traveling better

Growing up traveling was never as difficult as it seems to be these days, or at least I don't remember it being so. Headed to New Orleans (one of my top five favorite places in the world) for a speaking engagement, I was reminded again of the inherent challenges involved. The first plane was delayed, the second over booked, the luggage doesn't fit on the plane, there are always travelers sleeping on the floor, and the flight attendants just don't seem happy anymore.

A few years ago, I intentionally considered the possibility that increasing travel would certainly involve much opportunity for me and also, because of the difficulties associated with traveling, more stress. Speaking around the country on the topics I am most passionate about was worth the inevitable additional stressors. Consistent with the advise I give my clients, with an impending stressor I could not avoid I sat down to thoughtfully and purposefully plan.

My traveling support plan unfolded and I have been adding and subtracting ever since. The first element is always ready, constantly packed bag with carbon copies of all of my favorite cosmetics and toiletries. When it is time to pack I just toss that bag in and whatever clothes I need. The second element is building in time when booking, allowing plenty of time to get to the airport, plenty of time between flights, plenty of time before I need to be anywhere, and plenty of time between returning before I need to return to work. I bought luggage that has wheels, I pack as lightly as possible, and I always wear sneakers or flip flops and sweat suits or yoga clothes. I bring a book that I have been excitingly anticipating, a loaded ipod, and a couple TV shows that I haven't had time to catch up on. I pack my own food and snacks and purchase a lot of water and liquid to stay hydrated.

Those elements are all logistical and technical, but the real plan lies in my commitment to maintaining my attitude. With the increasing traveling challenges, it would be easy to feel a significant amount of stress, but not if I don't let it. While traveling, I affirm for myself over and over that anxiety and frustration won't help the situation and I choose to be calm and happy. Focusing on the destination, when I am traveling I am often daydreaming to avoid attending to airport and travel surroundings. Doing my best to acknowledge the TSA agents, retail employees, and airline attendants reminds me that each person I pass is not just a number but rather a heart.

Although traveling may be difficult, it is no different than any other stressor we face, where we have the opportunity to purposefully plan for and perceive it with a positive attitude. Sitting in a hotel room, booked by the airline because my flight got delayed and missed, I am reminded that all is well and all will work out just exactly as it should be.