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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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: