Is Airport Etiquette and Flying Etiquette Dead?

Is Airport Etiquette and Flying Etiquette Dead?

Reading Time: 18 minutes

Is Airport Etiquette and Flying Etiquette Dead? The more I travel the more I’m coming across some absolutely maddening behaviors of my fellow humans. Sometimes all I can do is just stare out of shock at how some people behave. Do we all hate each other that much, or are we that afraid someone is out to make our vacation experience that miserable that we end up being downright nasty to a perfect stranger?

I know this will likely open up a backlash of comments, and people posting their opinion on this, but I feel it is a conversation that should have been started a long time ago. I plan on doing several articles on travel etiquette in different situations so be sure to stay tuned and subscribe below.

Airport Etiquette and Flying Etiquette

Checking In Your Bag

When you go to check your bag in, you see the incredibly long lines leading up to the counter with the stone faced airline staff giving instruction on the bags you wish to bring with you. With all the changes made to airlines and baggage size requirements and amount of baggage you bring – it is important to remain calm when they give you instructions.

Do:

  • Smile and say hello to your fellow human being.
  • Politely say, ‘oh darn my bag is over the weight limit – here is my credit card – sorry about the inconvenience’.
  • Have your identification card out ready to go, along with your passport and confirmation number if applicable.
  • Put the ticket for your luggage they give you inside your passport so that you don’t lose it, just in case your luggage ends up on the wrong plane.

Don’t:

  • Don’t yell, argue, or try to con your way out of paying the extra price for your overweight luggage. The fuel cost and having someone transport that for you is likely what is driving up the prices. Workman’s comp for the baggage boy’s bad back is your fault.
  • The airline staff get paid to help you with your travels, they don’t get paid to take your abusive language or behavior. It isn’t so hard to just be nice.
  • Don’t try to chance the weight being over, and then hold up the long line to try and rearrange your stuff into different bags. This is the type of crap that makes everyone upset.

Solution:

Get a luggage scale, and if you have to skimp out on the souvenirs, or leave a few jeans or boots behind then do it.

Get travel insurance to protect your belongings, airlines don’t always reimburse you for damages.

Pay for your extra bag, or extra weight on your luggage online before you go to the airport.

The Dreadful Security Lines

Security lines are the worst part of anyone’s travel experience. You have to stand in a line with other strangers, smell dirty feet, get padded down by strangers who don’t even speak to you. Take off all your rings, hats, scarves, coats, and basically unpack your bag for the person behind you to see if it is worth mugging you before you go to get into your taxi.

Do:

  • Be patient.
  • Do what the security personnel ask you to do, unless you want to end up in a room with people yelling at you.
  • Make sure your liquids are all gone.
  • Take out all electronic devices and put them into separate bins.
  • Take off your coat, shoes, belts, large wallets, massive metal bracelets or watches and put them in the bin.

Don’t

  • Don’t be on your phone arguing with a family member, or lover about a private issue. We don’t want to know or hear about your drama, we are going on vacation.
  • Don’t cut the line or save a spot for the 25 other friends coming with you, it is rude – and not making eye contact with the person behind you doesn’t mean we can’t see it.
  • Don’t be rude to the parents trying to keep it together while their kids try to pickpocket the phone out of the bin in front of them.
  • Don’t get mad.
  • Don’t argue with the TSA or security agents when they say you can’t take something on the plane. It isn’t their fault you skipped pass the prohibited items page when checking in online.
  • Don’t be that person who is impatient and feels they are in a bigger hurry than everyone else, so they cut in front of you because there is a 1.5 foot opening on the conveyor belt. (True story) Then get mad at the TSA agent because they ask you not to cut the line, and you say that ‘They weren’t ready’ – FOOL! YOU DIDN’T EVEN ASK ME. Then you forget to take your belt off and have to hold up the line cause YOU ain’t ready. (Ok, sorry, rant over).

Solution:

Get the TSA pre-check if you travel primarily in the United States. Get the Global Entry of you are frequent overseas traveler. These allow you to keep your shoes, belts, and computers in your suitcase. While this can vary at each airport, or if there is minimal security staff at night, it has been the best investment I have ever made. After flying for 47 hours, and having to wait in line to get through border security – I fell asleep on my feet and nearly fell over. It cuts down on so much downtime, and tedious waiting in so many different countries it is well worth the effort to do this.

Water Fountains

The airports are now catching on to people using their own water bottles to fill up before they board the plane. They also have limited airline staff from filling up water bottles outright, or giving more than a glass of anything in their single use plastic cups.

