Image used under Creative Commons: The Earth Belongs To You by Love, Sophia.

Yesterday I got amazing news that will change my life in ways I can’t yet fully imagine, thanks to my friend Sara. It’s not the first time Sara has dramatically changed the course of my life. The first time, she actually saved my life. You may remember my last post, where I made reference to the hardest time in my life? THAT time.

THIS time, just yesterday, I was in a bit of a freshly awoken fog, lying in bed in a Carrows parking lot.  I had made a test-run road trip in the Chinook from Oakland to Lompoc for a field producer gig, and I’d decided to switch it up a little from the Walmart I’d stayed at the night before. My cell rang, I saw that it was Sara and picked up. “Heyyyyy!” I answered. “Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas!” she chirped. “Whaaaat??” I said, still half asleep and afraid to misinterpret what she meant. “Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas! You got your flight benefits!” I burst into tears and said through sobs, “Sara, are you kidding me?!?!?!?” Laughing, she replied, “Nope- you got ‘em!”

She’d mentioned months ago that through her flight attendant benefits, she might be able to add a friend, and that if so, she was choosing me. I was bowled over by the fact that she would want to do that for me, let alone the idea of it working out. She had no idea when she might hear back or when it would take affect if so, so I had no choice but to just think positively, and go on thinking about the round the world (RTW) trip we’d (at the time) decided to take, and put this out of my mind.

But now, I was hearing, and what I heard is that starting in 2012, I will get to fly anywhere (or everywhere!) in the world WITH. UNLIMITED. FREE. FLIGHTS!!! That I will be able to put myself on stand-by lists in advance for flights I’d like to take, or just show up at the airport. That I won’t have to pay for my backpack being checked, or any other fees, and that I would pay next to nothing in the event that I ever wanted to upgrade. It’s staggering. I can’t fully comprehend it. I think there should be a new word created in English to describe how I feel. Elated, excited, stunned, honored, overwhelmed, grateful…all fall short- WAYYYYY short.

In addition to this being a testament to what an incredible friend Sara is, I also think about the chain of events that had to happen for THIS to happen. Sara and I had to meet and become close friends, if not in junior high as we did, then sometime. A few years ago, and many years after we lost touch following our first round of college, my brother had to convince me to look up friends through Sara had to be there and be happy to reconnect. We had to have the kind of friendship that transcends time so that we could essentially pick up where we left off and just fill each other in on what we’d missed.  Sara had to have family members who aren’t already on her benefits, not care as much for travel. And speaking of time, how would this have worked if I were still part of a couple going RTW?

This news is so fresh that I haven’t had a chance to process it and figure out my plan yet, but you can be sure of a few things:

* I, a person who has wanted to do a RTW for over half my life and finally made it a priority to do it (thinking I’d be paying for tickets everywhere!) will absolutely make the most of it!

* Others will benefit somehow from this amazing gift I’ve received.

* I will consider the impact my actions have on the environment.

* I will never be able to thank Sara enough, but I will certainly try.

If you don’t know or haven’t heard me brag enough about Sara, she’s a travel expert that can be found at The Flying Pinto, In Flight Team, and co-hosting the weekly travel podcast she created, The Crew Lounge. Oh, and she’s also one of the most generous supporters of others I know. :)

Can you believe this?! How do you pay amazing gifts forward? Have a great story to share? Tell me about it!

119 Responses to “The Best Gift EVER- A Friend Gives Me the World”

Comments (119)
  1. what a great story and even better gift — congrats!

  2. OMG! That’s amazing! Congratulations!

    That would be a dangerous thing for me to have. I’d be gone every other week!

    • thanks kelsey! i know! can you believe it??? it’s dangerous for me too- i may never come stop! at least my mom will know i can always afford to come home :)

  3. We love it when good things happen to good people.

    As you know, several of our friends work for Alaska and bestow “buddy passes” upon us, so we know the joy of flight bennies.

    So, where to first?

    • thanks guys! i know you two understand what a huge burst of sunshine this is :) i have absolutely no idea where to first! ha ha. maybe i’ll arrive at the airport and ask where’s next!

  4. Amazing news! I would have cried too…unlimited free flights?! I’m sure you’ll use this gift to the fullest, happy for you!

    • thanks christine! would you have? i felt like such a cry baby, but it was like projectile tears- i had no control! ha ha. thanks again for the RT and congrats on what was then a mystery! did you imagine anything like this when you tweeted me about it?

