While most people will usually “ooh” and “ahh” when you tell them you’re going on a trip to pretty much anywhere, let’s face it, the travelling element is not always as glamorous as it’s cracked up to be.
Even if you’ve been lucky enough to turn left on the plane, your journey may still have already endured some severe low points along the way.
The usual travel woes could include delayed, or worse, cancelled flights, lost bags, being held up at customs, missing a connection, finding out your hotel isn’t booked, finding out your hotel isn’t built, waiting endlessly in long queues, or having an unsavoury or noisy seat friend next to you on a long-haul flight.
Maybe the passenger in front repeatedly reclines his or her seat in your lap for hours, your in-flight entertainment system breaks, or your phone battery dies, and you don’t have a charger.
Let’s get real here – these are #firstworldproblems, but yes they are relative and right now they are happening to you. And they are going to test you.
The point is, we all love the idea of travel, but the travelling ‘to’ and ‘from’ the destination can be gruelling and often a battle of wits for all involved.
So how do you not just cope, but shine like a sparkly diamond throughout this mental marathon of the travelling type?
With one word. ‘Kindness.’
Being kind might seem a tough ask when you’re ten minutes into a 23-hour flight to London, and already your seat buddies either side are snoring like smouldering dragons, but believe me, you can still attain it.
Don’t believe me? Here are my five tested tips for you to try out.
1. You are Buddha – REPEAT – You are Buddha
The key to maintaining your sanity is always to remain calm.
So try and stay in the moment and take plenty of deep breaths along the way, especially in testing situations.
Check in with yourself often to see how you’re feeling physically and mentally and if you can – meditate here and there along the way by closing your eyes and taking ten breaths.
Investing in a good meditation app for your phone such as Headspace is another excellent idea to help you stay calm.
Smile if you catch eye contact with someone. Usually, they’ll smile back.
Smiling is the start of all great connections. What happens next is up to you.
2. Be open and considerate
Everyone has his or her own life story to tell.
So while you may think that you can work out ‘anyone’s story’ from their appearance, mood or vibe, just like Sherlock Holmes could, chances are – you’ve probably got no idea, so don’t even try.
Someone seemingly ‘having a bad day’ to you could amount to any number of explanations such as a death in the family, a recent break-up, job loss or illness for example.
So tread carefully and again be kind. If you are in proximity to someone (IE: Sitting next to them on the plane), start with a smile, and a simple “hello, how are you?”.
You are always travelling to expand your horizons remember so put yourself out there and engage people with the same empathy you might appreciate.
3. Always be nice to travel industry staff
If you think your travel is demanding, spare a thought for these hard-working folk, who’ve made a career out of it.
They’re putting in very long hours, often for a pittance of pay, are frequently away from loved ones and have to deal with some of the crankiest people on the planet.
So always be nice to cabin crew, hotel staff and anyone you come into contact with who are working along the way – especially when it’s chaos, and you’ve already mentally tested yourself.
Imagine for a second how they are feeling right now?
It’s in your interest too, so don’t be that person adding to their troubles – instead be the shining star that they remember in their day.
Recently I asked a couple of check-in staff “How their day was going?” I ended up receiving an upgrade on a hire car and a better seat on a flight.
Why? They both told me that “No-one had bothered to ask them all day.”
4. Just chat
Chat is the currency of travel.
Call it passing the time, call it expanding your mind or just small talk, but chat is what makes travel thought-provoking and you more exciting and dare I say it, more attractive as a human being?
Your chat may be in Pigeon English in an aircraft galley with someone from Russia who loves Kangaroos, in an elevator laughing with a group of Chinese tourists in London who can’t speak a word of English or by having a debate with a taxi driver in New York and swapping life stories. These have all happened to me.
The rules of the chat game are simple. Smile, listen, then talk – and not about yourself ideally unless asked.
Ask light questions, laugh and be curious and engaged.
5. What’s the outcome to all of this niceness?
All of this goodness could add up to a world of possibilities.
It could mean a new friend, a better seat, a room upgrade, an insider tip, romance, a business opportunity, a job, a place to stay, a nugget of wisdom, a hug or a simple “thank you for listening.”
But actually, it’s not about seeking anything at all in return.
Call it karma, or call it being smart. But one thing is for sure – you certainly don’t want to make your trip any harder.
Instead be kind, be understanding and you’ll maintain your sanity along the way, and your travels (and life) will be so much more enjoyable.
I challenge you to try it as an experiment and see what happens.
Let me know how you go and Happy travels.
Have you had an example of being kind and then something great happened? Share your thoughts below.
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