It’s been more than 3 years since I posted a 10 Things list about being on the road, so I figured it was time to update it. Since I’m heading to San Diego today, the timing fits. My spouse and I compare notes a lot about life as a travel hound, which got me thinking about my current list of lessons from the road, and what, if anything, has changed (answer: not much).
What I’ve Learned on the Road
- There’s no such think as perfect travel in both directions. If everything was on time and effortless going out—sorry, but your travel home will not be smooth.
- If you have a 4 hour layover you will be coming in and going out of the same gate. Particularly if you’re laying over at a huge airport like ATL or IAH.
- The more expensive the hotel room, the more it will cost to connect to the Internet.
- Room service is worth every penny, regardless of the food’s actual quality. It turns out I’m happy to pay a lot of money for a mediocre chicken salad and crappy glass of red wine if it means I can consume both in bed, watching reruns of Property Brothers.
- A five star hotel only trumps a 3 star hotel if it actually has enough outlets to comfortably power all your electronics. Bathroom outlets, and outlets behind furniture you have to move to access do not count.
- If you are staying on a military base and you’re coming in on Sunday night, best to get food before you actually arrive on post; otherwise you’ll be getting cozy with the vending machine. Mmmm…strawberry pop tarts and diet coke for dinner.
- Places to invest your dollars: luggage. Just not black luggage, unless you’re comfortable with the distinct possibility someone else is going to grab your bag by mistake. If you travel with any frequency, you need the following—one large suitcase for your long haul travel (time away, not distance); the medium roller that can work as carry on if need be; and the 1-2 days away in warm weather bag that is always carried on (I use a rolling laptop bag similar to this one). Plus your computer/purse/reading materials carry all (this is my workhorse).
- Always eat the food of the carrier’s country of origin. For instance, if you’re flying Korean Air, you want the Korean food option. Trust me on this—a.) it’s really good (often something like bibimbap, complete with tube of chili paste) and b.) the Korean version of chicken parmesan is decidedly not.
- What should always be in your carry on: reading material, music/headphones, shawl/light layer, portable charger, water, headache meds (for real), hand sanitizer, and snacks. You never know when you’re going to be stuck on the tarmac for a few hours sitting next to the chatty guy with a cold. Be prepared.
- Kindness on the road will be repaid two-fold somewhere down the line. Yes, I put up the hostility force field when I get on a plane so I don’t have to engage in much chitchat, but I also occasionally take the lousy middle seat so a parent can sit with her child, or the nervous, claustrophobic flier can be on the aisle. I have downloaded episodes of Little Einsteins onto my iPad at a moment’s notice to give a single parent a break from his amped up toddler, and I have distributed Luna Bars to fellow passengers who discover too late that while most airlines take credit cards on board, some of the small planes are cash only, and free snacks don’t exist on domestic flights much anymore. Put more good into the world, and as is always my motto: don’t be a d*ck.