Tips From A Neurotic Traveler

by on July 15, 2010 17 Comments

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So, this might surprise you to find out, but I’m just a tad bit neurotic.  I’m not full on OCD, but I do have some obsessive-compulsive tendencies that just come out of my fears, anxieties, and life experiences.  And travelling is one of those things that sets off my triggers.  It doesn’t matter where I’m going or how far away it is, but rather it’s about what I’ve convinced myself could go wrong.

Now I’m not talking about the big things, those never bother me.  Cars, boats, trains, planes… there’s not really a mode of travel that I don’t enjoy.  And I’m not talking about the destination either, I love being places, especially Walt Disney World.  What it boils down to is all the little things.

I can’t begin tell you how much I used to despise suitcases.  Until more recently, I never had one I really liked – they always had problems and failed me at the worst possible times.  So for a very long time I simply refused to use them.  Instead my wife, Cheryl, and I used some nice L.L. Bean duffel bags.  I had to carry them, but to me it was better than the alternative.

In recent years, we listed out my problems with suitcases, and it turns out there are three things that really get me when it comes to suitcases: tiny wheels that drag and break, cheap zippers, and handles that can’t support the suitcase’s packed weight.  Every problem I’d ever had with a suitcase breaks down to one of these three things.  So after some research using that Google-fu that my wife do do so well, we came up with some nice luggage that meets my requirements: big wheels, strong handles, and durable zippers.

There are four bags we use regularly as a result.  Two are the typical weekender type suitcases that are small enough on the outside to fit into the overhead bin on an airplane, and yet still hold 4-6 days of clothing in addition to toiletries or whatever else you might like to have along with you.  The third, a garment bag, is a must have.  These work well for business trips and vacations like a cruise where you might need slightly more dressy clothes.  And the final bag is my personal favorite, part duffel, part suitcase – holds a lot, yet very easy to use.

But that’s not where my issues with travel end.  Lets talk about packing, and your friend the resealable baggie.  For me, when I pack everything that is not clothes gets sorted into these.  Liquids get separated from things like toothbrushes and combs.  I have a fear of something breaking, spilling, cutting, or poking and ruining clothes.  A simple bit of plastic goes a long way toward alleviating that.  Pack your clothes, pack the baggies, and all is well.  And a single quart size baggie meets TSA requirements for carrying liquids.

Now I love flying, love being on a plane, up in the sky.  I find it very relaxing.  I just pop in my headphones, pull out a game, and I’m golden.  But what I really hate are airports.  They’re just a huge amount of work for travellers to have to contend with for very little gain.  You’re never too sure how long it will take to get through security.  Fortunately the United States Government has recently release the My TSA app for the iPhone which can provide you the current TSA wait times for airports.  This app is a huge boon, and can also help when packing because you can use it to look up items you can and can’t take through security as well.

However, even with that, your time through security really depends on you, your planning, and your understanding of how the process works.  Before you even get in the security line, you should consider having a resealable plastic baggie or two for your personal belongings.  Keep your ID and boarding pass out – everything else goes into the baggies, and stow the baggies in your carry on, it’s safer and more secure than dumping them in a tray.  Make sure your quart bag with liquids is easily accessible or out as it needs to be scanned separately.  Try to already have your shoes and belts removed before you get to the front of the line.  Do these simple things and your security experience will be both smooth and quick.

Then of course there’s your carry on, you know that place where those baggies went (okay… I like baggies, I know).  If you’re checking luggage, then you’ll want to make sure your essentials are with your carry on – your basic toiletries, medications, etc.  If you’re at all concerned about your luggage being lost, include a change of underwear and socks.  Basically anything you can’t do without.  I’ll also suggest that, even if you’re relying on a smartphone or other device, that inside your carry on you always have a printed hardcopy of your complete travel itinerary – because paper doesn’t require charging.

My own personal carry on is a simple backpack, and it’s generally the exact same one that I bring into the parks when I’m at Disney World.  This is my preferred type of bag, they’re simple and durable.  As long as the zipper works well and the shoulder straps are well secured, this bag will serve you well.  Currently I’m using a backpack from MEI and Mouse Fan Travel.  It holds up well as both a park bag and a travel bag, plus it handles extreme weather conditions like those found at the 2010 Disney World Half Marathon.

