Weathering Your Vacation Anxieties | Irene S. Levine

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No matter how much we plan, things don’t always turn out as we hope they will—especially on vacations, when expectations tend to soar exponentially. Even the weather, which is growing more fickle than ever, can throw a monkey wrench in the best-laid vacation plans.

There was the time my husband and I traveled to Boca Raton, Florida for a winter beach getaway with our then young son. We had squirreled away vacation days from work, paid top dollar for a room at a posh resort overlooking the ocean, and packed a suitcase full of bathing suits and suntan lotion. Unfortunately, we wound up walking barefoot to dinner—with pants rolled up to our knees—on more than one night, to avoid the puddles on the pavement from a week’s worth of non-stop rain. The sun never emerged during our entire stay.

On a cruise several years ago, our ship was forced to cancel port stops on its itinerary due to rough weather we encountered in the Ionian Sea, between Italy and Greece. With ten-to-twenty-foot waves crashing against the ship’s hull, two members of the crew rushed to our cabin to place duct tape around the frame of the door that opened to our balcony. Even so, the carpet took quite a soaking from the seeping water and we had a sleepless night worrying.

However, our most disappointing trip was the one we never got to take. For several months, my husband had been preparing to deliver a talk at the annual conference of a professional group. The December meeting was being held in sunny Puerto Rico. We arrived at JFK just before light snow started falling in the city that morning. Soon after boarding, our plane was de-iced several times but never took off. Instead, we sat on the tarmac for seven hours without a morsel of food (in the days before the FAA made that illegal) waiting for the worsening storm to subside. Only when one passenger experienced chest pains was our pilot given permission to return to the gate. After deboarding, we were informed that all flights had been cancelled until the next day. Road conditions had deteriorated so badly we couldn’t arrange ground transportation home. We had to find a metered taxi to get to the home of a relative in Queens before we could return home the next day from our non-trip.

Being of a certain age, my husband and I have learned that many things in life (including the weather) are beyond our control. Like most inveterate travelers, we would never give up traveling, to stay home uber-safe and secure. Moreover, that would probably be as much of a fantasy as the dream of a perfect vacation. Instead, we worry less and prepare only for the risks we can anticipate. We carry umbrellas and rain ponchos, which seem to always guarantee clear skies.

For the past five years or so, my husband and I have paid our MedjetAssist membership fees, pleased that we have never had to use the service. We are fortunate to have excellent health insurance coverage from prior employers, but even policies as generous and comprehensive as ours don’t cover air medical transportation. Our Medjet membership has added an extra layer of security and peace of mind to our lives and our travels so we don’t waste time thinking about the bad things that might happen anywhere, anytime. Fortunately, things like those are rare and infrequent.

Irene S. Levine, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning travel writer, and member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). You can follow her blog for travelers over 50 at More Time To Travel or on Twitter.