Picture of a white goose at Barcelona Cathedral

Are You Doing This? (A Few Travel Hacks From Yours Truly)

Nobody likes when something bad or unexpected happens while travelling. Today, I present to you some tips to help minimize travel-related snafus from happening as well as some advice on what to do when it does.  Memories made while travelling should be good ones. For example, when reminiscing about your trip to Paris, you should think of the cuisine and culture, not that you were stuck waiting 2 hours in the security line at the airport.  **This list is bound to change, and/or especially be added to as time marches on.**

Have two forms of identification attached to your checked luggage.

One failsafe way to ruin a vacation is losing your luggage. On more than one occasion, I have received my checked bag with one of my nice luggage tags completely gone forever.  Your luggage takes a beating when it is loaded and unloaded, so luggage tags and even zippers can fall off.  For this reason, make sure your luggage tag is securely attached to your bag and also use the identification card holder built into most large suitcases. For bonus points, print a copy of your itinerary (with an email or phone number) and place it inside of your checked bag. Should it ever get lost, some kind-hearted soul may look to see where you are at in order to get it to you during your trip.

Check your bag at the curbside check-in if the regular check-in line is too long.

Time is always of the essence when traveling. It’s never a good feeling to show up at the airport and find that the check-in line for your airline is so long that it is spilling out into the walkways. Instead of waiting in long lines, it is worth going outside to see if curbside check-in is offered. The catch here is that you must have a boarding pass already and only need to check your bag. If you have priority status with an airline, you may not ever really need to do this, because the lines are generally much shorter. Every once in a while, I cheat on my main airline and am *gasp* forced to stand in a non-priority line (I know – you don’t feel bad for me). The line horror episode recently happened to me when I arrived at San Francisco International Airport expecting to check my bag with somewhat of a line and it turned out that the line was 9 years long. As in, I would have been still standing there for the next 8 years and 10 months waiting to check my bag (not to mention definitely missing the flight). I looked around and saw that outside of the glass door, there were a few people utilizing the curbside check-in. I went out, asked if I could do this and they said “yes, as long as you have your boarding pass.” Within 1 minute, my bag was checked. I walked back inside past the herd of people and notified the lady who had saved my place in line to go do the same. CRISIS averted.

Picture of Eagle Regional Airport Curbside Check-in
Checked my bag at Curbside Check-In with no other soul in sight!

Download Google Maps Offline. 

This tip comes in handy when you want to use Google Maps to navigate around in other countries where you don’t get unlimited data. If you download them prior to travel, using them doesn’t effect your data plan whatsoever. To do this, open the Google Maps App (making sure that you are signed in to Google), click the “. . .” for more options, and then click download.

As soon as you enter the hotel room, check for bed bugs.

This is the first thing that you should be doing. How do you do this? You lift the blankets and mattress pad from the corner to expose the mattress. You should see a mattress that does not contain any brown or  black specks. If you find that a mattress in your room is infested, inform the hotel staff and ask for a different room. For further information on this topic, please refer to the almighty Google.  And no, staying at a nice hotel does not give you a free pass to skip this step. You have no idea who slept in the room before you did.

Picture of a hotel mattress
All clean and clear of intruders.

Push Elevator buttons with your knuckle.

Elevator buttons are disgusting. Buttons and (light) switches are one of the most germ-infested things in existence. Millions of people have touched these and they’re gross. Don’t chance odds of getting sick/extra germs when traveling.

Always travel with some cash.

Some small vendors do not accept credit cards. In teeny tiny, Mediterranean fishing villages for example, they probably don’t have a way to accept credit cards for that bag of honey roasted nuts you so badly wish to snack on. Also, it could ease potential language barriers issues and makes things like taxi driver tipping/luggage handling much easier. Also, it is best to have the local currency. Check with your bank prior to travel to inquire about exchanging cash.

Check seat assignments on your airline’s mobile app up until boarding begins.

This is awesome when the flight still has open seats and you can move yourself around to a row that is less crowded or even completely open. #SCORE

Picture of airline seating chart
Open seats available to move around for more room.

Pack a picnic meal.

When travelling, eating at restaurants three times a day is very expensive. First off, try to find a hotel that includes breakfast in their nightly rate. During breakfast, if you are able to, pack some food from the buffet to take for lunch. If that isn’t possible, find a local grocery store or fruit market and load up on cheese, breads, meats, pastries, and fruits and take your picnic lunch to whatever beautiful backdrop you choose.

This is also a good option when flying. Depending on what you prefer, you can throw together a picnic-style meal to eat on the airline that is healthier, cheaper, and better-tasting. Yes, you can take fruits and vegetables on the plane with you. If traveling internationally, you simply must consume the fruit and vegetables before getting off of the plane/going through customs.

Also save money (and earth) by bringing a reusable water bottle.

Call me a tree hugging hippie, or tell me that I’m obsessed about the environment. We’ll see who’s laughing when we’re stuck on the runway for 1 hour+ waiting to take off and you forgot to buy your $6 airport water..and that drink cart isn’t coming any time soon. But, I’ll be able to pull out my water and drink at my own leisure since most airports have reusable water bottle stations at the water fountains these days. So convenient, environmentally friendly, and not to mention FREE.

Picture of a reusable water bottle station at an airport
Never go thirsty for filtered water again.

Do you currently do any of these? What do you do keep stressors at bay for your travels?

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