Travel Training

 January 25 - 29, Aeromexico, MEX - Oaxaca, Mexico - Los Angeles, California, USA

There are things we take for granted in life. When I was a child I believed that as soon as one became an adult one would automatically know how to get everywhere, and one would know every good movie quote and every decent song from the 1940's. Why did I have all these ideas? Because that was my father. He seemed to know everything, how to get things done, how to get everywhere, how to manage a crisis. Turns out that everything, I mean everything, is learned behavior. We need to learn how to behave. We need to learn how to do things correctly.

Everything is learned behavior, for good and for bad. Good teachers are the key to good behavior. Life can be a cruel teacher. 

I am writing these words in "The Valley" where the Karate Kid movies take place. Mr. Miyagi said "No Such thing as bad student, only bad teacher." We need good teachers, good role models. Our future depends on good teachers and role models.  When we see a bad kid, bad behavior, often the cause is bad role models, or traumatic life experiences. We do our best to educate, but of course there are no guarantees. 

When I worked in the Special Ed field I was put in charge of "Travel Training". This involved taking the older students who would soon be leaving the shelter of the school and would have to contend with public transpiration on their own. This was indeed a daunting task; trains, subways, transfers, purchasing tickets and tokens, as well as what do to when one is lost. 

We are all in the same boat.  One thing I learned while working with Special Ed, is that we are all in fact "Special". We all have our issues and our quirks. We are all on the scale, some higher, some lower.

I am currently on Tour, IKI Krav Maga Winter tour. And here, "in the field" our true Krav Maga training must be employed. We need self-defense vs the problems that life and travel can throw our way, and there are many of them. Some are expected and many are unexpected, just like any physical attack we might face. We must be ready and prepared.

I will go through some of my own personal travel experiences and try to draw and share lessons with you. Often life is nothing at all like we expect; in life our imagination and expectations are often blurred and confused. We need clarity. 

Leaving the hotel in Oaxaca at the early hours of the morning; in order to catch our flight we had to be out by 4:45 am. The massive wooden door was locked tight, and there was no one in sight. After struggling with the door for a good few minutes the sleepy front desk attendant finally woke up. Turns out that in some countries the front desk guy simply goes to sleep on the floor behind the desk. Waking up such a person is not easy. If one knows this in advance one at least knows that the person is indeed required to be there and we simply have to wake him up. Not knowing this can mean missing a flight. This is an important travel tip in certain countries.

Always, and I mean Always, leave extra time, lots of it. You never know what can and will go wrong. The examples are too numerous to list, but they include "Unanticipated" traffic, road repair, the driver not showing up on time, or at all. I have also had drivers getting lost, even taxi drivers. You need extra time. 

What do to with your extra time - Some people do not like spending extra time in airports, it is boring. So you need to develop a little bit of airport culture, I am the "Terminal Man". I write, I read, I think, I analyze, it is not easy but we need to learn now to enjoy our time at the airport and make it productive. 

Double and triple check your itinerary - I have had times where flights were booked for me, mistakes were bad. Am was confused with pm. 12 am and 12 pm were confused. Flights were booked in the wrong direction. i.e. instead of ATL - San Jose, I discovered it was San Jose - ATL. Last minute changes had to be made, and these can be costly. Check your itinerary ahead of time. 

Read your Itinerary CAREFULLY - I had a student read a flight itinerary for me, she said departure was at 7:15 am, but that was in fact the arrival time in Chicago, not the departure time from Champaign, Ill. As a result I missed my flight, and I lost a seminar. Not good!

More extra Time - I arrived at JFK for a flight to Canada. I was told I need to be there one hour early in order to be able to check my luggage. This was many years ago. I learned my lesson well, (as those of you who drive me to the airports know). I arrived on line at the counter one hour and twenty minutes before my flight. When my turn finally arrived it was 59 minutes before my flight. They told me it was too late to check my luggage. I had to find a solution, so they said I could put it in storage, but that was in a different terminal...I ended up missing my flight. 

Know the Layout of the Land, Know your airports - I arrived in Germany on the way to Brazil. Had to change terminals but was unfamiliar with the airport. Good thing if you know how to run while carrying luggage with you, be prepared or be very fit, and skilled at the event called the airport obstacle course. 

Languages - It is helpful to be fluent in many languages. I would suggest German, Spanish, Italian and Russian for starters. Of course this is not always possible but at least learn some basic phrases. I was stuck for two hours at the airport in Ukraine because I could not explain my situation and no one there spoke English. Thankfully I was saved by a group of Hasidic Jews who knew the ropes. 

Make sure you have all your documents - Yes, seems obvious but I know of plenty of stories of people who arrived at the airport only to realize that there passport is on the kitchen table, back at home. In particular these days with the Corona situation you will need many documents; proof of Negative Corona test, vaccination papers for you and your pets etc...

Don't Fall Sleep - I know of many cases of people who fell asleep at the airport and missed their flights. Another possibility is to wake up and discover that you are naked other than your underwear; guard your possessions!  There is an art to sleeping at the airport. There have been times when I had no choice but to sleep at the airport. Here is my strategy and procedure: Set your alarm and set it again for 5 minutes later, 1 minutes later etc. Take no chances. Keep your documents and money very very safe. There are safe places to hide it on your body. I find the safest place in the airport, an area that is as private and secure as possible. Next I tie my luggage to my body so I can easily detect any movement. So far this has worked well for me. 

Watch Your Luggage - Yes, things disappear, keep a close eye on your luggage at all times!

Make sure your have time for your connections - This seems obvious. Make sure there is enough time to make your flight connections. Don't rely upon your booking agent, you are responsible. 

Travel can be exciting and fun, yet one must always be aware of dangers, mishaps and unanticipated trouble, Travel is Life itself, be prepared. Life is a journey.

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