Flexibility, a Travel Mantra

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“If you want to make God laugh, make a plan.”


So often, the best laid travel plans fall apart under the pressures of missed connections, weather cancellations, and errant baggage. Those are a few of the most common causes for travel frustration. And we have all experienced the outrageously frustrating extraordinary reasons as well. Last week, my flight from New York was delayed because, at 15 minutes until scheduled departure, the captain was still driving to the airport. In a car. From Connecticut.


Sadly, frequent travel will always mean frequent headaches. It’s the natural outcome of a complex set of unpredictable events. Unfortunately, we have no control over any of it.


However, we do have control over our response to those problems. We can choose to be calm. We can choose to be flexible. Or not.


On one project, an older Venezuelan colleague once taught me the value of this principle. In my professional life, I often take on the role of directing teams. I am accustomed to being in control, to making decisions, and directing the actions of others. That requires taking responsibility for my team’s performance so my motivation is to make a well-defined plan and stick to it. He noticed my constant fretting about deliverables and processes. I often rushed around chaotically.


“Tranquilo, amigo. Trust yourself and your team, everything will work out as it is supposed to.” Turns out, he was quite right. My flurry of perpetual anxiety did nothing to help others keep their calm and do their jobs well. And for the things I could not control, what good did my worrying do to fix the problem? Nothing.


And it seems that was good advice not only for my work environment, but for my travel and life in general. Propagating a constant circle of angst did not make anything better. Reacting calmly did.


In travel, we do not choose the inevitable delays, cancellations, and inconsiderate people we deal with. But we can choose to accept it in stride and move forward. Or not.


By not choosing to be flexible, we risk causing a ripple of outward negativity. Perhaps we cause a gate agent to have a bad day because of our responses. Perhaps he unconsciously takes it out on another passenger. Who takes it out on someone else, and so on and so on. And eventually, that comes back to us. If we know we will face unpredictability because of traveling, expecting everything to go exactly according to plan is asking for disappointment. So let’s all choose to take it in stride.


Tranquilo, mi amigos. Tranquilo.

About Jim Ogden

Jim is an information technology strategy consultant who has traveled extensively for client projects. Despite having logged many miles for business, it is the personal travel he most values. When traveling for pleasure, Jim prefers to seek out the authentic soul of the places he visits. His favorite travel memories are not of the tourist-friendly areas but rather the places off the beaten-path. As an expat and foodie, Jim brings a perspective of writing based on maximizing the experience of traveling.

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  1. Totally agree. You gotta go with the flow. Just remember, would you rather be on vacation, or back at work? Here’s a little hint… nobody dreams of work while on vacation, but everyone dreams about their next vacation while at work.

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