Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: SABRE and Dreams of Travel - a quickwrite

5.30.2018

SABRE and Dreams of Travel - a quickwrite

Traveling has always been in my blood. But it has been years since I've been able to appease that hunger. Most of my extensive, self-exploratory travel occurred in my 20s between two motorcycles. Now that I am in my 30s, life turned a corner and my priorities had to change. Although I am grateful for every mile my motorcycles have transported me through North America, I still yearn for the opportunity to explore the rest of the world with more mature eyes. Jokingly, my goal is to "finally leave North America, but I haven't decided which direction in which I would do it."

This has been a lifelong dream. When I was about 11 or 12, my father decided to open a part-time travel agency that operated in what was once the dining room of the house. It was a small operation with a single desktop computer, a thermal fax machine, and the whirring of a dial-up 56k modem. It was from a combination of the fax machine and incoming emails that we would receive information about the latest promotions for cruises and international flights. Back then, it was pretty clear that I had a knack for working on computers, and over a period of time, I was eventually exposed to and allowed to play freely on SABRE, an airline ticket reservation system that was the travel industry standard at the time.

Now, twenty or so years ago, it was a prevalent idea that one would never purchase a plane ticket straight from the airline unless it was a major emergency and there wasn't much of a choice. Travel agencies were the brokers of the discounted airfare, the friendly middleman who coordinated itineraries with service and a smile. This was long before Travelocity, Hotwire, Expedia, and all of those online discounters did the work for you. This was my father's gig and he did it quite well, or at least it seemed by some of the commission checks he'd receive on a regular basis.

My desire to travel, however, had to remain my own secret. The travel agency was a business that fulfilled the dreams of many a customer. However, my father's ideas of what a travel agency represented had its contradictions. For me, SABRE was a textual fantasy escape platform where I could sit in front a screen and imagine the experiences of visiting places that I had only read about on short articles on Microsoft Encarta. But when I wished to see these places, even mentioning a theoretical plan for a trip to visit the country of my own ethnic roots, it was out of the question. No explanations, no negotiations. For some reason, travel was acceptable to everyone else but me. But why? I asked. There was nothing that I had done wrong. Perhaps it was the fear what I would gain too much knowledge by leaving the comfort (or lack thereof) of this small hole in the middle of Carson, CA.

I became impatient with the idea of being stuck in a misogynistic, gilded cage for the rest of my life and acted upon it. When I was 19 and a junior at USC, I stopped waiting for my chance. I lied about the dates of my scheduled Spring Break to my parents because they expected me to stay home during that time. I purchased a ticket online on Southwest Airlines and flew to Baltimore, MD to see a friend who was going to Johns Hopkins University at the time. It was my first time flying on a plane and it was an exhilarating experience, all the way down to the sample snack box filled with Golden Oreos and honey roasted peanuts. It was the first time I had traveled anywhere east of Arizona and I relished every moment. I even got to visit Washington, D.C. and absorb the history of this place. When I received my motorcycle endorsement that year and eventually, Eleanor less than three years later, I became the asphalt pilot that has, to this date, traversed 45 states, two Canadian provinces, over 200,000 miles, and has survived to tell the tale. As many of these tales have been written about on this blog and a couple other places, these were things that I couldn't be outwardly proud of when I first accomplished them. Nowadays, I can finally recognize them as some of the best accomplishments of my life so far.


In my current forays in real-time ridesharing, I often find myself in journeys to and from LAX by virtue of my home's proximity to the airport. I'd usually ask my passengers about their travels. Majority of the arrivals and destinations are domestic in nature from all parts of the United States. But sometimes, I'll get the one person with a journey that either began or ended at Tom Bradley International Terminal. Passengers would be quite surprised when I would name those international airports. Toronto Pearson. London Heathrow. Charles du Gaulle. Leonardo da Vinci. IATA codes fly through my brain like I was the one setting up those flights again on that desktop. SABRE was such a part of my childhood that it is half of my main email address.

I think about the barriers that stood in my way when it came to exploring the world, and I was inspired to write this piece by the travels of another who stated, "I decided that I was wasting my life waiting on anybody." I can feel the pain in that remark and can only imagine the heartbreak that led to such a jaded view of the roles that companions can play in one's life. I have fought through the sadness I experienced from the people who have come and gone through my own journeys. The ones who I thought were going to continue traveling with me but decided to disembark without much warning are long gone. However, the memory of their abandonment doesn't sting as it once did when it was fresh and raw. 

I do not prefer to say that I am standing still in my life while waiting for someone to accompany me on the paths onward. But rather, I am on one of those automatic walkways that you'd see in a typical airport for those people who just need a little break from the walking between terminals, drifting in a direction but still moving gradually enough that someone else could catch up, join me, and drift toward the destination together.

I can only hope that, with time, I will find that co-traveler. But I will not be waiting for you standing still. But rather, I will glide along, my hand outstretched in one direction and my eyes toward the sun. If you come along, it will be the adventure of a lifetime. And perhaps, if I could earn your trust, I can share the tales of the lifetimes I have lived as we become inspired to create new tales. May the dreams that can only be fulfilled thousands of miles away from home ignite your inspiration, calm those fears, and remind you that it is okay to finally live.