I have had the privilege of traveling a lot in my life. I have danced across 5 continents, 38 states and countless cities. Travel is so special to me and will always be a passion of mine (I won’t stop until I’ve seen it all). However, I have seen some crazy stuff in my travels and some extremely odd, sometimes maddening, behavior from other travelers. This little blog is my two cents on how to tread lightly when you travel so you can have the best experience possible… and keep other people from wanting to strangle you.
1. You catch more flies with Sugar… or is it honey?
Either way, screaming at the lady at the ticket counter at the airport (or wherever else for that matter) won’t help you get your way. In fact, when you’re rude, people of all cultures are less inclined to help and accommodate you. By being kind and friendly on a recent trip to Boston I was able to have Matt and I upgraded to Even More Legroom seats on JetBlue (Typically $100 charge) completely free. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people at the airport screaming bloody murder at the employee in the terminal because they aren’t seated with loved ones, or because their connection was too tight so they missed their flight (I have obviously NEVER done that- OK maybe not NEVER… sorry lady in Switzerland)…which brings me to my next point.
2. It can be an ordeal or an adventure- you choose.
Part of the draw of travel is the unfamiliar, the change up from every day life. If you want to travel and see exotic places there is a fundamental fact you must accept before you purchase a plane ticket- THINGS WILL GO AWRY. Just make peace with the fact that there will be some annoyances and setbacks when you travel. Luggage is lost and babies scream on 10 hour flights- that is part of the beauty of it. One of the things we learn from travel is PATIENCE. Matt’s luggage was lost on our trip to Thailand and for 8 of the 10 days we were there he wore the same outfit. I have never seen anyone so calm. He just laughed it off, bought some T- Shirts at the local mall and enjoyed the hell out of Thailand. If he had gotten in to a huff and ruined the trip he still wouldn’t have had his luggage. When we told the group we were traveling that he hadn’t had his luggage and had been wearing the same clothes for the entire trip, they said they had no idea and hadn’t even noticed. Learn to let things go. No matter how many dirty looks you give that baby it won’t stop crying. Trust me. So pack some earplugs and keep fresh underwear, your toothbrush, medications, chargers and whatever else you can’t live without in your carry-on.
3. Stop Screaming “I have a flight to catch.”
Here’s a little news flash… this is an airport.. we ALL have a flight to catch. I can’t tell you how many airports I have been in where someone woke up late, got stuck in traffic and arrived to check in for a flight 5 minutes before the gate closed. What are they always doing? Yelling at an employee that they need to skip the line of people who showed up prepared and on time in order to make their flight. When I was in High School I had a teacher that said ” A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” This is never more true than when you travel. You should budget time to arrive TWO HOURS before an international flight and AT LEAST ONE HOUR before a domestic flight – this means arrive at the ticket counter- not at the airport. So if you have to park your car and take a shuttle to your terminal- you need to be at the airport even earlier. Account for traffic- Foreign cities have rough and unpredictable traffic and so do domestic cities like NYC and LA. In travel if you fail to plan you plan to fail. If you do miss your flight because you arrived late at the airport its perfectly fine to be disappointed but it is no one’s fault but your own. I set 200 alarms when I have an early flight to catch. Here’s a few things that can help speed up your travel process.
- Check in and choose seats for your flight online and print boarding passes at home
- Travel with only carry on luggage
- Keep your ID/Passport and ticket easily accessible in your bag
- Download the app for the airline you’re flying and receive travel updates on your cell phone
- Pack your bags the day before and lay out the clothes you’ll wear on the plane
- Purchase the speed upgrades where available to be put in the priority security line.
- Get TSA pre-checked so you can always have an easy security lane experience. You can look into that here : http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheckR-application-program
4. Please stop wearing your chain mail and crown jewels to the airport
I have seen so many frazzled travelers lose their cool at the security line. The security line separates the amateurs from the pros. I move through the full body scan like I’m doing a choreographed routine. I’ve got it down to a science, and you can too. Most of the time people aren’t paying attention and then they get up to the belt and all hell breaks loose. Not me. By the time I get to the belt my shoes are unlaced, my laptop is out and I’m movin’ and groovin’. Security lane protocol varies a bit from airport to airport so make sure to check the posted signs- but here are some important rules that typically apply.
