Whether you want to find great deals, avoid problems, or have memorable journeys, being happy when you travel is key. Here are 3 habits of happy travelers.
I have been on a multi-year—really multi-decade—quest to teach people how to save money, time, and stress on every trip. I enjoy teaching people how to find better travel solutions and become happy travelers.
It all boils down to (really, where did that phrase come from?) being happy when you travel. Here are my three favorite ways to avoid travel frustrations, the biggest travel problems, and huge travel mistakes.
3 Habits of Happy Travelers
1. Pack Light to Be a Happier Traveler
Happy travelers strive for less physical stuff and more memorable experiences.
Traveling with only a carryon bag (plus the ambiguous personal bag) is life affirming, paradigm shifting, and enlightening.
Happy travelers …
- save money and do not pay baggage fees.
- spend less time in airports because they do not have to arrive early to check bags or stay later to retrieve them from baggage claim; or stay even later to speak with customer service when bags do not arrive.
- are less aggravated because their bags are not lost, delayed, damaged, stolen, or broken into. It is easier to manage less stuff in smaller rental cars or on trains, on day trips or long term journeys, and over cobblestone streets and up steep staircases.
- are not worried about belongings being stolen, damaged, or misplaced while visiting new destinations because “stuff is stuff” and can be replaced.
Happy travelers pack a light itinerary, balancing between planning too much and allowing time to explore and make serendipitous discoveries.
2. Be Different and Be a Happy Traveler
Happy travelers are flexible regarding when, where, and how they travel.
They can be found driving on smaller roads rather than interstate highways and visiting local restaurants instead of chains. Unfamiliar tastes and smells are more memorable, so happy travelers can be found visiting local farmers markets and food stands.
Some travel strategies of happy travelers include:
- Eat your bigger meal at midday and have a scenic picnic for dinner.
- Negotiate a lower hotel rate at independently owned motels instead of paying higher preset rates at hotel chains.
- Try Priceline, Couchsurfing, hostels, Airbnb, home exchange, or house sitting. Stay on a boat in Sausalito, in a lighthouse in Maine, a Pousada in Portugal, a farm in New Zealand, or a monastery in Nepal.
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- Don’t follow the crowds. Less people almost always means less angst and usually better deals.
- Visit popular tourist destinations in the off-season, when the weather might actually be better (hello Orlando).
- Maximize travel opportunities with alternate airports, open jaws, split tickets, and one-way flights.
- Try new activities and expand their horizons on trips. Something as simple as walking to the grocery store is an adventure in a new destination.
3. Master the Travel Game and Be a Happy Traveler
Happy travelers are savvy but they also continually refine their techniques. They realize when they can find better travel value and when to “let go.” Happy travelers utilize automated processes to simplify travel.
- Rather than always seek the lowest price, happy travelers recognize value. Rock bottom rates are often associated with inferior service. On the other hand, happy travelers are savvy and recognize when quality travel suppliers offer deals.
- Happy travelers sometimes plan their own trips but also enlist the assistance of travel advisors, agents, or trip planners.
- Happy travelers confirm trip itinerary components, at least the day prior to travel but often much further in advance. Many travel problems are preventable and it is easier to resolve issues before they occur rather than in real time.
- Happy travelers use electronic checkin for flights. Combining this technique with carryon only baggage, minimize time in airports and optimize happy travel time.
- When renting cars, use loyalty programs to skip lines and proceed directly to reserved vehicles.
- In hotels, happy travelers register at the loyalty desk or pre-select a room and skip the checkin process. They often receive a better room (quieter, newer) or upgrade.
Are you a happy traveler? What other travel habits of happy travelers would you add to this list?