The Psychology of Travel

The Second Year Travel and Leisure


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I have been on as many as eighteen flights in a month! It is very easy to determine who the "seasoned" travelers are and who the "first timers" are. Airports are designed to not only control the flow of traffic but also meet the needs of the passengers. I use the Calgary Airport, for example, as a type of shopping mall. Whenever there is a layover of a few hours, I am excited. This gives me an opportunity to have a pedicure at the spa, purchase best-sellers at the bookstore and have dinner in a nice restaurant.

Dressing appropriately is important. I have made the mistake of wearing sandals on flights where the air conditioner is turned to "frostbite" temperature. I've worn a jacket for travel with long timeframes between flights and regretted the warmth and weight of it as I waited in the terminal. Also, I have regretted dragging my laptop computer in a bag with shoulder strap all the way to Virginia. That thing is HEAVY. At the same time, I am always thankful that my purse has a strap long enough for me to place it over my head and one shoulder.

Before you begin a trip consider a number of things. First of all, you will be away for a limited period of time and therefore do not need to be prepared for every season or circumstance that might occur. If you are missing an item, you will be able to purchase it in a mall or store at your destination. Almost all hotels have boutiques and even the reception desk offers complimentary items such as toothbrushes, combs and lint removers for guests who have forgotten to pack these. I have learned that the best thing to do is to watch the crowd and do the opposite. When they all head to the bathrooms, it is time to pick up a snack. I avoid the lineups, especially at the luggage carts.

Those who haven't travelled usually are obviously nervous. They clench their passports in their hands, listen intently to every announcement and try to get the front of lines that are boarding passengers. What they forget is that the airplane will not leave until everyone is seated and strapped in. Getting on the plane first will not get you to the final destination any quicker.

Finally, I believe it is important to consider that the travel is a part of life that can be enjoyed and not merely endured. I carry a journal so that I can record experiences in the departure lounge. There is always a good but small book that I have purchased at the airport to enjoy and of course, the people who are also travelling can be a wonderful source of pleasure.

Recently I was delayed due to fog for over eleven hours in the Washington DC airport. It was so interesting to watch the people and their reactions to each delay as it was announced. There were large groups of passengers who would snatch their cell phones from their pockets or purses in order to inform "someone" at the other end that their schedules needed to be revised. Others whipped out laptops and frantically sent emails to inform their address book of the dilemma. I sat and watched in fascination.

The airport became more and more crowded over time as thousands of passengers arrived for flights that were not going anywhere. At the five-hour mark, I noticed a significant change in the terminal. People quit listening to the announcements. They brought out their knitting and craft projects, began sharing food and conversation with their neighbours and made promises to watch the personal possessions and seats of "new friends" while they took turns going to the bathrooms. I enjoyed myself as I chatted with passengers who had never and never again would meet in the same room. We laughed and shared stories and enjoyed the moments as they passed. Finally, when my flight was called, I stood up and everyone clapped!

It is a very unique and wonderful experience to be able to share time with others you have not met and have them join in celebration with you for a simple pleasure! Psychology of travel involves thinking, feeling and behaving in a manner that enhances the experience for you and others around you. Bon voyage!


Dr. Linda Hancock, the author of “Life is An Adventure…every step of the way” and “Open for Business Success” is a Registered Psychologist who has a private practice in Medicine Hat. She can be reached at 403-529-6877 or through email office@drlindahancock.com


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