GratiTuesday: Packing a positive attitude

Travel, as gratifying and life-enriching as it can be, also includes a certain amount of stress. Unless you have Oprah’s money, you have to manage getting from Point A to Point B (and then C, D, E, etc.), consume food that isn’t part of your regular diet, sleep in beds and on pillows that may not be the most comfortable, and deal with situations that are well out of your comfort zone, often while living out of a suitcase that is only slightly larger than a toaster oven.

Even before 9/11, travel—especially air travel—was getting more and more challenging. Long gone are the days when flying on an airplane was considered sophisticated and an occasion to dress up. Now, many modes of travel are over-crowded and frustratingly convoluted due to bottom-line corporate decisions and the need for heightened security. On top of that, with the ever-shrinking size restrictions airlines are putting on luggage, it can be difficult to get everything into your luggage that you need for your trip.

Who would want to interact with these grumps?
Who would want to interact with these grumps?

But, despite the stress and hassle, travel can be rewarding and even addictive. Often after being home for only a few days, we are starting to think about our next adventure. No trip is perfect (thank goodness—where would the adventure and grist for subsequent stories be in that?), but I find that our perception of each experience is much more positive if we remember to pack just one more thing in our suitcase: an attitude of flexibility, patience, and understanding.

By maintaining a positive attitude in the face of stress, your blood pressure remains in check and, often, you can influence the outcome. The person who is behind the counter usually isn’t the one who caused the problem, but they can help resolve the issue to your satisfaction. Long waits in line can seem much shorter if you strike up a conversation with others in the queue.

I am so very grateful that my husband and traveling partner routinely packs his positive attitude. He is always polite and empathetic even when dealing with a less-than-ideal situation. He can usually coerce a smile from someone who is determined to be crabby. And, he is a master of starting simple, but interesting conversations with strangers. I have witnessed the ugliness when someone brings a bad attitude to a stressful situation; I am so grateful that we don’t make room for any of that negativity in our luggage.

Author: Janis @

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

23 thoughts on “GratiTuesday: Packing a positive attitude”

  1. Beautifully said. I love the idea of leaving negativity out of the luggage because it’s simply too heavy!!

    I have so much respect – and envy – for people who can easily start conversations with strangers. Those casual chats in a long queue are miraculous at making the time pass quickly!

    1. Before I met my husband, I was one of those silent line-standers. I am much better about starting conversations now, but he (and his parents were the same) is really good. I think the key is that he is a very curious person so he asks good questions and is a very good listener.

  2. We just got back from a long trip to Japan. As much as I love to travel, it does get old living out of a suitcase in a small foreign hotel! The good news is that the stress subsides and the good memories are with you forever …

  3. Well said! My husband also seems to be able to muster patience and good cheer, particularly when I’ve lost it. It’s good to have a complementary travel buddy, and good to consciously remember to pack a good attitude!!!

  4. We just got back yesterday after being away 20 days. I can so relate to everything you said.

    It is so true about smiles and random conversations making all the difference.

    1. Although most random conversations have just helped to pleasantly pass the time, some have actually turned into more profound and long-lasting connections. Everyone has a story and it’s fun to discover it.

  5. What a wonderful compliment (I hope your husband read this post!) Fortunately, even in an overly-packed suitcase there’s always room for a great attitude, as long as you remember to take it out 😉

    You also reminded me how in the past, we used to make airplane changes at the departure gate. (‘can I get on that earlier flight?’ – ‘yes, of course.’ and the new boarding pass was printed up right there on the spot)

    1. I remember those days! Easily-changed tickets came in handy when I used to travel for business a lot. Sometimes meetings would get done early and I was anxious to get home. No problem! Now… problem. That’s why I always carry a book.

  6. Great post and photo, Janis! My husband and I just returned home late last night from three- weeks away in Europe (the last ten days were spent hiking/backing the Camino Trail). You are absolutely correct about a positive attitude, and patience. Both can make or break a trip. I look forward to reading more about your trip.

    1. Sometimes, things just suck, but often we can turn bad experiences around by just stepping back and taking a deep breath. Travel is always stressful, but I would not stay home just to avoid it. You have traveled more than I have and I’m sure you and your husband are experts at packing the right attitude.

  7. I am very envious of that positive attitude, Janis! I wish my husband would pack some of that once in a while as well. Mine is a result of being naive, I think, but it does help a little bit, despite it being hard in the face of negativism. I used to love traveling by plane – it was such a novelty and always the beginning of a new adventure. Now, it has become more dreadful… But, there is still some of the adventure left in it, once we are up in the air!

    Liesbet @ Roaming About

    1. Sometimes I think my attitude is a result of being a little naive also (and my husband might agree), but I’d rather be a little naive and positive than always on the look-out for ways we could get taken advantage of. I’m sure there is a happy middle ground that we can aspire to.

  8. Flawlessly said. I cherish letting pessimism well enough alone for the gear since it’s essentially too heavy!!You must be set up to move with anything and trust in the best. It sounds like you’ve aced it.

    1. I don’t understand how people with a negative outlook could possible think it serves them well. That doesn’t mean not being assertive or careful all the time, but not all situations require a flight or fight response… some (most) just call for calm and understanding. You are right about pessimism being too heavy to pack!

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