Travel Like an Expert: “Don’t Do This!”


“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.

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.

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.

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?

9 responses to “Travel Like an Expert: “Don’t Do This!””

  1. prior.. Avatar

    Lots of practical tips from an experienced seasoned traveler!

    Laughing at the quilted shirt – that must have been rough!

    I most agree with the travel light with carry on bags -in case you need to stow it under seat in front of u.
    But also for ease! It is so much easier to have a carry on with room so u can easily get stuff if needed. -ahhh. And lighter bags are easier going from gate to gate or just all around carrying them.

    However – on a recent trip, I packed a little too light and had to buy a couple things – but it was fine! I had the room for them as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marsha Avatar

      I have done that, too. The most important is to be able to do laundry while you are gone, if you pack lightly for a long trip. Otherwise, no one wants to see you! 🙂 You get the “smell you later” greetings. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. prior.. Avatar

        bah!! you are so funny – and that is so true – need to be able to do laundry

        Liked by 1 person

      2. prior.. Avatar

        oh – and packing thinner clothes helps too – like quilted shirts take up space – ha
        but the roll up down jacket you note is a really great tip – and I have this black Nike jacket that is a wind breaker and it can be for cool days or with a sweater can get me through 40 degree days – not super glamorous – but has come in handy

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Marsha Avatar

          My kind of jacket. I rarely look glam when I travel. Wait… I rarely look glam. 😳😳😳

          Liked by 1 person

          1. prior.. Avatar

            Ha- well I like the jackets in your travel pics – the one near the arch!

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Marsha Avatar

            I wore that one out. I had a down coat underneath! Hehe

            Liked by 1 person

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