How To: Avoid Some Common Travel Pitfalls

How To: Avoid Some Common Travel Pitfalls

Colleen Quinn
Aug 21, 2008

One of the most frustrating elements of escaping can be the small disasters that threaten to derail a trip. We've all been there- despite the advance planning, the guidebooks, and all the preparations, sometimes the deck is stacked against us. Below we list some common problems, and some strategies we've used to reduce their impact...

Lost in Space: These days it seems our bags at least get lost more often than ever (even on direct flights!) After a good friend spent a fortune tramping around London in search of undergarments and a jacket while his bags took an around the world tour without him, we learned to always pack a full change of clothes in our overnight bag. Yes yes, Mom's been telling us this for years, but we're finally listening...


Antiques Roadshow: No matter where you are, you're likely to pick up some kind of souvenirs from your trip, and if you didn't plan ahead, you're likely to be stuck trying to cram them into your already overstuffed luggage. After our own Turkish lamp incident in Istanbul, we learned to always pack an empty duffel bag in our suitcase. Between the space the duffel leaves in the suitcase, and the duffel itself, you are likely to have enough space to bring home your delightful goodies...


Postcards from the Edge: We're ambivalent on postcards ourselves, but Mom always sends enough to keep the postal service of a small country afloat for a year. After wasting entire afternoons addressing cards, we finally had a brainwave- now we print up addess labels for Mom before she leaves. Labeling the cards is a lot faster than addressing them was, and the pre-printed labels help her remember exactly how many postcards to buy at every step along the way...


One Hour Photo: We made the move to a digitial point and shoot four years ago and have never looked back, though we will admit that film cameras can be easier to maintain in some exotic locales. We've learned that hard way that while AA batteries and film are available everywhere, proprietary batteries and flash cards are both harder to find and substantially more expensive. We now make sure to travel with extra batteries and extra memory cards just in case...


Mean Streets: The last thing you want is for a lost or stolen wallet to ruin your vacation. Always photocopy all of your credit cards (front and back) and your passport before you leave. Keep one set of copies with you (but separate from the actual passport and cards) and leave one with someone you trust back home. If your wallet is stolen, you'll be better prepared to report the lost cards, and having a copy of your passport can certainly speed the replacement process at the Embassy...


Finally, expect the unexpected. No one can plan for every contingency, but you can commit to enjoying yourself no matter what happens. Be flexible- when it snowed on us in Venice of all places, we cursed the weather gods for a bit, then adjusted our sightseeing plans to include frequent cafe stops to warm up and dry off. Best of all, we learned to laugh about the whole thing. Every single person who called to say "Happy Birthday" also said "but it never snows in Venice!" which now serves as our mantra anytime we hit a travel-related bump in the road...

Do you have a favorite travel tip to share?

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