My work as an author and consultants involves travel – mostly domestically and sometimes internationally. Upon meeting a new acquaintance, the most common question I am asked is, “Do you like traveling for your job?”
My answer has changed through the years. At first, it was glamorous in that I was paid by clients to see the world and parts of the country I would not have paid to experience using my infrequent vacations. And, I love meeting people from different cultures. But, after about 10 to 15 years of traveling, my answer changed.
“Traveling is the worst part of my job!” I complained. After 2001, traveling took twice as long waiting in security, arriving at airports 1.5 to 3 hours ahead of time. And, the fun of traveling turned into a burden.
Because I travel so much, I travel light – only a carry-on-suitcase, even for my longest international trips going from continent to continent. About 5 years ago, I realized that my attitude about traveling was a choice and I could change that. No longer did want to be a “victim” to the burden of traveling, so I decided to use my “light” approach to travel to become a metaphor for my new choice. “Travel Light, Travel Bright.”
Today I travel with the idea of being of service to other travelers. I start by greeting the flight attendants as if we are friends. They have to greet me nicely for their job, but can I make their job a little Lighter be treating them as a human being rather than an object who is there to serve me.
Approaching my seat, I look for others – women or people with their arms full or physically challenged – in which I can offer to help place their luggage in the bins above the seats. I remember how helpful that was when I had a back injury.
While I am an introvert, I make it a point to bring a smile and a Light Conversation to the person sitting next to me. How can I serve my seatmate in making it the best and most fun flight possible.
Usually, I am in a rush to get from my incoming gate to my next flight when I have a two flight trip. But, I received a wake-up call when I saw a woman with a young child help an elderly, very slow going woman by taking her luggage up the on-ramp. I then helped the same woman off the plane with her luggage and made sure she was supported by the staff running the gate.
Traveling is no longer the worst part of my job. It’s just another part of what I love about my work – being of service, bringing laughter and joy to the environment, and enjoying the peace of traveling when I am not interrupted by phone calls. I am again more grateful than ever that I get to do what I do in the world.