Fun Travel Tips

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  1. Plug ‘em up. Earplugs are a wonderful invention, but seldom used. They can be bought for less than $1, and I can’t stress their importance enough. Just think— no more crying babies, annoying seat chatter, or startling pilot announcements. The whole world seems a lot more tolerable when you use them. They work great in hotel rooms as well. I never leave home without them.
  2. Don’t be part of a smelly situation. A small tube of lavender lotion can be your saving grace when it comes to the in-flight body odors swirling around. A dab under your nostrils will leave you smiling while others gag at the nearby passenger with foot rot.
  3. Have some taste. If you have the unusual experience of being fed onboard, skip the special meal unless it’s a medical necessity. “Special meal” usually means a not-so-special taste.
  4. Bag it. Don’t check out your common sense with your check-in baggage. For example: heart medication, priceless heirlooms, passports, or items resembling weapons. Being reunited with your bags is not always an immediate guarantee. US Airways made this point abundantly clear during the holiday season.
  5. BYOA. Bring your own amenities. Whether it’s pillows, food, blankets, special requirements, magazines, antacid, or whatever, bring your own because airlines are slimming down on all amenities.
  6. Be a pessimistic optimist — or is it the other way around? Don’t expect every detail to go as planned. Delays, misconnects, and seat problems are just a few hassles associated with flying. It’s unusual to make it through an entire journey without something going wrong.
  7. Cover thy laptop. When any form of liquid passes near or over your personal solitaire machine, close the cover. I have witnessed accidents, turbulence, and clumsy flight attendants ruin too many computers in-flight.
  8. Chat her up. Talk to your seat neighbors once in awhile. They could surprise you and be quite interesting. If not, you can say you tried and will probably never see them again. I have met some of the most interesting people in my life on an airplane. If you don’t try, you’ll never know.
  9. Carry on considerately. It is time to be sensible if you are one of the growing number of frequent travelers who carry-on their bags. A perfect-sized roller-board suitcase is one that fits in the overhead bin wheels first and slides to the back. You are taking the space of three other bags if you have to put it in sideways. Save the aggravation of finding a space and consider getting one that fits.
  10. Gadgetize yourself. On your next flight bring an I-Pod, DVD player, or your kid’s Gameboy to keep you distracted. I can’t tell you how many times I have preserved what’s left of my sanity by playing my CD player.
  11. Check your mental baggage but carry on your sense of humor. Air travel these days is stressful, nerve wracking and can be quite frustrating. If you can look beyond these annoyances, you can often find interesting and quite humorous aspects.
  12. Give them a small break. I know that airline employees can frustrate the hell out of you, but they are fighting for their lives and with less manpower and support. The workload of the gate agents, customer service reps, flight attendants, and even the pilots has recently doubled, but their pay has been halved. It takes a big person to be able to put the shoe on the other foot.
  13. Pack a few paper place mats. They can be useful anywhere there’s an outdoor shower. By stepping onto a place mat after a bush shower in Botswana, you’ll manage to keep your feet clean and avoid getting dirt in your clothes.
  14. Don’t assume a single room costs less than a double one. If you’re traveling solo, compare prices. I recently booked a hotel in France online and noticed that rates were the same whether I booked a single or a double, but the single was much smaller and its bathroom had only a small shower stall and no tub.
  15. Postcards are helpful when there’s a language barrier. Finding anything in Tokyo is difficult when you don’t speak Japanese, so here’s what I suggest: Buy postcards of the places you want to see; an English description of the landmark is usually found on the back. Show the postcard to a taxi driver and he’ll take you to the spot.
  16. Carry the exact change for public transportation. In Venice, we were annoyed when a vaporetto (water taxi) ticket-taker refused to give us our 3 euros change. Later, we discovered that if you don’t have the exact fare, ticket agents make no promises about giving change.
  17. If you’re renting a car in England, remove the left front hubcap. The last time we were in England, I met another American at the car rental agency. He had just returned his rental and was annoyed he had to pay for a missing hubcap. He said that between negotiating the narrow roads, having the steering wheel on the right side of the car, and driving on the left side of the road, he couldn’t judge exactly where the left front wheel was. As a result, he repeatedly hit the curb and eventually knocked off a hubcap. Later that trip, while visiting Hadrian’s Wall, I noticed many cars in the parking lot were missing hubcaps. Sure enough, most of the drivers were Americans! I’m glad I had taken my new friend’s advice and put mine in the trunk.