  5. That is freakin awesome…

  6. Wow, I honestly think this is the only time in my life I’ve been truly jealous. But at the same time, you deserve it! I think you’re going to do amazing things and have fantastic adventures on your upcoming trip. It IS the travel lotto, and Sara sounds like an incredible friend.

    • thanks melanie! didn’t mean to make you jealous though! sara is amazing, and not nearly because of this. she’s been an awesome friend through all the ups and downs. my mom says she’s one of my guardian angels of earth :)

  7. Serendipity!!!!! So very happy for you.

    • thanks fern! that’s exactly what it feels like! i’m over the moon! oh, and i can probably fly there now!- hee hee! :) btw- want to come down to see you and talk about *positivising ;) * my space/chinook. love how everything in your shop is positive (no negative words) and want to surround myself in that!

  8. What an amazing gift!! And so well deserved too. Wow, I’m speechless!

    • thanks jools! and can you believe the timing?! it’s not like it glosses over everything tough, but it certainly gives me a huge boost and affirmation on the direction i’m taking :)

  9. OMG yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Girl you better take advantage of that or I will kick your cute butt. I can’t wait to see where you go 1st.

    • thanks andi!!! i PROMISE you won’t have to kick my butt! and you know one of the places i’ll definitely go is india! apparently *she* is really perturbed that all *her* calling hasn’t worked yet and now *she’s* pulled out the big guns ;) ha ha!

  10. I’m so happy for you!! Wow… what an amzung gift! Things happen for a reason and you deserve it! Enjoy, start planning and I can’t wait to read about your adventures! that’s great friend that you have:)

    • thanks kay! i know, right? this is a HUGE gift and i won’t take it for granted for one minute! she is a fantastic friend. so lucky to have her- and you :)

  11. Bloody hell. Oh well, you can drop by and see us in Tarifa some time then…:)

  12. What a blessing!

    • totally lisa! think all of my *angels* here and your beautiful positive thoughts and warm-wishes had something to do with it :)

  13. That is so awesome! Congrats! I am sure there are many people envious of you but also very happy for you! No excuses now – have an awesome time planning your trip! :)

    • thanks jeremy! awww- hope any envy just turns into prioritizing it and making it happen (for anyone with a want to do it). and you’re right for me- no excuses! but i wouldn’t dream of making them now, that’s for sure! :)

  14. My Dear Lorna,
    WELCOME ABOARD!!! I am sooooooooooooooooo excited for you. Sara is thrilled that she can do this for you and of course I am thrilled, maybe someday we can fly together…oh, don’t forget this one: those two airlines had to merge for this to happen as well….what were the chances on that????
    All meant to be my lovely, just for you!!

    • thanks pati!!! you have such an awesome daughter. i love her- thanks for raising such a great one! my mom called her my guardian angel on earth :) would love to fly together! where to? i’ll go anywhere! thanks for the kind words and agree with you- feels totally meant to be :)

  15. Nice!!! Congrats on that, that is freaking awesome!

  16. That benefit package exists? Like, really? Enjoy it! :)

  17. Wow, this is such a phenomenal gift. Congratulations, and I hope you have a great time traveling the world! :)

    • thanks christy! thanks for stopping by- heard about you through fellow pal erica @overyonderlust (her sxsw posts!) excited to connect, especially since i just bought a tiny rv and will be heading out on a big road trip before these benefits kick in! excited to read your stories from the road (love the name of your rig- mayhem- haha) and hope our paths cross soon :)

      • That’s awesome! Any idea of when you’ll start your road-trip, or what areas you’ll explore? We’ll be throughout the Southwest for April and March, so we’d LOVE to meet-up if our paths cross! :)

        • haven’t put it all together yet, but my family is in arizona and there’s a chance i’ll head out while you’re still in the s.w. let’s keep in touch for sure!

  18. That’s so awesome, Lorna! You deserve it!

    • thanks christy! really appreciate that! can you believe the timing? needed some cheer and got it in spades!!! :)

  19. Wow! That’s amazing. Actually your best gift ever was Sara, I think! Good for you!

  20. WOW. expect to be seeing you in some crazy destinations in the very near future. rock n roll!

  21. Hurrah for you both. Wonderful news and to have such a great friend.
    Oh and put New Zealand up top of your list!

  22. Wow, amazing! I really need to get me some flight attendent buddies…haha. Well, I expect to read about your adventures from all over the world :-) And now we definitely need to get together before you’re never in the Bay Area anymore!

