A trip trivia player named Marie from Cobalt, Ontario shared a personal story about being a good traveller…so we thought we would share with you.
A conversation with my granddaughter
“I only go on trips, adventures, vacations with ‘good travellers’.” I told my 5 year old granddaughter while packing her suitcase.
“Am I good traveller?” She asked.
“So far so good, but you’re getting older now and I can tell you the secret of being a very good traveller.”
“There’s a secret?” She was intrigued.
“Well, not really a secret, more like a mindset.” I replied.
“What’s a mindset?” She asked.
“Uhhh, ok it’s a secret.” I decided to keep it simple.
“What is it?” She asked.
“Always expect delays, always be ready to miss a connection, lose your luggage and never be surprised when things don’t work out the way you thought they would. Travel is an adventure, and sometimes that means washing out your only pair of underwear in a sink until your luggage arrives at your destination.”
“What’s a connection?”
Ok so I had lost her a bit. I stood there with a large freezer bag in one hand and her socks in my other hand and thought a bit.
“Why are you putting my clothes in plastic bags, Grandma?”
“Oh, I’m putting complete outfits in freezer bags so that when we get up in the morning all I have to do is pick out a bag out of the dresser (or the suitcase depending) and throw it on your bed. No searching for socks, undies, matching t-shirts and shorts. At the end of the day we put your dirty clothes back in the bag and put it in Grandma’s suitcase. That way we always know what’s clean and what’s dirty.”
She saw the logic in this.
“Is that the secret to being a good traveller? Plastic bags?”
“Not exactly, but it helps. The secret is, no matter what happens when you travel, you just roll with it.”
“What does ‘roll with it’ mean?”
“You take a deep breath and you figure out if what’s happening is a problem or a situation. There’s a big difference between a problem and a situation. A problem can be fixed, but a situation is different. It’s something you have to deal with. Problems have solutions, like, if our luggage gets lost…”
“That would be a problem.”
“Yes, and there would be something we could do about it. We would let the airline know and we wait for them to find our bags or compensate us. A situation is very different from a problem. Imagine that we get to the airport and suddenly there’s a big storm and the plane can’t fly. That’s not a problem because there isn’t a ‘fix’ , that’s a situation. We have to make the best of it.”
“Has that happened to you? Did you ever have a situation?”
“Many times. One time I was flying home from Beirut, Lebanon and the president of Iran,. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was flying into the Beirut airport at the same time as I was supposed to be leaving…”
“Mahmoud I’ma dinner jacket?”
I sat down on the bed. I could tell this was going to take a while.
“Ahmadinejad…although I am liking your pronunciation…anyway there was extra security at the airport and I was frisked, patted down, five times before I got to my gate.”
“Frisked? Patted down?”
“Security at the airport pats your clothes to your body to make sure you’re not carrying anything dangerous onto the plane.”
She was mortified.
“Remember, you have to roll with these things, it’s all part of travel.”
“You just take a deep breath and let them pat you like a dog?”
(What I didn’t tell her was that although I had been patted down in several different countries, I had never been frisked like I had been in Beirut. More than once I thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head. If the allegations against Donald Trump are true, imagine him patting down women at an airport. You get the picture.)
“Anyway, because Ahmadinejad’s plane was late arriving, my plane was late departing. When we landed in at the airport in Germany I had to run to catch my next flight. I knew, that even though I was running to my plane, there wasn’t anyone running with my luggage to put it on. I knew then my luggage wasn’t going to arrive in Canada with me. I frantically boarded the plane, embarrassingly the last to board and had just sat down when there was an announcement that the plane had a mechanical problem. So we all got off the plane and went back into the airport.”
“That sounds awful.”
“Well, I was just happy they found the mechanical problem before we took off. But I also knew that I was going to miss my connecting flight from Montreal to Toronto and probably miss my flight from Toronto to North Bay, which would mean finding a hotel in Toronto and a whole lot of phone calls to Grandpa.”
“Were you crying?”
“I would have cried.”
“Why? What’s the point of crying over a missed connection and lost luggage? It’s not as if I was flying to get home to have a heart transplant.”
(We’ve watched numerous heart transplants on youtube as well as brain surgery etc. we are a strange family.)
“That would have been bad.”
“Yes. But it wasn’t bad. Sure, I was going to miss a day of work maybe…and I would be missing some of my clothes…”
“You just rolled with it?”
“I just rolled with it.”
Fast forward a few days. My granddaughter and I were onboard our a flight to Varadero, Cuba. I had filled out the online lunch order form provided by the airline. When the flight attendant reached us with the cart, I handed her the print out of my order.
“Oh, we don’t use this system anymore.”
“But the website asked me if I wanted to pre-order food? Why would it still be on the website if you don’t use the system?”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know…and we don’t have the sandwiches you ordered.”
“It was on the website, and I pre-paid for it…”
I felt a tugging at my sleeve.
“Grandma, you have to roll with it…it’s just a sandwich, not a heart transplant.”
I started to laugh. Mission accomplished.