Several years ago, I purchased a jacket to make a trek to the Pacific Northwest. We've traveled a lot over the years, thanks to my handsome half, so I knew the jacket would get a lot of use. What I didn't anticipate were all the lessons I'd learn along the way. I'm sure you've read all kinds of travel primers, that are polished and informative, but maybe you haven't really considered the bottom of the barrel basics.
So, because you obviously have nothing better to do, here's my list of basics.
We raised fairly self sufficient children, and one of the earliest lessons they learned about travel is to travel light. "If you bring it, you carry it. If you can't carry it, don't pack it." They learned the value of such preparation when they began traveling with school groups and girls that brought monster suitcases they had no hope of carrying, so expected the boys to be their pack mules. No bueno. NO one wants to carry your junk, NO one wants to help you load that beast in an overhead compartment, and most airlines prohibit their flight crews from helping because of injuries.
A sub lesson to this one is already well known. Only bring half of what you think you'll need. Trust me on this one. If you're desperate and you didn't bring it, go to the store. That's why God created them.
Last but not least, take clothes that are flexible. My jacket also serves as a belt.
Not all travel involves security, obviously, but often, even if you're traveling by car, you'll run into border crossings that call for patience. And though borders and TSA are supposed to be uniform in the way they function, they aren't. Trust me, you never know from airport to airport, border to border, what will be required of you. It's always going to be different. Be patient. These people really aren't "trying" to be difficult, some are just that way naturally. And the least you can do is not add to it. They can make your life extremely difficult.
So. Just a few basic things. Obey the signs, people. I had a friend laugh uproariously at this one, but we've seen a bunch of shoe prints on potty seats over the years and these signs are necessary. The basic ones that anyone can decipher:
And the more complicated ones obviously designed for English speakers:
Pay attention, people. Sometimes those babies rock a little and no one want's you falling off that porcelain tower and breaking something. NO rescue squad wants that duty!
Public restrooms are bad enough, so please show a little courtesy:
Leave a tail. It makes it so much easier for the person following you.
And for heavens sake, people, WASH YOUR HANDS!!!
These folks are often surprising. You never know who you'll end up with in the seat next to you, in line in front of you, or waiting too closely behind you and literally breathing down your neck. The definition of "personal space" is different from place to place, and most cultures don't respect the arms length unwritten rule. Do your best with this one. Take a deep breath.
Believe it or not, signs, whether they're for warning or restricting, are there for everyone. If you're supposed to remain in a certain area, stay in that area, if you're supposed to stay on the trail, Stay. On. The. Trail. On recent hiking trips in National Parks, I was shocked to see the people tromping off into restricted areas so they could get a better selfie. Really people? I'll admit. I wanted to slap them.
You'd think this would go without saying, but I've seen the melt downs. "My trip was SUPPOSED to go this way or that." Yeah, well, welcome to travel. Even in a private jet, sometimes things don't go the way you planned. Life is unpredictable. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. I know as well as anyone the frustration of being left at the gate or getting caught in traffic snarls, and mix ups in the various stages of getting around. But temper tantrums won't change things.
We've found the most amazing things because of kinks in our travel plans. Beautiful things we may not have seen otherwise. Sweet times with our kids spent in airports because for one reason or another, we couldn't take the flight we planned. Even traffic jams have been quite entertaining if approached with the right attitude.
While it may be hard in the moment when you're trying to fully grasp the challenges that have been placed in your path, try to take a step back, take a deep breath and remember that raising your blood pressure won't change what you might be facing. And people will be much more helpful if you're more pleasant.
Bottom line, travel.......... any kind of travel is an amazing privilege that many don't have the opportunity to experience. What do you want to remember about your journey? I choose sweet memories created by the challenges.
My jacket has a lot of miles on it. It's not in style anymore, I'm sure, but given enough time, it'll come back. For now it's still more than serviceable. I look forward to the journeys yet to come.
For He will command His angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.