When faced with unplanned travel disruptions, do you get frustrated or take it all in stride? This week, as I experienced the latest in a long string of travel delays, I had a chance to think about how far I’ve come in coping with these frustrations. In today’s post, I’ll share the tricks that help me stay calm when things don’t go as expected.
I’ve been travelling a lot in 2023—mostly work-related trips. Airport and travel services have improved significantly over last year. The long lines, lost luggage, and crew shortages that were the norm as post-pandemic travel ramped up in 2022 seem to be mostly resolved. Even so, it’s always a good idea to pack some patience when travelling.
My travels this year have tested that patience. In addition to routine operational challenges that seem to be the new normal, I’ve had flights cancelled by snowstorms, and even sat through a shelter in place order as a tornado approached one of America’s busiest airports. This week, I can add flooding and torrential rain to the list as I travelled across England by train.
Trains and tribulations
On Friday, I travelled from York in the north of England to the Isle of Wight off the south coast of England by train and ferry.
My day didn’t start out well when my train from York to London departed 45 minutes late because of torrential rains and flooding in Scotland. By the time I got to London, the 90 minutes I had allowed for my connection had dwindled to 25. I raced through Kings Cross station, then hopped on a Victoria Line train to Victoria station. After rushing to the departures board, I was dismayed to see that my 12:05 train to Portsmouth had already left. I missed it by about one minute.
At one time, that delay and missed connection would have ruined my day. Accepting that I couldn’t change the situation, I found the ticket counter where they booked me on the next train departing an hour later.
But my adventures weren’t over yet. The 13:05 train terminated at Portsmouth, not Portsmouth Harbour where I needed to be to get the ferry to the Isle of Wight. Thankfully, the rain held off for the 20-minute walk to the harbour.
Tricks to navigate travel delays
As I walked to Portsmouth Harbour to catch my ferry, I pondered how far I’ve come in brushing off these annoyances. At one time, all these delays would have made me angry but I’ve learned to take it all in stride. Here are some of the tricks that work for me.
Delays are inevitable. Getting all worked up won’t get me to my destination any faster, and it will just make the waiting time worse. I’ve learned to take a deep breath, accept the situation, and figure out next steps.
Refuel and rehydrate
Everything feels better when I’m nourished and hydrated. I always carry my refillable water bottle when I travel, and I also try to pack some snacks. For long delays, I find a spot to sit and have something to eat.
Catch up on reading
I never seem to have enough time to read, but getting lost in a good book is a great way to pass the time. When travelling, I usually load a couple of books on my iPad. In case I forget, I find a bookstore and pick up some reading material.
Do some writing
Travel delays provide an opportunity to write a blog post or brainstorm ideas. I use the time to jot down notes on a notepad or paper, or even a smartphone or tablet. Sometimes, the experience sparks some revelations that I can write about.
Get your steps in
Instead of sitting and waiting, I use the time to stretch my legs. During a long delay at O’Hare airport in Chicago earlier this year, my friend and I wandered around all the concourses. We got our steps in that day.
Relax and enjoy the view
As a writer, I find people-watching to be a great source of inspiration. Sometimes, it’s just fun to sit and watch the other travellers, making up stories in my head of who they are and where they’re going.
I finally arrived in Ryde, on the Isle of Wight just before 5 p.m.—only about an hour later than planned. Plus, I got a 50% refund on my fare from York to London because of the delay.
All’s well that ends well!
How do you handle travel delays? Drop me a comment below and tell me your ideas.