Many of us love to travel, but we don’t like the hassles that can come with it. Travel can involve long days, unexpected delays, missed connections and long lines at security checkpoints. Days spent in transit can leave us feeling frustrated and exhausted.
Fellow traveler John Steinbeck once joked, “A journey is like a marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you can control it.”
It is absolutely true that no matter how hard we try, we can’t control all aspects of our travel. We can’t control the weather, or mechanical issues with our plane. We can’t control striking train workers or the crying baby sitting behind us.
Fortunately, there are aspects of travel that we can control. There are simple procedures and travel techniques that can make our journey easier. As a rookie traveler, I made a lot of tourist mistakes.
I learned through my struggles, and when I travel today, I feel more relaxed knowing that I have controlled what I can.
As a frequent traveler, I’ve seen many people make simple, avoidable mistakes while journeying. Here are 7 travel mistakes you might be making – and the easy way to fix the situation.
One of the keys to easier traveling is to be able to find the papers, tickets and money you need when you need it. We have all been held up in a line while someone digs through their purse trying to find the correct change or their boarding ticket.
Clean out your wallet before you leave home so that you only take the essentials. You won’t need your grocery store loyalty card or your library card.
You probably have credit cards you won’t be using when you travel. Pull out all of the old cards, receipts and papers, put them in a large envelope, and leave them at home. This will make it easier to quickly find the things you need.
Unfortunately, technology has allowed criminals to use sophisticated technology to grab your personal information from your cards. You can prevent this with an RFID wallet, RFID card protector sleeves or bags with RFID technology in some of the pockets. I find the security and peace of mind worth the upgrade to a new wallet or bag.
When I purchased a new wallet, I also chose one with two separate money compartments. That way, when I travel I can keep my home currency on one side and the currency of my travel destination on the other side. I have found this to make handling money while traveling much easier.
Another thing I often see is people carrying an unsecured bag. I’ve seen things fall out of open totes and roll down the aisles of a plane. I’ve seen people carry open purses or unzipped back backs, both of which seem to be begging for a pickpocket.
Depending on where you are going, you might want a secure travel bag. At the very least, get something that closes tightly. I carry a cross body travel bag with steel in the straps and fabric that cannot be cut.
I was in a group once where several of our party had their bags slashed from the bottom. Fortunately, I was not one of them. My bag is in front of me and I can secure it with my arms when I am in a crowd.
I’ve also been in crowds with pickpockets. Yes, they are clever and anyone could be the victim, but I think they will go for the low hanging fruit- – why mess with a bag secured in front of someone’s body if you can just grab something out of an open tote?
Every single time I go through a security line at the airport I see people struggling with their liquids. Airport personnel are serious about the rules. They will not think twice about making you throw away your expensive face cream because it did not fit in the clear, quart sized bag.
Rules about what constitutes a liquid or gel can be a bit inconsistent. I have had my solid deodorant and Chapstick confiscated, while my solid face soap was allowed through. When in doubt, it is better to be overly careful.
Get sample or travel sizes, and make sure anything liquid or gel goes in the bag. Trying to sneak an extra lip stick through in your carry-on only results in having security stop and search your bag. These are the kind of small time wasters and inconveniences that make travel unpleasant.
If you are planning to check a bag, you have more freedom for the cosmetics and personal care items you can bring. However, don’t be like me and succumb to a beautiful cosmetic bag that doesn’t have a waterproof liner. It never fails that something in my cosmetic bag will implode during travel.
I once had a shampoo bottle leak shampoo through my cosmetics bag, into my suitcase and onto my clothes. Now, I generally put bottles in zip lock bags before I put them in my makeup case. It is not fun to have to wash out your clothes before you’ve even worn them on the trip!
I generally travel with a 21 inch carry-on and a cross body tote bag. I can handle them both myself and rarely check a bag. Some people prefer to check a bag. Even if you opt for that option, you should be able to pull or carry it yourself.
Yes, there are porters, luggage carts and bellhops who will carry things for you. At some point, however, you are going to arrive at your destination late at night, after a delay and find helpful personnel sparse.
I once dragged a huge suitcase, my carry-on and my tote bag through a street in Ecuador, across a couple of blocks and onto a bus. I barely made the bus, and shudder to think of dragging all of that luggage even further.
“He who would travel happily must travel light,” warned Antoine de St. Exupery. I learned my lesson. Less is enough.
Most of us will go to the bank or ATM before a trip and get cash, but often the cash is in larger bills. You will need money for small incidentals and tips. It is also helpful to have some money in the currency of the country you are visiting.
My husband and I landed in Ireland early one morning, parched from a long night of travel. As we stood in line for our rental car, we stared longingly at a vending machine. We would have loved to have purchased a couple of bottles of juice, but realized that neither of us had any small bills or change for the machine.
ATM’s are wonderful and provide an easy way to get cash wherever you are. Credit or debit cards work almost everywhere, too. But you are going to want small bills in order to tip a cab driver or the bellman who brings your bags to your room.
You should keep in mind that you will also need money on the way home. I was recently embarrassed at the end of a trip to Mexico when a man from the transfer bus company took us through the airport to find the correct entrance.
I sheepishly gave him the only cash I had, a one-dollar bill. Once again, I learned my lesson and I vowed to always have enough small cash with me.
Have you experienced traveling mishaps that might have been avoided? Have you learned any tips or tricks that make travel easier and less stressful? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.