25 Ways To Be A Better Traveller.

1)  Don’t risk bankruptcy for a good time.  If you can’t afford to travel… Don’t. Look for deals online. Pay off your credit cards and stock up on cash you can afford to throw away on overpriced junk like Starbucks coffee or Niagara Falls: Home of The Hook” t-shirts. Okay, they don’t really have “Niagara Falls: Home of The Hook” t-shirts. But they should.

Create a travel budget for yourself. Stick to it. The truth is, most people can’t afford to travel but they risk melting their credit cards and plunging themselves into a black hole of debt nevertheless.

Don’t be one of those people.

2)  Leave your baggage at home.  The right frame of mind is the key to a successful vacation. The only one who can ruin your trip is you. If you can’t commit to cutting your demons loose for a little while, then stay home! I’ve seen what happens when a tightly-wound traveller unravels, and it’s not pretty.

3)  Don’t be a douchebag while travelling.  If you are a douchebag, don’t be you.

4)  Make a list while packing and check it twice before you leave.  Hey, it works for the fat guy in the red suit.

5)  If you insist on packing your own pillow, for Dog’s sake, put it in a bag.  You don’t want to know what how many different forms of bacteria will attach themselves to the thing you lay your face on at night.

6)  Strollers and wheelchairs are not luggage carts.  Only luggage carts are luggage carts. Never forget this. Grandma needs her wheelchair and Junior needs his conveyance.

7)  Purchase a suitcase or duffel bag.  Filling your trunk one item at a time may seem like a good idea at the time, but so was putting the Kardashians on TV. And we all know how well that turned out, don’t we? And by the way, pack your extra, smelly, dirty footwear in a bag, okay?

8)  Get used to lines. You’re not the only one travelling and you never will be. Use the time to size up your fellow travellers and ridicule their appearance and mannerisms.

9)  Keep it together, man!  When a Front Desk clerk tells you your room isn’t ready you have face two options:

  1.  Push for another room. (Trust me, there’s always a clean room available, you just have to be willing to pay for it.)
  2.  Don’t behave like you just received a death sentence. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and store your bags with The Hook until your room is ready. Then go out and have fun.

10)  Never shout your room number out loud to your family or travelling companions.  At least try to make it harder for thieves to track you down.

11)  Never bring your wife to the same hotel you bring your mistress. For that matter, never bring your family to the same hotel you use for your “weekends away with your friends”. You know, the ones where you gorge yourself on hookers, booze and whatever else makes you forget whatever you’re running from?

12)  Do your homework. Take a break from whatever “educational” pursuits you’re pursuing on Tube8 or BeccaTube (sorry, Ms. Cord) and research your destination. Make phone calls and ask the right questions as well. Trust me, the last thing you want to is to arrive at your hotel/resort after hours/days of travel time only to be greeted by monkeys in hard hats. You can go back to BeccaTube after, kids, Becca’s antics makes for good viewing.

13)  Buy a GPS.  It’s 2013, you schmuck! Get with the program! I’m not expecting you to link up with NASA from your mini-van, but don’t waste time – to say nothing of the danger of a knock-down, drag-out battle with your partner while rolling along the highway at 120 miles an hour – searching for an off-ramp.

14)  Read your kids the riot act before you leave the house.  As I write this, a pack of wild jackals have been rampaging through the lobby for over twenty minutes, a can of Red Bull in each of their hands, drool flying from their foaming mouths.

“Aren’t they cute?” a clueless grandmother chirps.

No. Puppies are cute. My wife is cute. Screaming, over-caffeinated children are a menace and a threat to the travelling public. Make sure your kids know the score. A single look from an older family member should stop a rampaging child dead in his or her tracks.

15)  Don’t drive like a tourist.  This is self-explanatory. Don’t put yourself, your travellng companions and the residents of your destination at risk by gawking out your window like a cheese-eating high school boy. Pay attention to the road, doofus.

16)  Have respect.  For other travellers. For your family. For service workers like myself. Leave your good manners at home and sooner or later you’ll pay for it, you have my word on that.

17)  Be empathetic towards your housekeeper.  I want you to cut loose and enjoy yourself but don’t be a total slob. Housekeepers have it rough so go easy on them whenever possible . (You couldn’t pay me enough to clean up a room after some depraved jerk spends the night partying with three hookers. Semen is the ultimate super glue, kids; get any on your hands and you’ll have to fight the urge to sever your hand with a cleaver. Don’t say your old pal The Hook never taught you anything.)

18)  Don’t forget to tip.  This brings us back to budgetary issues. Make room in your travel budget for gratuities or I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

Okay, that was a bit overboard. I don’t have the time to look for you. I’m a busy man.

