I did the math again. Fifteen minutes to get to the car rental place, five minutes to check out, five minutes to wait for the shuttle, fifteen minutes to get to the airport, five minutes to get through security, two minutes to run to my gate. That was forty-seven minutes to get to a plane that was leaving in forty-five. I'd already given up on the idea of filling up the gas at a reasonable price; I was about to miss my flight to Japan.
It was the first time I saw my friend Neil in five years or so, so I pushed the timeline a little bit. And then I wanted to test out his Tesla, so I pushed it even further. What I hadn't counted on was that there was much more traffic on the way back than the way there.
I'm the last person in the world to admit defeat and become helpless. I'm tenacious (or stubborn, depending on who you ask), so I am always hustling and trying to make something work up until the buzzer. When there's anything left to do before giving up, I'll do it.
But sometimes you just get stuck. There was nothing I could do to get to the airport faster. If the shuttle took ten minutes instead of five, I couldn't change that. I could talk my way to the front of the line in security, but if I get flagged by the TSA, it's out of my control.
The last action I could take was to remain calm and composed. It's the line of last defense-- everything else is chaos and pressure, so you do the one remaining action available to you: you accept.
I accepted that I might miss my flight. I accepted that they might not even put me on another one and that I'd miss my trip. I accepted that I might have to burn a bunch of miles or cash to fly to my next destination. And what choice did I have? This was the reality whether I liked it or not.
As a result of that acceptance, I was calm and clear-headed. I wasn't angry or frustrated. When I pulled up to the car rental place I parked the car and sprinted for the bus stop. A minute later the bus for the neighboring car rental place pulled up, so I sprinted to it instead. I ran once I got to the airport, too. There was no line for security, so I made it through quickly, and I ended up making my flight with time to spare.
There's a difference between acceptance and resignation. If I had resigned, I wouldn't have rushed and may have missed my flight. Instead I accepted the possibility that I wouldn't get the outcome I wanted, but stayed focused on making the rational choices to maximize my outcome.
Acceptance is a very powerful tool. It enables you to confront the truth and to use it to get closer to your goals. We all make our best decisions when we are calm and collected.
So how do you learn acceptance? Take phrases like, "I wish..." or "If I only..." or "It's not fair..." out of your vocabulary. Force yourself to look at the situation objectively. Accept the situation for what it is and recognize that you'll be best off if you work within the constraints of real life, not an ideal version that isn't actually happening.
Photo is some art from the DeYoung museum in San Francisco. The piece on the left is by one of my favorite artists, John Cederquist.
I travel a lot. Not as much as a lot of business travelers, but maybe in the top 1% for independent travelers. That means that I spend a lot of time on planes, in airports, and experiencing just about every air-travel scenario possible.
People get to airports ridiculously early in fear of missing their flights. I almost never get to the airport more than forty-five minutes before my flight departs, and have only missed three flights in that time. One was because I had bad information on how long it took to get to the airport, another was because the guy driving the canoe to the airport stayed up all night doing cocaine and then slept in, and the most recent was because I forgot I had switched my flight to an earlier one. I've never missed a flight when I got there forty-five minutes early.
Now, this only applies if you don't check bags. If I can travel for months on end with a half-empty nineteen liter backpack, I'm sure that you can travel for any duration with the largest-allowed carry-on.
Check in for flights generally closes an hour before the flight takes off. Sometimes this is a soft deadline and you can actually check in later. It's best, however, to check in online twenty-four hours before your flight. Almost every airline in the world allows this, and you can choose a good seat.
Jet Blue flies direct from JFK into Liberia, Costa Rica. VERY handy! And, thanks to Costa Rica's welcoming attitude you don't need a separate visa to visit, just your passport. You will fill out customs and immigration forms (very simple) on the airplane so you're all ready when you arrive. Liberia is a fairly small, but recently updated airport so we moved through immigration quickly. The kids were thrilled to get their passports stamped for the first time, and I have to say I was pretty excited myself.
Baggage claim and customs were also totally painless. I had a letter from my chiropractor noting the supplements, vitamins, etc. that I had with me (you can find a list of what you can and can't bring into the country on the Costa Rica Embassy site), but they didn't even open my suitcases. The only item of interest in my luggage was my microphone stand.
And so, looking like total tourists (like the camera around the neck?) we looked for our car rental rep. I always feel like a celebrity when there's someone waiting for me at the airport with my name on a sign, but besides that ego boost I do recommend reserving a car before your get to Costa Rica and doing some homework.