Travel & Boredom

Do I find traveling boring? No, of course not. I love traveling and I’m writing this on the first full day of my summer adventures in The Netherlands and Spain. But travel involves all sort of boring periods of time.

The weather related delays (thunderstorms and a tornado watch) that kept me at Newark Airport for hours and hours and hours before my flight to Amsterdam on Friday, raised boredom to a mind numbing level. I filled some of the time reading (always good), but I allowed myself to experience long stretches of boredom as part of an experiment inspired by a ‘Note to Self’ report on WNYC (NPR in NYC).

The report examined the connection between creativity and boredom. Since I know that “empty time” is an essential ingredient for writing, I chose to “suffer” more than usual during my flight delay. I alternated between long periods of reading—a true crime essay on the killing spree that inspired ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ and ‘The Big Short’ (the compelling and, miraculously comprehensible, description of the mortgage/financial crash in 2007) with simply wandering around the terminal, people watching, musing, staring into space… You get the picture.

During my BORED time, I managed to jot down four related short story ideas. Two had been roaming around in my head for days, but had failed to make it into a notebook for future reference and two came to me during the mind numbing dull of the airport. I also chatted with another bored passenger, observed the ‘travel in comfort’ styles of passengers’ clothing, and noted how many babies and small children were headed onto my plane.

I limited the number of text messages I sent before the flight, made only one phone call, and did my best to experience the hours instead of ‘killing’ them. I could have watched a movie on my Kindle, found some FREE WiFi, or conversed with Siri about the weather in the Netherlands, but I didn’t.

The ‘Note to Self’ report reminded me of the long stretches of time I spent as a child just sitting on the branch of a tree, or trying to whistle through a blade of grass (never got that perfect sound), or simply daydreaming. Summers were full of unplanned, unsupervised, and un-programmed time. The empty time in the airport, once I slowed myself down and accepted the crazy-making long delays, allowed my imagination to roam. It was a little like being a kid during summer vacation with nothing to do and nowhere to go until grandma said it was dinnertime.

Note to Self :

The view from my seat on the plane was we approached Amsterdam.

The view from my seat on the plane was we approached Amsterdam.


  1. lol – you’re just a naturally creative/imaginative person. 😛 Non-structured time is good but I’ll never believe actual boredom is good for anything. If switching off is the magic ingredient then I’d rather be out in the garden doing something physical while my mind roams free. 🙁

    • Candy Korman

      The mind roaming free while the hands are busy is ALWAYS the best.Cooking is great for me. When I’m stuck with a writing question—fiction or freelance—getting into the kitchen and chopping onions (or a similar task) usually does the trick. It’s something between boredom and focus—a productive distraction.