My Satisfying Retirement : Travel Plans: Are We Too Optimistic?

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I don’t need to remind you that travel for the last few years has ranged from impossible to foolhardy to inconvenient to very expensive. So many employees were let go during the pandemic period that airlines are now drowning in a sea of cancellations and delays; there are not enough people to fly, stock, load, or ride herd on unruly passengers.

Every flight in Canada my youngest has taken in the last few weeks has been either canceled or seriously delayed. Her baggage went missing for 36 hours. A few weeks ago it took her 19 hours to fly from Halifax to Vancouver, a trip that normally takes 7 hours.

Even though we know flying has become a spin of the roulette wheel, airports are packed to overflowing. The pent-up demand to get out of the house and go…anywhere, has put a strain on the airlines and airports that seems to threaten the viability of the entire system. Don’t even get me started on the cost of a rental car. I’ve had lower mortgage payments than what Avis or Hertz wants for 24 hours in a compact something or other.

In 2020 our month-long cruise to New Zealand never happened. Our trip to Montreal and Quebec bit the dust. Thinking the worst was behind us, Betty and I went to Disney World in February. All was OK until American canceled our flight home, rebooking us on a connection through Austin, that was, you guessed it, canceled. A full day later we managed to arrive home but only after getting up at 4 am to catch the only available flight from Orlando to Phoenix. 

A post about travel plans seems sort of, well, irrelevant. But, as a people, we tend to be either optimistic or pig-headed, in equal measure. All those people standing in line at the airport must be trying to go somewhere.

Our plans for the rest of this year are certainly less ambitious than two years ago. In a week we are heading for the cool Alpine town of Greer. At 8,900 feet, temperatures are comfortably stuck in the 70’s. We have a cabin in a wooded setting that will give us a respite from the 112 degrees of a week or so ago in Phoenix.

Come September, we will fulfill a long-delayed dream of taking the Coast Starlight train from Los Angeles to Portland. Yes, it takes 26 hours, but that is the point. Bowing to the uncertainty of flying, instead of a 75-minute flight, we will drive the 7 hours from our home to Los Angeles. The train runs once a day. We won’t risk missing it because of cancellations. 

After spending five days in Oregon we have booked a flight home. If that one is seriously delayed or canceled, so be it. Getting home doesn’t have the same urgency as meeting Amtrak at Union Station.

Next year we are toying with something a bit farther afield: either the United Kingdom or fulfilling the previous plans to visit parts of Canada and northern New England. To proceed with both these trips will require a substantially improved airline system over what exists today.

Our health and energy clock is ticking regardless of airline staffing issues or costs that seem to know few boundaries. We can’t take it with us…so I guess we hope for the best and plan for something else!

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