Again, while this can be maddening at times, there will always be someone you can tip at a restaurant for filling up your bottle for $1-$2 instead of trudging down the terminal to the water fountain at the end in the obscure place behind the fake tree (true story). If you do find the water fountain, be sure you watch carefully how much you are putting in the bottle. I once saw an young woman fill up her bottle to overflowing, she glanced down at the big puddle that she left on the floor and walked away. It wasn’t thirty seconds later that an elderly gentleman nearly fell in the puddle of water and could have broken a hip.

If nothing else – make sure that you put a towel, napkin, or notify someone in a store about the water spill. We are all stressed about our own lives, and we all hate touching dirty floors – but don’t put someone’s life at risk because you spilled.

Please don’t rush to get your bottle filled and cut me off in your efforts to be the first one to the fountain. This is not a race, this is water there is plenty to go around.

Do

  • Pay attention to the water level in your bottle
  • Clean up after yourself if you should spill

Don’t

  • Assume that the water on the floor is harmless to everyone, just because it is harmless to you
  • Ignore how full your bottle is becoming

Solution:

Pay attention to what your doing – it will save you a lot of time and headache. Clean up after yourself, janitors have enough of a thankless job – do’t make more work for them by being lazy. Yes you are going on vacation, but it doesn’t mean that you get to be rude.

Airport Etiquette and Flying Etiquette

The Business of Boarding

I remember this so vividly, I was eighteen years old – traveling to Rome Italy for my first International trip and had stopped in the JFK airport for a layover. I remember seeing frantic travelers lining up in front of the gate when they announced they would be boarding soon. The thing that immediately came to mind was ‘we are a heard of cattle’. You would think we were lining up to get food after starving for three years.

If I accidentally bumped into another passengers luggage, they would give me a dirty look, and scoot their bag closer to them. I hadn’t even realized I had done it and laughed at them because I had no idea I was that terrible of a person that I would take their bag and run out the doors of the airport cackling like the witch from Snow White when she bites the apple.

I stood their smiling, looking at the jostling, the silent vying for the front spot in the line to get on the plane so that they could get their precious cargo on first. Here we were, all within 10 inches of each other, acting like three year olds trying to kick the soccer ball but having it go nowhere.

The flight attendant called for the first class people to board, and it looked like the stores on Black Friday here in the States. People were shoving, pushing, arguing and even started yelling.

Being the big mouth that I tend to be at times, I very loudly and forcefully told everyone, “We are all going to the same damn place – just file in and be nice”. It seemed to settle people down and put it in perspective for the moment; of course I got some dirty looks from the woman with her blinged out dog and fancy bag – I didn’t care. I wasn’t going to let these people ruin my first trip overseas with some ridiculous notion that getting on the plane first means you are more important than anyone else there.

So when boarding your flight, here are some things I would humbly suggest:

Do

  • Wait your turn, and sit or stand to the side so that people aren’t cofused and can get on the plane quickly.
  • Pay attention and put your phone away, so that if someone has a question you can appear approachable.
  • Offer your bag to be checked if they are offering it, and you don’t have anything important you will need during your flight.
  • Have your ticket in hand and passport if applicable to give to the hostess.
  • Realize that you are all going to the same location, you are at the gate, and won’t miss the flight.
  • Pack light so that you don’t have to worry about getting the coveted overhead bin space. The less time you have in your seat on the plane, the happier you will be- I promise.

Don’t

  • Don’t shove your way to the front, just because you paid $20 extra – there is no excuse to not be kind when they call your zone.
  • Don’t try and sneak into a zone or line you aren’t supposed to be in. This causes delays, arguments etc…. No one likes people that do this, just wait your turn – the plane hasn’t left yet. Just ask yourself, ‘Is it really worth looking like a jackass to the 150-200 people surrounding you, just to save yourself the $75 fee for checking the luggage?’
  • Don’t crowd entrance into the gangway, it is confusing for those trying to board, and again – you look like a jackass for doing it.

Solution:

Be patient, wait your turn, make room for those who are being called to board.

Airport Etiquette and Flying Etiquette

Find YOUR Seat, Double/Triple Check

Flying from Buenos Aires, and Santiago and to be honest, several other countries – there is a growing number of people who just sit down wherever they feel like sitting. This is not the metro, nor is it a bus where seats are a free for all. This is a structured system, so that heaven forbid – if the plane crashes – they will be able to take your body to your family based on the seat position you were in.

