Not a Victim

When I tell people about places I’ve been, or where I’m going, I occasionally get “The Look”. The Look is that face of disapproval that screams, “Do you want to be raped, murdered, sold into sexual slavery, and then dumped into a septic tank?”

It’s a rhetorical and silent question, but if I had the nerve to challenge them, my answer would sound something like: “I would rather live today, and experience that life, than live in fear of what might happen, and still find myself in the exact same circumstances in a parking garage at the library one night, ten minutes from my own home.”

Women are safe, everywhere and nowhere.  

It isn’t the traveling that changes that truth, it’s the horrible hands of fate, forgetting the “rules” of being a woman alone that apply in Des Moines or Demascus, misreading cues, ignoring your intuition, or just plain bad luck of stepping into the wrong place at the wrong time.

I strongly suggest that any woman who wishes to travel alone reads The Gift of Fear. Author, Gavin De Becker, examined hundreds of violent attacks against women and found that the single best defense mechanism we each have is our intuition.  Honed for thousands of years our primal survival instinct tells us how to interact, who to trust, and how to respond when we find ourselves in harm’s way.

Years ago, as a victim’s advocate who was called to the scene of a number of sexual assaults, I always found Gavin’s findings to hold true.  The victims always had some statement indicating dis-ease – with a person, a situation, or the way someone had disregarded their earlier barriers – that set off their intuition, but they chose to silence that voice in favor of being polite or “not appearing racist” or thinking that they were “being silly”.

For me, when I travel alone, I’m rude if I need to be.  I don’t feel compelled to politely answer questions about where I’m going or with whom I’m travelling.  I don’t smile without purpose just because I make eye contact.  I don’t chat up strangers or respond to their chattiness without first evaluating my threat levels.

Have I occasionally been socially pressured, or situationally pressured into making choices I’d rather not have? Yes!  And, after the fact, I always kick myself for ignoring my inner voice. That voice was designed to keep me from being eaten by a mastodon, or raped by Ted Bundy, and I should view that voice as my most precious travel companion. But, she’s getting louder with every trip I take, and I’m getting more attuned to her importance.

Knowing that I can rely on my intuition in some circumstances, does not mean that I ignore the truth of the horrible acts that have been perpetuated against female travelers who just had the bad luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and experiencing the lightening strike that can be fate.  One quick Google search turns up reports of endless counts of violence against female travelers, with and without male companions.

“A 51-year-old Danish tourist was gang-raped [in Paharganj, New Dehli] after she got lost and asked a group of men for directions back to her hotel, police said. The attackers … dragged her to an isolated spot, stole her iPad and cash and held her hostage for more than three hours. Six of the men raped her.”

“On Jan. 3, a Polish tourist was allegedly drugged and raped by a taxi driver near a main railway station [in New Dehli]”.

“In July, an American tourist was gang-raped in the tourist town of Manali in the state of Himachal Pradesh [India].”

But, the problem isn’t just in India.  Last year when I spent time in Bali, a male friend jokingly reduced the threats of violence against women traveling in that area by saying that I would be completely safe because I was a “white woman, in Bali”.  He ignorantly forgot the world headlines last year when a serial rapist targeting the peaceful towns of Ubud, and the 20-something party destination of Kuta, attacked an Australian woman in her villa while seven family members slept nearby.

“A serial rapist is believed to be behind a terrifying attack on a 28-year-old Australian woman in Bali. The woman … had a knife held to her throat during the assault … while seven other members of her family, including children, slept nearby in the property.”

Stories like this permeate our travel consciousness, and each time we hear them, at the back of our mind we judge the traveler:  “Where were you? Why would you go there? Who were you with?” 

But, just as often these stories take place when the woman is traveling with her male companion. In South Africa a couple was kidnapped at a highly traveled picnicking spot, they were held for 14 hours, and she was raped repeatedly while men from local villages watched and taunted the couple and cheered on their assailants.