- The machines are sensitive to metal. Please stop putting your rare coin collection in your pockets and then trying to board a flight. Pockets must be empty and belts off. The less metal you can be wearing the better. It’s better not to travel wearing all of your jewelry at one time anyway. If it’s super valuable.. leave it home (I even wear a fake engagement ring when I travel.)
- YOU HAVE TO TAKE OFF YOUR SHOESSSSS- good lord save the lace up, thigh high combat boots for another time. if your shoes have laces UNLACE THEM WHILE YOU WAIT.
- You must not have liquids over 3.4 oz when you fly out of the United States. Google this volume if you are traveling from another country. You cannot bring your water bottle through security. I once watched an old man fight to the death with TSA over a bottle of Fiji. Choose your battles.
- Liquids must be put into a Ziploc baggie and removed from your carry-on.
- Do not bury your computer under 100 pairs of Tighty Whities unless you plan to be digging through your embarrassing underwear pile like a maniac looking for it. You must remove your laptop from your carry-on and put it in a bin by itself. Usually Ipads, Tablets and things of that nature can remain in your bag- but pay attention to posted signs.
- You must remove jackets and outer layers of clothing- so take your coat, scarf, cowboy hat, what have you, off before you approach the belt.
- You must push your bag onto the moving belt before you go through the metal detector. Make sure you push your own bags into the machine.
5. DONT EVER under ANY circumstance, put your carry-on into an overhead bin BEHIND your seat.
If there is no overhead bin space directly above your seat move forward and put your bag into a bin in front of your seat. As you board the flight, try to look ahead to your seat as you approach it to check the available bin space. If it looks like the bins are closed or full, pop it into a bin in front and keep moving back to your seat. If you do happen to get stuck putting your bag into an overhead behind your row, accept one simple fact- You will be the absolute last person to deplane. You cannot go against the flow of traffic of passengers exiting the plane in an attempt to move from row 2 back to row 16 to get your bag. It’s also a good idea to have your bag in front of you so that you can keep an eye on it during the flight.
6. For God’s Sake don’t crowd the luggage carousel
This is my all time, number one travel pet peeve. The bags start coming down and everyone runs up to the machine in a mob and stands right up against the carousel. Now, no one can see their bag and if someone standing behind you has their bag come down first they have to shove you out of the way and drag their 50 pound luggage off a moving belt with 3 centimeters of space. I have to admit, I hit someone with my luggage on purpose one time just to make a point. BACK UP. Stand at least a few feet away so everyone can see and approach the belt when their bag comes off. If you have multiple bags, drag your bag back a safe distance and wait for additional bags. Seriously. Back up.
7. You’re in a foreign country- be kind to their culture.
I really have had quite a few situations in my travels where I have been disgusted by people’s behavior towards locals of the place they are visiting. Speaking english is not a global requirement. Stop being the person screaming at foreigners for “not understanding.” If you are visiting a foreign country with a foreign language it is you who doesn’t understand. I have seen americans become so fed up with people for not being able to help them because of a language barrier…? When you travel internationally you are a guest in someone else’s country- behave as such and try not to make the rest of us look bad by yelling nonsense and huffing and puffing. If you want all the ease and comforts of home, you should probably stay there. That’s not what traveling is about. I have had so many humbling experiences as a traveler. You can truly see how other people live, how big the world is, how you are just a small part in a massive, living, breathing, beautiful machine. Its an incredible thing. If it means so much to you to be understood- then learn the language of the country you will be spending some time in or hire a translator. Travel is about expanding your mind and learning- being open to other cultures, religions and ways of living. Judgement is not welcome so check your ego and attitude at the door.
Do you have any travel pet peeves? Leave me a comment and tell me all about it!