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.
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.