It was a warm and breezy July afternoon, a perfect day for me to live vicariously through some of the travelers at Sioux Gateway Airport. As I walked into the airport terminal, a family of four surrounded by luggage immediately caught my eye. I wondered where they were going, how long would they be there… and how much do those bags weigh?! I approached the parents, and asked if they had a minute. Who am I kidding? Of course they did, it was 2 o’clock and their flight didn’t leave ’til 4; A true sign of experienced travelers. Anyway, I digress.
The father lowered the book he was reading and smiled, “of course” he replied. They invited me to sit and we began to chat it up. He introduced himself as Upali Seneviratne, his wife, Manjula and his daughters Kia & Shana. The Seneviratnes live in a small town in Nebraska but were leaving the midwest behind and jet-setting to Sri Lanka, A.K.A. the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. There, they were going visit family and enjoy the last few weeks of summer. In fact, the girls were able to extend their summer break just a few more days, since school will have already started by the time they return. I could tell by their beaming smiles that they didn’t mind trading a few days of school for a few in paradise.
The total flying time to Sri Lanka is over 24 hours, so you really need a battle plan to combat in-flight boredom. I asked what the girls were going to do with all of that travel time that lay ahead. “Sleep, talk, watch movies or play on the iPad” they quipped.
During our conversation, Upali told me that he has been traveling for over 40 years and has been to 142 countries. I know, right?! I had to ask, with all of the places he’s been; where was his favorite destination? Without hesitation he said, “Singapore“. Upali loved marveling at Singapore’s beauty and watching it evolve from a struggling, newly independent republic, to the prosperous and forward thinking country it is today. If you have the opportunity, he highly recommends taking the trip of a lifetime to experience Singapore yourself. I don’t know about you, but I’m sold!
Shana and Kia may not have been to 142 countries (yet), but they did have a couple favorite destinations. Shana loved Mexico, “Because it’s so close to the sea.” While, Kia had a special place in her heart for Pennsylvania. She really liked seeing the Amish people and their way of life. “It’s like it was when the Mayflower came here. So cool!”, she exclaimed.
After about 15 minutes of chatting I thought I’d let Upali get back to his book. As we parted ways I realized I didn’t have a chance to ask how much their bags weighed, but since Upali’s travel tip was to use every ounce of the 50lb. limit when packing your bags. I’m going to go out on a limb and say he took his own advice.
I hope the Seneviratnes had a fantastic trip to Sri Lanka and I hope they will start their next adventure at Sioux Gateway Airport.
– Allison, Sioux Gateway Airport Team