Tis the season to get out of town! With Hanukkah upon us, Santa doin’ his thing for those with whom he does his thing, and New Year’s on the heels of it all…more people will be traveling over the next two weeks than at any time throughout the year. Vacation time is supposed to be a time of refreshment, escape and bliss. But with the challenges of airline rules, security issues, unpredictable weather, traffic surprises, lugging heavy luggage, and challenging traveling companions and its a wonder we ever get the fun out of what we seek. To help you deal with some of the potential headaches of travel, here are a few tips on preparation, prevention and patience:
*Anticipate the unexpected. It may be an unexpected traffic jam, a car that won’t start or a suitcase handle that breaks as you are packing. Leave yourself plenty of time for the unexpected. It’s better to have time for an unexpected leisurely cup of coffee at the airport than to have to be nervous that you will miss your flight.
*Some things you are in control of; and others you are not…identify which is which. No matter how hard you try, you can’t use your mental telepathy to “will” a plane to take off on time. Take solace in the serenity prayer as written by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.
*A smile and a thank you will get you farther than a “bark”. On travel days, everyone is stressed out. The last thing that a gate agent expects is for someone to say “thank you”, or “I appreciate what you’ve done for me”. If you want to get something done…be “exceptionally nice”.
*Travel light. Carrying on a backpack, a rolley, and hands full of packages will make your flight “Not Fun”. Don’t be an overpacker – rather, be an “over underpacker”. Its a lot cheaper to do a little laundry while on vcation than it is to pay for overweight or too many pieces of luggage. Do your best to minimize the carry-ons - think of how much better it will be not to have to fight for the overhead compartment with your seat-mates.
*Start packing sooner than later. Move on from that college student mentality where cramming the night before is hip. Lay things out a little at a time starting a few days before your travels. By spreading out the task, you relieve yourself of a full-onstress day, the day before your travel. The last night is used only for putting everything into the suitcase (and hoping it weighs less than 50 pounds!).
*Patience is a virtue…but it isn’t an option. No one likes to stand in line, especially a long one. The holiday time is notorious for “Travel Newbies”. Remember, not everyone is travel savvy. Believe it or not, some people don’t know that they have to take their computer out, or that they have to take their shoes off (Some people even argue that point with the TSA agents). If you’ve left yourself plenty of time, you can sit back and giggle at their ignorance.
* Traveling is a journey, not a destination. With proper physical, mental and organizational preparation, the journey to get where you’re going can be part of the fun. Don’t look at the packing, the flight or the road trip as a means to the end. By looking at is as a part of the journey, you can not only limit your stress but have a little fun on the way.