Since I travel a lot, to a wide variety of places, I see many travel disasters happen to other people, disasters which could have easily been prevented. Most of them don't happen to me any more because they happened once. Here are four tips which, if followed, can erase 80% of your problems both huge (my computer was stolen) and small (I couldn't brush my teeth this morning):
- Have at least two pieces of government ID. For an extra $30 (when renewing by mail) you can get a passport card when you get your passport. I always have at least my drivers license and passport card. That way, if I lose one, I can always use the other as ID to get on a plane to get home. They accept the passport card for travel in the U.S. , Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. It cannot be used for international air travel. I presume that means you can get into the Caribbean or Mexico by cruise ship with a passport card, or drive to Canada or Mexico.
- Anything you absolutely must have, never let go. This includes my computer, phone, ID , money and credit cards. While I have to let my computer and phone go through security, I have my ID and cards in my hand when I go through the scanner. I mean, literally, never let go of it. I never check my phone , computer or contacts.
- Bring a small overnight bag. Think you are smart because everything is in your carry on? Think again. Overhead storage is full and now you need to check it and your flight is late so you are spending the night in Minneapolis. So, you're in first class and you are sure they'll be room for your bag? Guess what - the second leg of your flight is on a smaller plane and roller bags don't fit in the overhead. You'll have to check it but, gee, too bad, your bag didn't make it on the flight so you are meeting that client tomorrow morning wearing the same clothes you had on this morning. If I check a bag, my carry on is a bag small enough to fit under the seat next to my computer. It includes clean clothes for 1 day, charger for my phone and basic toiletries like toothpaste, toothbrush, contacts and deodorant. If I only have a carry on , I have a small cloth bag in it that I can throw my one-day stuff into in a few minutes if it turns out that I have to give up my carry on to baggage claim.
- Realize that you can get your prescriptions filled almost anywhere in a pinch, that includes contacts, prescription medications. In Missouri, I realized I only had 5 days worth of contacts left and I was not going to be home for two weeks. I was able to get a trial pack for the next five days from a local optometrist, and my optometrist's office emailed me the prescription so I could get another three months' supply in Missouri. What if you can't get hold of your physician? There have been occasions when I was coaching and an athlete forgot or ran out of a prescription, we were out of town and could not reach their doctor. In that case, if you go to a local pharmacy with the empty bottle with your prescription they will usually give you a few days' supply if it's something you absolutely must have, like anti-convulsants. I'm pretty sure they will not do this for controlled substance like pain pills, for reasons that should be obvious.
When I'm not traveling, and sometimes even when I am, I'm working on making educational games. Head over to the app store and check out Aztech: Meet the Maya - learn history and math, improve your Spanish (or English)