The stories are terrifying, but they’re also exceptionally rare. Which is why they make international headlines.  Just as one wouldn’t refuse to leave the country due to the likelihood of lightening storms, so to should we refuse to be limited to certain segments of the world, and only travel with male companions, due to the likelihood of a lightening strikes of a different type.  Yet that’s what people want.  They want their women – sisters, mothers, girlfriends, and daughters – safe, and to them, safe means home.

Women’s Travel Fest, held in March of 2014 was dedicated to the question of “How can women safely see the world?” And featured travel journalist Samantha Brown, and journalist Sarah Shourd who was held captive for 410 days in Iran with a friend and her now husband, among others. The conference discussed women’s travel openly and honestly, touching upon everything from traveling as a solo female in the middle east, to traveling with kids, and plotting a female-friendly itinerary.

But, women’s safely is about more than just conferences and catchy YouTube “Tips” videos, it’s about being safe in our own homes first. The truth of sexual assault is that most women who are assaulted encounter the violation not in some remote jungle in a far away country, but in their own home town, by a person they know, and maybe even trust. I live in a first world country, with first world ideals about the treatment of women, and a world-class legal system, and even here women are not well protected from assault. So, why would I allow the potential risk to keep me within the unsafe “safety” zone?

Instead of expecting women to timidly tiptoe around the world through safe tour bus caravans of Mid-Western travelers on July holidays to the United Kingdom, we should begin by addressing these violations in a real and meaningful way in our own country – longer sentencing, faster processing of rape kits, better trauma care during the medical evaluation process, and believing the victim

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Sources:

Trading Gifts for Experiences

I can count the number of people I can tolerate for a 7+ day stretch on one hand, using one address, and the status of two members in that exclusive club is dubious at any given moment1. Add to that list the variable that is a 500 square foot hotel room and/or 250 square foot bunk aboard a floating vessle and my tolerance, even at the best of times, becomes rather questionable. But, I recognize this is my curmudgeonly deficit, and not their causing. Plus, as easily annoyed as I can be by travel companions, my work causes me to travel often enough that it is expected a few bones of “travel-perk-kick-backs” will be thrown their way, by means of a luxury vacation for four to enjoy pre-scheduled family fun, gluttonous indulgence in the finest sugars throughout the world, and room service, at all hours, by starched attendants who respond eagerly to our thank you’s with “It’s a pleasure.”

All these elements in mind, it is decided!  Rather than a gluttony of gifts and frenetic holiday parties, our family of four will depart the cold winters of Utah this December to set out on a 16 day adventure throughout the Mediterranean, by air, sea, and rail.

Cinque Terre

In 2009 the DH and I took an 11 day journey through Italy – Venice to Vernazza, Rome to Bologna, and it was delightful.  We relaxed, we rushed, we learned, we vegged, and we marvelled, then we marvelled some more, then we ordered cappuccino, gellato, and “una caraffa di vino rosso della casa, per favore” and we discussed how wonderful it would be to bring our two boys back, to experience it all, together.

But, boys grow, and schedules collide, and suddenly we found ourselves at that moment where making this trip happen could become a serious challenge unless we undertook the endeavor before baseball practice, science fairs, and “participation points” began to truly dictate our schedules.  Plus, year after year during the Christmas morning gift orgy that takes place on the floor of our living room we comment that there must be a better way to celebrate the holiday as a family, reflecting in our appreciation and abundance, rather than growing it. So, it was proposed:

“This year, we’re taking Christmas off!  Instead of stuff, we’re going to experience the world.”

There were grumbles, there were plaintiff whines, there were melancholic wales about new iPods, and peanut brittle, and the fragrance of pine wafting through the house (that one coming from me in a moment of self-doubt).  But, we held firm.  The best of Christmas can be found anywhere, but one more electronic gadget brought into our house might officially push our sons past the breaking point, and turn them into the weebles displayed on Wall-E.  So, we held firm – a Christmas vacation it will be.

