Many years ago, long before smart phone apps and TSA security lines, we headed to the airport after a weeklong vacation and got caught in a horrible traffic jam. We had built an extra hour into our travel time to easily navigate two young children, luggage and car seats through the airport, and it all evaporated… and then some. Finally rerouted by the highway patrol, we arrived at the airport about 30 minutes before our flight.
I ran to the ticket counter and asked the clerk for help. She called the gate to alert them and said, “You’ll make your flight, but I don’t think your luggage will.” No problem. My four year old son ran for all he was worth, never complaining. My one year old bobbed up and down in my arms. Arriving at the gate, we watched, horrified, as the lady saw us and walked to the tunnel and pulled the door shut. “Wait! We’re here.” I was shocked.
My four year old burst into tears. I directed him to the chairs along the wall. Setting his brother down on the seat next to me, I pulled my little man up into my lap and held him close. I rocked him back and forth for a few moments to settle him. Calmly, I asked what was wrong. “That was our plane. Now we can’t go home.”
My poor baby. He didn’t understand that there’s always another plane. He thought we’d be stuck in that airport forever. (Sounds like a movie, doesn’t it?) Once he knew we’d get the next plane (turns out it was the next-next-next plane resulting in a twelve hour wait at the airport), he was fine.
Your attitude affects how disruptions go
We look forward to vacation, whether the dream getaway or a weekend to unplug, and all the wonderful promise it holds. We expect the picture postcard trip. Then reality strikes: lost luggage. The car breaks down. Emergency trips to the hospital. Bad weather. Flight delays. We have a choice: let the bad stuff ruin the trip or grin and bear it.
Travel tips for when things go wrong
Keep your cool. When you stay calm, you think more clearly, which is important for handling crises or other inconveniences. Besides, if you blow up, you’re probably screaming at an employee as frustrated as you are — and who cannot fix it no matter how much they want to.
Be prepared. Travel with emergency contact numbers for family, doctor, credit cards, hotel, travel agency, car and airport. When trouble strikes, you will have the contacts you need to make adjustments. When traveling internationally, register your trip with the State Department for better help in case of emergency.
Expect that things might go wrong. We returned from a dream vacation to Paris. Normally, Paris doesn’t get much rain in April, but we tend to attract it wherever we go. In the weeks leading up to the trip, I packed for rainy weather. I imagined myself with soggy feet and wet hair. We were pleasantly surprised to have rain only two evenings the whole time. The actual weather far exceeded my expectations. If you “imagine” perfection, you can only be disappointed. When you envision what could go wrong — not to the point of dwelling on it — your trip will invariably go better.
Learn from your mistakes. Did you forget to pack underwear? Head to the store, buy more and move on. You will remember to check (recheck and check a third time) to make sure you packed underwear in the future. Life happens, even on vacation, and we can learn from our mistakes.
Choose to be happy. We’ve all seen them, the people who complain to the hotel desk clerk, the waiter, the lifeguard, the bus driver… and everyone else. Grumpiness doesn’t accomplish much, though, and it certainly won’t create memories people want. Choose to be happy, even if the weather closes the amusement park or the snow melts right off the ski slope. (You can apply this to family reunions, too!)
Packing a positive attitude improves any vacation!