Believe me, it was hard to keep this list to 10. I always make mistakes when I travel; the act of it just breeds them.
While away from home I've gotten hopelessly lost, left my passport in the stall of a public restroom and, in a foreign language, referred to a man as a woman. But mistakes are a necessity. They are how we learn and gain experience for the next time.
That said, there also are mistakes I make time and again. These blunders are so simple, so obvious, they border on amateur. Though it's embarrassing to admit them, I hope by reading about them you'll avoid making the same mistakes.
1. I forget that we have to turn off all devices for a full hour of the ride
E-readers are a godsend to a regular traveler, and I load up mine with magazines from finance to gossip, newspapers and, of course, a few books, all to be ready for whatever mood I may be in. I sit in my seat smugly thinking how unencumbered and uncluttered I am (I am so put together!) until the cabin door closes and I realize there will be a full hour (counting both ascent and descent) when my device is just a piece of expensive plastic and my only recourse is the airline magazine, which I read on a previous flight, or the totally outlandish products of SkyMall. Did you know that you can buy a yeti? Remember non-electronic reading material.
2. I neglect to check the weather forecast
I have this uncanny propensity for thinking that whatever weather I am in will be the same weather I am going to. A cold, blustery January day in Brooklyn? Singapore can't be that hot, right? I have a general sense of warm vs. cold destinations and pack accordingly, but I rarely look to see what the specific temperatures will be while I'm at my destination. If there's a fluke heat wave or a chance of rain for the entire week it never fails that I'm completely blindsided.
3. I leave without an umbrella
Living in New York has spoiled me. If you've ever been to this city you know that with the tiniest threat of rain within three minutes there's a man selling $5 umbrellas at every street corner. The immediate response time of these umbrella vendors is so impressive I always wonder if their talents wouldn't be better put to use in some sort of emergency management. Thanks to their talent, my Pavlovian response when it rains now is that someone hands me an umbrella and I hand him $5.
4. I always forget a toothbrush
Why I don't buy five toothbrushes and put one in every piece of luggage I own, I have no idea. My forgetfulness is so notorious, in fact, that a hotel I visit often now has a toothbrush waiting for me in the room when I check in.
5. I depart without the printed itinerary
Right before I leave for a trip I always print out my itinerary … then leave it sitting in the printer bin. That extra step of taking it from the printer to my purse seems to elude me every time. Thank goodness I always have it somewhere on my phone or computer, but I like to have a paper copy and never do.
Next page: A forgotten charger, sweater and more. »