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Keeping Your Cool While Traveling

It seems as though a person can plan and plan for a perfect trip, and somewhere along the way a mini disaster arises. Whether it be lost keys, trouble with the rental car, or lost luggage. The key to keeping your trip as perfect as you planned it to be is keeping your cool when frustrating situations like these come into play. In this article I’ll point out the top ten minor travel disasters that are most likely to creep into your trip and how to avoid them.

1. The Infamous Car Keys Freak-Out

Keys seem to be the easiest item to lose or to misplace. At home, the only way to keep track of your keys is to put them in the same place every time so that you will always be able to find them. It is the same when traveling, put them in a compartment that is easily accessible, preferrably in your carry-on luggage, and that you will always remember. What a relief it is to get to your car after a long flight and find your keys exactly where you put them. Make sure that wherever you put them, they are sealed by a zipper or another locking device.

2. “Where did I park again?”

It doesn’t matter if you have been away from your vehicle for 10 minutes or 10 days, getting lost in the parking lot happens to the best of us. If you are like most Americans, your car is pretty generic and blends in with all the others, although there is the occasional black sheep among vehicles that sticks out like a sore thumb. To avoid walking around the parking lot 10 times, it is best to document exactly where you have parked ahead of time. A good way to do this is to write down the parking lot and space information right on your parking ticket and put it in your wallet behind your credit cards. This way it will be in there tight, and will not accidentally fall out. Another possibility is to take a picture of your parking lot number and aisle number with your cell phone. What did we ever do before cell phones? By following these two simple steps you will not find yourself roaming the parking lot again.

3. Abandoned At the Airport

It is quite easy for your friends or family to lose or forget the flight information that you hurriedly rattled off over the phone, and even your shuttle service can confuse times and make mistakes. Whomever you have picking you up, the shuttle service, limo, taxi, or your friend, make sure to e-mail them a confirmation note right before your departure that includes your flight number and arrival time. This way you will not be left standing out in the cold. or hot, waiting for your ride.

4. Nightmare Seating

Depending on where you sit on your airplane ride, will directly influence the enjoyment of the flight. Many people prefer to have a window seat, especially if you get motion sickness, others may prefer an aisle seat for quick access to bathrooms. Whatever your preference, if you don’t get it you will probably be disappointed.

If you notice on your flight ticket that you have been assigned a middle seat, the best time to try and change this is at the gate. If you wait until you are at the check-in counter it will be a pretty rare thing for your seat to be changed. Even more so, if you wait until you are on the airplane, the stewardesses are more worried about getting ready for take-off, than finding you a different seat. So, be prepared and make any seat changes ahead of time.

Maybe you are worried about being sat by someone who will talk your ear off during the entire flight. To avoid this situation all together, as soon as you are situated and seated, take your iPod out and put the earbuds in, even if you don’t actually turn the music on. This will give the appearance that you are interested in listening to your music, not talking to your neighbor. An even better route to take is to pull out a newspaper or book and start to read. Most people take this as a sign that you are not interested in striking up a conversation because you are interested in your reading. If all else fails, pretend to sleep.

The last seating situation that you may find yourself in is if you are seated next to a crying baby. We all know that this is just nature, and there is no use in stressing out over a crying baby, because that’s what they do. But if it is really bothering you, ask the stewardess nicely if you can change seats. She/he will likely be willing to do this if there are extra seats available on the airplane, but if not, it will be better to do what you can to deal with it. Things you can do to flush out the noise are to listen to music with your earbuds in, wear noise-canceling  earplugs, or take a sleep aid.

5. Rental Car Trouble

To avoid the hassle of having to wait for hours on end for your rental car, make sure to confirm and reconfirm your reservation many times before you actually travel. The last time you want to confirm is right when you step off the airplane. Get the local number of the rental car agency and call to reconfirm your reservation. This way, if there are any mistakes, the agency can work on them while you are picking up your bags and making your way out of the airport.

6. Forgetting the Itinerary

If your friends can easily forget your itinerary, it most likely will be easy for you to forget it as well. Things like the flight number, departure time, precise hotel name and address, and other information are very easy to forget if not written down and kept somewhere safe.

An easy and practical solution to avoid messing up this all-to important information is to print out your full itinerary, which includes flight information, hotel contact information, car rental confirmations and any other important documents that you may need to keep a hold of. Make sure to stow these items in a very safe place, probably on your carry-on bag, and don’t bother them for the duration of your trip. This way they will be sure not to be lost. A couple other ideas that you can do to help remember the information is to leave yourself a voicemail with the critical information that you can access and/or send yourself an e-mail and easily access it at the hotel or at an internet kiosk.

7. Bad Taste, Meager In-Flight Food

It is a bad situation when you find yourself sitting on a flight with a grumbling belly that may or may not feel a little nautious. One way to combat this is to not totally rely on the airline to serve you a meal, but to bring your own food rations. If you do this, just be sure to follow the airline’s rule for liquid and gel stuff. You can easily buy food and drink at the airport before you  board, and have them to keep you satisfied while in the air.

8. Lost Luggage

There’s almost nothing worse than being told that your luggage has been lost and you have nothing to wear for the next three days while it is located or replaced. To avoid this terrible situation, pack a change of clothes, any necessary medications, and valuables in your carry-on bag. This way you will have all that you absolutely need right at your fingertips.

9. Hitting Traffic On the Way to the Airport

Here, the best combatant is prevention. Perform your due diligence ahead of time like checking online traffic cams, traffic reports, and construction updates. By doing this you will be able to plan alternate routes if needed and know if you should leave earlier. It is always best to leave at least 1/2 hour before you plan on leaving so that you can have that much needed leway. It is definitely not going to hurt anything to be early and wait even for an hour for your flight. If you are taking an alternate route, or even if you are taking the normal route, make sure to print out a roadmap, so to be sure of your direction.

10. Credit Card Trouble

Many banks and credit card companies will put a freeze on your account when they notice any out of the ordinary activity on your account. This could include any overseas activity or out-of-state activity. To avoid this, make sure to call the company in advance to warn them of your impending departure. Make sure to give them the dates and destinations you will be going to so that they know that it is you making the purchases. The customer service person you talk with will note the information in your account and you will be free of worry.

Traveling is definitely an interesting experience. For many of us it can be quite frustrating. Do all that you can ahead of time to prepare yourself for all that may come up, that way you will be prepared and know what to do. The goal of taking a trip is to have fun, not to lose the fun on the way. By following these simple steps outlined above, your trip will be sure to be a success.