The destination: Italy, Greece, and Turkey
The date: December 12 – January 28
The details: Stay tuned

Related Articles

1. To Italy with Your Own Mob (Star Tribune)
2. Burano and Torcello (Sweet Miel)
3. Cruising with Kids (Tbird’s Travel Blog)
4. Essential Travel Gear for Families (Kids Are a Trip)

1. Said, of course, in the most loving way in a moment when the aforementioned members are not currently roughhousing, whining, demanding, or playing “gimme’s” at the grocery store.

Fine Dining at a Vegas Buffet

For Mother’s Day, I choose the time-honored tradition of leaving my children at home with Grandma and hitting Las Vegas, which, of course, includes a trip to the omnipresent buffets.

This year’s choice, Bacchanal at Caesar’s Palace. Where for $45 one is given the opportunity to gorge on 500 small plate choices, a carving station, dim sum, sushi, breakfast classics, and of course – prime rib and crab legs.

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But this year, we’re doing it differently.  We’ve challenged each other to make the non-buffet, buffet. The dear husband and I will be taking turns creating a 21 course masterpiece, or beautifully plated and served breakfast (and not so breakfast delicacies).  The challenge, each of us is given a brief description and takes turns plating and bringing back to our den of gluttony (aka table) a lovely serving of the topic assigned.

Our Mother’s Day 21 course tasting menu:

  1. Fresh juices, fruit, honey & cheeses
  2. Antipasto/Charcuterie
  3. Amuse bouche – Black velvet pancakes & bacon
  4. Amuse bouche – Soufflé and breakfast meats
  5. Sushi, Pho, & Miso soup
  6. Salad & Fresh Vegetables
  7. Shellfish & Ceviche
  8. Soup and Breads
  9. Street Tacos & Mexican tastes
  10. Pasta
  11. Intermezzo (Gelato)
  12. Omelet & breakfast staples
  13. Assorted salads of Watermelon, mozzarella, tomato, and roasted beets
  14. The beef course with corn, carrots,  mashed potatoes & gravy
  15. Dim sum
  16. Fried & American Junk food: sliders, fries, tater tots, & mac & cheese
  17. Tapas
  18. Cookies & Cheese
  19. Cakes & Pies
  20. Ice cream, petit four & fresh juices
  21. Candy

I’d say we’re classing it up, except one can’t really call a three-hour champagne and calorie binge classy

The Ten Types of Travel Everyone Should Experience

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,
To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of lands remote,
To travel is to live.” 

– Hans Christian Andersen

As we move through our lives, if we’re lucky, we’ll experience a variety of different adventures that take us away from home.  Some of them will break your heart to leave, and some will bring that moment where, in the words of Erma Bombeck, “You know it’s time to go home when you start to look like your passport photo.”

I recently read a Buzzfeed article on the 18 different types of travelers, and it got me thinking of all the different types of travel one can (and should) experience in their life – and how fortunate I have been to experience a glimpse of them all.

My list of the ten types of travel everyone should experience:

1. The Trek – Anyone who knows me would know that I am a “great indoorsman”.  I love a great meal, a lovely lobby, a lush bed, and a nicely curated museum.  But, growing up in the Western US, one is also expected to get out every now and again to experience America’s treasures, our National Parks.

About five years ago, after much cajoling, my dear husband got me to acquiesce to a two-day, 16-mile backpacking trek down the Virgin River, through Zion National Park.  This is not a simple stroll and an overnight camp.  This is a journey that requires almost constant maneuvering through rushing river waters, shimmying down slippery red rock embankments, and a number of passages where you take off your pack and carry it over your head as frigid emerald waters creep up past your armpits and loose river boulders threaten to turn your ankle with every step. It also opened eyes to the complete serenity of being alone. Miles went by where we didn’t see another person, and the sounds of rushing water made conversation impossible during some passages.

I gained a Zen in that trek that I have never experienced before, a oneness with nature that my husband had known and enjoyed for years, but I had never quite understood. When the journey was concluding and we lumbered past the day trippers who’d hiked two miles up river for the “easy” experience, I also basked in the exhaustion of accomplishment, and felt like quite the badass.

