Travel is a stressful situation. As an international flight attendant, I served over twenty years in the travel industry. I have seen the realities of stress on travelers firsthand. Based on the latest incidences in the travel industry, it seems like travel and stress have increased significantly. Here are a few thoughts to reduce the stress around traveling, not only for yourself but for everyone around you.
There are many reasons why travel can be stressful. There is a financial strain associated with travel. Air travel can be expensive and places a burden on many. At the same time, many people think of travel to get away and destress from financial situations. The reality is that the stress relief expected at the end of the travel experience requires lots of financial planning and logistics many do not anticipate. Many travelers have worked hard to save and plan for their trip. Therefore, maximizing every dollar is essential to them.
As a flight attendant, I often heard many frustrated passengers claim, “I paid for this seat.” The reality is they paid for transportation from point A to point B. All the service received between is extra. Even if you preselected a seat, there would be no guarantee that you will be assigned that seat. In addition, the overhead bin above your seat is not your designated space. It is a shared space. Hence, frustration and anger when seat selections are not honored, or there is no room in the overhead bin for carry-on luggage.
Covid has brought on the realities of reduced onboard services. Many travelers are often taken aback by the lack of services. Again, they assumed that what they paid for was service. This is far from the truth. When travel expectations are unrealized, this creates a stressful situation the traveler has no control over. Most frustrating is the fact that they have already paid for what they believed to be their rights. Expectations do not meet reality and they try to vent their frustrations.
Most importantly, think beyond yourself when traveling. Those in customer service positions in the travel industry have not met you and have no personal grudges against you. They work for the company you paid and did not personally receive your hard-earned dollars. In most cases, they are also trying to save for the experience you are trying to have. Rules and restrictions govern them, and it is their unfortunate job to explain to you those same issues you find aggravating.
So please give grace to yourself and others when traveling. Remember that the stress you are experiencing is often an everyday reality for the customer service personnel. Whether they be flight attendants, gate agents, or TSA, they too are only doing the job they were hired to do.
I hope these thoughts have given you pause. Practice kindness when traveling. It will improve the experience not only for yourself but for everyone else.