Pack Your Common Sense: Travel Insight from a Veteran

As I notice so many fellow bloggers posting travel photos as they begin making their way to Phoenix for BlogPaws, I wanted to make a quick follow-up post to my travel checklist. So many times, while traveling, the one thing that seems to be left behind is common sense. As a veteran traveler for my other job in college admissions, I think it’s important to remind everyone of some items.

If you wouldn’t do it at home, don’t do it while you’re away. Sounds simple, right? Here are some points:

  • Be prepared. Know your itinerary, take a photo of it, email it to yourself, print a copy. Keep mailing addresses for important locations accessible. Phones die, WiFi may not be available, assume technology will fail and have an alternative. Connected to this, actually have important phone numbers either memorized or written down, just in case you need to use someone else’s phone, or if you can find one, a pay phone.

  • If you wouldn’t dream of leaving your front door wide open, why does it make sense to prop your hotel door? Yes, someone might have to knock, or you might have to remember your key...but you have to do that when you leave your own house and that doesn’t seem like much of an inconvenience then.

  • If you wouldn’t imagine leaving expensive equipment like a laptop, iPad, or camera out in the open while somewhere like, the mall, when you go to the restroom, or to grab a coffee, why would doing so at an airport, or hotel lobby make sense? Remember, not everyone at the hotel is a part of the group you’re a part of, and not everyone in the world is trustworthy.

  • If you normally tell someone where you’re headed and when you expect to return, doesn’t it make sense to follow the same pattern when you’re in a new place? If you have a roommate, or a travel buddy, they don’t have to be your keeper, but just a quick text saying... “hey, I decided to go for a quick swim, I’ll be back around in 40 minutes or so.” Just gives someone an idea of where you have gone and when you anticipate returning. If you’re not traveling with anyone specific, contact someone back at home and say “hey, I rented a car to go see the downtown shopping area, I’ll text you when I get back to my room later tonight.” This is a text I’d send my husband so he knows, if he doesn’t hear back, to check in just in case.

  • Everyone doesn’t need to know all the intimate details of you, your travel plans, where you are from, etc. Simply saying to your seat mate on the plane, “I’m from New England and I’m heading to a conference in Arizona for my business.” Is enough. Yes, networking is always important, but when you’re traveling alone, it’s hard to properly vet people in such a way where you know they are who they seem. Less is more...if they push, just ask them questions about themselves. People, in general, like to talk about themselves, they won’t even realize the conversation has been deflected.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t just have your eyes on your phone. Look around and notice who and what is near you. Listen to your gut, it’s normally right. Once, I had a reservation at a hotel that looked fine online, as soon as I pulled into the parking lot, I just knew something wasn’t right. I turned around, called and canceled without going inside and accepted the charge without argument, and found a room at a hotel that was farther from my destination but I had stayed in before. The next morning, the local news covered a story of a women who had been stabbed in the hotel where I was scheduled to stay originally.

  • Don’t keep your valuables all together. Bags get lost, things get stolen, if all of your credit cards and cash are in the same space, you’ll be really struggling if they get lost or misplaced.

  • Take care of yourself. I know, it’s tempting to eat new foods or possibly things that are not a part of your normal diet. It’s okay to indulge, but I know my stomach always bothers me when I travel and I don’t try to stick to my normal eating schedule and types of meals. The fried food may seem like a good idea when you order it, but you may regret it later on.

Ready to hit the road

I know, I know...I sound like Debbie Downer, but I’m like a mother hen. I worry about everyone and just want to make sure they’re safe. I hope this helps! Safe travels everyone.

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