Nowadays we are bombarded with information about climate change. The recent freakish and somewhat out of season flash floods in and around Asia and the snowstorm on the Eastern Seaboard made me reflect on a conference I attended on the East Coast of America. As the conference was during the month of October I decided to tag a couple of days onto the end of the trip to visit Vermont for a few days “leaf peeping”.
If you have not heard of “leaf peeping” it is an Americanism for staring or “peeping” at leaves. In October the tree leaves turn the most amazing colours of brown, bronze, orange and yellow. Many visitors walk through leafy glades and stare in amazement at the beautiful sight as the trees lose their verdant summer colours and prepare for the winter.
One of the amazing sensations can be to walk through an avenue of trees when the wind blows. Suddenly, there is a great rustling sound as the trees shed their leaves and swirl to the ground and you can find yourself enveloped in one of nature’s real autumnal blankets.
This October I stared in disbelief at the weather report as the television presenter advised that the Eastern Seaboard had received an unusually early fall of snow which forced the airports to close. Despite the fact that the Eastern Seaboard can experience severe winters October seemed somewhat early.
The news report made me wonder how it would have felt to end a conference in October in fairly temperate conditions. Afterwards, to visit Vermont and wander through forests of autumnal leaves hearing the crunch of dry leaves underfoot rapidly to be exchanged for the silence underfoot that a snowfall evokes. Before you know it there is 10cm of snow underfoot and you find yourself wandering straight into a blizzard.
Apart from the initial shock of the snowfall there is the inconvenience of road and airport closures. The threat of airport closures is always a nuisance, especially to business travellers working under tight time constraints.
My recommendation is that all fellow business travellers should follow Robert Baden Powell’s motto adopted by the Scout movement and that is whatever or wherever the meeting is absolutely “be prepared” and bullet proof your suitcase and fill it with items ready for any eventuality.
Apart from packing the usual conference suit and business attire perhaps we should begin to tuck a fleece, wellies or even a set of skis into the suitcase and also take an umbrella. You never quite know where or when the snow could fall at his time of the year. However, the idea of extra items could be somewhat cumbersome for the business traveller already loaded with laptops and files from a conference or business meeting.
Attending a conference in the Southern Hemisphere can be a rewarding and interesting experience. Normally, one would only pack lightweight suits and linen shirts for the cool, pleasant climates. However, again this autumn towns and cities have been engulfed by freakish out of season winds and high volumes of rain. Perhaps everyone should join their local rowing club and have some lessons so they can carry on meetings whilst rowing along a river or flood plain.
Despite the news reports about global changes in the weather I would recommend that we all “keep calm and carry on” … to the airport and to the conference.
Presenter and travel writer Jayne Watkins has had over 30 years travel industry experience which includes retail, airline and sales