2. The Business Trip – This one gets old, fast, but those who’ve never done it seem to have the feeling that travelling for work would be glamorous and “fun”.  The first day is a little exciting, airports, expense accounts, checking in to a new (and hopefully nicer than you’d splurge for) hotel, ordering up room service, pulling out your laptop for a late night cram session.  Then day two, and three, and loneliness set in and you realize it’s still just work … and room service never tastes as good as the food you’d make at home.

3. The Five Star Experience – Early in his career my husband worked for a big, posh company that sent key employees away on quarterly “retreats”.  The work-relevant component to the trip was lost on me, but the pre-paid five start hotel, generous airfare (read first class) allowance, and $500 per day per diem were not.  I enjoyed massages, shopping, and general lazing about while the Mr. attended meetings and training sessions, then we met for a luxurious dinner and didn’t even flip our eyes toward the cost of what we ordered.  He now works in public service, and the travel perks have evaporated, but it was an absolutely delightful thing to have once walked into the Fairmont Empress, Victoria, Canada with three days and $1,500 to spend on anything we wanted to do.

4. The Honeymoon – When we first married we were poor students with no time or budget for a proper honeymoon. We ended up on what we now joke was the “worst honeymoon ever”, a weekend at the Wart Hotel in Jackson Hole, Wyoming during the off-season – which is why we got a deal on the room which enabled us to afford the trip.  Unfortunately, in the November off-season, Jackson Hole shuts down.  The weather is too cold for outdoor adventure, but too warm for snow. The shops (except for the Gap and the ubiquitous T-shirt stores) close, the restaurants are undergoing refurbishment, and the famous Cowboy Bar is empty.  So, we spent three days at the movie theater and ate Thanksgiving Dinner at the Evanston, Wyoming JB’s buffet and truck stop.

Fortunately, years later we were able to take a beautiful week-long vacation to the Whitehouse Sandals in southern Jamaica.  We cashed in our frequent flier miles for first class tickets, planted our butts on posh lounging chairs, read on the beach, had leisurely mimosa breakfasts, and lazed away the days reconnecting with each other.  There really is something to the lazy romantic getaway that can recharge a relationship even more than a grand voyage through the most romantic streets of Venice.

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5. Living Cheap in the Third World – A year ago I fulfilled a life long bucket list item and traveled to Indonesia to volunteer at a small children’s charity in the hills above Bali. The children were delightful, the sleeping accommodations sent me home wondering if I had bed bugs, and the experience opened my eyes and changed my perspective more than any trip I’d ever taken.  I saw Australian spring-breakers behaving like disgusting animals, 80-year-old Balinese women hauling wheelbarrows full of heavy bricks, third world prostitution, a beautiful cremation ceremony in Ubud, and spent my thirty-fifth birthday surrounded by citizens of the world.  And, heading through customs on the way home the agent looked at my passport and then at me and asked, “What happened to you?” … apparently my passport photo looked BETTER than the real thing, definitely time to go home.

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6. It All Goes Wrong, and That’s Okay – A recent business trip when my luggage didn’t show up, strep throat in Orlando, Florida, a week in the Intensive Care Unit requiring a complete rerouting of a trip to Italy.  I’ve experienced a bit of it all, and it all turned out okay, because I held to the mantra, “It’s about the journey, not the destination.”

7. The Short Term Move – The summer between my sophomore and junior year of college I moved to Burlington, Vermont.  Which, for a girl who grew up in the suburban west, was quite an eye-opening experience.  Hippies … real hippies … with dread locks, bare feet, and thick blunts hanging from their lips.  I was in mouth-agape heaven.  I bought a sarong, stopped blow drying my hair, and took to listening to Phish with the best of them (though I never quite understood the point).  At the end of the summer I was smarter, less sheltered, and ready for the familiar – most especially my familiar self. I’d also gained five pounds of Ben and Jerry’s and vegan lasagna, and learned that the theory that Patchouli replaces deodorant is incorrect, my mother sent me to the shower immediately upon entering the house.

