Home for the holidays: students reflect on travel traditions

A student’s suitcases outside a dorm room in Erdman Residence Hall at Occidental College in LA. Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Sarah Hofmann/The Occidental

Next week, Mayu Adomi (junior), Matthew Romo Nichols (sophomore) and Fiona Jordan (sophomore) will be Ubering to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to hop on flights to meet their friends and family for Thanksgiving. Although there are multiple airports nearby, as well as other transportation options, all three students chose to Uber to LAX. All from out of state, these three students have become accustomed to the travel life, especially around the holidays. While different people have their own travel routines and schedules, Adomi, Romo Nichols and Jordan like making their trips as quick and easy as possible, without a lot of time just sitting around.

Jordan usually looks for the cheapest flight out of LAX to fly home to Illinois for the holidays and breaks. While preparing for her trips, she does not pack a lot and wears a comfortable outfit for her trip. She spends time in the air catching up on things she normally does not have much time to do during the school week: listening to music or reading a new book while snacking on her favorite treat, a Snickers bar.

Although she did not travel too frequently growing up, she would fly to San Diego once a year to visit a friend. She often looked forward to that trip, until there was a mishap in her route one year.

“One time, there was a really bad storm, so we had to land halfway at a random airport,” Jordan said. “I was 8, so the flight attendant was responsible for me. So I had to sit and hang out with the flight attendants for five hours before we could get on another flight to get to San Diego.”

Adomi was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, but spent more than half her life in Tokyo, Japan. Currently, her mother resides 5,471 miles away in Tokyo and her father 2,568 miles away in Florida, so to say she has logged a few miles would be an understatement. Her father is a recently retired pilot, so she grew up flying Delta almost exclusively, with the occasional international flight on Japan Airlines. As a frequent flyer, she has spent her fair share of time waiting around at airports. To have enough time to get through security and immigration smoothly — without much spare time at the gate — she tries to get to the airport an hour and a half before her scheduled take-off.

When she does have time to spare at LAX, she kills time with a Starbucks run or a phone call to a friend. She said that the airports in Tokyo are a lot more entertaining.

“I love all the Tokyo airports because there are so many stores with cute little gifts to buy,” Adomi said. “I’ll hop around the little stores and stop by the vending machines, which are so convenient, to get a drink.”

On the flight, Adomi spends some time doing things she loves, such as listening to music or drawing sketches of people. As a pilot’s daughter, she also has the extra perk of hopping on her dad’s Wi-Fi. She uses the Wi-Fi to catch up on homework or watch Netflix, all while munching on her favorite plane snacks: Jagariko and other Japanese chips, chocolates or an rX protein bar.

“Because I’m a hardcore Disney fan, I will always watch the animated Disney Princess movies they have available, or “Brooklyn 99” or “Rick and Morty”,” Adomi said.

Another relative of an airline employee, Romo Nichols grew up flying Southwest Airlines (now Delta), as his aunt was a flight attendant for the airline. A Denver native, most of his airline travel has taken place in more recent years, but he recalled one traumatic experience when he was younger.

“When I was 8, I had a really bad experience where my ears clogged up and I was crying hard on the plane,” Romo Nichols said. “I was that kid.”

Romo Nichols said he hates having time to spare at the airport, so he tries to get there with just enough time to check-in and get through security. When he does find himself waiting around, he tries getting on the airport Wi-Fi to get some work done or calls his family.

Dressed in comfortable clothes, he will spend time in the air watching a football game, taking a nap or chatting with the person in the seat next to him. Romo Nichols said he loves starting conversations with people next to him if they seem friendly and willing to talk. On a flight from Denver to LA earlier this year, he had a two-hour conversation with an older man seated next to him. Romo Nichols shared his passion for politics and desire to work in politics as the older man shared his life advice.

“In this day and age, it’s really hard to have a constructive conversation without it being me versus you, and it was just a really intelligent conversation,” Romo Nichols said. “Even though I shared zero political views with this man, we talked for two hours, and I could see the opposing view that I don’t think most people are willing to see in this day and age.”

Before returning back to Occidental for finals season, Adomi, Romo Nichols and Jordan will all be hopping on their flights out of LAX to jet off and spend the holiday with their family around the country.