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Zen of Business Travel

This is a reprint of my post on Dell’s Digital Nomads blog:

I am a very calm traveler.

Despite the inevitable delays, idiots, and indignities, I rarely get upset.

How did I do it? I decided that it was the only choice.

When I was an angry traveler, I got upset, I stomped around, I
complained, I yelled. And it made no difference to anyone. It changed
nothing. But I was upset, yelling, and angry. And unhappy.

Now I realize that the only way to endure the indignity of travel is to float above it in my own little bubble of calm.

  • Remember that nothing you do will change anything, so save the energy.
  • The airline will get you where you’re going. They want to do it as
    efficiently as possible. They are on your side and they are trying.
  • Bad stuff will happen. Stupid stuff will happen. Just like at your company.
  • Nobody wants it that way, especially the airline personnel.
  • Imagine if you were trying to do your job, and every three days a
    hailstorm closed your office and a government traffic controller told
    you to stop working and sit in the hall without food for an hour.

How to stay calm:

  • Expect the worst. Enjoy the moments when things go well.
  • Prepare for the worst. Bring lots of music and books so you can enjoy the free time a delay gives you. Make it your “me” time.
  • Every airport has one great restaurant or sandwich shop, usually a
    little local place that you never noticed. Make it your special place.
  • Keep plenty of good food and drink in your bag. Treat yourself.
  • Pick an airline. Everything’s easier when you figure out one system and how to work it.
  • Give yourself extra time. Much travel stress is cause by time
    pressure. Better to do an hour of work at the airport than an hour of
    work before you leave and then freak out at the airport because you’re
    lost, hungry, rushed, and have to pee.
  • Never complain, never get angry. Only you suffer.
  • Get away from complainers and screamers. Don’t let them suck you in or ruin your calm enjoyment of your free time.
  • Treat the airline folks with respect and sympathy. They get paid very little to deal with everyone’s crap. They’re trying.
  • Help someone else. Lift their bag, hold a door open, smile at them.
  • Buy professional-grade soundproof headphones.

Those are my tricks. How about you?

Read the original post here

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  1. Clint November 22, 2008 at 11:39 pm #

    These are some great tips! One of the things that help me when I travel is to make sure I’m wearing comfortable clothes. You never know when you might be at the airport a bit longer than originally anticipated and nothing is worse than being stuck in uncomfortable clothes.

  2. Shireen Shahawy November 23, 2008 at 2:38 pm #

    This is right-on-the-money, Andy. I’ve never commented before — though have been a loyal reader for quite some time. I recently traveled to California (from Manchester, NH)…a long day each way. I arrived with the same attitude, and took every delay as a gift of personal time. Decided before I left the house that nothing about travel was going to get to me, and what a difference that made. It made my whole day relaxing..imagine? Relaxing. Best travel experience of my life, and it was all because I chose my attitude before I started.

  3. Chris November 25, 2008 at 2:09 pm #

    Bless you. I appreciate this post for two reasons. First, like you said, you can stomp, complain, and be miserable and nothing changes. Except you’re miserable. With a choice in your attitude, why on earth would you choose to be miserable. That’s a horrible way to go through life.
    Secondly, as a person who works in the service industry (not airline, but service nonetheless) it’s amazing seeing people kicking and screaming when service doesn’t meet expectations for whatever reason. We want the best for our clients – it’s why we’re in business. If we made a mistake, we want to fix it immediately, because that’s our nature. If it’s beyond our control, we still want what’s best for you. When clients lose their temper, our desire to satisfy them gets paralleled by our desire to get rid of them. The calm, polite people – people who travel like you – are the ones we’ll go out of our way to make even happier. Because those are the clients we want coming back.

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