So wait, you’re a suburban gal heading out on a trip to a big city you’ve never been to before? And you have to fly a long way and there’s a bunch of crazy hotel/taxi/conference nonsense to wade through? Shut up, I just did that! Settle in, I’ve got some tips to help you make it through:
1. Don’t wear jeans with metallic silver paint through security unless you’re lonely for human physical contact. Clearly the new machines identify both potential weapons and fancy jeans purchased at Chicos. You will get manhandled at every opportunity.
2. Apparently connecting flights can get completely cancelled. That’s like a thing. Not just delayed or rescheduled, but cancelled.
3. If you end up with your connecting flight cancelled and rebooked on a different airline from a different airport to a different airport (so for example, you were supposed to fly Dulles to JFK on United, but that flight got canceled so you were put on Reagan to LaGuardia with US Airways) they will lose your luggage. And not just a little bit. Your luggage will be sucked into a black hole of doom from which no mere mortal can rescue it.
4. Those people who pack extra underwear in their carry-on aren’t just super OCD, they’re kind of brilliant. I’m now on board with the concept you should always have the essentials packed in a bag that will not leave your person. And when I say ‘essentials’ I mean: deodorant, your favorite necklace you’d be so sad if you ever lost, a pair of flipflops, an extra bra and underwear, the eyeliner and under-eye concealer you never walk into public without, a contact case and glasses and your phone charger.
5. Know which hotel you’re staying at before you leave. It’s much better to have the panic attack about how you don’t have anywhere to stay because the hotel doesn’t have any record of your reservation, at home before you leave, than after 12 hours of traveling with no luggage in a strange city. This is true even if either way it works out because it turns out you have a reservation in the hotel across the street instead of the one you’re freaking out about.
6. If you end up having no luggage for days on end and need to buy new clothes, do NOT do it at H&M. That store seems like they have so much stuff and it’s fairly cheap, but you’re going to end up walking out with nothing but an owl t-shirt that is in no way appropriate to wear to the conference you’re attending, three pairs of underwear you aren’t sure will fit because the sizing at the store is so wacky and a bra that cost more than any bra you’ve ever purchased. And you’ll feel like you should probably never eat again because everything you tried on seemed to be constructed to fit an anorexic child. If you go to H&M I guarantee it will mark the low point in your adult self-esteem. Find a Target, Gap or JCrew. Just stay away from H&M.
7. That said, DO buy new clothes to compensate for the lost luggage. As soon as you do your bags will show up. The longer you put it off and wait with fingers crossed in the hope your bags will just show up, the longer they absolutely won’t.
8. Do NOT pick the day of travel to wear a tanktop with a built-in bra because you think it will be more comfortable. It might be comfortable for the plane, but when you get to your destination and have no luggage, you won’t even have a bra you can rinse out and wear again. You’ll just have a pathetic tanktop with a shelf bra that doesn’t smell very good and is getting more stretched out and useless by the minute.
9. You will have more stuff to bring home than you had when you got there, even if you’re not going to the conference for the swag. And even if you think you didn’t get that much stuff. Plan for this, dummy.
10. Yes, you’re in town for the conference, but don’t forget to enjoy the city. Ditch a session and go to a show. Stay out all night drinking with friends you haven’t seen in forever and then get up early and suck it up for the morning sessions. You can sleep when you’re dead.
11. If you consume most of your calories during the trip in booze and forget to compensate with an appropriate amount of water, you will wake up the last morning with a hideously debilitating calf cramp from dehydration. The technical name for that is “Excessive Fun Muscle Strain” and it’s a rookie injury that can be avoided. Drink more water before bed.
12. (This one is an actual legitimate travel tip my mom and I completely invented and are going to get copyrighted. So you should probably send me $5 after you read this because it’s that awesome and valuable.) If you’re traveling on a normal six-seat-wide airplane in a group of two, when you book your tickets and choose your seats, you should always pick a row with three sequential seats open and book one of you the aisle and one of you the window with an open seat in the middle.
Our thought with this plan was that people would be much less likely to pick the middle seat and that if someone did need that seat because the flight was completely full, he or she would prefer the aisle or the window anyway and we would just switch so we could sit next to each other.
And let me tell you, that shit totally worked! From Phoenix to Dulles and then from JFK to LAX, even though both flights were listed as ‘overbooked’ and seemed totally full we had an entire row to ourselves. It seems so obvious, but for reals, how come no one else does this? Clearly because we are the only geniuses who’ve ever thought of it. You’re welcome.
13. Bring your mom. It may seem, when this idea is first suggested, like this will make you kind of lame and pathetic. But it turns out, it’s actually super fun and helpful to have your mom around in a new place where you don’t know anyone. She’ll want to take your picture 11 million times in front of 11 million landmarks, but you can totally share outfits, meals, drink tickets, makeup and even misery when things are going badly. It’s really the ideal situation and you’ll be a lucky girl if you can swing it.