The Essential Mindset for Travel Today
The travel industry expects summer 2023 to be another record-breaking season for European travel. Yet, according to Deloitte’s latest travel industry outlook, the travel and tourism industry is still dealing with labor shortages, technology issues and ongoing supply chain challenges.
Traveling has always had its unforeseen challenges, including flight delays, lost luggage and bad weather. And while there are technology tools to help mitigate some of these challenges — and I’ll delve into those in a future post — most travel hiccups are beyond our control. What is in our control is how we react to them. The right attitude can make all the difference between a fun and enjoyable vacation and a travel nightmare.
Here’s four ways to keep that essential mindset on your next adventure.
Trust life and yourself
When I started traveling to Europe again, after a 16-year break, I was a nervous wreck, especially around taking trains and finding my accommodations. Doubts swirled through my mind: will I find my train, where do I stand on the platform, will I make my connection, how will I find my Airbnb? Although it was challenging at times, I always arrived at my destination.
By the end of my three-month trip, I felt like an old pro. I remember standing on the train platform in a small village where the train to Rennes only stops twice a day. It was an hour and a half late. I’d already missed my connection to Paris. Yet I wasn’t worried in the least. I knew it would all work out. Others were waiting on the platform, so I knew the train would come eventually — or not. One way or the other I’d get to Paris — someday.
Now I do my darndest to start every trip with a positive attitude, knowing the Universe has my back and that everything will work out. I’m also trusting in myself, knowing I’m smart enough to figure it out, ask for help when needed and adapt to any situation.
With airlines constantly changing their schedules, there’s a lot to be said for going with the flow. Last spring, I was booked on a 13 and a-half-hour flight from Portland, Oregon to Paris, France, leaving at 1 pm with a 45-minute layover in San Francisco. Two months before my flight, United changed my itinerary so I’d leave two hours earlier, which meant a two hour and 45-minute layover in San Francisco. I was not thrilled to have to leave for the airport at 7:30 am, but I could adjust. However, after four more itinerary changes, I was now on a 7 am flight to Chicago with a five-hour layover in Chicago. I’d have to be at the airport at 4 a.m., starting my 26-hour door-to-door trip with no sleep. This was simple not doable for me.
For no additional charge, United allowed me to change my outgoing flight to Chicago to one day earlier, leaving in the afternoon. I spent the night in Chicago and the next day I took the afternoon flight to Paris. It was a more expensive option, but my body appreciated it.
Pack plenty of patience
Unfortunately, flight delays are a common occurrence these days, especially at high season. On my return trip from Paris last July, I knew I’d have a long layover — four hours — at Newark Liberty International Airport. It gave me plenty of time to go through customs, have my Global Entry interview and haul luggage to the next terminal for my flight to Portland. What I didn’t know was that my four-hour layover would turn into an eight-hour layover.
The airport was so packed there was literally no place to sit where I wasn’t right next to someone. It was a 100-degree day, and the terminal was roasting. I was sweating through the mask I’d been wearing for ten hours. But I had a United Lounge pass thanks to my United Explorer visa card. I could steal away from the masses into an air-conditioned lounge and enjoy free food and a glass of wine. When I found the United Lounge there was a big sign that said, due to staff shortages the lounge was not accepting United Lounge passes. They only allowed premier members or higher, and that wasn’t me. The host said to check back after 7 pm, but my flight was leaving at 7:30 pm. Back to the cattle car for me.
At 7 pm, my flight was delayed by two hours, so I went back to the United Lounge and was granted entry. It was like entering the gates of heaven. I sat in a large booth, removed my mask and enjoyed their tasty buffet and a large glass of red wine. As it grew closer to my flight’s departure time, I watched the board to see if there were any further delays. I really didn’t want to leave. Before departing, I thanked the host for the slice of nirvana.
As soon as I reached the gate, I saw the sign saying the flight was delayed by another hour. Too late to return to the United Lounge as I’d used my only pass. Feeling a bit refreshed, I decided to make productive use of the time. I sat at the bar, got my laptop out and connected to the Wifi.
Put things in perspective
As I worked at the bar, a woman sitting next to me was growing more and more upset by the delay. The flight was now waiting for a new crew and was again delayed by another hour. She was furious and said she’d been traveling since the morning. I told her I’d been traveling since last night, New Jersey time, in what was turning into a 27-hour door-to-door trip.
But we knew we had a flight and would make it home. It always helps to put your plight into perspective. Unlike many passengers that summer, we didn’t have to sleep in the airport, nor were we waiting days for a flight. I was exhausted, but I knew I’d get home eventually. I only felt bad because my friend had to pick me up from the airport at 2 a.m.
Having the right attitude can go a long way to making your next trip a fun adventure no matter what challenges you encounter. Let me know in the comments how you’ve coped in the past with travel setbacks.