Traveling, whether for business or pleasure, can be a stressful endeavor. And if you are not well prepared, it can also be a disappointing one. As with most of life the key to success is often nothing more than preparation and perspective.
By planning ahead, playing well with others and accepting that stuff happens, you are more apt to be the kind of person who others actually don’t mind being stuck with for a few hours.
Now, I live in the real world so let’s agree that traveling by plane or train can be fraught with potential problems. Late or canceled flights, speed restrictions, or damaged track are but a few of the many things that can lead to a feeling of powerlessness, resulting in frustration and anger.
While such problems can throw off even the best planning, more often than not it’s the creature comforts and day-to-day travel issues that really cause the most stress. Here are a few simple things you can do to reduce some of the stress and maybe even enjoy traveling a bit more.
Dressing for Travel
Regardless of the reason for my travel, I always dress as though I am going to run into someone important. For business, that means wearing a suit and good shoes and packing the casual stuff. For pleasure, I usually pass on the jeans and wear a nice pair of khakis or corduroys and have a blazer or sweater handy.
My main goal is to always dress well and be comfortable, but not look as though I am heading off to clean the garage. I make a conscious decision to look better than I have to look. Part of my reasoning is that when I dress well and bring a small selection of multipurpose clothes, I don’t need to pack as much.
Moreover, I choose to take a stand against the annoying trend of sloppy and disrespectful travelers. Dressing nicely shows respect to my fellow passengers and to the airline or train crew. I am entering their office, their workspace. If I would never dress like a slob to visit a client’s office, why would I do so in the intimate environment of a plane?
Travel experts tell us over and over that how you dress directly impacts the treatment you get from gate agents and flight crews. Just accept it; you are judged by how you dress. Everyone makes these kinds of judgments; we just don’t like it when it happens to us and the outcome is not in our favor.
As a regular business traveler, it goes without saying that I always try and get everything I need in a carry-on bag. If that’s not possible, I’ll pack just my essentials in the carry-on and pray that my checked bag arrives when and where I do.
Remember not to over pack your carry-on; otherwise you’ll have a whole new level of frustration trying to squeeze it into a too-small overhead compartment. And when that doesn’t work, and it usually doesn’t, it gets gate-checked and you lose all that stuff you wanted to keep handy.
I have always had an issue with checked bags because I have never been able to find the right one for my needs. I have a great rolling carry-on that is perfect for a week and a hard sided global workhorse that can take a beating.
What I have not had until recently is a good in-between bag. Tough, soft sided, enough room for seven to 10 days and lots of pockets and compartments to keep things in place. With a major trip on the horizon I recently went on the hunt for the right bag.
Hitting the internet tends to be the fastest and most efficient way to find a broad selection of travel briefcases and luggage. I wound up ordering a 28” Samsonite Solana spinner. For me, it’s just right; sharp enough to be unique but functional enough to absorb the abuse of automated baggage handler systems.
With business cases and day-to-day luggage, I am happy to invest in beautiful leathers and craftsman quality. But when it comes to checked luggage, the wardrobe’s workhorse, I want practical durability. If nothing else, it makes life easier and that makes travel easier.
The subject of attitude means a lot to me. I spent a great deal of my younger years in the retail environment, which is all about relationships. While I always wanted to do well by my customers, I am of the belief that the customer is not always right. Often, yes. Always, no.
The customer is not the most important person in the store. The line salespeople are; as are the managers, stock room, and shipping staff. Staff is what makes companies succeed and when you have staff that wants to give their customers the best service possible, everyone wins. Permitting customers to run roughshod over your employees is totally counterproductive. This is not saying employees are always right, it just means they are not human punching bags for cranky customers.
Treat airline staff, or any other staff for that matter, with respect and patience. You may be ticked off, but would you want to switch places with the gate agent who just announced that a flight was canceled?
A few years ago, my wife and I experienced this first hand on a trip to Europe. After a horrible drive to the airport though pounding rain, we were met with a disorganized sea of angry travelers and ultimately the flight was canceled. When I finally made it to the counter, I knew we would never get on the next flight out. I was angry and tired but made every effort not to take it out on the airline agent; it wasn’t her fault.
I was as reasonable as possible under the circumstances, expressed my exasperation and made it clear that I was venting in general, but not at her. It must have paid off somewhere because when everyone was finally issued tickets for the new flight we were upgraded to first class.