Whether you go to relatives for the holidays or use the December-January break to take a vacation, you have to spend time getting there. Travelling during the busiest time of the year can be stressful. ‘Tis the season, but by the time you arrive at your destination you may be less than jolly. So it’s worth thinking about ways to travel better.
Being older means you’ve done a bit of travelling over the years, so you should be able to find ways to improve the experience. Having been on the road and in the skies so many times before, you know that highways will be slow and planes overbooked at this time of year.
My New Old Self says LITO – Lucky I’m Too Old for that. Why bother to leave home at all if you’re going to travel in a portable bubble, impervious to any new influences en route?
Instead consider these 10 tips on how to enhance your festive season travel experience.
- If you want to do what you can do at home, then rather stay there. Save yourself the hassle of travelling at this hectic time of year. As you get older you tend not to get out as much as you did in your youth. So when you do leave home, why not seize the opportunity to connect with the world around you?
- The best way of connecting is not via wifi in restaurants or at the airport. By the time you’ve got out your device and booted up, found the password and got online, you’ve spent precious time and effort. Why connect to the internet when you can connect to people?
- Even if you have thousands of tunes on your phone or tablet, save your mobile music collection for when you get where you’re going. While in transit forget the headphones and instead tune in to natural audio, i.e. the sounds of the world around you.
- One way to occupy yourself without staring at a screen or listening to music is to try a bit of people-watching. Isn’t that what you used to do in the pre-digital era when you found yourself waiting in a public place? To while away time while you were waiting for a flight or for a friend to arrive, you’d combat boredom by checking out the people around you. This activity is a bit like bird-watching. You observe habits, interactions, body language and expressions – of fellow human beings.
- You can listen to the chatter and calls around you. Like its ornithological counterpart, people-watching is best done quietly and unobtrusively. This can help keep you calm in bustling places like airports.
- An added benefit of people-watching is that it makes you aware of your surroundings and thus less vulnerable. With your eyes and ears open you are better able to spot potential trouble. If pickpockets see you looking alert you will be less of a target. You will also be able to dodge upcoming annoyances, like people trying to sell you things you don’t want.
- There is an important way that people-watching differs from bird-watching. If birds see you’re gawking at them they just fly away. Their birdbrains won’t worry about why you’re watching them. People, on the other hand, may want to interrogate your motives for staring at them. So don’t be afraid to make eye contact and smile at those who see you looking their way. You might even strike up a conversation.
- Being aware of your surroundings, whether human or inanimate, seems to be a key part of that much-vaunted practice of “mindfulness”. Remaining detached but not disinterested in what’s going on around you – that’s how to “be in the moment”. What does this have to do with good travel practice? A lot, because you never know what the next moment will bring when you’re in transit.
- Expect the unexpected. The older you get, the more you know that things rarely go exactly according to plan. Traffic may force detours. Flights may be delayed or cancelled. What’s the point of responding with resentment or anger? Patience and composure will get you a lot further with whoever you hope will be able to help you find a solution to your travel problem.
- Lastly, take a moment to think about where you’e going and why. Reflect on how you would feel if you couldn’t make the trip. As you get older, travel can get more challenging. Be grateful that you are still able to take to the road or the skies and travel to someone or somewhere. Enjoy getting there.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.”
I say, travel while you still can.