It’s pretty amazing to think that we can get into a flying automobile in the morning and emerge in a completely different country by nightfall. Such an amazing phenomenon would be considered impossible 150 years ago. What a time to be alive, right?
Of course, anyone who’s ever flown can tell you it’s not as simple as it could be. There are a ton of hangups that can throw a monkeywrench into your vacation plans, causing you to waste valuable time and money when you could be halfway to the Caribbean. However, if you anticipate these potential issues and make the proper accommodations, you could save yourself a lot of aggravation.
Problems with your passport
Your passport is, quite literally, your ticket to the rest of the world. If you don’t have it with you at the airport, you won’t be getting out of the country. If you lost your passport, or it was stolen, you won’t get much sympathy at the border (whether you’re coming to or leaving from your home country). Same thing if it’s expired. Above all else when traveling, make sure your passport is up-to-date and sufficiently prepared. You don’t want a problem with a small booklet to be the reason you can’t explore the world.
Problems at Customs
We’ve all heard nightmare stories of what a hassle it is to get through customs. Yes, it’s completely insane that you missed your flight because the agent thought your knitting needles could be used as a weapon, or your infant son’s food container wasn’t factory sealed. But just because it’s crazy doesn’t mean it won’t make you miss your flight. Once you give customs agents a reason to check your baggage, they’ll be suspicious of pretty much anything they find. Do yourself a favor and don’t give them a reason to be suspicious in the first place.
Your criminal history
Being convicted of a crime has long-standing ramifications on a person’s life. Even if you’ve completed the conditions of your sentence, the fact that you have a blemish on your record may unfortunately inhibit your ability to enter certain countries. Even a DUI will raise suspicions at the border when traveling from the US to Canada. There are ways to get relief from such situations for some minor crimes, but this needs to be done long in advance in order to avoid any future problems at the border.
Overlays, delays, and cancellations
You only get two weeks of vacation a year, so you want to make the most of the time you have off, right? Unfortunately, circumstances beyond your control may force you to waste a good chunk of your traveling time sitting around and waiting. If your flight has an overlay in a different city or country, you’re at the mercy of the airline’s schedule. Of course, most overlays are just long enough to take up a large part of your day, but too short for you to actually leave the airport and do something exciting.
If your flight is delayed or, even worse, canceled, all the planning you put into your travel time will have been completely wasted. There’s not much you can do besides take it on the chin. While you probably have an itinerary all set for your trip abroad, you should at least prepare for the possibility that you’ll have to cross off some of the items on your list if your travel plans get interrupted.
Face it: travel is exhausting. Like I said in the intro, traveling isn’t as simple as hopping on a plane and getting where you need to be. You have to pack meticulously, ensure you and your family have the correct documentation, get to the airport hours ahead of schedule… the list goes on. And this isn’t even taking jet lag into consideration. You’ll undoubtedly need time to adjust to the new timezone when traveling to and from your destination, which can take some of the luster out of your vacation. Hopefully, you can push past all that and enjoy the time you have seeing everything the world has to offer!