It’s occurred to me that it doesn’t seem to matter if you are a frequent flyer, an organized packer, or a seasoned traveler of any kind, you cannot escape travel stress. Sure, we can prepare our personal selves for our journey, but the systems we rely on are beyond our control.
Back in the day, air travel used to be fun. I can recall very hazy memories of the exhilaration; arriving at the airport where you could feel the buzz and excitement from all the fellow travelers around you. We all were going somewhere and were eager to get there in a hurry. Happy faces everywhere.
Now?…not so much. The chaos and commotion at curbside alone can fuel the anxiety level of any traveler. The residue of the 911 disaster changed us all forever and as a result of that life-altering event, we understand that our compromised security system had to change as well.
Most of us are all too happy to cooperate with the sometimes intrusive searches because we feel safer, and so we tolerate it. However, the new and ever-changing baggage restrictions and issues with overweight luggage can be a nightmare. How often do we see people, who failed the weigh-in, transferring their neatly folded clothing, shoes, and often embarrassing personal items, and shoving them into alternative baggage and carry-ons so that they can pass the test and GO! To go where, I ask ? … to hurry up and wait, and wait, and wait some more on those endless snaky lines that at first glance you’re thinking, you’re never going to make the flight.
Then it’s finally your turn to enter through security. The cacophony of those plastic security bins being thrown and stacked distract you, but you continue and grab a bin and start dumping your stuff into them as if you feel comfortable with this sort of thing, like this is a natural instinctive way to travel. The shoes come off, jackets disrobed, relinquish your bottled water you forgot you brought in with you, your laptop, your carry-on, handbag, cell phones, and maybe if you’re lucky you get through the first time; because for some miraculously reason your belt, bracelet, or money clip did sound that unnerving buzzer. OK, now you’re in.
You get to your gate to wait some more. Time for boarding, great. Think again, now you are jockeying for overhead cabin space because everyone seems to have caught onto the carry-on game. There’s no room for your stuff because you booked such great seats, you boarded last. You finally settle in and relax until you hear the flight attendant announce that your flight is delayed or that you are the 19th plane in line before take-off!
Hours later, you de-plane tired and cranky, and head to baggage claim. Now that’s one happy place for ya. After what seems like an eternity, the carousel slowly starts to turn, spitting out one bag at a snail’s pace, and so you wait… again. The re-circling of assorted sizes of the same black pieces of luggage passing over and over again is hypnotizing. This would be the time that you wished you’d bought a unique shade of green or purple that would be more easily recognizable. You pick a prime spot at the edge of the carousel so you can maneuver, grab and go! Your body language is obvious as your eyes dart back and forth while you hover over your post. But as the frequency of luggage pours out with a more rapid speed, the baggage is being jostled around, falling on top of one another and people are cutting in and pushing their way in to vie for a better position. If you’re not alert, you could get injured. I’ve seen it get ugly. But sometimes, and it surprises me every time, there is kindness and it renews my faith in mankind; like when someone has seen me attempt to reach for my bag and thoughtfully retrieves it for me. It seems that travel can bring out the worst and the best in people.
When you have finally reached your destination, you can enjoy the vacation you needed and much deserved. The only thing is… you’ll have to repeat the same ordeal on the return trip home, plus the dirty laundry and the dreaded unpack. I often wonder whether or not it is sometimes easier to just stay home.
The bottom line is that we can’t control what we cannot control. It is what it is, so all we can do is…breathe through it.
How do you manage the travel stress?