On the road again – some thoughts

I’ve been on the road this week for some face-to-face customer meetings. On Tuesday I had to get up at 4:15 AM so I could arrive in Vancouver airport to catch my 6;40 AM flight. It always surprises me that there are so many people heading to the US that early in the morning. Because there’s no direct flight to my final destination, I had to connect via Chicago. According to my itinerary I only had an hour and 6 minutes of connection time. From my past experience in O’hare I knew it should be enough time but might be tight if there are any delays.

The airport security and US customs went by pretty smoothly, so did boarding of the plane. When we finished boarding, the pilot announced that there was some sort of mechanical issue and it was being it fixed by the crew. So we sat by the gate for almost an hour before the plane could take off. When we were at cruising altitude, the pilot announced that we’d get to Chicago about 30 minutes later than scheduled but he’d do as much as he could to improve that timing.

We landed in Chicago at 1 PM local time, about 20 minutes later than scheduled. I checked my 2nd boarding pass and saw that gate closes at 1:45 PM. I looked at my watch and realized that I have 45 minutes to get from Gate C to Gate B, not a big deal, I’ve done this before.

Because quite a few passengers had connection flights as well, the pilot announced that he’d  try to get us to the gate as quickly as possible. He maneuvered the plane across the tarmac and all of a sudden the plane just stopped.

We sat in our seats, waited and wondered what was going on, then the pilot came on the PA and announced that O’Hare didn’t have a gate for us and we’d have to wait.

We waited and waited. Ten minutes passed by, then 15 minutes, then soon it was 30 minutes. Everyone was getting anxious and a lot of people were getting angry. About 35 minutes in, the pilot came on the PA and said we were heading to a gate. The air stewardess then asked people that didn’t have any connection flights to stay in their seats so people in a rush can get out. I looked at my watch and it was 1:40. Because there were a bunch of my co-workers on the same connection flight as me and a few other passengers were going to the same connection flight, I thought the connection flight would wait for us and we should be able to make it no problem.

When the door opened, because I was sitting in mid section of the plane, I wasn’t able to get out until around 1:50. Once I got out of the plane, I quickly ran from my arrival gate in C to my departure gate in B. If you’ve been to O’Hare, you’ll know there’s a long underground section connecting from Gate C to Gate B…

During my rush I quickly glanced at the flight information screen and saw that the gate had closed. I thought I had a chance because there were probably 9 or 10 of us in the same situation, so I kept running.

When I got to the gate, I saw two other people at the gate while my co-workers were far behind me. The gate had closed, and we were told the gate couldn’t be re-opened even though the plane was still sitting there.

“We waited for 10 minutes. The gate is now closed. You need to talk to our customer representatives to re-book you flight.”

Because I was traveling with 5 other co-workers and we use a travel agent for business travel arrangements, we were notified by the travel agent that some of us got re-booked for the 5 PM flight to our final destination, Raleigh. However a co-worker and I got re-booked on a 3 PM flight to Newark, then an 8 PM flight to Raleigh. Such travel arrangement meant all of us would miss customer dinner. So we all went to the airline desk to see if we could get a better arrangement.

The 5 PM flight turned out to be the best case scenario. I didn’t want to go to Newark because bad weather in that region and a lot of flights were getting delayed already. I asked the customer representative if there were better options, like flying to Charlotte instead. After checking for a while, she told me that all flights to Raleigh and Charlotte were fully booked, but she could get my co-worker and I on a 7 PM flight to Greensboro, which is about 1.5 hour drive away from Raleigh. I decided to take this option and asked to be put on stand-by for the 5 PM flight.

Luck for me, I was first on the standby list. Both my co-worker and I and got on the plane and arrived in Raleigh about 4 hours later than originally planned. We arrived at dinner late but managed to get some food before the restaurant closure and met our customer.

When I looked back on this travel experience and reflect on what it can teach me about personal finance and financial independence, I actually came up with a couple of items (wow my brain is awesome!).

Sometimes you just have no control over things, so get sit back and let them happen

I didn’t have control over the mechanical issue that had to be fixed and I had no control over not having any arrival gate in Chicago. Similarly, I have no control how the stock markets are doing. The markets can be up one day and down the next. Mr. Market will do whatever he feels like. If my emotion is a direct result of how the stock markets are doing on a daily basis, I’d be a train wreck mentally and physically. Instead, I should keep executing on my investing strategy – buying dividend growth stocks and some index funds. Market timing doesn’t work but DRIPing shares and/or purchasing additional shares with fresh capital to average out my cost basis over time is something I can take advantage of.