8. The History and Culture Tour – In college I spent two weeks wandering through Europe and saw a little bit of not much, but I ate well and wandered the beautiful streets of Brugges, Saint-Michel, Stockholm, and Amsterdam. I didn’t go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, wander the Rijksmuseum, or open my eyes to anything more than the deliciousness of the street waffle.

Then, in 2009 I took a two-week journey through Italy with my dear husband and his family. We visited Florence, Bologna, Cinque Terre, Rome, Sienna, and Venice.  We saw cathedrals, canals, museums, famous statues, and licked gelato in every beautiful piazza we passed. We learned, we laughed, and we loved… and of course, it being Italy, we ate.  And, I can’t wait to repeat the trip with an adventure along the Danube next year.

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9. The Metropolitan Weekend – New York, Boston, Washington DC, Chicago, Vancouver, San Francisco are all perfect locations for a weekend getaway of food, museums, theater, and that relaxed feeling that comes with having nowhere to go and everything to do. It’s tempting to always plan the “big” trip, but my husband continues to remind me that a few small trips to great locations can be just as relaxing, and gives us more overall travel each year.

10. The Staycation – Sometimes, it’s just about reconnecting with your own life, taking a few days off to clean out the closets, visit local attractions, sleep in, and watch terrible day time television can be an incredibly re-energizing.

Dining Alone

At a slim 5’3″ with long blonde hair I don’t exactly look like someone who “needs” to dine alone on a Saturday night. But, one can only eat so many bland Hilton lobby bar dinners – so eventually during every work trip I venture out for local cuisine.

Anyone who’s travelled alone extensively will tell you, making conversation with yourself over Fava beans and a nice Chianti (forgive the literary reference, one too many glasses of said Chianti) is about as boring as a Hilton Bolognese.

So, I cheat with these tips:

1. Eat at the bar – while others are waiting for their table you can nosh some cauliflower gratin and you might also get chatty with your barstool neighbor. If not, at least you’re surrounded by people to eavesdrop on.

2. Try out the hot spots – when it’s just a table for one most restaurants can accomodate you for the super early or super late shift (they know you won’t camp out for hours). Plus, when it’s just one person dining that chic spot becomes a lot more affordable.

3. Dress to Impress: Nobody can make you feel like a loner unless you let them. Dress up, just like you would for a date, make it clear that your decision to dine alone is your choice.

4. Bring a Magazine – when all else fails, read and ignore the world.

Packing Tips from a Professional Packer

I’ve traveled around the world a handful of times, and had all sorts of travel surprises. But, one thing I have learned is that (assuming your luggage arrives with you) a well-packed suitcase is the key to a smooth journey. And, another plus, a well-packed suitcase doesn’t need checking.

I have a few key philosophies to packing that I learned as a flight attendant years ago, and then adjusted as my work demands in a new career became more complicated.

1. The airport is a war zone.  Don’t dress for style, dress for function – with nice pieces that you can use if you have a bag-tastrophe.

2. Only pack what you, yourself, can carry – up and down stairs, through security, and all through the town … you never know when something unexpected will happen.

3. Pack a wardrobe, not outfits, but make sure the wardrobe will make up a few outfits that work for lounging, business, and going out on the town. As long as those three activities  covered, you can make your options work many different ways and your gear won’t limit your adventure.

4. When you get home, edit and evaluate.  Pull out the list of things you packed and cross off anything you didn’t need.  Next time you’re packing evaluate if you still want the item just in case or if you’ll be just fine without it.

That said, click on the first picture below for a few more tips and travel hacks I’ve figured out.

Shoe Sachets

Shoe Fresh Sachets

Shoe Sachets keep your shoes, bags, and luggage smelling fresh and clean. When I’m not travelling I store them in my handbags in my closet (and they make my closet smell divine).  They take only a few minutes and have a bjillion uses.

