Remembering to Be Flexible

Everyone has their own type of travel style. For those who have never traveled or rarely travel, they might pack for days and feel tense during the entire process, until they reach their destination; other newbies might have rose-colored glasses on, imagining that traveling is a romantic, exciting adventure. Others who travel from time to time might have a bit of excitement each time they go anywhere, knowing that each travel excursion is an adventure, and that while things can go wrong, they hope for the best. Frequent travelers usually adopt a sort of routine they follow each time they go anywhere. This can be especially evident in frequent business travelers. They pack a certain way (in fact, many times their luggage remains partially packed at all times) and they do not like their routine to be disturbed. They are adept at dealing with mishaps, lost luggage, traffic, and delays, but they do not like it. They have their plan and they do not want anyone or anything getting in their way.

Many years ago when our children were small, we flew from San Diego to Washington, D.C. to visit my family at Christmas. Our children were ages seven-years-old, two-years-old, and one-year-old, so it was quite a challenge. On the way to Washington, D.C., everything went according to plan. The children were well-behaved and happy, and we had brought along many items to keep them entertained, especially the little ones. Yet, while we were in the nation’s capital, staying at my parents’ home, all three children became ill. The illnesses were not serious, but all three developed ear infections, and the doctor advised us not to fly for three weeks. This was two days before we were to return home to San Diego. My husband had to get back to work with the Navy, so I was left to endure another three weeks with sick children in my parents’ home. We had had a nice Christmas visit, and had met my brother’s new wife, but we had been there more than a week and we were ready to get home. I was less-than-thrilled at this extension to my Christmas vacation.

Yet, my biggest concern was getting back to San Diego on the plane alone, especially with my two little ones, both still in diapers. After much discussion, my mother offered to fly back with me, just to help me get everyone home again, and then after staying a couple of days, she would go back again to D.C. This was a lifeline to me. I wanted to be flexible and agreeable, but I could not imagine flying back alone with those two babies.

When the day of our long-awaited departure came, we left the D.C. area around mid-afternoon and we were to arrive in San Diego in the early evening hours. But you know what they say about the best laid plans. As we approached San Diego, we were told that the airport was completely fogged in and closed until further notice. We were so close, yet so far. So we were ultimately taken to the Ontario airport, just outside Los Angeles; about a two hour drive from San Diego. When we finally landed, it was close to 8:00 p.m. and we were hungry and exhausted. Yet, the airlines could not decide what to do with us. They kept us on the plane for more than an hour, while we waited, angrily. Finally, we were put on a bus for San Diego, but we waited on the bus for another hour before departing. The bus was cramped and dark. And the interesting thing was that the majority of the complaints were coming from grown men who were traveling alone. There were one or two other families with small children, and they were taking it in stride, knowing that they had no control over the situation. Yet the businessmen were unmerciful to the flight attendants and other airport personnel who shuffled us around.

We ultimately arrived in San Diego, by bus, after 1:00 a.m. Thankfully, my husband had kept track of our progress and was waiting for us at the airport. Never had I been so glad to end my traveling excursion. What I learned from the adventure? Plan ahead, but always be flexible.

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