Smart planning makes the most of travelWritten by Roger Holliday Claudia Fischer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For as long as people have been setting out to explore the world, they have been subjected to all manner of disruptions, delays, deviations, distractions … and plain old disasters!
Think about Icarus and the melting wax thing. The Pilgrims who came so close to getting mushed off Plymouth Rock. Those broken wagon wheels on rutted trails across the prairie. Stage coach holdups. Railway banditos. Sinking Great Lakes paddle steamers.
Well, sad to say, today’s traveler isn’t much better off in the disruption department than he ever was, despite all our technical advances and sophistication. There are simply too many of us on the move, too many people chasing too many places in too many devices … be they trains, planes or automobiles.
Statistics would probably show that travel disruptions are no greater or lesser than they ever were. It just seems that way because of 24/7 news, rapid-fire lifestyles … and our insatiable desire to move, ASAP.
The bottom line is that getting there is no longer “half the fun” — if it ever was. And we share your pain.
We have learned a thing or two about mitigating, and even avoiding, some of those aggravations.
The basic concept is to be prepared for anything and keep things simple.
Begin by putting together a simple flight plan. Multiple connections for the sole purpose of saving a few dollars are usually a recipe for disaster. One tiny hiccup and the whole thing falls apart. On international trips, keep it simple by flying directly to your destination or to an international hub like London or Amsterdam, where there are many more options should delays occur due to weather, mechanical misadventure or industrial-action.
Also avoid making overly tight connections. Thirty minutes may indeed be the “legal minimum connect time” at a particular airport, but you can be sure that there are at least a thousand fates conspiring to guarantee that you’ll never make that connection. It’s much better to chill out for an hour — or four — than worry yourself silly about missing a flight or a train. And, of course, actually missing it is even worse!
Practice flexibility. Include an extra day or two in the itinerary so that one mishap doesn’t throw everything out of kilter.
And, by all means, use our favored “base-city-approach” rather than moving to a new destination every day. Every switch wastes time, energy and money. Instead, spend several nights in one place and make day trips around the area. Then it’s easy to add or subtract a day without messing up everything else.
Travel with a single piece of light luggage, something that allows you to easily move from gate or platform. Walk a mile or more to a hotel, absent other transportation. Move your stuff easily onto overhead racks, into trunks of cars, up flights of stairs or along cobbled streets, and still have a hand free to read a map or ward off any bad guys.
Also, acknowledge that disruptions are sometimes inevitable. And plan for how to spend those potentially long, inactive hours stuck in an airline terminal.
You could, for instance, initiate a brand-new daily personal fitness program by speed-walking the terminal.
Make time for a proper sit-down meal and entertain yourself by complaining about the cost. Find a tranquil spot away from the gate, but within range of announcements, and read, listen to music, play games or just doze.
Today’s amazing array of electronic gizmos means that travelers need never be bored or carry pounds of extra weight.
And finally, even if all your careful preparations fail to avert catastrophe, never ever lose your cool or sense of humor, even when those about you are losing theirs — because smiles beat bluster every day.
E-mail columnists Roger Holliday and Claudia Fischer at RogerHolliday@wcnet.org.