The Ten Commandments of Travel

OK, so I am not a religion scholar and I have no idea how long it took God to come up with the Ten Commandments for us mortals to live a good and moral life. (I do know that travelers the world over have been squawking for a Passenger’s Bill of Rights for many years.) But over the years, I have learned a thing or two about travel, and — believe me — the airlines, cruise lines, car rental agencies, and the hotel industry are not always the devils in the travel realm. The devils are often the travelers themselves.

So, with many thanks to the members of our Tripso Forums (whose contributions are noted in parentheses), I offer you the Ten Commandments of Travel.

1. Thou shalt promise to be a smart traveler and shalt not succumb to the temptation of phony “last-minute travel deals.” Neither shalt thou fall for the “become-a-travel-agent-and-travel-for-free” deal. Remember, also, that if something appears too good to be true, it probably is. (mtp51)

2. Thou shalt promise to ignore all those seemingly friendly people in Cancun who want to give you a “free ride” to your hotel. (DCTravelAgent)

3. Thou shalt promise to understand (and look up in the dictionary, if necessary) the meaning of “nonrefundable” as it pertains to your travel bookings. (DCTravelAgent)

4. Thou shalt promise to remember that your safety is not the responsibility of the cruise line, the FBI, the Aruban government or even your flight attendant, James Wysong. Your safety may be his priority, but it is your responsibility.

5. Thou shalt understand that the people in the brochure are not going to be vacationing with you. Corollary: If ye seek beachgoers in thongs, ye will likely find overweight, hirsute seniors in thongs — and they will be equally proportioned between genders.

6. Thou shalt understand that weather happens and that yelling at your travel agent, front desk clerk or the bus driver will not change it. If a climate-controlled vacation is what you want, stay in your living room. (wrp96)

7. Thou shalt not complain about Mexicans speaking Spanish in Mexico, Italians speaking Italian in Italy, or Japanese speaking Japanese in Japan. Thou shalt further promise to learn a few phrases in the local language yourself so as not to come off looking like an ignorant American.

8. Thou shalt exchange your currency for the local currency and use it. Aside from much of the Caribbean and some places in Mexico, most of the world does not want U.S. money — it really isn’t worth that much! (Kairho)

9. Thou shalt promise to be polite to all travel workers you encounter, including hotel staff, airline staff and cruise staff. (msnovtue)

10. Thou shalt promise to keep your papers in order. Passports need to be acquired before you leave. (You can download an application here.) Confirmations and vouchers should be kept handy and not packed in your suitcase. (Priscilla)

11. Thou shalt remember that when something does go wrong, you should complain about it immediately — not after stewing about it for weeks after you get home.

12. Thou shalt control thine offspring. Traveling with your kids is a lot of fun, but please, try to keep them in check. Need some tips? Check out this Web site for single parents who travel.

OK, so there are Twelve Commandments, but hey, travel often seems more challenging than leading a good and moral life.

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