Instructions

1. Collect all your old panty hose with runs in them.

2. Pour one heaping tablespoon of Downy Unstopables inside the foot of the panty hose, tie off, and cut.

3. Make a knot in the bottom of the panty hose and repeat. A knee sock will make 3-4 sachets, a full pair of panty hose (legs only) will use up an entire container of the Unstopables.

I like to choose Unstopables with a coordinating dryer sheet scent which I’ll tuck throughout my luggage. It creates great scent layers and you can put them in the hotel drawers which can be dusty and unpleasant smelling.  When I pack, I put a sachet inside each shoe (shown in the image below) it makes my shoes fresh and clean smelling enough that I can use them for storage of socks and lingerie.

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Tip: Do you have candle warmers?  The unstoppable pellets are also a perfect filler for the candle warmer to make your whole house smell good.

Candle Warmers

 

 

The Buffer Day

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One o’clock on a Friday afternoon is a perfectly reasonable time to depart from Salt Lake City International Airport en route to the lush green countryside of England. The airport is busy and fully staffed but not yet crowded with weekend warriors and the commuting execs have already cleared out of the Priority security lanes, eager to return after a week away from home and hearth.

My trusty Kelly green roller bag and I whizzed through security, swift and practiced in the head, shoulders, knees, and toes of airport security and onto the Delta lounge for a glass of white wine and a spoonful of Nutella, before I arrived at gate C9, just in time to line up for priority boarding.

Then they called my name. An error with my boarding pass “The Assistant” had once again booked a ticket with my awkward last name typed incorrectly. Some gate agents let it slide, other over-diligent types require that I show my passport and reprint my boarding pass. That flight was staffed by the diligent type.

“The flight is completely full today, Miss would you mind gate checking your bag?”

Now, I believe in flight karma, and I love it when they call me Miss, so I agreed.

“Be the traveler you want to travel with.”

Because I believe in flight karma, when asked to switch seats for families, change flights without affecting arrival times, or check my bag, I try to acquiesce. So I agreed, bid my bag a brief adieu and onto the plane I went, where my sacrifice was rewarded with a bulkhead seat followed by an international flight with no passenger in the seat beside me.

Flight karma is good … until I arrived in Manchester, wearing my less-then-clean ankle length white travel skirt, eighteen hours of grime, black cowboy boots, and my trusty Kelly green suitcase did not.

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My hotel was located a traffic-free one hour ride from the airport, and I was ensured that my bag would be delivered at 6:00 when the next flight arrived from Ansterdam.

But, the gate agent forgot to tell me that the lost luggage desk closes at 6:00 PM.

A call to the lost luggage line confirmed that my baggage would be delivered in the morning, at 9:00 am, when the luggage desk opened.

But, on Sundays, the lost luggage desk does not open until 11:00 am.

Time to make the most of a bad situation.

Handy in-room sewing kit in hand I took my plaid pashmina and fashioned a makeshift knee length kilt for a better finished effect than the rumpled white skirt I had been wearing for two days of planes, trains, and automobiles. With my black travel cardigan, a low braid, and my black boots I almost looked casual and sporting. Unfortunately, the event I was hosting beginning at 12:30 was neither casual nor sporting.

Google, Siri, and a couple of calls later I’d identified a few shopping options within a 30 minute drive and decided it was time to call an audible, “My luggage isn’t going to make it in time for my work function, can you get me a taxi into the nearest city center?”

Hard target search: straightening iron and cosmetics at Boots, then a head-to-toe polyester masterpiece for 50£ at Primark, and I almost looked like the professional I pretend to be (so long as nobody looked too closely or smoked in my immediate vicinity.)

Not a hair out of place, a raised voice, or a lost second of sleep. I have proved again that in travel, as in life, It ain’t a problem if you can solve it with a taxi ride and an American Express.

Local Currency

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I don’t speak French, Mandarin, Spanish or Arabic – but I know a handful of insults in each. My map-reading skills leave much to be desired, and I’ll only rent a car in the simplest of cities to navigate.