While several airlines are known for overbooking, or double booking seats on more than one occasion – it doesn’t hurt to double check the seat, number, and letter you are supposed to be sitting in.

We were delayed by twenty minutes on three different occasions where people were in the wrong seat. Despite hearing these individuals speak in English, they pretended they didn’t understand English – or the language of the place they were traveling to. This stopped people from boarding the plane, it agitated the airline staff (never a good idea), and delayed 150-200 other people from reaching their final destination.

There was another lady who argued with someone about the seat she was sitting in. She refused to move, because she was adamant that was her seat – and didn’t bother to double check. After the stewardess asked to see her ticket, she was shown where her real seat was and she quickly moved – completely embarrassed.

Do

  • Double check your seat assignment
  • Be kind and politely ask the person sitting in your seat if the seat assignment on your ticket is the correct one.
  • Put your bag in the overhead bin until you can figure out your seat assignment. You can always move it later.
  • Politely ask the airline staff if they can help you figure out where to sit
  • Realize that computers are not perfect, and you will get to your destination

Don’t

  • Assume that the person in your seat is doing something dishonest – it could be an honest mistake
  • Don’t get in an arguing match over whose seat is whose, and assume you are correct
  • Don’t just take any seat available, unless you ask the airline staff first.

Solution:

Double, triple and quadruple check that you are in the right seat, on the correct side, correct letter and then nicely say, ‘I think we may have been booked in the same seat – do you have your ticket? Maybe I’m looking at this wrong’. This can really help the airline staff out when people are kind to one another, instead of having to be a babysitter for adults that should be able to get along.

Sitting Next To Me, or THAT Person

We have all thought it – if you haven’t….well then you are a liar. We have all thought about how uncomfortable it would be to sit next to THAT person on the plane. It is natural for human beings to want to the best for themselves when they are going on vacation – but don’t be rude.

I was about 8 sizes smaller than I am now – just three years ago. After having several health issues come up, I ballooned up and now am one of THOSE people. People don’t make eye contact or smile at me coming down the isle of the plane anymore. They heave big sighs when they have to get up out of their seat knowing that my big bum is sitting next to them.

There was one fellow, very ungentlemanly, who was squirming away from me the entire trip. I felt so bad by the end of the flight to my vacation destination that I was nearly in tears – then just got all ghetto white girl angry and started to just stare at him when he would squirm.

Even if my foot encroached next to his silver hard case briefcase, he would lean over and scoot it ever so slightly over. Sigh, squirm, sit back, fold his arms and turn his body away from me. I thought I was just being sensitive, but when it happens the entire flight, and at the end of the flight – he said, ‘Thank God, I can finally get out of this seat’ and continues to mutter under his breath about overweight people — it shocked me. It was all I could do to not say ‘F-U you self-righteous prick’.

Here are the facts: No one LOVES the basic economy seats, we choose to be there to save money – and with that comes the cramped, packed like sheep in a small box with screaming kids or the guy with a Prostate problem that needs to pee every 30 minutes on the red eye flight to Europe.

Do

  • Get out of your seat when someone wants to get in or out.
  • Talk to your neighbor about things that make you uncomfortable or comfortable when you fly. They won’t be able to read your mind, so understand they are human too – and you just want to get through this process as quickly as possible.
  • Stretch your legs every now and then, keep yourself busy with movies, games or music.
  • Help your neighbor with drinks, share space if you have it, offer gum or even a sanitary wipe. Every kind gesture counts when traveling overseas.
  • Offer to help the Mom with the teething child behind your, or play peekaboo or make a paper airplane for the child throwing a tantrum – because they never got their ears to pop and don’t know why they are uncomfortable.

Don’t

  • Give the mom with the screaming child dirty looks – she is already mortified herself, and is trying to not scream back at the child.
  • Make snide remarks about someone to you, or squirm away every time someone nudges, brushes, or accidentally touches you. Even the smallest passengers feel cramped in those God Forsaken Basic Economy Seats.
  • Demand that you be catered to because you are big, tall, on a business trip. We all poop on the same pot, this is not survival of the richest – rich people always end up divorced or dead – don’t become a statistic. The only people who are truly vital to the in-flight experience are the pilots, an the airline staff – so get over yourself sweetheart.

Solution

Get as comfortable as you can, take a big breath, don’t worry about the person next to you touching you – IT WILL HAPPEN AT SOME POINT. Do for others what would make you happy, so that maybe we can treat each other a little bit nicer in the ever increasingly uncomfortable airline nightmare that they make it for those who don’t live our life on credit cards.

