I Love Travel Except for the Travel Part

Category: Weekly Columns

Graphic image of TSA search

The title of this column has been a favorite saying of mine for many years. It’s grown more relevant ever since 9/11 and our recent and ongoing economic woes. When I reference “Travel” I am mostly referring to air travel – flying, airplanes airports, and everything associated with that aspect of traveling. It’s become a complete and total pain, in my humble opinion.

Comic about TSA

This was exemplified by a recent overnight trip I took from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Each flight was an ordeal of going 300 miles in what should have been 50-some minutes. Each flight was delayed for hours. Each flight boarded passengers and let us sit in the stuffy plane for hours before taking off and/or after landing. Each flight showed “on time” status just a few short hours before their scheduled departure.

I am slightly claustrophobic to begin with, though I can endure flights with some serious mental effort. I don’t drink on flights nor do I take any medications – except for a sleeping pill on very long flights. The continued reduction of seat space and personal space on most planes – in coach – only makes this 6 foot tall, 200-pound man feel even more cramped. Getting lost in my work – writing – helps distract me. But, it is a trial of endurance much of the time.

Photo of long TSA line

The irony is how much I tend to enjoy the places I’m going to. In my recent example, I attended a short business conference. The people were wonderful, the amenities excellent, the hotel first class, and the swag bag was a sweet bonus. But, by the time I got home from this short overnight trip, I was completely exhausted by the mental strain to keep myself centered and survive the hours and hours of extra “wait” time that flying often requires.

My honeymoon was in Africa. That air ordeal was hideous. But, the return required a steel mindset given I’d suffered an injury the day before we began the 50+ hour, 3-stop flight plan home. I had fallen and gotten a pretty big gash on the front of my shin. In the tiny African island we were on, I was taken to a local clinic where there were a ton of posters about Aids/Hiv risks and precautions. That was comforting!

All Flights Cancelled

A nurse came in, looked at my wound, and promptly began to laugh. Yep, she laughed. The doctor came in and quickly disinfected it and stitched me up with twine – yes, it looked like twine. It wasn’t pleasant so, a day later, when I began the long journey home, I was in minor pain. Needless to say, that return trip ranks as one of my hardest ever.

Note: when I went to see my own doctor upon our return, the wound had become infected. He had never seen stitches done with such big stitch material. He was stunned. He re-stitched the wound and prescribed antibiotics and, thankfully, it healed pretty fine though I’ve a nice war-wound-like scar to make up a good story about, when in a pinch.

Amazing photo of crowded train

My wife loves travel. Consequently, I am traveling more than I’d otherwise choose to do. Most of the trips we’ve taken – including our amazing honeymoon – have been pretty darn incredible. But, I can’t think of one in which the flying portion of the trip was anything better than tolerable.

When I was younger, flying was special. People got dressed up – like they used to do when going to a nice restaurant or going to the theatre. Times have changed. Anyone and everyone travels. 9/11 and the TSA have reduced most airports to human zoos. It is an endurance test for most of us.

Travel - TSA comic

But, what is the choice? I can write, rant, and complain about it or I can just accept it – sort of like the famous AA saying about things you can and cannot change and acceptance for those that you cannot change. I will continue to travel and continue to let my wife take care of the plans as one way to ease the aggravation of it all.

I will also continue to advocate driving whenever possible rather than flying, though I know all-too-well that the risks of driving are much higher than the dangers of flying. I simply prefer the peace of mind and control that I have when driving.

Funny travel photo

And, finally, I will continue to work on my attitude and mindset whenever I head towards an airport, enter those harrowing premises, and deal with the inevitable harassment, mistreatment, and usual delays. My wife will continue to calm me down when I get the least bit exorcised and I thank God for her ability to do so. Finally, I will have the best time I can when I arrive wherever the plane finally drops us off.

