9 Easy Ways to Turn a Trip into a Total Disaster

Unhappy man in airport

You found some cheap tickets and are really looking forward to your adventure. But watch out! There are 9 easy ways to turn a trip into a total disaster, but we can help you avoid every one of them.

1. Don’t get PreCheck for security

This is perfect for people who like standing in long, long lines. If that’s not you, here’s a simple step-by-step guide to sign up for PreCheck. This TSA program only costs $85 for five years and kids under 12 are included free. PreCheck and its international cousin Global Entry are useful year-round but are especially handy during holidays.

2. Pack a big bag

Most airlines charge a $50 roundtrip fee for a big checked-bag which we find rather disastrous since you could use the money for something a lot more fun. A good meal in a great restaurant? So pack a carry-on bag which is free on most airlines, though there are a few exceptions including Spirit and Frontier which charge for all bags. Even if you must pay for a carry-on, bring one anyway because airlines can’t lose a bag that travels by your side. But what if you have a big bag and disaster strikes? What to do when your bag is lost.

3. Throw away your receipts

Warning: If you toss out your receipts, you may have trouble filling out a claim form with the airline if your flight is delayed or cancelled or bags get lost. Airlines insist all claims be documented and that can include bag tags, boarding passes, receipts for toiletries and more. Stick this paperwork in a side pocket of your bag and toss only after successful completion of your trip. Tip: If you keep these docs on your phone, consider making paper copies, too; people have been known to delete things by mistake.

4. Overpack

Like having a choice of outfits? Pack as much as you like and be sure to include lots of shoes and boots. The bad news is you could end up paying an overweight charge of up to $200 (or $400 on international trips) and that’s in addition to the regular checked-bag fee. If you must pack a large suitcase, be sure it weighs under 50 lbs. before you leave for the airport; most overweight fees kick in at 51 lbs.

5. Leave electronics and chargers at home

Why weigh yourself down with electronics? Because nowadays a phone is a traveler’s everything: an atlas, a camera, dining guide, boarding pass, contact with the world. It’s even a flashlight! So do not forget it, and do not forget the charger cord and a backup. Going to a foreign country? Be sure you have the correct plug for their electrical outlets.

6. Forget snacks

Who needs snacks when you can buy anything you could want on the plane? Because you might not want what they sell or they may not offer their food when you’re hungry. Bring something you love from home; you’ll save money, be able to eat what you want, when you want it. Here are some snack ideas for great food on planes.

7. Leave the hotel room without a final room-check

You’re a grown-up, you know how to pack a bag without leaving a sock behind so you may figure a final room-check is pointless. Tell that to my friend who left his wedding ring in the hotel room’s shower (true story). The husband nor wife – married 30+ years – sure wish they’d given the room a final once-over because the ring was never recovered.

8. Do a final personal pat-down or purcse check

This is real simple; pat your pockets or check your purse while saying the mantra, “Got your wallet, phone, keys, sunglasses, regular glasses, charger cord?” Make it a habit to check for must-haves every time you leave a plane, a hotel room, or get up from a dining table.

9. Forget to use your common sense

You’ve seen the news stories so you know bad things can happen even to the rich and famous who are surrounded by body guards. You can avoid a lot of bad stuff like pickpockets and robbers by using your common sense. For example, leave your valuables at home, don’t flash cash, shield your transactions at the ATM and don’t venture down dark streets you wouldn’t walk on at home. And here’s a list of popular scams to be on the lookout for. Be safe, be smart, be a sensible traveler.

Rick Seaney
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