Airport Etiquette and Flying Etiquette

Special Treatment and Making it Known

Just in case you haven’t gotten the message enough in this article remember the line from Ever After when the evil stepsister is put to work in the material room and her mother tells her to do the work because she is noble, and her daughter responds- “YOUR JUST THE SAME AS ME- A BIG NOBODY!”

This is what I want to scream at these hoity toity people who think they are the cream of the crop and don’t make eye contact or even smile to the ‘lesser folks’ around them. I understand what it feels like to work hard, and want to feel like my efforts are paying off – but it DOES NOT mean that I have to trample over all the other humans around me to make myself feel important.

While I know this is a generalization of people who are considered to be wealthy – there is a certain level of kindness and decency ANY HUMAN can exhibit to one another – no matter what level of income they fall into.

Do

  • Be aware of the people that are around you
  • Be mindful of the fact that we are all human beings
  • Be kind to the airline staff
  • Refrain from making comments that you wouldn’t say to your Mom or loved one.

Don’t

  • Don’t think you are a God and deserve to be treated with preference, even if you were privileged enough to sit in first class for four hours.
  • Think you can but in front of an economy seat when asking a question once your off the plane, because you paid $60 extra for a more comfortable seat.
  • Make comments like ‘I can’t believe this, what terrible customer service’, ‘these other people’, ‘Let’s get in front of these other people’. You look like a complete jerk when you do this.

Soultion:

Don’t think that your actions will never haunt you….you might be sitting next to that person you were rude to on the flight there – on the flight home, or they may even be in your tour group. You never know…so be careful who you treat as inferior, they may just be your tour guide — so just be kind.

Airport Etiquette and Flying Etiquette

Interacting With Airline Staff

The airline staff do not get thanked that often, it is kind of like going to the dentist when you fly basic economy. No one likes to go and do it, but it is a necessary evil to make us functional human beings.

Do

  • Help them by being prepared with your garbage when they walk by.
  • Try and organize your area, and don’t argue with them when they ask you to do things. They don’t make the rules, but they get paid to make sure people are safe.
  • Don’t get mad if they block you from going to the bathroom – no matter what they do there will always be someone mad. If you are frustrated, just politely ask, ‘I don’t want to interuppt your process here, but is there another way I could _________’.
  • Put your bags in the overhead bin, and your smaller bags at your feet so that the entire plane isn’t delayed trying to check the bag that you took the spot of.

Don’t

  • Don’t get agitated with the airline staff when they tell you to sit your seat up.
  • Don’t get up to bet the first in line off the plane when it is taxing into the terminal. (true story).
  • Don’t demand a meal, and then shout at the airline staff because they ran out – (true story) – you should have ordered special meal status before boarding.
  • Don’t be a jerk, and pretend like your bags that take up the entire overhead bin space are not yours; when the stewardess is announcing to put your smaller items in the seat in front of you. Your royal ass is the only one in this section because your THAT important – follow the rules.
  • Don’t pretend like you don’t understand, when you really do. We all have access to google translate – if you don’t understand – use google translate so we can all be on our way promptly.
  • Don’t keep pushing the call light if you don’t get the answer you like (true story).

Solution

Smile at a staff member, ask if something is ok to do before doing it if you aren’t sure. Give a compliment, give a tip (IF YOU WANT). Remember that with public service, honey will always work better than vinegar when trying to get what you want.

Exiting the Plane

I never thought that this would be an issue, as the airline staff tell you repeatedly to remain seated with seatbelt fastened until the light is turned off. I don’t know why people think this doesn’t apply to them, but some people think of these safety instructions as suggestions, not law.

I once saw a older gentleman and his wife, grab their bags as we were about half way to landing and begin rushing up to the front of the plane. No one on the plane could believe that this was happening. Not only did they put several other people along the way in danger with hitting them in the heads with their bags, but the airline stewardess had to get out of her own safety harness to escort them back to their seat. Despite the stewardess and several other people asking them what they were doing, they didn’t think that the rules applied to them apparently.

Another incident was when a younger man, got up before the plane was fully docked and grabbed his bag and rushed to the front of the line. While it isn’t as bad as my first example, just know you look like a complete jerk when you do this.

