TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES AND MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any way you choose.” Dr. Seuss
Over the years you would think I would have everything mastered for seamless travel. Each trip is memorable for something I shouldn’t do. Here are some of them so that you can avoid the pitfalls that trapped me.
Seventeen Travel Tips
1) If you fly for business, don’t book your flight far in advance of your meetings. I booked my flight in early August to attend a November conference. Two days ahead of time I entered all my meeting times into my online calendar for the first time. The meeting I chaired started at 4:00 p.m and my plane arrived at 5:00 p.m.
2) Don’t trust the “change your flight plans insurance” to cover mistakes like, “I didn’t know I had a meeting scheduling conflict.” While it may not be your fault, it is not the airline’s fault either, and insurance doesn’t cover that. Read the 45 pages fine print.
3) When you connect flights, make sure you get to the right gate and not the one next to the right gate. Keep checking for changes in the gate. Don’t read something engaging; they don’t hold the plane for 20 minutes after take-off for you to get on. (Apparently, they don’t call your name over the intercom either.)
4) Book through United Airlines rather than US Air. If you miss your connecting flight, they will get you on another flight without charging you. I’ve done that twice. Both American and US Air did not help.
5) Don’t print your ticket up at home. If you are lucky, when they print your ticket at the airport, you might get a “Pre-Check” ticket, which is given randomly. Or you can buy them through Homeland Security for $100 for 5 years. The application may kick you offline, and you have an interview, but Pre-Check is like gold.
6) Since Pre-Checkers don’t have to take their shoes off, don’t wear buckles on your shoes.
7) When you do miss your flight, and they book you on another flight, and you leave the customer service counter without a printed ticket, don’t assume that you can get your confirmed seat without a ticket. This happened to me twice with two different airlines. Both flights were overbooked, and the clerks were rude.
8) When the clerk tells you that there are no more seats on the flight and you have a ticket don’t assume that there are no more seats. Wait until the plane loads. Stand near the counter and look old and helpless. If there is a seat, he or she will find it just to get you out of his hair.
8) Do not wear a blouse with trapunto stitching when you fly. The naked airport scan indicated that I was carrying illicit something in my blouse. The TSA agent had to put her gloved hand in my bra to check for hidden contraband even though I assured her there wasn’t much in there. On her third check, the agent got mad at the naked picture reader behind the plastic curtain.”It’s just stitching. There is NOTHING THERE!” she announced in a loud voice.
9) Don’t try to joke with the TSA agent when they are searching in your bra for drugs and counterfeit money.
10) Don’t overpack your carry-on luggage even though you don’t want to pay for checking a bag. If you can’t squeeze it in the overhead bin, the attendants and passengers get angry even if you look old and helpless. Best to check it at the last-minute, if you can. Better to pack light!
12) If you are going long distances on a full train, don’t assume that you have been assigned to the correct seat. I went to the restroom and came back to an occupied seat.
13) If you sit next to someone on the train who either stinks or has on too much perfume, consider drinking all night. At least in the dining car, you can choose who you sit with. (to a point).
14) When you drive at night in strange towns, and your GPS tells you the streets to take, don’t assume 1) that they are not torn up, and 2) that they are not one-way streets. In South Bend, IN, fortunately, there was a parking lot that led to the one-way street that went the direction I needed to go.
15) If you are going back east in the winter, don’t forget to take more than one coat. Costco sells down coats that roll into a little ball. St. Louis hit twelve degrees with the wind chill factor. California winters do not prepare travelers for that.
16) DO NOT eat fish and chips at 10:00 am in an airport restaurant. You might not feel the effects for 12 hours, but you will feel them.
17) Don’t forget to pack Imodium pills.
Here are some pictures from my trip to St. Louis, MO. I hope you will enjoy.
What travel “do not do what I did tips” do you have?