There are always options

I could have taken the Newark flight and just be done with it. But I realized there are other options for me to get to Raleigh, so I explored these possible options. Similarly we all need to explore options when it comes to achieving financial independence. Some people aim to achieve through stocks, some through real estate, some through owning businesses, and etc. We all need to be open to options, if we’re not open to possibilities, we may only end up seeing limitations.

In case you’re wondering, I’m typing this while in the air, using the in-air wifi system. Let’s just say my returning flights have been smooth sailing so far, despite having to postpone my return trip by one day and having to leave the hotel at 4:30 AM this morning to catch an early flight. Oh the glory of work travel! But that’s not for this post, maybe later. 🙂

Have a great weekend everyone!

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22 thoughts on “On the road again – some thoughts”

  1. I avoid ohare and Newark airports, they ranked pretty high up on delays.

    I try to go south then west if I travel west. But looks like you can turn any negative events into positive productive thoughts.

  2. Hi Tawcan

    I’ve also been in a travel situations where I have only a short time to my connection (50 minutes, once at Zurich!) so my heart started experiencing that slight panicky feeling as I was reading your post! As it was a long-haul flight that I was catching, the plane did wait for me (and another passenger) but I do recall running as we got through customs!

    Nice parallels you’ve drawn there.

    • Hi weenie,

      Once Mrs. T and I had to run in Zurich on the way back from our honeymoon trip in Italy. We had to go through security again for some reason. We were literally the last one to get on the plane before they close the gate. Phew!

  3. Tawcan,

    I totally agree, O’Hare is a bad dream wrapped up in 10 miles of departure gates. I remember one time running from H (I think) to B, that was a fun time.

    We cannot totally control things that happen around us, but we can control ourselves. I’ve found when things are getting bad and hectic, the worst thing you can do is get angry. It never helps.

    Hope you enjoyed Raleigh, its a decent town in a good state. Welcome to my time zone.


    • Never had to run from H to B. That’s pretty far isn’t it? Getting angry definitely doesn’t help with any situation, it only makes things worse.

  4. I think you’re right that we need to explore options. Lately I’ve been trying to figure out some other options that will get me to financial independence faster. I’ve done about all I can on the spending side so I really need to amp up the income beyond what I currently make. I’ve been brainstorming side hustles I could do, but I haven’t settled on the right idea yet. I’m sure it’ll come in time if I keep exploring those options.

  5. That must have been so frustrating being so close to making the connection but eventually missing it. Ive had that happen before and it’s never fun. It seems pretty common these days. Hopefully you had a good book and/or music to listen to

  6. Tawcan,

    I know your pain with traveling for work. The one time we were flying in a hailstorm and landed at a complete different airport of our destination, had to drive throughout the night to find a hotel, didn’t have our luggage and then showed up to see the client with 2 day no-shave faces, wrinkled clothes and blood shot eyes. Fun, eh?


    • Hi Lanny,

      Work travel isn’t always fun. You end up pulling double shifts a lot of time. But you gotta do what you gotta do right? More reasons to aim for FI.

  7. Tawcan,

    Great post! Love the optimism you displayed even when things didn’t go exactly as planned.

    With regards to financial independence, exploring options is indeed one of the most important things to do. And the best part about FI is that it gives you more options by itself the longer you keep at it.


  8. I’m currently traveling for work as well Tawcan. Luckily no issues so far, knock on wood. But yeah I’ve definitely gotten better about letting “problems” slide. Just because a flight gets delayed or a thing doesn’t go exactly how I have it planned doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. That was very tough for me to accept before. Take care.

    • Hi Fervent Finance,

      I typically don’t have problem traveling for work but on the occasion where I get flight delay or cancellation, it kinda messed up my entire schedule since everything’s so tightly schedule.

  9. Well said Tawcan. I’m glad you kept your cool, and managed to salvage some of the situation. You’re 100% right. You have to go with the flow, but the decisions you make are completely your own. Safe travels buddy! I used to travel a fair bit. Three or four business trips per year is enough for me 🙂

    • Hi Bryan,

      It was interesting that I was able to keep my cool. I probably wouldn’t be like that a year ago. Good learning experience for me.

  10. This story sounds like a lot of fun.. not. I had no idea you were a travel warrior. At least I hope you get some good miles/reward points benefits.

    And a lot of motivation to pursue that FI.

    Though you bring valid points that we need to do our best at succeeding, no matter what cards are dealt.. So even if you end up working a few more years to save more than necessary, that is a better risk than running out of money at old age.

    Have a great weekend!


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