This is a sight that many of you will *not* be seeing today. You see, many airlines are grounded today (and early this week actually) on account of the hurricane in the North Atlantic. So, what to do if you are stuck? I thought I would offer up some tips, pointers, and the like in case you are stuck in the “wild blue yonder” without any hope of making it back home.
Photographers, you see, travel a lot. As frequent travelers, we’re used to hitting snags in our travel plans. Sometimes the snags are small, like missing a flight or getting a last-minute gate change but other times? Not so small. I have been trapped by a hurricane before and, sadly, it will probably happen again. So, what can you do about it? What do you do if you are stuck out there, waiting on the weather to change or, even worse, waiting to get swept away from a random pier in New York City?
For starters, don’t panic! Now, I know that’s easier to say then to do but, really panic doesn’t help anybody. There are over 650,000 travelers currently stranded. You are not alone. Yes, you are not home either (or, you know, where you need to be) but the world will go on without you for one more day (or two.) Don’t panic! Remain calm and use your resources wisely. Stop. Think. Do the right thing. Use common sense. Don’t get crazy, it won’t help your situation any, really it won’t.
My second piece of advice: travel personnel are not out to get you. By that, I mean, don’t be mean to them. They are only trying to help. In fact, it’s probably in everybody’s best interest if you go out of your way to be extra nice to them today and in the coming days. They really don’t want to give up their cigarette breaks or get stuck working through a storm only to help service a bunch of homeland terrorists. Really. An ounce of “nice” goes a long way here. It’s not their fault. They didn’t make it rain and, believe me, I’m sure they would rather not have your “smiling” face glaring at them from behind their counters anymore than you want to be there. So, be nice already! They don’t like the hurricane any more than you do. Be as nice and as flexible as possible during this period of stress for everybody.
Next up, for good advice, you might not get home on time, and, no, you might not get to where you are going, but try to see to it that your basic needs are met. By basic needs here I really do mean basic. Think food, water, shelter. Try to find yourself someplace to sleep, something to eat, some clean drinking water. The rest? Trust me, you really don’t need the wireless “n” speed connection device right now, honest you don’t. Maybe this storm can help teach you a lesson: there is a difference between a need and a want and, right now anyway, concentrate on the needs not the wants. Food, water, shelter, clothing. Providing for your basic needs might just give you a new appreciation on things when you get back home. You will live to see another day, so what if your iPad charge runs out. Really? Have some priorities here already! No lights? Learn to sing in the dark. No TV set, listen to the radio. Adapt and go with the flow, it will make yourself a better person in the long run anyway and, once it all blows over, you just might find yourself with a new appreciation for the things you currently take for granted each and every day.
Additionally, this is the “fun” part of travel so make the most of it! By that, I mean, think of travel as an adventure. It’s what life if all about. Meeting new people, seeing new places. Today, of all days, you are going to get to see some places the way the locals get to experience them. You are going to see stress and chaos and havoc, yes, but that’s another side of life. If you can stay calm, provide for your (own) basic necessities, be nice to the people around you and treat this like an adventure, why just think of it. You’ll probably come out the other side with quite an adventure, you might just meet some new friends, and you’ll really get to experience a new place firsthand, as the locals do. This is a great opportunity for you to put the cloak of “tourist” behind you and embrace the moniker of “traveling citizen” so make the most of it. Help out if you can. If you’re stuck in some strange town, why not volunteer at a shelter while you’re there? It’s a great way to get to see the heart of a city firsthand and you’ve got time to kill anyway. Try to make the most of your experience in the best way you possibly can.
My only other final piece of advice is that, while you might be stuck in a hotel bar, a strange restaurant, or whatever making new friends and enjoying a new side of the “locals” remember to keep all of your receipts. Many airlines and other travel sites offer up reimbursements for travel-related expenses dealing with the hurricane so do try to keep good records. Use sites like Kayak that offer downloads for mobile devices if (when?) the Internet is available to help book that flight back home. Be resourceful once things start to come back to “normal” so that you can make the most of your return.
In the meantime, try not to stress, enjoy yourself, and try to provide for your basic needs as best as possible. This really will help you get through it all, honest it will. No matter how dark the night might seem, there’s always a dawn that comes again the next day. Stay safe, provide (basics) for yourself, try to be nice and make new friends/mingle with the locals, and keep all your paperwork. This is good advice even on a good day, no? Wheels up or not, it’s great to travel and today is just another day in the continuing saga of a life well lived so try to make the most of it and don’t let one massive storm get you down.
Hurricane, “Frankenstorm,” or not, I wish you all safe travels and good light.
Until next time…