Travel savviness is not an innate skill we are born with, unfortunately.
Traveling by any medium (plane, trains, boats and automobiles) presents unknown obstacles. Even the most experienced travelers come face to face with speed bumps along the way.
Every seasoned traveler can share stories about buses they've missed, misunderstood cultural norms, currency conversion miscalculations and unplanned delays. It happens to ALL of us.
Like anything in life, travel lessons are learned through experience. The good news, some of these mishaps are avoidable if you are prepared.
I hope you are able to learn from my past travel mistakes and walk away with a few new tips.
Lesson One: Noise Canceling Headphones
Once on a flight to San Francisco, a cute elderly Filipino lady asked me if I had children.
When I said “no” she screamed loud enough for everyone on the plane to hear, “You better go to fertility doctor! Get checked out!”
Lesson 1: Put noise-canceling headphones on the minute you board the plane. Earbuds may not be enough. Bose Quiet Comfort Wireless Headphones are a great option - it will be very clear you are not in the mood to chat. Have a podcast or audiobook queued up to up to dive into and tune everything out.
Lesson Two: Imodium
One time on a camping trip I ended up on top of a mountain with diarrhea in the middle of a giant lightning storm.
Rays crashed down around me as I relieved myself behind countless trees. It was the most dramatic case of the runs I have ever had in my life.
Lesson 2: This all could have been solved with just one dose of Imodium. I don’t care where you’re going. Vegas, Frankfurt, the mall. Just bring some. Pack them in these discrete Meta-U Small Pill Cases for easy access. You will start to feel better in no time.
Lesson Three: Snacks
Once, I was trying to open a bag of peanuts on a plane when it exploded and rained down on my fellow passengers. “Peanuts for everyone,” I quipped.
They laughed. I laughed. But then I couldn’t stop laughing. For like 15 minutes. They thought I was insane.
Lesson 3: Always bring an easy to open snack. It will help you avoid low blood sugar, hysterical laughter, and frightened stares. I like Think Thin plant-based bars. If you plan to bring chocolate make sure to eat it in the beginning on the trip or you could open your bag to a liquidity melted mess. Plus, only a crazy person saves chocolate.
Lesson Four: Cocktails
When I was flying back from Cancun I sat next to a guy who’d apparently partied too hard and he fell asleep on me.
He was kind of cute I have to admit. But it was still awkward.
Lesson 4: Always spring for a cocktail when flying to or from Cancun. It will help you relax and enjoy the party.
Lesson Five: Essential Oils
Once on a redeye to New York, the gentleman next to me was drinking little bottles of whiskey and passed out on my shoulder. This seems to be a phenomenon with me.
He was not cute and reeked of cigarettes. He also snored.
Lesson 5: You will need multiple items for this. First, snap a nasal strip on him. Also, bring some lavender oil and serotonin. Or whatever helps you relax. Another suggestion, wearing some big chunky jewelry may help him from getting too comfortable when he nose dives on to your neck.
Lesson Six: Hostels
Once in Cannes my sister and I ended up staying with a German woman who approached us at the train station instead of going to a hostel.
She was an artist and every inch of wall space was covered with her phallic paintings. “You see howz za earink looks like a penis?” Yes, unfortunately, I did.
Lesson 6: This should have been obvious, but… Don’t go home with strangers!
Go to a hostel. They have apps for that.
Lesson Seven: Check Your Tortilla Press
This was not my personal blunder. Just something I learned in an airport in Leon, Mexico.
In a glass case displaying various items you couldn’t take on board (large shampoo bottles, scissors, etc.) was a tortilla press. These are apparently very dangerous.
Lesson 7: Always check your tortilla press.
Lesson Eight: Kindle
Speaking of things not to bring on a plane, once I was flying back from France and they made me check an award I’d won in my boyfriend’s suitcase.
They said it could be used as a weapon. It wrinkled his favorite shirt, and we had a raging argument.
Lesson 8: Get a kindle and start reading about toxic relationships BEFORE you go to France with someone.
Lesson Nine: Candy
Once a small child kicked the back of my airplane seat for about 5 hours. Neither his mother nor my hostile stares could make him stop.
Lesson 9: Bring a teddy bear and some candy to bribe kicky children with. If that doesn’t work, you can hug the stuffed bear yourself.
Lesson Ten: Running Shoes
Once, my sister and I made a mistake with our Eurail passes.
We thought it covered a certain train ride into London, but it didn’t. And we had no other way to pay.
When we pulled into the station, the ticket checker told us to stay in our seats while he got the authorities. So very civilized the English. We ran like hell the minute he turned his back, of course. Sucker!
Lesson 10: Always have running shoes with you. Those flip-flops gave me a blister.
Now you are aware of the mistakes and lessons I have learned from traveling over the years. Take my advice and you will be more prepared than I was in the past.
Bon Voyage, Friends!