holiday leisure travelers and, to your
mind, they are an intrusive and unwelcome annoyance.
I say, get over it. Drop this "Us/Them" adversarial
attitude. You’ll be less cranky, belligerent, and frustrated
(which makes you a more appealing seatmate; it works both
ways). Your status as a frequent flyer does not entitle you to
blame them for your general dissatisfaction, discomfort, and
unhappiness with the travel process. (Save that rap for the
airlines, who deserve it.).
What’s the real problem
here? Air travel, for one reason or another, is almost always a
zoo these days. Why dump on the novices?
Still having trouble
accepting the holiday-bound seatmates? Consider this: Those
folks are the friends and loved ones of other business
travelers (Some of them may even be your kin!). Cut
them some slack. If you can’t appreciate them, at least
respectfully ignore them. Listen to their stories (You might
be surprised at what you’ll hear.). Be happy for them. Show
real compassion and help them navigate the system.
business travel experts such as
Joe Brancatelli and
others work tirelessly to educate you on
how to avoid or handle travel pitfalls and problems.
Follow their suggestions.
It’s winter. It’s the
holidays. You know there will be weather and security-related
flight delays and cancellations and horrendous traffic to and from
the airport. Why are you expecting things to run
flawlessly? They never do.
Your Movements—and Dress for Bad Weather
When you’re tired
and stressed, your body is weaker and more vulnerable to accidents
and injuries. Ice and snow, inappropriate clothing (Think
anything skintight, movement restrictive, or flimsy, or
footwear bearing the labels Jimmy Choo or Manolo Blahnik.), and a
mass of packages and luggage only up the risks. It takes only one
misstep to land you in a heap with a broken, twisted, sprained,
strained, or fractured body part.
Wear clothing and
shoes/boots that allow you to move safely and comfortably at all
Responsibility for What You Can Control...
Allowing enough (and a
lot of extra ) time to get to an airport and clear security.
Calling ahead to check on flight delays. Mapping out a route,
booking a private car, or ensuring that you can navigate local
public transportation. Not promising to be somewhere when you know
that you are totally dependent on a single flight to get you
there. There are things you can do to help protect
yourself from the system. Do what you can, then let it go.
Surrender to What You Can't
Nobody likes feeling
powerless. But the wiser and more experienced among us understand
that much of life, including travel, is beyond our control.
If you can’t accept
that commercial air travel inevitably entails delays and hiccups,
and deal with the fallout, stay home. (Plan B: Hire a private
We set ourselves up
for health-depriving stress and frustration by our expectations of
how it should be. It is what it is. Too Zen for you? Simply
put, "stuff" happens. But it's rarely the actual "stuff" that
breaks us. Our thoughts and responses to what happens determine
how we face and move through challenges and obstacles, on and off
Will your arrival
ensure world peace? Are you a surgeon with a transplant patient
waiting in an operating room? Is your name Jack Bauer? Do you work
for the CTU? Are you on a mission to save the United States?
No, I didn’t think so.
It is inconvenient,
disappointing, and problematic to be delayed. Professional and
personal acquaintances may grumble and rant and rave. But
unless someone else’s (or your own) life depends on it, you—and
they—will survive a delay. So relax and stop stressing yourself
the True Spirit of the Holidays
goodwill towards men, and, most importantly, compassion. The
true spirit of the season doesn’t require your belief in a
particular religion or spiritual practice. You don’t even have to
like or celebrate the holidays. All that’s needed is a willingness
to extend yourself to aid others.
The holidays are
challenging time for many people. A lot of those folks are
sharing the road with you but their journeys won’t be taking them
to places of comfort or joy. Your behavior and actions can go a
long way to easing their pain. Pay attention and see where and
when you might be needed.
Personal Comfort a Priority
Travel with your own
version of a "security blanket." Maybe it’s a sweater or shawl; a
pair of shoes, slippers, or socks; earplugs or a noise-reducing
headset; a well-stocked MP3 player or a stash of CDs; a favorite
chocolate bar. Whatever it is, make sure it's at hand.
Your Packing Strategy
Travel as light as you
can. Ship your stuff out and back. Think of the expense as an
investment in your sanity and an unbeatable timesaver.
Attention to the Weather
If you’re tucked away
in a windowless building, sans a radio or online connection, call
the local weather service and the airport for an update. It may be
fine where you are, but that doesn't mean you're good to go.
Weather problems across the country can wreak havoc locally.
Prepared for a Worst-Case Scenario
When dressing for the
road and packing your carry-on luggage, assume that you might find
yourself stranded at an airport overnight (or longer). Include
essential toiletries and fresh underwear; items such as extra
medications or OTC drugs; food and bottled water (Don’t assume
either will be readily available.); and a small, inflatable neck
pillow (or a small travel pillow).
Abandon Common Sense
People will do
amazingly risky—and stupid—things when they’re desperate to get
somewhere. Accidents happen but does it make sense to
unnecessarily risk life and limb? Anyone who loves you would
rather miss you for a few hours than a lifetime. So here’s a
shortlist of things to avoid (And, yes, we know real people
who’ve done these and worse. Names are being withheld to protect
• Driving in a blinding
ice or snowstorm when you’ve never driven in such conditions or
you don't know the road.
• Trying to convince
small-plane pilots to fly in perilous weather.
• Driving when you’re
too tired, intoxicated, or medicated to be behind the wheel of any
• Hitchhiking with
strangers, no matter how friendly, charming, or seemingly
• Taking to the roads
when you (or your vehicle) is unprepared to handle unexpected bad
weather, night driving, or difficult roadways.
• Flying when you
should be in bed—or at the hospital.
Your life is not
a TV-movie of the week with a scripted, happy ending. Don’t let
what you want outweigh your good judgment. You may not live
to regret it.
Playing ‘Beat the Clock’
Some road warriors
thrive on cutting corners and beating the odds. But the odds are
not in your favor, for example, when you have to be at JFK
at 4:30 and it’s 3:45 in mid-town Manhattan in mid-December and
you haven’t even hailed a cab. Familiarize yourself with the
local traffic (Even small towns can have big traffic jams.) and
allow double the extra time you think you need—and then
some. You may not like hanging out in the airport, but it’s
infinitely preferable to missing your flight.
Make Promises You Can’t Keep
No one wants to miss
important events—a child’s play, a family party, a friend’s get
together. But traveling during the holidays is a landmine of
potential problems—fast-changing weather, equipment failures,
flight cancellations, and delays—that are beyond your control.
No matter how much you
want to be somewhere, don’t promise that you’ll be present for
an event that is scheduled for the same day on which you are
traveling. You’ll avoid even greater disappointment—for
yourself and others—if you are honest from the get-go. And
saying "No" (rather than "maybe") is mandatory if you are
attending an event (a sit-down dinner, a limited-ticket
performance, etc.) where your absence will create a problem.
Parents are always
cautioned to travel with toys and other items to distract
fidgeting, rambunctious children. The same advice is equally valid
for overworked road warriors.
You could fill
up any downtime with work, e-mail, and phone calls. But at some
point, your mind will give out and your calls won't be answered.
Bring books, audiotapes, music CDs, a deck of cards, or an
electronic game to keep you focused and engaged in the middle of
chaos and delays.
December 18, 2003: Part