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The Joys (and Perils) of Travel

One of the most exciting experiences in life is taking a vacation. Leaving work on a Friday afternoon and embarking on an adventure is one of the most exhilarating feelings on earth. No alarm clock, no punching the clock for someone else, and the thought of being able to do what you want when you want to do it is pure freedom.

There may be a change in climate such as a warm, sunny beach in your future, or the rugged cool mountain air with challenging paths to hike. Or a ship that takes you to exotic lands you have dreamt about or the opportunity to see historical landmarks and places of significance from your childhood.

You may be seeing family or friends or attending a party or other gathering of your peers or perhaps it’s just a quiet get away with your special someone. It might be making memories with your children as Mom and Dad did with you and your siblings where larger-than-life adventures are experienced.

Traveling has always been an exciting pursuit for individuals seeking new experiences, cultural immersion, and personal growth. It allows us to break free from the confines of our daily lives and explore the wonders of the world. Maybe it’s just a long weekend where you take a quick jaunt, a respite. A well-planned three-day weekend can feel almost as good as a ten-day vacation.

Labor Day weekend will be one of the heaviest travel periods in the United States this year. Airports will be bustling with people looking to get away and enjoy the last remaining days of Summer. Children will be spending time frolicking at the beach or seeing grandparents before the dreaded first day of school, probably soon after the holiday.

I had a friend fly to Utah Thursday morning for the holiday weekend to see his beloved Florida Gators play Utah that night in the college football season opener, then spend the rest of the weekend relaxing in the cool mountain air.

According to the TSA,14 million Americans will be flying the friendly skies this weekend and millions more will be taking it to the streets. With gas prices hovering around the $3.77 a gallon mark, journeys by automobile have become more affordable for trips less than 300 miles.

The only problem is you have to travel.

While air travel offers numerous rewards and enriching experiences, it is essential to acknowledge and address the potential perils associated with it. By recognizing the risks and taking necessary precautions, travelers can ensure a safer and more enjoyable journey. Adequate research, travel insurance, cultural sensitivity, and an open mind can go a long way in mitigating the perils of travel, allowing individuals to embrace the world with confidence and enthusiasm. The journey can be adventurous or exciting IF you are able to accept potential delayed or cancelled flights, lost luggage, and tolerate difficult human behavior.

I’m not really sure what happens to some people when they get on an airplane, but recent news stories expound upon bizarre behavior by a few odd folk. One recent American Airlines passenger threw a tantrum when another passenger had the gall to place items in the “wrong” overhead bin. Somewhere, in this person’s mind, there is a rule that you cannot place items in an overhead bin above someone else’s head.

And then there was the first-class passenger that became upset that he was not given a pre-flight gin and tonic. He just couldn’t take no for an answer. He had to cause a scene and be dragged off the plane by the local authorities. Is an alcoholic beverage really that important that you would risk your ability to fly, let-alone possibly get handcuffed, booked, fingerprinted, and have the option of 8 x 10 glossies of your mugshot (don’t forget the wallet size photos).

Another potential pitfall when traveling is getting sick. For some, just the increased stress of travel can shake up the body’s immune system and illness can creep into your plans. Couple that with the thousands of germs of unknown origin floating through the cabin and you can become a walking petri dish.

Now, I don’t mind traveling. I prefer to take my time and see America from the driver’s seat of my Ford Escape. However, if my destination and limited time requires an airplane, I’m good with that as well. Many times, I set out to watch a movie on my tablet or do some writing on my laptop but end up dozing off to catch an hour or two cat-nap.

I also prefer non-stop flights. I generally fly to areas of the country where non-stop travel is available, and I don’t mind paying a bit more to not have to connect to another flight. This is an extra added cause of stress when you’re not guaranteed that you will make the connection.

I love children and I think babies are nothing but angels. With that said, I have seen Satan himself rear his ugly head on a flight before in the sound of a baby that is hitting octaves never experienced by opera singers. The ear-piercing screams of an out-of-control infant can bring about a headache worthy of 2,000 mg of Super Extra Strength Tylenol. Not much you can prepare for here. It’s just a roll of the dice. (Insert Dirty Harry quote – “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky today?’ Well, do ya, punk?”)

If you bought a cheap seat, or didn’t upgrade to any type of pre-board status, you may be relegated to the back of the plane. That means you will be near the last to exit the cramped tube. When you do finally get to stand erect, and can reach your items in the overhead compartment, remember, correctly placed above your head, the pleasure of your weekend will begin. The long walk down the aisle, then the even longer walk down the gateway, to the even longer walk to the car rental or curbside pickup, only then can you relax and enjoy your long weekend. Note to self: spend a little extra on the small upgrades, if offered.

And if you are traveling on a long weekend, you only have about 72 hours before you will have to repeat the process.

Happy Travels! (and please, be nice to others)

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