12/03/2012 10:51 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2013

One Way Trip: Reminders Of How Travel Has Changed Since I Was A Kid

I took my first airplane ride when I was nine years old. My mom brought the three of us kids special travel outfits and, while I don't recall specifics, I remember shiny white patent leather shoes. The stewardesses were exotic, the food was delicious and the whole experience was glamorous.

We visited the cockpit and wore our tin pilot wings proudly back to our seats.

I spent a lot of time thinking back on that trip yesterday -- a day I began in Miami, where I was headed to the airport to fly to DC. In my purse was a schedule, sent by the travel agency coordinating the event I was supposed to moderate on Monday.

That schedule was a work of art -- it included the mileage between the airport and the hotel, the hotel and the speech venue. No detail was overlooked except one: While the masterpiece of an itinerary said I was all set to fly direct from Miami to DC on Sunday Dec. 2, the computer showed that my actual reservation had been made for Monday Dec 3. Every flight from Miami to DC before then was, of course, overbooked.

The nice American Airlines agent pieced together a hopscotch in small planes with tight connections via Raleigh-Durham. The first leg was late taking off and landed just as the second leg was set to depart. The gate agent opened the jetway door at the last minute and I made it to DC (four hours later than originally scheduled and having missed the dinner I had expected to attend).

My suitcase? It stayed behind in North Carolina.

Room service had closed by the time I got to the hotel, but the gift shop was open, so I bought trail mix and granola bars for dinner, along with a toothbrush and an oversized t-shirt that said "Change Begins Today."

This morning I will scramble to find myself some clothes suitable to wear to moderate a panel. I'm seriously thinking I'll accessorize with a pair of kid-sized pilot wings. The ones I spotted last night in the gift-shop are cheap white plastic, but heck, they would have really rocked with those white patent leather pumps.