Travel can be an amazing experience, opening up new worlds filled with fascinating people, natural wonders, iconic attractions. It can also be a royal pain in the whatever, thanks to those everyday problems that drive you crazy.
7 Travel Problems that Drive You Crazy
If these get to you, too, check out our fixes.
- The vast hordes
If you’ve ever been to Venice in summer with the other 50,000 tourists cramming into the Piazza San Marco – or the Eiffel Tower or the Grand Canyon or Yosemite National Park or Disney World – you know something about crowds.
The fix: Fly during off-peak season or just around the edges of tourism prime time. For U.S. travel:
- Depart by June 9 to avoid peak-summer prices and crowds
- Depart Aug. 23 or beyond for cheaper fall prices and fewer tourists
- Sold-out syndrome
Want to see the White House? Visit the Uffizi Museum in Florence? Travel to these cities without tickets in hand and you could be out of luck.
The fix: Book tickets for attractions online and do it well in advance. Singular attractions such as White House tours can sell out months in advance while popular spots like Florence’s Uffizi Museum may be open if you just show up, there’s no guarantee you’ll get in at the most convenient time. If you’re not sure an attraction reserves tickets online, find out and do this now.
- Overflowing airports
Want to ditch the crowds at the airport? You’ll increase your chances by traveling on one of the three least popular days to fly in the U.S.
The fix: Fly Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday and not only will you miss the worst of the crowds, you’ll get the cheapest flights as well (for most routes, anyway). If you’re in Europe or much of the rest of the world, weekdays are usually less crowded and cheaper than weekends.
- Safety worries
Stuff happens no matter where you are from petty scams to terror attacks. You already know such things are rare but here’s a concrete action you can take that’ll further ease your mind.
The fix: U.S. travelers should check out specific destination-country information on the U.S. State Department’s travel section (Travel.State.Gov). Then, sign up for the STEP program (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program). Simply provide your itinerary and contact information and list who should be notified during an emergency. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s free.
- Phone fizzles
What would we do without our phones? They are our map books, cameras, flashlights, entertainment, document repositories, our everything. But phones can die or get lost or stolen and this can wreck a vacation.
The fix: Keep charger cords on your person or in a carry-on, and travel with a portable charger as well. As for the phone itself, don’t let it out of your sight and the best thing to do when not in use it to keep it in a front pocket that can be fastened shut. There are countless stories about thieves walking through outdoor cafes and casually pocketing phones from table tops in full view of the owners before fleeing the scene.
More tips: Don’t get caught up in any distraction scams either, where someone “accidentally” knocks over a drink and after many apologies you notice your phone is missing. Keep a sharp eye on all valuables no matter where you are (and this includes your own hometown).
- Connection complications
Ever run into a delayed or cancelled flight at the airport and are directed by your airline to run to gate whatever and see if you can make that flight? With luck, you will make it, but sadly, checked-bags can’t run that fast.
The fix: Always use a carry-on and your bag can’t get lost. Perfect for public transportation too whereas you may have a tough time with a full size suitcase on buses and trains where bag space can be limited or non-existent.
- Security snafus
If you assume the lines at security will be as usual, not too long and perfectly manageable, you could be in for a shock.
The fix: During peak travel periods like summer or even worse, Thanksgiving, get to the airport at least an hour earlier than usual. Sure you might have to sit around for a while but that’s why you have your phone or tablet and charger cord handy.
More tips: Check out the TSA’s “Can I bring my …?” app which lists banned items (including liquids in containers larger than 3.4 ounces) and join PreCheck or Global Entry. Both programs are bargains ($85 to $100 for five years) and will have you through security checkpoints and/or back into the U.S. in no time.