Do

  • Be patient
  • Wait your turn
  • Realize everyone hates the process, and wants to get out of the cramped space just as much as you do

Don’t

  • Get out of your seat until the seat belt light has turned off
  • Don’t think that you have more of an urgent need to get off the plane than the person next to you
  • Don’t shove past other passengers, just to get closer to the door
Airport Etiquette and Flying Etiquette

Getting Your Bags from the Carousel

Once your off the plane, it is a mad rush to the baggage claim. There is some slight confusion for which carousel will produce your belongings – but you find it and then what?

There is nothing that agitates me more, than those people who when your standing a 18 inches from the carousel and someone feels the need to stand right in front of you without actually grabbing their bag. It is almost as if they feel that their bag is going to disappear if they don’t pick it up on the first pass.

For those who don’t know, no matter where you are in the world- the conveyor belts on which your bags are rotating are in a circle or loop. If you miss your bag on the first pass, you can typically ask someone down the line to grab it for you OR just walk a few more feet and get it at the next opening.

It is not necessary to crowd around the carousel and cut people off who are waiting for their bags as well. The airport and airlines don’t want your clothes or underwear crowding up their limited storage space; you will get your bag one way or another.

So here are a few pointers for etiquette at the carousel:

Do:

  • Wait your turn
  • Be patient
  • Stand about 2 feet away from the carousel so those whose bags are produced before yours have room to heave it off the conveyor belt.
  • Be aware of those who are standing around or near you, give them right of way if they were there before you.
  • Help other people out who are trying to grab their luggage (if you are physically able)

Don’t

  • Cut people off while waiting
  • Don’t ignore the person who is standing there waiting for their bag and stand directly in front of them
  • Don’t ignore people when they ask you for help grabbing their luggage (we all want to get out of the airport as quickly as possible)
  • Stack your luggage (if you have more than 3) right next to the conveyor belt, as this takes up precious real estate for other passengers to claim their luggage

Solution:

I don’t think I can say this enough….BE PATIENT, WAIT YOUR TURN! Going on a vacation is exciting, but traveling there is not so exciting. Sometimes the airport, train, taxi’s etc…. can bring out the worst in people; so be aware that your emotions and general empathy towards others will be significantly diminished when you walk through those airport doors. When claiming your bags, give space for others to claim their and be aware of your fellow passengers.

Don’t Let Bad Etiquette Ruin Your Vacation

No matter where you are in the world, there will always be that ONE person who does not behave with proper etiquette. Keep in mind that each culture is likely taught different etiquette, and what we feel may be proper or normal may not always be the case. The only thing we can truly do to control other people’s behavior is by controlling our own and setting a good example.

I know it can be frustrating when someone is blatantly rude, discourteous, or down right mean – but engaging in hostile or retaliatory behavior is only going to make your vacation worse. Don’t let their bad behavior, or poor etiquette ruin the vacation you have worked so hard to plan and save up for ruin your trip. Create memories, murmur under your breath if you have to, but let it go and just do your best.

If you have any suggestions, or think I have missed a critical airport or flying etiquette point – please feel free to leave it in the comments below.

Like it? Pin it! Sharing is Caring –> Hate it? Leave Your Opinion Below 😉

Things to Look For When Renting a Car While Traveling

Things to Look For When Renting a Car While Traveling

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Driving in another country can be a scary thing when you are doing it for the first time, but when you are responsible for any damage that might happen while in that country…..makes it even more scary. My first time driving internationally was when I went to Scotland on my first Solo Trip. So here are a few things to look for when renting a car either at home or abroad.

Things To Look For When Renting A Car

Renting the Right Car for Your Skill Set

Stick vs Manual —- Large vs Small — Car vs Motorbike. These are all questions to consider when renting a car. In European countries, many of their cars are stick shift, and personally I do not know how to drive one well without grinding the gears to oblivion. In many North American countries, they opt for the manual transmission – so you need to look at which car is right for you and the availability of that particular brand of transmission in the country you will be visiting. For example, renting my car in Scotland – they only had four manual cars available for the company I chose. I had to rent the car several months in advance, because there was a festival going on the week I was there and happened to get the last manual transmission left.

Things To Look For When Renting A Car

It may be a simple question – but a large vs small car for where you are traveling can make a huge difference. If you typically drive a compact car, and have 6 friends coming with you on your trip that requires a large suburban/van – your going to have a difficult time adjusting to the maneuverability and inability to see the surrounding cars/area when turning, backing up etc…

There are some countries and even cities where having a motorbike vs a car is more practicle to get around traffic and find parking. If you aren’t conifdent in your motorbike skills though, get a car to have the added protection. They are called donor cycles for a reason my friends, especially in the USA it is hard for cars to see motorbikes on our huge roads- not like in Europe.

