We have seen two mass transit incidents lately that had totally different outcomes. The Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia injured and tragically killed many. The other incident involved a commercial bus near DC that caught on fire. Whether you are utilizing mass transit or become entangled in the aftermath of an incident, what is your plan? I traveled to DC three times in six days last week. An accident near the Dumfries/Manassas exit caused a thirty-minute delay getting to Dulles. On Sunday evening, traffic was so heavy that our average speed was probably 25-30 MPH, from Hanover to the same Dumfries/Manassas exit. I repeat, do you have a plan for when your travel is interrupted?
We flew Ethiopian Air on our last journey to Africa in January. You may remember this story, but we arrived to Dulles with three to five inches of snow on the ground. We gave ourselves four and a half hours to get to Dulles and it took the entire time. We were delayed three hours leaving Dulles and our connecting flight in Ethiopia was due to leave one and a half hours, after our original arrival. The bottom line is that we missed our connecting flight from Addis-Ababa to Johannesburg. Missing a flight in America causes issues and delays, while missing a flight in Africa is quite different, especially if you have to stay overnight.
I tell everyone who travels internationally to carry two full changes of clothing in their carry-on, in case their checked bag does not make it. I had a first-timer who did not see his luggage until the end of our last journey. The only problem was that he did not heed my instruction to carry two full changes of clothing. He did well without his luggage, but what if that had been you or me?
My son and his band recently went to Lithuania. They had spoken with the airline about their desire to carry on their guitars. The airline said that this was fine, until the plane became full. At that point, their three guitars had to be checked as additional baggage, costing $160/guitar. If you are not ready for things like this, you are going to increase your delays that much more.
This article may to seem more internationally focused, but travel is travel. Memorial Day saw a high-speed pursuit on Interstate 81. The perpetrator crashed near Exit 143, causing traffic to be stopped in all directions. Limited-access roads are just that: limited access points onto and off of these roads. If you are not fortunate enough to be near an exit when a problem occurs or you are not able to navigate unfamiliar roads, then you will have issues that could cause greater delays.
Since I brought up unfamiliar roads, let us talk about GPS-guided travel. If you are not familiar with a given route, you could find yourself in a pickle. GPS may give the shortest route, but only if you are a crow. I needed to travel to Route 220, near Fincastle. I was coming from the West, and one person was towing a 30- to 40-foot trailer. GPS indicated that we were to take Route 42 in Giles County, instead of staying on Route 460, until we got to Interstate 81. Everything was fine, except for the guy hauling the trailer. Technology is helpful but not fail-proof.
You must be thinking ahead everywhere you go. Whether you have entrusted someone else to get you there or you are driving yourself, you must have an idea of what you will do if things change. I leave you with this last story. We were in Montgomery, Alabama, due to fly out the next day. Tornadoes and severe storms hit Alabama that night, causing them to cancel all flights out of Montgomery. Our choices were to either stay another 24 hours in Alabama or rent a car and drive to Atlanta. We drove to Atlanta, caught our flight and arrived home on time. What is your plan B when plan A fails to get you there?