Travel Tips

How to Win at the Airport

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Art is an economist who blogs for us from time to time.  We like to think of him as having a PhD in maximizing “win”.  After our trip to Omaha this weekend and getting stuck in the airport, we need as much of a reminder of this as anyone!  For more information on Art, check out this intro post.

dreamstime_xs_13127140With every passing day, I come to believe more and more that we create a lot of our own unhappiness and then blame other people for it. I’m terrible about this, as you can imagine, and I won’t get into detail. However, here are a few things I try to do to fend off frustration when it approaches.

1.     Ask “can I change this?”

If not, then accept it as quickly as possible, adapt to it, and move on. It’s easy to dwell on this, but Biblical wisdom is pretty clear here: which one of us, by worrying, can add a minute to our lives? We can’t add any minutes, but we can subtract a lot of them. Indeed, we can recapture lots and lots of minutes we would otherwise lose to worry by taking a bit of perspective. If it was the result of a series of accumulated mistakes, you can review those mistakes later, when you’re debriefing the situation.

2.     Don’t start an indignant conversation

Don’t start an indignant conversation with a fellow traveler about how the airline, car rental company, or hotel done ya wrong. First, people make mistakes. Second, when firms do things you don’t understand, there’s a decent chance they have a good reason for it.

3.     When You Feel Mean, Do Something Nice

I just did this before I started writing this post: when you start to get frustrated with someone, do something nice for him or her. Helping someone with her luggage when she wasn’t moving at the pace I would’ve liked really helped improve my mood.

Have you seen that Louis CK clip on Conan O’Brien where he talks about enjoying the miracle of flight? Change your perspective just a bit: you’re doing something your ancestors thought was impossible. You’re also not the only person in the world. And when you’re tempted to blow your top at someone, remember when others showed you grace when you screwed up, or just when you were the bearer of bad news. Pay that forward. The world will be a better place for it.


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