Things To Look For When Renting A Car

Look at Mileage Limitations

This was very important for me when I was in Scotland, as I was planning a road trip up to Culloden, near inverness, then to Dunrobin Castle, and up to John O’Groats and back down the NC500 to Edinburgh. It was a lot of driving time, and also a lot of miles on the car. It was important to find a car company that allowed unlimited miles. Some companies charged you after going over a certain amount of miles, which would have turned out to be an even bigger bill when I returned the car. So save yourself the extra bill and make sure your rental car has unlimited miles on it.

Things To Look For When Renting A Car

Look at Gas requirements

Most companies require you to return your rental car with a full tank of gas. They will offer to have you fill up the car at their station, but this is just another way to put some extra change in their pockets. Be sure to fill up your car before you bring it back.

The next question I would ask is, how common are gas stations between the locations you are traveling. Here in the United States, you can drive for several hours without seeing a single gas station (or sometimes a town). If you are in a snowstorm, or a hot and humid environment – the extreme weather can be life threatening. So be sure to notate how far each gas station is. When I go on road trips, I always make sure to have a quarter tank of gas as my emergency gas supply – that way, it gives me a few hours to find the nearest gas station.  

Things To Look For When Renting A Car

Do They Require a Credit Card or a Deposit?

When I first went to rent a car on my own, it was such an exhilarating feeling— I felt I was finally an ADULT! They asked for a Credit Card, and I proudly told them I did not own one but had a Debit Card. With the straight (I call it a Bitch Lady) face, she told me there would need to be a temporary $400 with drawl from my account. WTH! Being young and dumb at the time, I quickly realized this would leave me with very little spending money or food money on my vacation. Luckily my friend was with me and had a credit card she put on file and no deposit was required.

Even though they didn’t charge her for the rental car, I felt completely mortified that I had to rely on someone else for this simple thing. So to all those rental car newbies, this is your fair warning.

Things To Look For When Renting A Car

What are the extra fees they tack on?

The extra fees they tack onto the car rental can be quite absurd. They can charge you for extra mileage, a tank that isn’t quite full, picking up and dropping off at different locations. There are even extra fees for picking up your car at the airport vs within the town. 

The initial price of your car rental may beat the competitors, but they will make up for it when you go to pick up your vehicle at their desk. This is why I like to call the company and ask them, or email them and have them state what the fees I should expect to see on my bill upon check out. Then I can print out what they said, and show it to the desk if they try to charge me for something that was not mentioned beforehand.

The fact is, they are able to get you with those hidden fees when your standing at their desk, in a foreign country or state – all other cars are rented/leased and you have no choice but to proceed with your rental car.

If you do want to take the risk with the seemingly cheaper options, a good rule of thumb is to add about $300 to any rental car fee. This will cover any additional fees or deposits that they require.

Things To Look For When Renting A Car

Shop Around For Rental Car Insurance

Not all healthcare is created equal, and neither are rental car insurances. Getting the insurance from the rental car company might seem like a good, and convenient option at the time – but it is likely going to cost you your life savings. When we rented a car in Scotland, they tacked on another $400 to our bill for insurance purposes. The thing is, I got home, called my insurance company at home and they covered rental car insurance internationally….. this was very frustrating for me.

I also found out later, that because so many rental car companies require a credit card; the credit card companies have started offering rental car insurance as well.

Things To Look For When Renting A Car

Take a video or photo of any Damage on the car prior to leaving the Rental Company

This is imperative, because I have heard horror stories of rental companies claiming damage to the car that present before it left the lot and my friends were stuck with the bill. My suggestion would be to take a video, or photo of the person who checked you out; along with any photo/video or damages present inside or outside the car.

Take a photo of the miles driven before and after, and ensure the correct mileage is written down before leaving the lot. That way they can’t tell you that you drove more miles that you actually drove, and will avoid the extra fee.

Things To Look For When Renting A Car

What Are the Restrictions For the Car?

It is a good rule of thumb to not go off roading with your rental car, unless it explicitly says you are allowed to do so. If you are in Hawaii on the Road to Hana and a portion of the road is not paved – you go a little too far over the edge and the car slides off the road. What about wanting to have a beach party, or drive onto a grassy area because there is no parking. Your car gets stuck, an axle breaks or any other number of horrible situations – most car rental insurances will not cover any damage to the vehicles in these particular situations.

