Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Upgrade Journey

I really enjoy getting upgrades while traveling, especially when I don't have to pay for them!  On a recent flight to Europe I purchased an economy roundtrip ticket and on the outbound flight I was very happy to have the entire row of seats to myself so I was able to sleep and had lots of room to spread out.  When I arrived at the hotel early the next morning they not only had my room ready but had upgraded me to a lovely deluxe room with executive lounge access.  What a great way to begin my trip.

The next day, I went to the train station to reserve my seat and the agent said it was too late to pay for an upgrade but that they would accept my ticket in First Class for any unreserved seat.  In my opinion, there isn't a more relaxing way to spend an afternoon than riding the train through the gorgeous countryside while you are served tea, sandwiches and cake.

Everywhere I went I received unexpected but very welcome surprises. During my trip, I caught a bit of a cold and decided I would go home a few days early.  When I called the airline to change my return flight I was informed that there was only 1 seat left on the flight and it was a middle seat, in coach, at the very back of the plane.  I thought about how wonderful all the other aspects of the trip had been and gratefully accepted the seat.

When I went on-line to check in and print my boarding pass I noticed that my seat assignment had changed and I hoped it would at least be an aisle seat.   Much to my delight not only was it an aisle but it was in Business Class and the ticket agent directed me to the airline executive club until my flight was ready to board.  Even now I smile to think of my incredible journey of upgrades.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Separation Anxiety

I was talking with a friend recently about how to pack as light as possible for trips and how hard it can be to take only what you really need.  She said that in spite of her good intentions, she experiences terrible last minute separation anxiety and feels compelled to over pack.  I laughed out loud and totally understood what she was talking about.  That is exactly how I feel the night before a trip, especially if it is overseas, I just never thought about it that way!  Somehow the thought of being so far away from home and not having my “stuff” causes a totally irrational fear!  

It is very interesting to me that I would suffer so much with this as I am a true believer in travel light and keep it simple.  But something comes over me at the last minute and I start rethinking my entire packing strategy, everything from what clothes to bring to what bag to put them in, truly unbelievable and very stressful.  That is the reason I do an initial pre-pack a few days ahead of time, just so I can rework every aspect before making my final decision the night before.  I can tell you that it does help minimize the anxiety but does not eliminate it.   Now mind you, I do not travel into the wilderness where there will be no resources to get whatever I need and I have never, ever been anywhere that I could not get something essential but still the dread looms.  What I have to do is bring it down to the absolute basics - if I have my passport, wallet and phone I will be fine and I know I will have a wonderful trip! 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Work Travel

Sometimes traveling for work feels like a paid vacation. I get to fly to a new city, stay at the nicest hotels, eat at great restaurants with rental cars and taxis all paid for. It can be a wonderful experience and to some people it seems very glamorous indeed. What they don’t see is the down side… I have to leave home on Sunday to be there for a Monday morning meeting with no sleep because the hotel was noisy or the endless hours spent at the airport and living away from home all week. All of that is fine when you are in the Bahamas but it can be quite a challenge when you have to work all week and then you have a 16 hour travel day just to get back home for 1-2 days and then start all over again.

To say it wears on me is an understatement. I fortunately have a choice in the work that I do and I have to remember to pace myself. What I do not want is my love of travel to be tarnished by the stress of working on the road. So what I try to do to make it more manageable is to stay over a weekend just to have fun and enjoy the area that I am visiting and I always plan a trip for pure pleasure so that I have something to look forward to. Somehow the hours at the airport feel very different if you are going to work or going on holiday!