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Best “Don’t Do This” Travel Tips

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.

St. Louis Arch and Old Courthouse in the background.

St. Louis Arch and Old Courthouse in the background.

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. Make sure that you keep checking for changes in the gate. Don’t read something engaging, or you might miss your flight, and 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 anything. 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)  Watch what you wear when you fly.  I wore a blouse that had shrunk and raised stitching.  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. If you can’t lift it, look old and helpless, and sometimes people help. Sometimes they just get irritated. 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 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.

SFW 2013 STL Lights 114

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.

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?

30 replies »

  1. Wow, those are very useful tips. I am sorry to say I stopped travelling to the US because it became too much hassle. I never ever checked luggage on business trips and I flew 250k miles each year. I used hotel laundries if I ran out of clean clothes. It is easy to rush and get the gate wrong my best tip is a boring one. Don’t drink alcohol. Stick to water. But I have had DVT twice so I had an extra reason to be careful. I hope your next trip is problem free!


    • Fortunately all my advice didn’t come from one trip. What is DVT? What happens with the alcohol v water? Dehydrate? Do stupid things? I can do stupid things with no alcohol! 🙂


        • Ah, I’ve never tried it, so now I won’t! I’m sorry you had DVT. Now that I see it spelled out, I have heard of it. Bad stuff. Glad it didn’t get the best of you. I like having you around in my Bloggy world. 🙂 M


  2. Wow- you had your share of annoyances. Still looks like a great trip!
    I wear yoga pants when I fly– comfortable, no pockets, belts, etc. On overnight flights, I wear a sports bra– soft and no metal — and don’t forget to pack your jewelry– the smallest bracelet can set off the security sensors. I recently was randomly selected for “pre-check”– what a treat not to take off shoes. But I wear comfortable slip ons for that too.


    • You are a seasoned traveler, Lisa. I wear sweat pants sometimes, but don’t own a sports bra. Great tips. Isn’t pre-check wonderful? I didn’t get it on the way home! 🙂


  3. Hi MVBFM 😀 This post had me in stitches !! If I do visit you next year then with your advice I would be well prepared and I would definitely not wear a bra 😉 Ralph xox 😀


  4. Sorry Marsha for laughing at your expense. Feel free to smack me upside the head or laugh at mine any time 😉
    Nice pix of your trip to St. Louis.


  5. Those photos are exceedingly beautiful. The rest of this horror story (designed specifically to terrify a certain smiling toad of ever attempting to travel via plane again, ever, EVER, er, or ever at all anywhere near people, either, for that matter, unless there is a ban on aromatic poison…), er I mean, the rest of this delightful post, was excellent and extremely terrifying, I mean informative. Thank you very much for this wisdom. I am now thoroughly petrified, er, prepared! Cheers love. Hope you have had a safe and incident-free return. Hugs,

    Olde Autty

    P.S. What an apt song, I must say. I have not heard that one in years, but my, how apt those lyrics are…especially when it comes to being in the unpleasant presence of frog-faced and laconic brazier-prober…Poor lass. 😦

    Another P.S. That mafia comment was too perfect. I think I would have assumed the very same thing….

    Perhaps serenading would have been an alternative option to joke-sharing. I love to crumble into a chorus all over the place whenever possible. I think the song you have provided here would have been sufficient…or a bugling blast of “come FLY with meeeeee, let’s FLYYYY, FLY AWAAAAAY…” in a crooning Sinatra voice might have also been rather apt. I don’t know how this would have gone over, though, now that I think about it (which I rarely do in the moment I fear…) …perhaps not a good idea…after all…blast…

    Another brilliant post. Cheers!


  6. You are hilarious Marsha. I was rather relieved that all of these disasters didn’t happen on the same trip. I don’t like the sound of a inner bra investigation at all, how personal! I did however like your funny comment. I wonder why she wasn’t amused.


    • Hi Carol, I have no idea what was going through her head except the irritation of having to do her job. It must have been unpleasant wearing a blue rubber glove all day and rummaging around in people’s private areas. I’m sure not everyone made light of it.

      Today is Thanksgiving here, so here’s to a wonderful day for you, too. Lots of love, M xox





Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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