Be careful where you drive your car, and take a careful look at your itinerary and what the rental insurance covers. There is nothing worse than having to pay out of pocket, especially in foreign currency for damages to a car.

Things To Look For When Renting A Car

Can you cross the border with their rental car?

If you are planning a road trip across Europe, and want to go to more of the off the beaten path places – is the car rental company able to accept the car in a different country? The answer I have typically encountered is a resounding no.

While there are buses, trains, and other quick transit for your backpacking needs through Europe – some countries do not have as reliable of transporation. So be sure to know the rules when crossing borders. A cheaper option might be to hire a guide, like I did in Morocco – where we were able to go to places the large buses just can’t go- and take his car off road.

Things To Look For When Renting A Car

Will it fit you and your luggage?

While the compact cars are fabulous on the budget, the car you rent may not be the best one for you and your luggage – especially in Europe. So make sure you know exactly what type of car your will be driving, and if it will fit your required luggage.

Bring your own extras

While it is convinvient to just utilize what the Rental company has as far as the ‘extras’ there are a few other things I would suggest bringing with you. Firstly bring your own music. There is only so far you can travel away from a large city until you lose music. Most cars are equipped with usb ports, and even third world countries have radio where you can plug in some of those old school transmitters for your phone. Next, I would bring your own gps. MOST of the time your phone can be a good guide, but when I was in Scotland it was nice to have two options because sometimes you lose signal in between mountians or in the really rural communities and need the satellite gps as backup.

Even at home I forget to bring sunglasses, when your driving in a new country (or even on the ‘wrong side’ of the road) it is stressful! So bring sunglasses to protect from the deadly glare. Some friends of mine have suggested getting an electronic toll pass rental. This is not just true for the toll roads, but also having one for trams and buses – many in Europe are electronic & very easy to recharge rather than getting cash from an ATM that can have a service fee to buy multiple tickets.

Find your perfect Vacation Vehicle

Europa Car is the one that I tend to use, while it is associated with an Affiliate link – and they have some hidden fees. They really were kind to me both of the instances I rented a car from them in Scotland.

There are a lot of little tidbits in this article, but after experiencing what it is like to rent a car at home and abroad I feel these guidelines have helped keep me safe and save money.

If you have any tips on what to look for when renting a car, feel free to add them in the comment section below. Happy Travels Friends!

Top 15 ways of combatting Jet Lag

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Jet Lag is the bane of any travelers existence, with the affects stretching on for days sometimes weeks after a trip. There are a few proven (scientifically) ways to help with combating jet lag I will share with you. If you follow these suggestions, I guarantee that you will still be able to enjoy your vacation. Anytime I don’t follow my own rules with this, I end up regretting it for weeks on end.

What To Bring

Check out my packing tips post on what to bring with you on the plane. But for sleeping get a stuff sack, here is what to include in it: put your contacts/glasses, sleep aid, water bottle (filled inside the airport), eye mask, earplugs, pillow, and blanket. I like this J-pillow because my head always falls forward or to the side & when I bring the head wings (what I call them) out then it holds my head in place perfectly. Also, place a small bag at your feet so you can use it as a footrest, or if you have the room you can buy one of these footrests – but I found them to be hard to get into and out of.

Top 15 Ways of Combatting Jet Lag.

1- Avoid or Minimize Caffeine As Much As Possible

few days before your trip. If you need the energy to be able to make it through the workday prior to your trip; try Natural Energy Supplements from an Organic store or health foods store. This method alone will significantly help with combatting jet lag.

2- Choose An Overnight Flight

Overnight flights typically turn all the lights off on the plane at night which makes it easier to fall asleep. I wear my eye mask even if the lights are off because there is always one or two people that turn their reading lights on & wakes me up (#lightsleeper).

3- Choose a seat away from the bathrooms

Even with earplugs, the carts and bathroom visitors will wake you up. I also choose a window seat so I don’t inadvertently get hit by an elbow, a cart, or woken up by the person next to me to visit the restroom.

4- Bring a Treat for the Restless Children

Make sure to bring some candy, suckers, or freeze-dried fruit to give to children who wake up and start screaming. It saves the mom from embarrassment, the flight attendants stress (because of grouchy passengers) and helps everyone get back to sleep. I’m not a mom, but the few times I have done this, it works like a charm. One mom friend of mine actually suggested dried fruit, or crackers so it doesn’t give them a sugar high and make it worse. You can also have little packets of crayons or paper in your bag as well. As a passenger, you also have to remember that Benedryl for kids doesn’t always work….sometimes it has the opposite effect on the kid and then you have a crazy person.