But trust me on this, tipping builds trust and goodwill and you never know when you’ll need a favor from a housekeeper, server or your friendly not-your-neighborhood bellman. Tip me well and the next time you show up with your spouse, I’ll act as though you were never here with your lover. Tip your housekeeper and she’ll actually change your sheets. Gratuities pay for themselves.

19)  Create an itinerary for yourself and stick to it.  Make the most of your trip and hit all those spots you were thinking of during the planning process. Regrets are a waste of time and lead to lines and ulcers so don’t bother with them.

20)  Let the wind take you where it will.  Have fun exploring a devil-may-care attitude for once in your structured, home-by-five, in-bed-by-nine, life. Go a little nuts and see what happens.

Yes, I’m all over the place. Get used to it.

21)  Go easy on the liquid courage.  I know many of you worship at the temple of Ninkasi – “The Lady who fills the mouth” – (she is the goddess of brewing or alcohol.), but too much courage can lead to imbecilic behavior, and imbecilic behavior can lead to disaster. And don’t forget, guys, too much alcohol can lead to a “failure to launch” between the sheets. And ladies, I once had a girl fall off of me after crawling inside a bottle so keep that in mind before overdoing it while travelling.

22)  Leave the electronic devices at home.Unless they are absolutely necessary to your existence, leave the tablets and laptops behind. You need your phone, yes, but not to play Candy Crush or check office e-mail while your wife flirts with the waitress. (Seriously, the times, they are a-changin’, kids. Lately I’ve seen more than one bored wife hook up with a server while hubby sits in the bar and plays with his phone.)

And parents, please hear me now: make family memories, not nightmares. I’ve seen so many families glued to their devices instead of engaging in actual conversations and it never ends well in the long run.

23)  Listen to the experts. Enough said?

24)  Expect the unexpected.  Always. Murphy’s Law is unavoidable. (This Murphy guy was a barrel of laughs, wasn’t he? His wife must have drank heavily.)  This rule can be applied to your life in general. You can’t control the universe. (You can’t, can you? But if you can, then I need a word or two.) All you can do is control how you react to whatever the universe throws at you, so just remember…

“I’m here to have fun, not to despair. I can handle anything. The Hook has faith in me.”

25)  Vacations, like our very existence , are finite.  Live life to the fullest while travelling. Otherwise there’s no point in walking out your front door.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

For now.


About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
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84 Responses to 25 Ways To Be A Better Traveller.

  1. There really should be “Niagara Falls: Home of The Hook” t-shirts. I would stock up and everyone on my Christmas list would get one.
    Great tips, Hook. Especially #18.

  2. Here Here! Excellent post! Can you hear the applause?

  3. #14 why the hell do people let there children drink those things??? They are full of sugar and caffeine and have been proven to increase your heart rate to a unhealthy dangerous level.
    They should just been banned period.
    Great post btw , lol.

  4. bardictale says:

    Wait, there are people who don’t follow this guidelines? Egad!
    Can I have a Hook shirt?

  5. susielindau says:

    Hook! This is a fantastic list! You should post it on Ask.com under “how I can be a better traveler,” or “How to prepare for traveling,” etc.

  6. MissFourEyes says:

    #3 Bahaha!
    #4, I am forever the efficient packer. I have an excel sheet of things I’ll need and I check it every time I travel. Why yes, I’m a weirdo, why do you ask?
    Also, I want a Niagara Falls: Home of The Hook t-shirt!

  7. “I’m Here With the Dumbass” shirts would be a hot item in Niagra Falls.

    Your list confirms this.

  8. List of X says:

    I’d say #3 is the most important one. If you can manage #3, it would automatically take care of about a third of items on the list.

  9. Kevin says:

    Hook, if I can’t take my family, mistress, and drinking buddies to the same hotel how am I suppose to earn my hotel loyalty points? And I agree with misbehaving kids and the one look policy. I always tell my kids to stay close by, shut their mouths, and just observe when out and about (mostly for safety reasons). You got two eyes, two ears, and one mouth for a reason.

    • Shelburbia says:

      I don’t know I have lived almost 40 years as a loudmouth without hearing the two eyes, two ears, one mouth line…but I love it. And will try to remember it.

  10. Great advice often overlooked about the pillows. (Oh, the pillows that have been dropped beside the car, in the lobby….shiver)
    And that last suggestion is a jewel.
    Wait! Need Hook-tshirts…if Cult of Otis can have them…your daughter could probably create the perfect design (or give that eye roll )

  11. Shelburbia says:

    Do dildos count as electronic devices? Wait…did I just take it too far?
    Did the kids offer you any red bull?

  12. michd74 says:

    Loved it. I want a Hook T-shirt!

  13. Carrie Rubin says:

    I can’t believe how many people don’t tip the housekeeping staff. What a difficult job. I always tip them well. As a result, I seem to end up with a lot of extra shampoos, soaps, and shower caps. 🙂

  14. I liked the wife/mistress advice. Happens to me all the time and I need to take control. Great post.

  15. Wow craziness! Does it get worse at Christmas?

  16. Aussa Lorens says:

    I love every one of these! My boyfriend works in the hotel industry… I myself have traveled the world by staying in the world’s sleeziest hostels so I never have any complaints when I have the luxury of a room that locks and has clean sheets 😉 Good advice on all of these though…

  17. bfg666 says:

    Man, judging by the responses, you HAVE to make those “Home of the Hook” T’s… Ain’t no harm in putting a little extra bread on the table. BTW, love that snow falling all over your blog. It’s fitting your current situation perfectly.

  18. #11 haha! Happens all to often on the hill. 😉

  19. TBM says:

    I would love a Hook shirt! All great tips. I probably should listen to the alcohol one.

  20. Lily says:

    I’d like to think I’m a savvy traveler, but I totally can’t stand when people lose control of their kids and they let them run wild everywhere! I mean, I really can’t say anything because I don’t have kids myself, but I was never a crazy kid–so hopefully my future kids don’t run rampant!

  21. Good list, also I would add – enjoy your travelling experience in real, rather than through the lens of your camera. Yes, you want to capture photos and videos as memories, but occasionally take the equipment away from your face and just experience it!

  22. Tipping it’s important.
    you know, Europeans don’t tip, it’s part of the culture, they wanna kill me when I leave a few coins for the waiter or a 5 Euro bill to the cleaning lady at the hotel. They see no point on it, “it’s their job, they get paid for it” they say.
    Kids are not cute unless they are like little well behaved adults.
    Great list!

    • The Hook says:

      Unfortunately, people in the service industry are paid less because their employers assume they can make the difference up in gratuities.
      I don’t agree with that, but what can you do?
      Great comment!

    • bfg666 says:

      That’s not true! Well I don’t know about the rest of Europe but french people do tip. Not all of us do, I’ll grant you that, but that’s because tips are already included in the price we pay. But many of us still give an extra tip despite that.

  23. kewsmith says:

    I’m a good tipper but I also drive like a tourist. I promise to try and do better! Super advice.

  24. Great 25logue of travel or should I say ‘the bible of travel’?!!
    If we were to travel I think we’d have everything covered. I do the planning and husband covers the ‘what if’ (or else Murphy law) ellimination! But we prefer the comfort of our home and the great travels of our very wild imagination!!! 😉
    Have a great WARM December, my friend!

  25. jlheuer says:

    When you said “Leave your baggage at home”, I immediately thought ‘What? Is he trying to put himself out of a job?’…then I read on.
    Hmm, is your next book going to be lists?

    • The Hook says:

      It’ll be comprised of original material – something that should make you quite happy – divided into three sections:
      1) Original hotel stories.
      2) Travel Dos and Don’ts. (Divided into lists, yes.)
      3) A biographical section exploring my family history.
      Hopefully this approach pays off. I’ve evolved as a writer, so I think I’m standing on solid ground this time.

  26. stephrogers says:

    I want a Hook t-shirt too! This is a great list. I will remember it. However, when traveling in Australia we don’t tip. We’re cheap like that. But we don’t have Bellmen either. We carry our own stuff around. Nothing fancy here.
    PS I love the snow!

  27. 1jaded1 says:

    I hope people read and HEED.

  28. Cayman Thorn says:

    As per Number 9, you’re absolutely right. Personally, I always use the time before my room is ready to figure out where I want to go for dinner and drinks. Of course, the latter MUST abide by Number 21 whilst traveling in strange places. Unless you want to end up doing a Nick Nolte, which ain’t a cool place to be.
    Great list.

  29. Daile says:

    This is a perfect list Hook. How can we ensure all travelers read this!?

    My personal favourite which I think applies to life as well as traveling
    “If you are a douchebag, don’t be you.” spot on

  30. evolution says:

    Hahaha, really great travelling tips! As someone who travels frequently, I really identify with 3,4,8,9 and especially 13, having GPS handy. I recently got lost in a Belgian forest while trying to find a remote location, all after losing my connection to GPS. Setting sun, not a soul in sight=really friggin scary. I would add take screen shots of your directions and always bring a paper map as backup.

  31. Katie says:

    Great tips, Hook! I was on board until I read “Have respect.”

    It’s not a vacation unless I can be self-absorbed and rude.

  32. “Brilliant post, especially #22”, says she who is sitting on the tour bus reading this on her laptop. 😀

  33. Well said! I grew up (and currently reside) in a resort town, and I spent years as a five-star hotel executive… you are spot on!

  34. likeitiz says:

    This is very true. Ever heard of the term “ugly American tourist?” Came to mind as I read your 25 tips on how to be a human being.

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