How To Respond To Travel Stress


“Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition – such as lifting weights – we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.”

Stephen Covey, (1932-2012) Author  of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

One of my favorite books that I find myself referring to again and again is Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This book came to mind again on the first full day of our recent trip abroad.

After a two-hour delay at the Atlanta International Terminal, followed by an all night flight to Rome, Italy, paired with a six-hour time change, our first stop was to the Baggage Claim area to collect our many bags. It didn’t take long to discover that Leah’s green Nine West checked bag had been taken by another passenger by accident, while leaving an identical bag behind. Leah and I made our way to the Lost and Found counter to speak with representatives who knew very little English. “Switch!”, “Switch!”, they kept saying loudly to each other as they waved their hands while smiling encouragingly at us. Copying our Celebrity Equinox Cruise Itinerary, they promised to keep making attempts to track Leah’s bag as we left the airport with our driver.

Understandably frustrated, Leah vowed to not allow these circumstances to damper her excitement about our adventure. This made me think of Chuck Swindoll’s famous writing on Attitude:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

More than 50 hours later, when Leah’s suitcase was finally delivered to their cabin on the ship, Jessica suggested we raise our glasses and toast Leah at dinner for staying positive as she awaited the arrival of most of the clothes/shoes she had packed for our trip. WE all agreed wholeheartedly!

Leah shops for undies in Florence, Italy.

During this experience of traveling inconvenience, I thought of a few  good things to remember :

  • Mark all checked suitcases well. While Leah’s was marked with an ID tag, it was still taken by accident. Let’s all double-check all bags before walking away from baggage claim. We couldn’t believe this other party actually left the airport before they realized they had picked up a bag marked with someone else’s name.
  • Things don’t always turn out the way you hope or expect. While this (in the grand scheme of things)turnedoutto be more of an inconvenience than a major obstacle, our attitude and responsereallycanmake a difference in how we walk through the circumstances. If Leah had chosen to have a full-out negative response about this missing bag,thiscould’ve rippled out among our group of six. Instead, Leah made a choice to say, “Oh well, hopefully this will work out soon.” and then move on to the fun of our CruisingAdventurethatwas scheduled to begin that day in Rome, Italy at 5:00 p.m.
    Our Itinerary. Even though Leah wasn’t sure if her suitcase would ever be returned to her, she made an intentional decision to carry on, looking ahead to the amazing adventure that was before us.
  • Even in trying circumstances and especially when there is a language barrier, it is good to remember that ALL PEOPLE SMILE IN THE SAME LANGUAGE. So when we make an intentional choice to smile through our challenges,ourresponsecan be contagious and may lead to more smiles, no matter what language one may speak.
    While it is common to see a black suitcase on the baggage claim turnstile, it is less common to see a black suitcase with a wide hot pink strap around it.
    This green and gold bow tied tightly around a handle serves as an “ID” for a weary transatlantic traveler looking for a bag on the turnstile.
    Thank goodness Leah’s suitcase arrived in time for her to wear Scott’s favorite dress to dinner one night.

    Do you mark your suitcase in some special way

    before you head out for a trip on a plane?

    If not, why not?

    How do you respond when things don’t go as you hoped or planned?

    Have you heard of Swindoll’s writing on Attitude?

    Will reading it impact how you may

    consider your own attitude in the future?

    It has been noted that Swindoll wrote this after he noticed his growing testy, argumentative attitude towards his young children and wife. He knew that if he didn’t give himself an attitude adjustment regarding his four children, he stood the chance of alienating them from himself, later becoming a lonely, bitter, and crotchety old man.

    Are you and I in need of an attitude adjustment?Let's Start

  • “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything. Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:2-4; 12

9 thoughts on “How To Respond To Travel Stress”

  1. My husband picked up the wrong back in MUMBAI a couple years ago, despite the color being an obnoxious purple just so we wouldn’t do that. I guess someone else had the same idea. Fortunately, we got it back and got that bag to its owner.

    1. Unfortunately , Carol, this happens far too often! I guess it happens even more often following a long, tiring flight like yours to Mumbai. My kids may have laughed at the large pink suitcase I bought for this trip, but nobody accidently switched it!

  2. There always seems to be travel stresses and messes! Attitude is very important. Thank you for sharing the Chuck Swindoll quote, I had not heard it. Glad everything worked out and you had a great trip!

  3. HI Bonnie! I am so happy you now know about Swindoll’s wise words about our attitude! I have used/shared this again and again for a good while. I even framed it for my children’s bathroom counter when they were growing up
    Thanks for your comment here! Have loved reconnecting with you via Facebook!

  4. Good morning, Joan! I’ve though about the quotation all the time I was getting dressed and reminding myself to be aware of my attitude all day. Thanks so much for posting it! The other thing that I want to tell you is that my husband and I traveled to Europe with students every summer for about twelve years. The night be fore we left, I spent about an hour cutting lengths of red yarn to give to the students as we were waiting in line for tickets. They had to tie the yarn around the handle of their suitcases (they could each check one bag!) while we waited. With that colorful identification on the bags, the boys could be the grabbers when we arrived and just yank any bag off the carousel if the bag had a red yarn bow. Very efficient! You can ask our friend Kathy Thomas Owen about this. Her bag had a yarn bow on it! Love your blog, Joan!!

    1. jarrelle · I would have never thought of adding curry to my chicken salad but i will deftiinely try that next time around. and yes grapes are the best in it. sometimes i’ll shred some granny smith apple in mine! and i also never order it from a restaurant because they always put way too much mayo!

    2. This article is worthy of all the great comments already made. I just want to add my two cents into the mix. This is valuable content with dead-on sensible points.

  5. HI Sandy! Wow, what a great legacy you and your husband built with these annual European student trips! Sounds super cool! LOVE the red yarn story…Yes, so efficient and a true time saver, not to mention a headache saver in the potential loss of a mistaken switch!
    Love Kathy! She and I have been buds for quite a long time. She hosted a baby shower for me when I was expecting # 2 and he is now age 23 and married.
    Thanks for finding, reading and sharing my blog…I am so happy Kathy connected the two of us!

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