Traveler Tip: Tips on Flying with Children and Family Friendly Airlines

5- Exercise Before Your Flight

Doing this before your flight gives you the natural relaxation of the muscles, keeps the blood pumping and staves off blood clots as well. The rule of thumb for my patients is I advise them to get up every hour to stretch their legs and do some calf raises for about 5-10 minutes. 

6- Wear compression stockings

These stockings can be found at any Walgreens, but the really good ones are the ones that you measure from your ankle to the knee and around the calf. I prefer the open toes because they seem cooler & don’t squish my toes if my legs start to swell slightly. When you sit down the blood vessels in your groin and behind your knees get cut off resulting in fluid retention in your feet and calves. It can set you up for a blood clot as well (no matter your age), unless you plan on walking every 30 minutes — which isn’t always possible because of the risk of running into turbulence. When I sit for long periods of time even at work the compression stockings save my life. You will be amazed at how much this helps your energy level by the time you reach your destination.                                                              

7- Utilize Jet Lag Rooster

This is an App to properly plan your sleeping times make sure you start this at least 2 days prior to your departure. This was developed by a psychologist in Florida.

8- Sleep When You Are Tired

Some flight attendants do suggest that you just sleep when you are tired, and try to stay awake when the sun is up. I find that this method works for me as well as just sleeping as much as possible when I’m on the plane.

9- Set Your Clock To The Destination

By setting your clock to the time of the destination it will help you keep doing your daily routine by the destination time zone. Thus circumventing hungry, tired, or other cycles.

10- Don’t Overeat or Drink Alcohol

Let’s be honest….unless you are flying some fancy airline in first class….airplane food is no better for you than hospital food. Try to stick with water and the healthier options when your flying as this will help fight off fatigue when you land. The body releases cortisol when it is stressed and can cause fatigue feelings when traveling. Eating healthy will boost your natural defenses, provide ample water to flush out the Cortisol and nutrients to help keep the energy needed to explore up as well. 

11- Don’t Go Straight To Bed On Arrival

Decide on a tourist-y site with lots of people. Preferably interactive sites, this will force yourself to stimulate your mind and your legs and blood flow. I typically pick the most popular museum, then get an audio guide so I don’t have to concentrate on reading & wander through all the spaces.

12- Keep Your Routine You Have At Home

Once you have toured a little, have dinner at the typical time for your destination, go take a shower/check-in at the hotel. Watch a movie, and then fall to sleep a little bit early — or lay there until its time to sleep (whichever works). I typically don’t do much the first day I’m at my international destination. It really helps to keep the first day easy, it allows my mind to accept that I’m on vacation and that it is ok to relax and not constantly look at my to-do list. 

13- Over The Counter Sleep Aids

When I am traveling back home, that’s when the JetLag is really bad. I will typically take an over the counter sleep aid (Melatonin, 5-HTP, or if you aren’t on any blood thinners then consider St John’s Wort or Valerian Root) — Don’t combine all of these sleep aids, just take the recommended dose for ONE these herbal supplements. I typically will buy my supplements from an Organic Food store and look for one that has some sort of certification on it. Typically supplements and herbs are not FDA regulated, so that means you typically don’t know what you’re going to be putting in your body. I take the sleep aid the minute I get on my longest flight (so if I have a transfer or something, I’m not too groggy).

  • I would not suggest getting any of these with Magnesium if you take more magnesium than your body requires it can actually cause some pretty gnarly diarrhea (a known side effect of oral Magnesium).

14- When You Get Home

Immediately unpack your suitcase, I typically will take a 30-minute nap to tide me over until my usual pre-vacation bedtime. The key here is, to sleep when you’re tired, but if it is during normal wakeful hours– limit it to 20-30min naps.

15 – What To Do When You Wake Up In The Middle of the Night

If you wake up in the middle of the night when you get home, I will look at a few social media sites, watch a YouTube Video on Classical Music or Yo-yo Ma & let that help me fall back asleep. Please realize if you do use your phone it can stimulate your frontal cortex and make you feel more awake, but for me, reading always puts me to sleep no matter what it is. So whatever typically makes you feel sleepy, do that and then try going back to bed….warm milk and Turkey also works if I’m desperate.

Happy Travels — Happy Tales — and good luck sleeping 😉


If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy: