So we can all pretty much agree that traveling is awesome. You get to meet new people, learn about different cultures, get out of you comfort zone and have life changing experiences that shape the very person you are. Right here would be a great place to insert any random travel quote that shows you just how cultured I am and how travel is so wonderfully, earth shatteringly, amazing.
Yet, we’re humans. And as humans, we feel like we’ve earned the right to bitch and moan about our first-world problems (like how annoying long-haul international flights can be). But seriously, hoowwwww annoying are those stupid long-haul international flights. Somehow you always get stuck next to the snorer, or the crying baby, or the unpleasantly plump woman taking up all of the arm rest. Well, after all these years of traveling, I’ve picked up a few tricks to solve inconsequential travel annoyances that seem very consequential at the time.
1. Personal space (or lack thereof) in immigration queues at airports
This one is simply bizarre. I don’t seem to understand why all the wierdos who have no concept of personal space in queues line up exclusively behind me. It’s not like you’re going to get through any faster if you rub up on me?! It’s one person at a time, man, and just coz you’re standing next to me like we’re conjoined twins, doesn’t mean you’ll get through any faster. This one is especially true in places in Asia and South America. Back the eff up, dude, no-fuckin’ touchin!
Solution: The Suitcase buffer
Always travel with a hand trolley. Use said trolley as buffer against idiots that are trying to re-enact R Kelly’s bump-n-grind video on you at airports, train stations, bus terminals and any other transportation depot. The further you lean the trolley, the greater the buffer.
2. Getting ripped off by cab drivers
This one kind of hurts. You’ve got your paper map, your lonely planet and a $1,500 DSLR around your neck. You couldn’t look more like a tourist if you tried.
uhhh.. okay maybe you could…
So short of wearing a signboard around your neck, it’s fairly obvious that you are a tourist. And when you’re a tourist, cabbies tend to know you have no idea where you’re going. I call it the “tourist tax.” You pay because you don’t know the route and the cabbie can pretty much drive you half way around Buenos Aires for a 30 minute cab ride which should in normal circumstances, be no more than 10.
Solution: Cached maps
News flash: You can make sections of maps on your google maps smart phone app available offline. So for most of us who don’t have data on our phone while traveling we’re no longer stuck to the paper map to try and figure out where we are (and how lost we are). Cached maps along with GPS on your phone means that you always know where you are and where you need to go. So the next time that cabbie wants to take you through a “short-cut” that’s decidedly long, you can call his ass out on it and not sit cluelessly while the meter racks up the charge.
3. Window shopping restaurants
We’ve all done it. You don’t really know where you want to go for dinner and you’ll be damned if you go to the “local hotspot” recommended by Lonely Planet that might have been a local a few years ago, but the mere LP mention drove out the locals and drove in the tourists.
So, you walk around the neighborhood, window shopping restaurants trying to strike the perfect balance between the food craving you’ve got, the restaurant’s menu & the crowd and ambience inside. Suddenly 2 hours have passed and you decide to just go buy some cheese and wine from the grocery store and call it a day. #truestory
Solution: Foursquare that!
Yelp is great, but can be pretty much useless outside the US. There’s versions of yelp around the world but in my experience, most of them have sucked. Foursquare has the “where people are” market on lockdown. You can see what’s popular around where you are, check out tips, figure out the menu and ambience and boom: no more window shopping. What’s even better is that people tend to like to check into places that are cool so you get the most up to date info on where everyone is.
Okay, so these are my most hated travel pet peeves, and my favorite travel hacks to get around them. What are some of your favorite hacks?