I’ve been mulling over yesterdays post and the comments made on it.
Both Himself and I, in our former single days and and now in our married ones, have been extremely fortunate to have been able to travel a lot and we try hard to be prepared for the unexpected when we do.
Himself hitch-hiked from The Hague to India when he was eighteen years old… amazing stories from his travels will be told one day in future blog posts… he saved hard and also travelled on a shoestring budget for 10 months throughout the Pacific, as did I (but different places), and together we have travelled to out of the way places like the Cape Verde Islands and São Tomé and Principe.
We have experienced hospitality from people who gave willingly and with great pleasure of the very little they had, we have been dug out of a ditch, had injuries patched up, been caught up in transport mishaps. I’ve had a multitude of rats share a bedroom with me in the deep tropical darkness, had suspected Malaria, have gotten accidentally closer to some tropical crawlies than was probably safe or wise and generally flaunted the concept of Health and Safety in modes of transport, routes, accommodations and food, and yes, lived to tell the tale.
These days travelling with young children our travels are far less wild, but often just as mad, just in different ways.
We have a budget, a back-up plan and the Travel Fund budget and our savings are carefully planned.
Now let’s look at the events of the last week and a few thoughts that it generates… as in…We hired a rental car 10 days ago as we needed an extra vehicle for a few days and today I checked the prices for same vehicle and it was more than three times the price. Ditto the hotels we used.
So “being prepared” is one thing, but in all seriousness and in total honesty can anyone also say that you should have to budget on Euro 400,- per night for a family of four (that would now be 5 nights counting tonight = Euro 2000) and then add in train costs, ferry costs (ALL of whom have dramatically increased their prices during this event) and then add food/petrol/phone and general living costs to this again.?
This means that if you are traveling with a family then you could *easily* be adding say Euro 4,000 plus.
That’s NOT what people expected to happen when they say, booked a low cost holiday for the short Easter break.
Let alone the worry because people have jobs to get back to, family events and obligations, and in many cases no hope of a refund on their air ticket either.
Yes, insurance… you buy it of course, thinking they “will help” in an emergency, but most insurance companies appear to be going to try very hard to wiggle out of this one, “Acts of God” not being covered by most of them.
Then there is the loss of earnings because your employer isn’t going to pay you wages for the week you couldn’t come to work… What I’m saying is, people *should* of course plan for emergencies but that all this isn’t just a double whammy. but one after another after another, after…
Where does reasonable planning stop and the madness of ” good grief, do you seriously expect me to pretty much write you a blank cheque?” begin?
The Air industry IMHO *should* have a built in tax on every fare to fund this kind of emergency, at the very least give decent catering to those stuck in airports and they shouldn’t be having to wait 12 hours or beg for basic things like a bottle of water.
The Air industry is in trouble, we all know it, but maybe some low-cost fares are too low for our own good, and everything needs to be priced up at least Euro 50, across the board. In this case it’s also the Airport Authorities who should wear some of the responsibility too, not just the airlines.
I hope it was clear from my post that I DO already see the BBC1,2, BBC Word etc (I mentioned that they were standard TV channels here, as well as CNN) and I also read the French and Dutch media so I hope I am as informed as I can manage. In the end my post was never meant to reiterate what’s already in the News already, but to show you the human stories that I personally encountered in Schipol Airport.
It’s probably a very objective view to simply state that people should be prepared to fend for themselves but in a foreign county where you are unfamiliar with the language and the way things work that can be harder than it first seems.
It’s been proven that human beings can’t make good choices when they are being given only minimal information and don’t make the best choices when they are under stress. me I think that “exhausted from getting off a 14 hour flight and have then spent another 22 hours on an airport floor” qualifies as a fair example of stress.
Maybe it appears to be the case of “survival of the fittest” and “each man should fend for himself“, for better or worse this touches me on a personal levels so I am not so objective. I feel that the responsibility, corporate or personal is not so black and white, the decisions not so cold and sterile.
Am I a Saint? sorry, severely not, I have many failings that I’m acutely aware of and probably plenty many more that I am not aware of… in the end I am concerned for people, love to offer hospitality, feed people and these things just came together and spurred me to action.
Should people have a back-up plan?, should they have reserve savings for ” contingencies” ? and should they prepare for every eventuality? yes of course, in an ideal world, but people take holidays and set up business and have busy lives, time for all this extra preparation is limited, and just as if you were to have a tragedy happen at home, say, a house fire, there are some instances where circumstances just tumble out of your control, are bigger than you can manage on your own and too overwhelming, too much to deal with with the resources that you have at hand, prepared for or not.
That’s when we can all hope that if by the Grace of God we are ever in that kind of situation that someone will extend a hand of friendship, ease our stress and tiredness and give us hope. To be honest I have gained great pleasure in the hospitality and kindnesses shown to me, but if I’m seriously truthful, I actually find even more pleasure in giving… it reminds me to look outside of myself, to always look for the humanity and know that in some tiny way I am giving back to every person how has helped me, not just during my various travels but throughout my life to date.
Himself and I operate on the principle that most people we meet will be fabulous, genuine, friendly, honest human beings, yes we have been wrong a few times, and got conned, but mostly people who have met have vastly exceeded our expectations in kindness, openness, friendship and added to our lives immeasurably both when we were the givers of the acts of kindness and the recipients of them. Himself still has wonderful contact with people met in the strangest of circumstances during his travels decades ago…
Our own experiences naturally shape our own views and on my many travels, often in developing countries where resources were few, complete strangers have extended a hand of friendship to me in the smallest and greatest of ways and that I have never forgotten how that made me feel.
Your photo’s today are a beautiful sunset on the beach due to the volcanic ash in the air.. actually there is a FAR better set of photos taken by my friend “Sackville”, I have her permission to use the photo I want to post but there’s a problem in doing it… it’s a stunning photo so pop back some time and I’ll try and get it onto the page a.s.a.p.