If and when we travel again

Like everything else, travel ain’t what it used to be

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

If you have flown lately, or even seen the news reports for those who have flown lately, you can’t help notice that travelling by air is, like many things, not what it used to be.

As most of us might travel or consider travel in the next several months, here are some travel tips you might find useful.

First, stick to one carrier. Most airlines have loyalty programs. These can be great – with many perks like upgrades, free checked bags, and maybe even lounge access.

Water & snacks

Arrive at the airport with your water bottle empty, and fill it up after you go through security. Also, make sure it’s a water bottle you won’t miss if it gets lost or damaged along the way. It probably will.

Take care of yourself as you travel – grumpiness, jet lag, or feeling not-quite-right will emerge when we are either hungry or thirsty. Stay hydrated and bring a snack (don’t forget to take a bit extra for later when you see snacks set out).

Take care of your feet

Never pack new shoes for a trip that involves a lot of walking. And that is likely to be every trip.

Pack slippers. And keep them handy. Not only are they great mid-flight, but they also help make any destination instantly feel like home.

Pack shoes that are as multi-purpose (and comfortable) as possible.

Packing

Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on. Just in case your bag is lost — or even delayed for a few days — a fresh set of clothes can carry you over until it is recovered.

Always pack a portable charger for your various essential devices.

Packing cubes (available online or at many stores) can make your travel life simpler and less stressful.

A dedicated place for dress clothes, dirty laundry, health/dental care or any other category may save many headaches.

Invest in a nice backpack if you travel a lot. Keep your hands free at the airport – and everywhere else.

Getting oriented

Grab those free small tourist maps when you see them.

Most cities are organized on some sort of grid or other fairly straightforward system. It can help to have a physical piece of paper to study as you are in a bus, train, taxi or hotel room to get a sense of where you are and what neighborhoods and resources are close by.

Download local maps. Here’s a good source for some – https://maps.me/.

Most cities have free walking tours. Take one when you get a bit settled. They’re a great way to get your bearings in a totally new place, learn some practical tips from someone who knows the city well (they’re usually led by locals), as well as gain a foundation of knowledge about the city’s history and culture.

One of my favorite things to do in a new place is get out in the early morning by myself and walk around the neighborhood.

A morning run or walk will give a sense of where you are – and will perk you up for the day – and will usually help your jet-lag.

There’s something clarifying about exploring an area before the neighborhood wakes up.

Safety & security

Make a copy of your essential documents – passport, driver’s license, and, in 2021 and 2022, vaccination/immunization records. (You wouldn’t know it from conspiracy believers, but vaccination/immunization documentation has been routine for decades).

Keep the copy somewhere else – and leave a copy at home so someone else can find it..

It’s also a good idea to keep a picture of prescriptions or medications you take on your phone.

And you can file this under “We shouldn’t have to say this”; don’t argue with – or assault (!) hotel or airline staff. They are doing their jobs and enforcing rules and policies they are given.

They did not make the rules and policies, but they are responsible, for their own and everyone else’s safety, for enforcing them.

Besides breaking the law, an infraction may result in a lifetime ban from an airline, and the airlines are moving toward a policy of a ban from one is a ban from all.

Another item to be filed under “We shouldn’t have to say this”; travel, by definition, is going to another place.

You, as a traveller, are by almost any standard, a guest. Don’t be rude, demanding or critical. No, they don’t do things like you do them back home.

From cooking to tipping to simple conversation, remember that you are the one out of your familiar element.

Don’t be afraid to taste local delicacies, but keep in mind that you first impression may not be positive – or final.

Many tastes from wine to pho are “acquired”. Take the time to “acquire” them.

Locomotion by any means, crossing borders, catching (or missing) flights or trains and going through customs is inherently stressful, remember that you, in most cases, wanted to do this. Or you are getting paid to do it.

Along with your essentials, pack a good attitude.

As travellers, we only go through all of this once in a great while.

Those in the industry work with hundreds of us every day.

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