Stay sane during travel disasters

photo courtesy flickr user Marcin Wichary

Commentary:

(MoneyWatch) If you move from one place to another frequently, eventually something will go awry. For me, that was this week, driving from one set of relatives to another along I-65 in northern Indiana. My husband drives well in snow, but accidents occur frequently, and we got stuck behind a multiple vehicle crash for 2.5 hours with three small children in the backseat.

We had taken the usual precautions for winter travel. We had a full tank of gas. We had lots of food in the car. We had a video player charged up (which didn't really distract the kids, but helped). We had all gone to the bathroom before we left.

Nonetheless, it was pretty awful. What kept me reasonably calm in the blizzard despite the screaming baby was repeating to myself that by the end of the day, I would most likely not be sitting there in that traffic pileup. Either we'd inch along to a spot where we could exit (which is what happened) or they'd completely clear the wreck and we'd move through. By the end of the day, I'd be somewhere warm, with a relaxing drink, my baby asleep in her portable crib, and my kindergartner and preschooler watching videos with cousins. It could be worse; we could be in a car upside down in the ditch or pinned between two skidding semis. Whatever bad situation you are in, if you are not actually in any danger, in all likelihood, it will be over in a reasonable time frame. The present is fleeting. Eventually, all bad happenings become memories, where they fade in time.

This ability to vacate the present and envision the future is one of humanity's greatest gifts. It is what makes difficult tasks -- running a marathon, plowing through a tough project -- possible. Sometimes we forget it exists; every time a disaster or tragedy dominates headlines it's hard to imagine that life will go on, but it does, and reminding yourself that how you feel now is probably not how you will feel in the future is the key to staying calm during travel disasters or whatever life throws at you.

How have your travels gone this holiday break?

Photo courtesy flickr user Marcin Wichary

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