    • thanks ashley! i’ll be writing for sure! and yes- we must get together before i take off on the road trip that comes before the flights trip…once school is out for you! :)

  23. Wow, wow, wow! What an awesome friend. Congratulations! That’s a wonderful story.

  24. That is the best “friend with benefits” story ever. I am very happy for you!!

    • BAHAHAHAHAHA! badumpump! you’re a hoot raymond! damn. i think i’m pretty crafty with the titles, but that one would have been killer! i may have to steal it ;) thanks for the cheer! :)

  25. For those of you that know Lorna, you know that I am the LUCKY one;) And, for those of you that believe in the law of attraction, here it is at it’s best. When Lorna and I discussed her “distant” plans to travel the globe I said, “I’d like to be able to put you on my flight benefits…but I can’t take the husband off because we travel too much…hmmmm…I’d like there to be a way.” So, yes as Lorna says don’t be jealous let this inspire you!

    I am super excited to live vicariously through Lorna using my benefits to their full extent! And, of course meeting up here and there!! Love you Lornie, you’re amazing, the world is yours…go get it!!

    • why do you always have to make me cry?! ha ha. so true what you say about how it unfolded! i may have to revise this, because that was so long ago i’d forgotten how we tried to think of so many ways years ago, but that’s a crucial element of the story! Love you too and can’t wait to share some more adventures together. maybe we can recreate the pic of us in the LA hotel room eating pizza as teens in an Italian hotel room eating real pizza! And as for the rest of the world- thanks to you i’m absolutely planning to go get it! :)

  26. Wow! Dreams + Friendship = Amazing.

    I can’t wait to read about your adventures.

    • thanks sam! couldn’t agree with that equation more! can you believe the timing? sooooo nice to have something so wonderful happen :)

  27. Holy crow! You must come see me in South America, it’s cheap here in fact the most expensive part is the flight!

  28. Wow. That’s the best friend I’ve ever heard of. Congratulations!

    • thanks renee! yeah, she’s great! i’m hoping we can actually have some of the adventures together :)

  29. Sometimes when a door closes a window opens! Take the opportunity to visit and do things you’ve always wanted! What a wonderful gift!

    • thanks jillian! what i’ve always wanted, is to visit every country in the world! ambitious i know, but i think i’ll go for it! :)

  30. this is such amazing news. you deserve it.

    • thanks mike! so exciting right?! thanks for all the support- appreciate that and your kind words here so much :)

  31. Congratulations! That is WONDERFUL news! I’m so happy for you and all the new and exciting adventures that you’re going to be soon taking!

    • thanks connie! it’s been days since i heard now and even though i thought it COULD happen (imagined it, thought of what i’d do, etc.) long before i found out, since i’ve heard it’s like i’m stunned! ha ha. i really want to go everywhere, so hoping our paths will cross at one or more of those places! :)

  32. Lorna! This is fantastic! Now where can Shaun and I meet some of her flight attendant friends? I kid.

    But really – I am so stoked for you!

    • thanks erica! can you freakin’ BELIEVE it?! i’m like a little kid with a pony right now. we are definitely going to meet up somewhere(s) lady that’s for sure!!! :)

  33. Lorna,
    So happy for you! This sounds exactly what you need at this time in your life. Can’t wait to hear more about what you decide to do. I wouldn’t even know where to start if I had a year of free flights! Will be following your adventures around the world.

    • thanks laurel! it feels absolutely right and incredibly nutzo at the same time if that makes sense- ha ha. and the thing is- it’s not just a fixed year! it’s indefinite!!! :) :) :)

  34. How awesome! Can’t imagine how excited you must be feeling.

    • thanks jill! it’s almost like i can’t imagine how excited i must be feeling if that makes any sense! i wonder when it’ll actually sink in! :)

  35. Wow Lorna, that really does take the crown for the best gift ever! That is thrilling!

    • thanks mark! and just after i left that comment on your 33 photos post about how i’m so inspired by your pics and the places you
      visit! i’ll get to go to them now! woo hoo! :)

  36. You have a really really awesome friend! I’m very excited for you.

  37. I am such a terrible person for being jealous. But YAY Lorna, YAY Sara. Looking forward to hearing about the wonderful round the world adventures you’re going to have.

    Trying to find the silver lining in my jealousness — I don’t feel as jealous as I did when I was a teenager and heard my second cousin complain her cheapskate dad had bought her a return ticket to New York instead of a new car for her 18th. I was working my way through university at the time and I couldn’t believe people had enough money to give gifts like that. My cousin pointed out in a very nasty tone that because her dad was a pilot he only had to pay 10% of the fare. Ungrateful much?

