While in Europe, I traveled with no purpose beyond seeing whatever city I landed in. I went to Rome with a vague sense that seeing the sights was important but I mainly went because I wanted to be in Rome. I didn’t go with a plan or a list of things that I absolutely had to do. And the same is true for Paris and Prague. I wanted to experience a different city, culture, food.

Recently, I flew to Pittsburgh, PA. I did not fly to Pittsburgh to see it though. In fact, I flew there and back without seeing anything beyond a sandwich shop, a hotel and a sports buildings. And sometimes that’s okay. My trip to Pittsburgh consisted of an indoor, night Ultimate Frisbee tournament, called First Nights of Flight, and sleep to recover. And that was all I needed.

Ultimate Frisbee is a competitive club sport that has swept the US and is emerging across the world. All that is required is a frisbee–preferably weighing 175 g–and markers to show where the two endzones are. If you want to read more about the sport, Wikipedia has a rather in-depth article. I began playing for fun with some friends in high school and picked it up competitively my first year at Wellesley College with the Whiptails.

Whiptails at Sectionals '10

With the Whiptails, I’ve gone to many tournaments for university level teams. Many of them have been long drives away. I am now quite skilled at waking up at 4am, eating breakfast in the car, falling asleep and popping back up ready for a day full of Ultimate. But I had never played with another team or flown to a tournament. First Nights of Flight was the first and I will admit that it was strange traveling to a tournament without a mini road-trip involved.

It is because of Ultimate that I learned something important: Traveling isn’t always about the destination city. And no, it isn’t always about the journey. I slept through both flights on this trip. My voyage through both airports was quick, painless and unremarkable. It was the opportunity to play frisbee again with a completely new group of people that made this trip so much fun and so worthwhile.

The team I played with at First Nights of Flight

Sometimes traveling isn’t about how or where but who. I had never met many of the people I ended up spending the weekend with, commiserating over sore muscles and brilliant points. I really only knew my friends Jen and Danny who I had met during the summer when we all worked at Explo. The opportunity to hang out with them for a weekend and play Ultimate was all the incentive I needed, especially after a long semester of no exericse. And it was more than I had hoped for! I met a bunch of awesome people, learned how to play Ultimate with them and experience something completely different. It didn’t matter at all that we were in a different city because we were completely focused on having a good time together.

And, in the end, isn’t that why we all travel? Yes, we want to see the famous sights or sites (depending on where you are). Yea, okay, it’s awesome listening to a different language or accent. Alright, I’ll admit, that the draw of different food is huge! But we really travel to spend time with our travel buddies, experiencing something new and to meet new people from different backgrounds. From now on, that’s my purpose behind traveling. I can’t wait for the opportunity to travel again!