Inside I’ll always have a few key items like a camera & batteries, a portable charger for my iPhone, some tea bags, tissues, band-aids, chapstick, etc.  I also still carry around the seat cushion that came with my Cheer Squad pack, both to provide some structure to the backpack, as well as to sit on when needed.  And of course, baggies.  I don’t just use these to sort the contents of the backpack, I also throw in a few empties.  If you’re caught in the rain or riding Splash Mountain, you can just stick your electronics inside them and they’ll be protected.  And you’ll be much happier for that when you get soaked and your iPhone doesn’t, that is unless you also brought along a poncho.

What about you? Do you have any tips for travel to help alleviate anxiety?  Do you have an affinity for resealable baggies?  What are your worst fears about travelling?  Thanks for coming out and reading the blog, as always I appreciate you stopping by.

Posted on July 15, 2010

17 Responses to “Tips From A Neurotic Traveler”

  • by Jenny Beeker on July 15, 2010, at 8:14 am EST

    The 2.5 gallon baggies are also wonderful-You can pack a day’s outfit in it and make sure all the air is out. Makes figuring how much clothing is REALLY necessary quick and easy.

    • Great idea! I do use both sizes of baggies, I keep my earphones, charger, etc. for the iPhones in one. Though in rain I’ll drop my iPhone in a smaller one because you can still use the phone through it. I know Len got a kick out of watching me do this at MK one night.

  • Can’t seem to find the backpack on those web sites. I can’t even find a place to shop for anything but vacations on that site. Any help would be welcome.

    • If you use MEI or MouseFan Travel, you can request a bag from your agent. Request Tracy, she’s my agent and she rocks!

      • Mt daughter is a CM so I book all my Disney travel through her. She rocks also but not because of her travel agent skills.

        • Well, if you ever want to give me heads up on a trip I can certainly bring you a bag. Just let me know.

        • Jehosh27 on October 20, 2011 Well, the cosetnt is over now, but I think The Last Samurai would be great. You start off with a gun, and know next to nothing about swords. (how about the indian raid for the tutorial?) and as the game progresses, factions come into view, and you can side with whomever you want. Multiple, alternate endings, and even alternate fighting styles. Maybe Algren fights AGAINST the samurai at the end? it would be a very fun game, I think, especially if Bioware made it.

  • I am a big fan of baggies too! It must be a touringplanner thing. They are in my checked back and carry on on every trip. And I always have one in my park bag for my phone and camera since you never know when you’ll get wet at WDW. Great advice, Todd!

  • I love baggies, too! My favorite size if half-gallon, which I found exactly once at Target. I bought two boxes, and I’m down to my last couple of bags. Anyone know where I can find them? Or are they extinct?

    Dollar Tree has some nice extra-extra-large baggies for travel. I always stuff my ponchos into a baggie before and after use so it doesn’t get everything wet. Dollar Tree has ponchos 2/$1 and I’ve reused mine a few times. But for 50¢ you can also toss after use and not think twice about it.

  • by Elizabeth Doda on July 16, 2010, at 3:23 pm EST

    I am so happy to hear I am not the only one who obsessively packs everything into baggies!

    I did have one thing to add to the security line piece. I am a mom of three with my oldest being 5. All three have travelled one or two times a year by plane since they were born. For those of you who buy your children new sneakers (like I do) before each trip to Disney, make sure they know before getting to the airport that TSA is not stealing their new Cars or Princess sneakers. I made the mistake one year (when they were 3.5, 2 and 10 months) of thinking they were too young to think someone would be taking them. Needless so say, my son and oldest daughter were both crying (always what you need in the security line) because they thought TSA was stealing their sneakers. Also, my youngest daughter wasn’t allowed to care her little bear through the scanner, it needed to be on the belt with sneakers and all that, so be sure to have those security blankets/toys/etc. in your carry on to avoid a scene at the security line.

    • When I was that age, I’d probably have reacted the same way 🙂 Thanks for sharing the story, stuff to keep kids distracted or otherwise occupied is always a good thing.

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