5 Things You Should Definitely Do When Traveling

I am hoping that by using this picture of a Super Serious Pensive Man staring out the window in an airport, you will know right away that this is a Super Serious Totally Genuine List of 5 Things You Should Definitely Do When Traveling. As I write this, I'm sitting in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, eating pretzels and sitting sensationally near both an electrical outlet and a USB charging station, with plenty of time before the first leg of my 30 hours of travel time begins. What a peaceful moment, right?

To look at me, you would never know that I've already cried upwards of five times today, had a few moments of "intense discussion" with my husband, very nearly snapped at an innocent airline desk clerk for reasons that were (almost) not even his fault, and gone to the bathroom just to sob for five minutes without worrying about people staring at me.

Oh, and I forgot to take my shoes off when going through security, but at least the TSA guy had a sense of humor about it.

Traveling is stressful. I've lived internationally for the better part of four years, but it's still hard. There are weight limits to consider (both in pounds and kilos), airline privileges to cash in on (that they somehow always have a loophole around to avoid benefiting you), liquids to keep in certain sized bottles, and compression socks to wear no matter how much it makes you feel like an old lady.

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For the benefit of you, my lovely readers, in this new year, I am giving my super serious list of 5 things you should DEFINITELY do when traveling:

  1. Pack too much in your bag so that it's overweight. I can't tell you how much fun it is to have that check-in associate tell you the bag you've spent hours packing perfectly is 10 pounds overweight and you'll be charged $100 if you don't somehow find a way to shuffle exactly 10 pounds worth of stuff into your husband's bag (which blessedly happens to be 10 pounds underweight exactly). Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more fun than unzipping that suitcase and rummaging through your neatly rolled (not folded like a novice traveler's) clothing to find what you think are the heaviest things in your bag that might somehow fit into his.

  2. Bring clothes with you that you will never wear just so you have "options." This is the best thing you can do for yourself when you're packing for a few weeks away in particular. By all means, pay no attention to the weather at your destination. This is irrelevant. You should definitely bring that cute new t-shirt to a state which has a median temperature this time of year of 20 degrees Fahrenheit. You should definitely do that. The rewards of unnecessary laundry that isn't even dirty but is so wrinkled it seems like it should be when you return home is just as wonderful as it sounds.

  3. And speaking of laundry, if you're staying with family and friends, DO NOT do all of your laundry at their house so that you can unpack clean clothes when you get home. Why bring clean, perfectly rolled clothes home so you can just shake them out and hang them straight in your closet when instead, you could yank out a mass of wrinkled, stale, worn-three-times shirts and jeans and automatically have three loads of laundry to do as a lovely welcome home?

  4. Forget to charge all of your devices. There are USB chargers at airports after all, right? And nothing makes your heart pound with adrenaline like running around a crowded airport gate trying to find a charging port for your Kindle, iPhone, iPad, and any other electronic fun-having device you might need for those long hours of disconnection from society and good food and the basic human right of WiFi.

  5. Make lots of goals for what you'll accomplish on the flight and then do none of them. It's nearly mid-January. Just ask anyone -- making resolutions and failing to do them is super fun. It's a huge ego boost. Have you tried lately? I personally love to set targets of an hour for writing my novel, finishing reading a book, writing three blogs, and re-reading my own novel -- all in the one flight. What fun to get on the plane and instead watch 10 hours' worth of Mom, try and fail to sleep four times, and stare blankly ahead of me with my remaining time while all my fully charged devices stay safely in my bag?

Now you have everything you need for the most stress-free, easy travel of your life.

Happy trails, as they say in Minnesota!