Ben’s Blog: Be calm during summer travels

As travel restrictions ease around B.C., Canada and the world, there is understandable excitement from many about the prospects of exploring new places and soaking up new experiences.

Being grounded by COVID-19 has stoked my personal wanderlust, and I am sure a lot of people in Terrace feel the same.

I love travelling. I find flying fun, and I can’t get enough of a good road trip. The anticipation of arriving at a new destination is hard to beat.

But what happens when things go wrong? There is something about travel that can bring out the worst in people — to the point where they hardly resemble people at all.

In the summer of 2017 I visited my uncle’s cabin at Adams Lake, north of Chase B.C. I was supposed to fly out of Kamloops back to Victoria, but wildfire smoke had grounded flights out of the airport.

After checking in, I awaited further instructions. People were pacing, sweating and repeatedly asking airport employees what was going on.

It was announced that busses would take us to Kelowna and we would fly from there, but everyone taking that option needed to sign up with an airline employee. Having never been to Kelowna, I was actually excited about the new developments because I would get to see a new place (and get an extra day off work).

Kids were left behind as parents raced to join the rabid mob and sign up for the bus. Others aired their angry complaints to helpless employees, who could do nothing but assure them everything would be O.K.

Eventually, everyone was signed up and accounted for and we waited outside. As the minutes ticked by, I watched as one person after another started to crack. I will admit that it was hot and smokey, and not the least bit comfortable waiting.

Perhaps having the experience of being 6’7” on an airplane has kept my expectations of comfort lower than the average person, or has conditioned me to be able to cope with a certain level of discomfort while travelling.

When two busses arrived, the situation got worse. It was unclear which was the Air Canada bus and which was the WestJet bus. It was a scene out an apocalypse movie. People threw elbows, shoved each other and scrambled to board the busses as if the tsunami, asteroid or earthquake was minutes away and the only ticket to survival was to be on the bus first.

Airline employees argued over which bus was which, and frankly, I watched in disbelief as the carnage ensued. Common courtesy was out the window, and I am confident that even a pregnant woman holding an infant would have been pulled off the bus steps and thrown aside by others fighting to board (thank goodness that didn’t happen).

As the anarchic scene played out I felt like someone at the zoo, watching the chimpanzees scream and fight over some trivial matter.

At the end of the day everyone made it to Kelowna, and moved along to their final destination. I was left thinking how much smoother the entire situation would have been if everyone had just taken a few deep breaths and chilled out.

So please, be patient and polite when traveling this summer, even if things don’t go according to plan. That inconvenience could end up being a fun story, or a new experience.