Face it: Traveling, though fun and exciting, can be a real pain. There are a million things that can go wrong at any time — from misplacing your wallet to simple translation miscues — which can throw your entire trip into disarray. Of course, different situations call for different issues. But if there’s one constant in life besides death and taxes, it’s that you’ll run into annoying travel problems.
Among the most common annoying travel problems are miscommunications, unexpected delays, and simply forgetting or losing the things you brought with you. While you can choose to approach these and other situations by hanging your head and complaining, there are simple solutions to almost anything you encounter. Travel offers us a chance to test our patience and put Occam’s Razor to the test out in the wild.
So, let’s explore this a bit, shall we? We’ve put together a list of five annoying travel problems people face and some of the easiest fixes for them. These may require a little preparation beforehand on your part, but that’s a better alternative than having a meltdown or getting emotional when you need to solve a problem and think on your feet. Here are five easy solutions to common travel problems.
1. Lost documents
Few things are more stressful than losing your driver’s license or passport, especially when you’re far from home or in a foreign country. Most people wouldn’t even know what to do in that situation (hint: contact the U.S. embassy) other than go into full-blown panic mode. So here’s a simple solution to make sure this doesn’t happen: make digital copies. Simply make scans of your documents to help facilitate the process of having them replaced. You will still need to go through some hurdles, especially abroad, to get you home. But having a backup copy of your documents stored on Dropbox or in your email will give you a head start.
2. Forgotten toiletries
You always forget something — and a lot of times, it’s your toothbrush. Yes, you can you can find a new one for $2 at any grocery store or drug store, but let’s face it — you’re tired and want to hit the sack with minty-fresh breath. If you’re in a hotel, here’s the easy fix: Just ask the front desk.
Many hotels have a stash of back-up toiletries. In fact, they have a lot of things, not just toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss. Just ask them, most are more than willing to fork these things over. Also, even if you’re not a guest, you can still give it a try. Just walk in and ask. The worst they can say is no, after all.
3. Road trip hygiene
Road trips are fun and all, but sometimes it’s not easy to tell when you’ll be able to grab that next shower. If you’re spending only the occasional night in a hotel or campground, hygiene can really start to get to become a problem, particularly if you’re stuck in a cramped car with several other people.
The easy solution? Get a gym membership at one of the national chains, like L.A. Fitness or 24 Hour Fitness.
Suddenly, you have access to locker rooms and showers almost everywhere you go. Hell, you may even luck out and get a location with a pool to cool off in too. Check out where you plan on going and what gyms have locations in those areas. If you’re on a tour of some kind, or just cruising the country with your buds, gyms can be a lifesaver in the hygiene department.
4. Unforeseen charges
Ah, the hidden or unforeseen charge. These are what you get slammed with each time you book a flight, hotel room, or rental car. You know, when you see the price of your rental car is something like $15 per day and the total charge somehow has mounted to $250? Yeah, that stuff. At hotels, they like to stack charges on for pets, and higher-end hotels will even charge you for internet access even though cheap hotels offer it for free.
How to get around these things? Complain about it. Seriously. It’ll work a lot of the time at hotels, as hotel staff is often told to more or less bend to customer’s whims. Rental car companies might get you a nicer ride, but their prices are often inflated due to taxes and other things out of their control. But hotels and restaurants will take you seriously if you complain — just don’t do it over nothing. And be polite, lest you just get tossed out.
5. Lines, lines, lines
There’s not a lot you can do when it comes to lines — whether it be at ticketing, security, or traffic. Your best bet is to use one of the many apps available to check out what’s going on well before a flight. Look at traffic on Google Maps, and if things are ugly, get to the airport ASAP. But sometimes you’re simply screwed — so what do you do?
Go into damage-control mode. Call the airline if you’re stuck in traffic, and let them know what’s going on. They may be able to get you on another flight or help you out in another way. As far as security goes, look into the TSA PreCheck program to get a leg-up on the other knuckleheads. But the best thing you can do to avoid trouble with lines is to nip the problem in the bud by being aware of what’s going on, and being early.
Follow Sam on Twitter @sliceofginger