18 Secrets That Only Experienced Travelers Know

Joshua Ness

1. Their luggage is an extension of Their body

I used to be a doorman at a fancy hotel. Me and the guys would take bets real quick on which travelers would try to take a rolling suitcase through the revolving door (which is only big enough to fit one person inside of it) and which travelers would bypass it and go straight to the automatic sliding doors.

Well, this one slick mofo strolls right up to the revolving door with two bags. He doesn’t pause, doesn’t slow down, he just pirouettes through the doors while holding both bags close to his legs, comes out the other side like a fuckin dancing wizard.

That guy travels.


2. They Don’t pause like everyone else

Gets to the top of the escalator and keeps walking.

Gets through the revolving door and keeps walking.


3. They Know What They don’t Need

They pack light, even for long trips.


4. be at one with airport security

The ability to get through airport security as seamlessly as possible – no wasted time untying shoes at the conveyor belt, never forgetting to take keys out of pockets, etc. Of course, the opposite holds true: the easiest way to spot an inexperienced traveler is to see who is holding up the line because they’re trying to drink a full bottle of water, undo their shoelaces and pull ten laptops and an iPad out of their bag at the same time.


5. They Move With purpose

They go about their business. Nothing shouts rookie like indecisiveness.


6. They Have Patience

They don’t melt down with a delay or cancellation. If you are traveling enough you accept that this will happen every now and then.


7. They Know how to get local currency quickly

First-world countries: Don’t change currency at the airport. Any ATM will do. Also, hold onto bills/change for next trip.


8. They Have A Sense Of Ease About Them

At the airport, they look more like window shoppers than psych ward escapees. No constant pocket and bag patting, no frantic juggling of folders and papers and wallets when going through security, no nervous glances at the flight schedule boards every thirty seconds.


9. They Don’t Waste Time When A Flight Is Canceled

They have the airline’s website and phone number stored and are already talking to someone or booking a new flight before you even get into the line when a flight is canceled.


10. Insomnia? Not Even once.

Being able to sleep almost anywhere.


11. They’re Easy On The Hotel Staff

I work in a hotel, and we can pretty easily distinguish the experienced travelers from the newbies. Experienced folks tend to not call for much because they don’t tend to forget things, they don’t have a holier-than-thou tone (or, alternatively, don’t apologize every three seconds), and they don’t throw screaming fits over mild inconveniences. They come prepared, they know that shit happens, and a lot of the time you’ll never hear from them unless they decide they want a salad through room service or something.

Inexperienced travelers will literally forget everything despite having brought twenty bags, will call several times their first night to ask for things they forgot or how to do simple things (connect to the wifi, use the thermostat, etc), and tend to have very unrealistic expectations of what a hotel provides. They literally think that because they’re paying for a room, that they own us, too, so whatever they ask for we have to provide. Which is not how it goes at all.


12. Two Words, Global Entry

Global Entry has saved my ass from having to rebook flights at least 4 times. LAX is the worst. I swear, every time I arrive back at that airport from an international flight, there are like 4 flights arriving simultaneously and only like 2 border control staff working.

Tack that on top of the fact that you often have to completely exit your terminal, go around that U shape drive to your next terminal, then clear security all over again. Global Entry? Clear that shit in 5 minutes flat. Worth every penny. Plus, TSA-Pre status automatically.


13. They Don’t Huddle Like Cattle

At baggage claim, stands back until they see their bag rather than huddling around the spot where the bags come out, thereby preventing everyone else from getting their bags.


14. They’re Prepared for the unexpected

They carry an ’emergency’ (read: ‘delay’) book, snacks and loose change. All of their paper documents (from wallet to tickets to business stuff) are together, in their carry-on, and organized.


15. They’re The Opposite Of the ugly American

People who have traveled quite a bit tend to be fairly quiet at the airport; they look and listen more than they speak. They are most often courteous (politeness greases all sorts of wheels when traveling). They follow signs and tend to pack light.

Inexperienced travelers will ask silly questions (sometimes just so they can rope an innocent bystander into hearing about ‘my adventure!’), neglect to follow all the airport rules even though there are signs every 20 feet explaining what to do and where to go, and often talk as loudly as possible about their trip while dragging six matching, brand new pieces of luggage. The best of the best can also be overheard disparaging local customs/culture when touring an unfamiliar country, and wishing the food was ‘more like home’.


16. They make way for other travelers

They don’t take forever at the metal detectors and X-Ray. If they have everything ready to go, and then take their stuff from the X-Ray machine before getting dressed so other people can still get their stuff.


17. They Don’t “hurry up and wait”

They don’t immediately unbuckle their seat belt and stand up as soon as the plane arrives at the gate.


18. They have transcended talking about how much they travel

A person who travels a lot no longer feels the need to talk about it. A person who travels a lot is usually the person who listens to when other people tell their traveling stories without interjecting anything to “one up” the storyteller.

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