, I never forget which country I am in! Geography Mistake #2!

Where Am I?!

The final mistake came when I had landed in Miami. You have to understand my state of mind at this point. I had just completed 5 marathon runs on 5 continents in 4 days and I was just so relieved knowing that I was landing on U.S. soil for the final run. In a way, I knew that the event was practically over already because I could take as long as I wanted for this last marathon run with no flight after it! Plus, I was home and I was going to have a friend, Glenn from Military Frequent Flyer, running this last leg with me. So, I was just completely calm – almost to the point of falling asleep as I walked. It was the early morning hours in Miami and I was going to go to the Admiral’s Club when I saw the sign for the American Express Centurion Lounge. I thought “I didn’t know they had opened a Centurion Lounge in Reagan National – how cool is that that it is right here!” (For those who do not know, the Centurion Lounges are for customers with Amex Platinum or Centurion cards for complimentary access and they are definitely the best domestic lounges but only in a few cities – and definitely not in Reagan National in DC!)

After a minute, I froze up and thought “Wait! There isn’t one in DC! Where am I? Did I fly to the right city???” Pull out the old boarding pass real quick and then breathe a sigh of relief – I was actually in Miami, just like I was supposed to be! 🙂 Geography Mistake #3


It was kind of strange having this little “moments” because I am never like that when I travel! Of course, when travel takes its toll on us, things can happen! Fortunately, each one worked out well but I can just imagine trying to explain to some Australian immigration officer that I was not in Africa in the last 6 days – with my big ‘ole Egypt entrance visa stamp sitting in my passport with the ink still wet. 🙂

What happens to you when travel takes its toll? Are there certain things you find helpful so that you maintain control and help to stay aware?

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.