How about skipping that $5 Starbucks latte and splurging $2.99 (for the Kindle on Amazon) or $2.79 for the PDF of my new e-book? Enjoy my own informercial for it! This e-book is really a virtual journey. It’s filled with 100 photos, 7 original videos, and links to many of the stops on the trip. Click on the book cover image below to find your purchase options: 

Book Cover from The Empty Nest

  • jack43

    Since what the terrorists haven’t ruined, our government has destroyed, I’ll stay home. The world has nothing to offer that I want and can’t find in America and I can reach all of it by car. By the time a TSA agent is installed in my garage, I’ll be dead.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Love it @jack43:disqus!

  • Pamela Morse

    I was a travel agent back when the getting was good..so glad I went..today I travel much less, and consider it carefully if I do.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I’m like you @pamelamorse:disqus – so grateful for the incredible travel experiences I had “back in the day!”

  • Lalita

    I so relate Bruce. Air travel and airports and the delays et al are becoming a nightmare. Yes, it takes a lot of control on mindset not to get stressed out by the air travails. Excellent post and well articulated

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thx @disqus_JsWwOepe2Q:disqus – I do work at getting my mind in a zone for (air) travel these days – sometimes it doesn’t work though!

  • Bill Draeger

    In the 70s, I used to fly from LA to San Diego every week for business and it was so easy. The people responsible for today’s travel displeasure (and you all know who they are) should be dealt with severely and robustly until they no longer pose a threat.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I suspect it will NEVER be pleasant to fly again @billdraeger:disqus, sadly…

  • David Weber

    I agree in ever respect with these observations and assessments.

    I too can recall when flying was something to get specially dressed to do. I flew for the first time in 1960, over Easter break. I was going on eight yr. old. The flight was a short hop…my dad and I flew to Palm Springs from L.A., a journey of less than an hour, meeting up at our destination with my mother, who had driven out from L.A. alone some days before.

    Until 1965, when I last flew somewhere with my parents, I wore a coat and tie on the airplane…and this was in coach, by the way. I remember in 1964, I flew from L.A. to the east coast alone, to be collected at Newark Int’l. Airport by relatives. My mother bought me a seersucker sport coat and trousers, tie and shirt to coordinate, SPECIFICALLY for the outbound and inbound flights (i.e., “David, don’t wear this outfit except for on the plane rides”)!

    I make approx. a half-dozen or more air roundtrips every year, usually a couple of them overseas. Virtually nothing about the commercial flying experience is pleasant, as far as I’m concerned. Even an average-size fellow like me is uncomfortable in the airliner seats.

    My biggest pet peeve about air travel is the now-common announcement over the PA system encouraging passengers to sign up for credit cards with the airline. These are nothing more than two- or three-minute sales pitches. No way to avoid them…they are forced on you. If I’m reading, I must stop because the announcement drones on and concentration is impossible.

    The first couple of times this happened on a flight, I said to the stewardess who walked down the aisle distributing application forms, “Because I dislike being forced to sit through an advertisement that is so disruptive, I would never apply for your card.” Each time the stewardess simply glanced at me quizzically, and moved on. I have fantasized about standing up thirty seconds into the disruptive commercial and shouting, “Shut the – – – – up! Some of us want to read, or have a conversation!” I’d be arrested upon landing, I am certain — that’s why it’s only fantasy!

    The BEST air travel I have experienced since the mid-1960s occurred in 1997. I flew to Indonesia on Thanksgiving Day. U.S. airports were DESERTED, the aircraft on the domestic legs of the journey were substantially empty and gate staff and air crews were relaxed and pleasant (I presume they were paid extra for working on a holiday).

    I could go on and on but I’ll call it quits at this point.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      @disqus_IeGo6Zakqo:disqus – this may be the first column I’ve ever written in which there’s NO disagreement – by anyone!

  • http://assistsocialmedia.com/ elizabeth Maness

    LOL bless your heart! I feel they same way about air travel. I get really frightened and it’s all I can do to drag myself on the plane! I’m afraid heights, crowds, and small places! All my worst fears rolled up into one is what air travel has to offer me! If I didn’t love my job so much, I would NEVER get on a plane! heehee.. I have to think about what a wonder time I’ll have and how much it can do for my business before I even get out of my car!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Exactly @datingdiva40:disqus – it IS an ordeal these days, sadly!

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