Hey everyone! I’m back home from my fantastic trip to Massachusetts. I had an amazing time with one of my best friends, but we didn’t travel by ourselves. Murphy tagged along and, as always, he was quoting law as we traveled.
In accepting that Murphy very much enjoys spending time with me, I thought it would be good to share with you some rules that can help keep you safe while you travel.
1. Always, always have a contingency plan. I say this often, and I don’t only mean it to apply to traveling, but it makes a special point here. The only surefire thing about making plans is that you might have to remake them on the fly if something goes pear-shaped. The best thing to do is to have a second plan in place in case something happens to mess up your first. Having a contingency plan for your contingency plan is also not a bad idea, and especially good to have one that is flexible in case of ill winds.
2. When entering an airport/train station/bus terminal, find the information desk first. You might have a one hour layover or three hours to kill before you board your first flight/ride, but when it comes to knowing where you’re going, it’s best to know right away. Things can, and often do, change without anyone else offering up the information to you. The best way to make sure you’re on top of things is to know what’s going on. So find information, make sure your tickets are good, and know where and when and by what means you will be boarding. Knowledge is power, after all, and do you really want someone else to have the power to control your vacation?
3. When finding intercity transportation, quality over cost. This doesn’t mean to pay a couple grand for a limo to take you three miles, but if you’re fetching a cab, you want to go with a service that will get you where you need to go safely. Gypsy cab companies are all about and can be easy to find the number for, but difficult to get to you on time, and safety can be an issue when anyone can be taking you to your destination. Check if your hotel offers a shuttle service to/from the airport/station/terminal, check out trolleys that run through some cities on a set schedule, or look up the Super Shuttle, which makes its way through a number of states. There are also companies like Lyft and Uber which hire independent cab drivers who charge less than some traditional cab companies, but offer the safety that other companies do not – such as sending you a picture of the driver who will be picking you up.
4. Do not travel anonymously. This doesn’t mean blab your coordinates all across Facebook – that’s no safer than telling a stranger what hotel room you’re staying in. But if you travel, travel with someone, or at least make sure that other people know where you are. If a hurricane strikes a city you’re visiting but no one knows you’re there, no one knows to keep an eye out for you. Likewise, if you’re hurt or loss or worse and no one knows, how can anyone help you? Tell your father, your sibling, your best friend or your boss that you’ll be visiting this state or country or county. If you’re traveling alone, it might not hurt to shoot someone a text message with your cab driver’s name and cab or phone number. Don’t go into a strange place completely alone, even if your only company is someone else knowing where you are.
5. Charge your cell phone. Likewise, do not go traveling with a cell phone that doesn’t function, doesn’t keep a charge for more than a half hour, and do not leave it in the hotel room. Payphones are not plentiful and can hardly even be found outside of an airport terminal anymore. Do not go somewhere without a means of contacting someone if you are hurt or in danger, for refer again to number four.
6. Pay attention to your surroundings. Visiting a new area can be exhilarating, but don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ve stepped into a Disney movie. The world is not a nice place and there are a lot of not-nice people out there. Be safe first, know where you are and who you are with, and don’t disappear into a cloud of daydreams when you’re walking down a dark alley. For that matter, don’t walk down a dark alley.
7. Don’t limit yourself to a credit card. Even with the rise of technology and the convenience of apps like Square, credit cards aren’t accepted everywhere. It’s always a good idea to make sure you have some cash with you, even if it’s only enough to pay for a short cab ride or a one-night stay in a two-star hotel. Having some ones on you for tipping and some change for car meters or the rare payphone is also not harmful. And for vending machines, because those things are evil and hate dollar bills.
8. Don’t get stressed out. It can be difficult to keep from going a little crazy when things go wrong, and everyone gets a little grumpy when your flight is delayed, your train is late, or the bus gets a flat tire. Often, things could be so much worse than what they end up being, so while you might be a little stressed out, a little angry, or maybe even a little frightened, don’t let it ruin your vacation completely. If you have a backup plan, or a place to stay, or even just someone to call, you can get your bearings and easily get back in the game. Don’t let the fun end because of one little mishap – roll with it, learn from it, and come up grinning. Have fun!
I love traveling. I don’t often allow myself to do much of it, but I’m hoping to change that. Following these eight rules goes a long way toward making sure I have a fun and safe vacation. My trip to Salem didn’t go completely as planned, after all. Not only did our first cab driver decide to leave us stranded, but a tree fell across the tracks and caught fire, our train was late getting to the station, and we missed our connection, which had left an hour before we got there, leaving us stranded in Philadelphia.
But we had backup plans, a way to contact our families, and we found the conductors and information desk, who together helped us find another train to get at least halfway home. Luckily, both my friend and I are sticklers for having backup plans for backup plans, and now I’m sitting on my computer, writing up this blog post for you.
Like I said, I love traveling. It can be stressful, worrying, and even terrifying, but that’s not going to stop me, because really, that unknown is half the fun. I’ll be going back to Salem next year, and I’ll be taking the train again, and I don’t expect things to go completely smoothly. Of course, if they did, I think I might get bored.
Good thing my friend Murphy loves to travel as much as I do, and he’s made sure I know the basic rule of life. If things can go wrong, they just might, but you’ll be okay. It’s just the little bumps that turn a vacation in an adventure.
Turn the page to a new world.