I recently started two files, one
called "Travel Guilt," the other "Travel Anger."
The first includes
all the press releases sent by hoteliers, tour operators, airlines,
car rental companies, destinations and cruise lines that call
attention to the environment-friendly activities in which they're
engaged. "Enjoy your Green Stay" is one subject line. "Stay on
Track to Help the Environment While Vacationing in Europe" is
The second file
contains clips like the recent New York Times article "Ugly Airline
Math: Planes Late, Fliers Even Later" and the L.A. Times' "Scottish
airline Flyglobespan strands hundreds in New York for
I could add a few
personal entries to that second file. I cannot seem to take a trip
this year whose denouement does not involve long lines, delays,
cancellations, overbookings, overcharges and exhaustion. Whatever
relaxation, enjoyment and excitement a trip may have generated has
long been spent before I put my key in the front door upon
Our travel superego
and travel id, it seems, are working overtime, our enjoyment
tempered by guilt and our contentment diluted by anger.
Now, I'm of the
school that believes a little guilt is not a bad thing. It helps us
behave responsibly, even when no one's watching. I'm inclined to
believe that when it comes to environmental concerns, if a dose of
guilt motivates us to preserve our host planet, so be it. Even from
a narrower industry point of view, an environment-sensitive
approach is a smart long-term strategy, and we can profit short
term by creating green vacations.
And anger, too, has
its place in our world. If a business model generates enough anger,
it presumably must change or fail, opening an opportunity for more
But the effects of
guilt and anger can be cumulative, and I fear that in 2007 they are
building to suppress the urge to travel.
environmentalist messages in the Travel Guilt file all aim to ease
a negative rather than stress a positive. It's not so much that
travelers are being pitched to enjoy themselves, but rather that
they can vacation without guilt.
In our justice
system, one should remember, defendants are not found "innocent;"
they are found "not guilty," which is not exactly the same thing.
It may be that the best some travelers can hope for in the coming
years is to vacation in a not-guilty frame of mind.
Though one would
think the odds are 50/50 that anger could rear up at the beginning
of a trip or at the end, problems for me this summer have all been
occurring when I'm homeward bound. That's gotten me thinking a lot
about the last 24 hours of the travel experience, and I have two
suggestions that might eliminate a few stress points along the
Airlines: A lot has
been written lately about how flight delays are not being fully
accounted for in statistics, but there's one aspect of delay that I
have yet to read about, and it has nothing to do with weather, air
traffic control, mechanical problems or other items beyond your
control. Please look for ways to get our luggage to us in a timely
In an extreme
example, I recently waited more than an hour for my bags because
they had been loaded behind some cargo that had to be removed
first. The official record showed the plane was 30 minutes late,
but that was certainly not an accurate accounting of the delay I
Hotels: Gouge me on
the minibar, be ruthless with phone charges, but please drop the
"resort fee" and don't ding me for USA Today because I didn't opt
out when I registered. Arguments at checkout over charges for
something guests never asked for just aren't good for you or the
guest. Don't just waive the charges upon request. Change the
One final thought
about anger and guilt: Why is it that the people who make us
angriest never seem to feel guilty?