August will be the busiest travel month I have ever had. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to travel and that I am fairly good at it. Very little rattles me on the road. Very little. Except the “Unaware”. I have said in the past that the “unaware” are the bane of my travel days. For the experienced traveler, whether you travel by car, which I just did, logging about 1700 miles in about 3.5 days, by bus, train, or plane – when unawareness occurs, it is difficult to manage and keep your cool.
I have learned a few tricks.
Keep yourself aware. Two or more unaware people are the equation for a fight or worse, an accident. When you stay aware, you protect yourself and fellow passengers. Luggage falling from overhead bins, being cut off – either on foot or by car, motorcycles in heavy traffic, drunk drivers – drunk travelers, rudeness, overtly happy or talkative people, selfishness, toes stepped on, pushing in line, non-communication and misunderstandings – by language or cultural differences, fatigue…. so many more reasons for the plight of unawareness.
One time, a woman pushed through passengers during disembarkment of a plane. She suffered grumbles and serious dirty looks from those around. I was already making mental notes for the scathing blog post I was preparing to write — until I saw her make a beeline for the bathroom. I did write about the incident, but not in the manner I had originally planned. It is important to remember that each traveler you pass or get stuck behind is in their own head, their own space – managing their own universe.
Like any stressful situation, a lack of patience during travel only worsens the stress. I sometimes force a smile on my face while waiting in the security travel checkpoint – I have even played a mental game to see how many people I can get to smile back or wave at me. Just a little change of perspective, but instantly soothes a troubled brow for not only me, but for those who my grumpiness might impact. Try it next time you travel.
Years ago, when I took driver’s ed and driver’s training, I was taught to be a defensive driver – to stay aware of those drivers around me and to be the one who protects me and the inhabitants of my car. It is the same for any other mode of transportation, be a defensive traveler. Watch for the unaware, watch for potential accidents, watch for a shift in the flow of foot traffic. When a traveling family decides to change their shoes at the top of the escalator, smile – say excuse me. When someone tries to get in the elevator before you get out, stay calm and smile, say excuse me. When everyone stands too close at the baggage carousel, say excuse me. When your neighbor on the airplane has excessive gas regurgitated through airplane air redistribution, try not gag – cover your nose and turn away… You may be the one with the upset tummy on your next flight.
1. Smile and be grateful – you have the opportunity to do something many others never will.
2. Be patient – it will pass.
3. Watch out for the unaware – protecting yourself and others is always a good thing, right?
4. Rest, when you can – stress is heightened by fatigue.
5. Smile again.
I will be traveling to Paris with my daughter this afternoon – something twenty years ago, I never thought I would be doing. Life is like that road less traveled – never lose your wonderment through anger or fatigue. I will capture moments of unawareness and report back the impact on those around – for this is how I learn.