This classic Boy Scout motto came to me as I fired up my iPad on its maiden flight and discovered that: a) the magazine I believed had fully downloaded had not; and b) with no WiFi on the flight, I couldn’t download anything from my Netflix queue either…
Because I am a “be prepared” sort of person, I did bring a magazine on board for those few minutes until we reached 10,000 feet and I could turn on my electronic devices. Saved! Until I opened it up and realized I had read it on my last flight.
Just as technology has given us a myriad of ways to pass the time (Words with Friends anyone?), it has made it much more complicated to “be prepared.” Specifically, being prepared for travel. For example, if it’s important in your work that you check emails, if you’ve been foolish enough to create expectations that messages will be replied to promptly, then you really cannot step too far away from your smart phone, can you?
I travel a lot, and I’ve made a lifelong habit of making packing lists before I leave. Where others scrawl “Dear Diary” entries and make lists of what they are grateful for in beautiful journals, I record 3 prs underwear, black slacks, grey top, black pumps… The date of the trip and the destination are neatly recorded, and every necessity is carefully itemized by day and occasion. As I’ve looked back on these entries, a few things strike me. Sometime in the late 1990s sneakers, headphones, athletic shorts and the like started to appear – around the time I realized that something had to be done with all of the calories consumed on an average business trip. Then, right after 9/11, there it is: Orlando, 10/01 phone charger. Followed in short order by laptop, and eventually camera, camera charger, Kindle, Kindle charger, flip cam, extra batteries… And, now, iPad.
Being prepared is an evolutionary process, and must adapt to changes in your lifestyle and experiences. You only have to develop a killer headache out of range of a drugstore once to add tylenol to the list. On a supplement kick? Throw in a MTWTHF pill box. Bad experience with noisy hotel guests or deafening DJs? Easy, just add earplugs (you can buy them in bulk!). And the list grows on…along with the weight of your carry-on bag.
But there’s nothing quite like being able to say “here you go” when someone in a meeting desperately cries “does anyone have a iPhone charger?” Bet I’ll be in her gratitude journal tonight!