Instead, I rely on the navigation tools that have never lead me wrong: research, a friendly smile, and a pocketful of the local currency.

In Jakarta, Indonesia when navigating the airport shuttles became overwhelming, I hopped in a taxi and let the professional sort it out. And, thanks to my pocketful of Rupiah I didn’t have to pay the $6.00 exchange and ATM fee in order to finance the $2.00 transaction.

Street snacks, vending machines that sell wine, bathrooms, un-posted airport fees bring it on. I’ll be ready, I’m heading to the bank this morning to pick up some Turkish Lira.

Airport Etiquette

Having flown extensively, all over the world, for business and pleasure, as a professional flight attendant, an eager spring breaker, and a harried mother traveling alone with two young children, I have developed a very definite opinion as to the most efficient way to navigate the bizarre social interaction that is The Airport. But, some people just don’t seem to get it. Whether you are (or know) a bad airporter you’ll be able to identify with my airport behavior “musts” list below.

1. Read the signs – The airport is full of instruction; watch constantly for new data sets, signs, and changes to your gate. When you’re having trouble finding your flight in Paris, it’s because they list them chronologically, not alphabetically. Check your gate first, then get dinner or hit the pub, but always make sure you’re in the right terminal before you relax, nap, or go grab a meal.

2. Eat, Sleep, and Pea Proactively – “Never run when you can walk, never walk when you can stand, never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lay, and never lay when you can sleep. Take advantage of every opportunity for comfort. You don’t know when travel fate will bust in and mess with your well-laid plans.

3. Build Allies – A friend of mine who travels extensively advocates for the “always say hello policy” in airports and foreign cities. He believes it brings positive travel Karma and makes it easy to make friends anywhere in the world. Here’s how it works: if you make eye contact with someone say hello. Not exactly groundbreakingly complex stuff, but something us introspective misanthropic types forget.

4. Follow the Rules – Flying is very stressful for some people, and it should be, there are a bjillion things that could go wrong AND KILL YOU. This whole, crazy in-flight endeavor requires that you peacefully listen to the bosses of the flight: TSA, Flight Attendants, bossy children demanding window seats. If everybody just follows the rules, quickly and without challenge we’ll all get where we’re going quickly … so stow that damn accordion!

5. The armrest belongs to the person in the middle seat – The armrest is the consolation prize for the person who gets stuck in the middle seat, it’s a declaration of independence from the window and the aisle.

6. Don’t put more than one item in the overhead bin – The overhead bin is designed to give each passenger one space (or fewer). You can’t stow a handbag, suitcase, and coat – pick one and the rest goes under your seat. Sorry, but they pack the planes that tight.

7. Pay attention to the person before you – Be ready to proceed, recede, or rebel when queued up for the never ending lines that come with travel, it gets people twitchy when you pause too long after the clerk says, “Next!”

8. This is not your bedroom- I struggle with this one because I’ve slept in airports, all over the world, a good Terminal 2 nap can be a lifesaver (Thank You Taiwan Airport). But, some people turn airport napping into something … Gross! My thoughts, don’t: bring a blankie any bigger than a light fleece, pull out a pillow any bigger than 12″ squared, wear pajamas, snuggle, or expect those around you to respect your nap space.

9. Don ‘t think your travel agenda is critical – I once stood in line at JFK in front of a flashy-trashy girl in six inch gold heels in line for a flight to Las Vegas. I was with my two young boys and we enjoyed this woman’s loud discussion about how angry she would be if she missed her flight and therefor her audition to work for the “Adult Dance Review”. My annoyance with this loud-mouthed girl was so great I was rooting against myself in a great desire to see her (Our! My!) flight delayed.

10. We’re all in this together – Don’t be the guy who delays the whole flight complaining about a space for your sombrero. Don’t ring the flight attendant call button to ask for water (she’ll bring it to all of us). Don’t bring a chili dog on the plane. Don’t chat with someone holding a book. Don’t get drunk, and don’t get demanding.

Nobody likes flying, but if people would follow my airport etiquette it would be much easier.