    • Oh, forgot to mention those flights for my grumpy cousin were Brisbane-New York.

      • oh sara & i know better than you can imagine about that one! we went to college with girls who cried when they were homesick and got brand new convertable bmw’s so they could go home anytime- ha ha!
        definitely not my intent to be boastful and make folks jealous! would it help if i mentioned that i’ve eaten more top ramen in my life than i care to remember? ;) i’m incredibly grateful for this, and have lived a life that makes it absolutely impossible to take this good fortune for granted. :)

        • Oh, I didn’t mean to compare you to my snooty spoilt brat cousin. Just saying … travel has always been my dream so hearing other people complain about it made me very testy.
          I don’t begrudge you for a second. Have a wonderful wonderful time.

          • no worries d.o.! i didn’t take it that way. thanks the kind wishes. hope to meet up somewhere! :)

  38. Oh my goodness – can’t think of a better gift! You deserve it – enjoy =)

  39. AMAZING! Good for you. Can’t wait to hear more about your RTW adventures. :)

  40. This is the ultimate gift….OMG. Wow. I’m very happy for you….you deserve it!

    • aw, thanks lisa! such sweet words. really appreciate and so excited! also can’t wait to meet you on my road trip! :)

  41. Lorna, I am generally a cynic, but sometimes the vast universe delivers! This is amazing and I’m so happy for you! It’s well deserved.

    Enjoy every millisecond!

    • thanks jeannie! i will absolutely enjoy it all and hopefully some of it with you! bangladesh here we come!? :)

  42. What a wonderful gift from a very generous person and friend. I have a friend that had one of his closest friend put him on their list and I cant imagine how much that has actually saved him at this point. Make sure you use the gift you were given and enjoy it to the fullest.

    • thanks kirk! i know! i can only imagine if your friend did a RTW like i plan to, how much it saves! i’m going with the keep-on-going-indefinitely option, so i promise to take your advise and enjoy it to the fullest! and you’re so right- she’s an incredibly generous person & friend even without including this gift. :)

  43. Yay!! Sara just told me about this and that you were still blogging and going round the world. Let’s catch up. I miss you. You better make a stop in London, because there will be an addition to the family by June’s end. Love you girl – and so happy for you! xoxoxo big hug from the UK

    • thanks deb!!! can you believe it?! and OF COURSE i’m coming to see you and meet your new addition :) benefits don’t kick in until 2012, but i’ll absolutely see
      you then. and your birthday is tomorrow- yay! hope you have a fab day planned and that we can catch up soon. xoxoxo love you too

  44. That’s fabulous news! And what an amazing gift – one that you’ll always remember! :)

  45. Wow. I’m so jealous! :P That must be a gigantic weight lifted off you! It will give you so much freedom and flexibility! Congrats! It sounds like an awesome opportunity!!! :)

    • thanks amy! it’s really amazing and i definitely won’t take it (or sara) for granted! still figuring out how i can have this help others :)

  46. That is BEYOND NICE…..enjoy every moment and every flight.

  47. This is truly amazing! I don’t know you personally, yet I am so happy for you. I hope that one day I can give a gift this meaningful to someone close to me.

  48. A freelance producing gig in Lompoc!!! Sounds great! I remember the day you received the call from Sara.
    Enjoy your travels and look me up when you get to Boston……
    Mary Ellen

  49. Wow! This is so amazing. I can’t wait to follow your adventures!

  50. This is so amazing! Shows what happens when you allow yourself to walk towards your dreams. It’s then that they come running to you.

    • thanks lady! that is exactly how i feel about it. i did not (and still do not) know how i’m going to make it all work, but i’m just focusing on putting one foot in front of the other in the direction of what i want. it will fall into place, i know it! :) thanks so much for the cheer! :D

  51. Amazing!!!!! What a wonderful friend you have! Make sure you get her a souvenir wherever you go! Super happy for you!

  52. Wow that is really cool! What a great friend. Trip to Down Under then?

  53. I WANT SOME! You should share! PS… it took me a long time to get to the bottom of this post because of ALLLLL the comments. You’re so popular!

    • aw hogga, you rock! i want you to have some! the world needs more hogga travel tales- they be super funny ;)

  54. OMG, you’ve managed to make me cry this early in the morning!!!!!!!!!! *big hugs* that is beyond amazing, congrats babe!!!!!!!!

    • thanks so much maria! really appreciate the cheer!!! sorry to make you cry though, but i know you mentioned on twitter they were happy tears, so that’s good :) *hugs* back!

  55. Absolutely great! Jealous!

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