A Life Well-Travelled: 3 Lessons I’ve Learned
I boarded my first plane when I was merely 6 years old. A transcontinental flight that took me from Hong Kong (my birthplace) to the United States. Los Angeles, California specifically. This was back in 1994 on Cathay Pacific, where I was served a fun-sized lunchbox in a brief case and thought it was the coolest thing ever. This was my first memory of flight travel.
Since then, there’s been quite a few, very remarkable and significant changes to say the least. Travel has become, just this past decade, more and more of a commodity in exchange for status and social stature. Let’s be honest - when was the last time you travelled and didn’t bother sharing it on social media? We’re all guilty of the endless photo albums, streams, feeds and stories throughout Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
That said, the real challenges of travel can begin well-before you even arrive at the airport (and once you do, it’s an entirely different set of experiences). Yes, these problems I am about to go into happened to me and it could very well happen to you, too.
1. Flight Insurance is a Scam
In 2015, when I was in the process of planning my summer travel plans to Key West for a media stay at a yet-to-open hotel, I thought it was a brilliant idea to purchase my airline ticket with flight insurance in the event I had to make a last minute changes to my itinerary. I was under the impression that my ticket would be completely refundable - no questions asked - with travelers insurance. Incidentally, last minute changes had to be made due to a delay in the hotel's opening. And, as it turns on, travelers insurance does nothing. I would be on the phone for what seemed like hours trying to clarify my situation; eventually, the situation escalated to a senior customer service manager whom told me "unless you are in grave medical danger or deceased, we are unable to provide you a full refund." So I either have to be dying or dead to be qualified for a full refund on my plane ticket. How very nice of them. I ended calling the airline to switch my flight for an additional fee. The lesson here is to avoid travelers insurance altogether - it's a scam that profits a third-party company.
2. TSA Approved Luggage Changes Everything
We all know that the TSA is the most draining part of being at the airport. I am here to tell you it doesn't have to be. I like to keep it stress free with a TSA-approved backpack, luggage case and accessories. It makes all the difference, trust me. I've been randomly held for further inspection during the times when I wasn’t properly equipped - these are definitely make or break moments for an upcoming flight. Usually the backpack is the culprit. With SWISSGEAR’s TSA friendly ScanSmart backpack, I am able to easily remove my laptop with their padded 15" computer compartment. This allows me to smoothly go through the TSA process without a hitch and leaving my laptop out of sight. It can get uncomfortable knowing your whole digital life is packed away in one laptop! Most of all, it’s a backpack that is ergonomically contoured for an almost weight-less feel on your shoulders while keeping your back breathable with mesh fabrics. They didn’t call it the Airflow for nothing.
3. Always Keep Your Eyes Open
Perhaps one of the more important takeaways from all my travels thus far is to keep every moment innocent, wide-eyed and filled with curiosity as much as possible. I often go back to this one quote from the legendary Grace Coddington: “Always keep your eyes open. Keep watching, because whatever you see can inspire you” As cliche as it may sound, nowadays especially, it’s a mantra I try to embrace even when I am just taking a stroll through my favorite architectural marvels in LA. There’s something so calming about submitting and surrendering to your immediate surroundings. Suddenly, everything and everyone takes on this melodic rhythm around you. It’s a very de-stressing activity and one that you can do easily in any situation, any location. I sincerely believe inspiration comes calling when you’re most at ease, when you’re not constantly seeking out moments to capture but rather have that come to you instead. Try it sometime. It still works for me.
Summer travels may be coming to an end, but it’s never too late or too early to prepare for more adventures ahead. What are other life lessons you’ve learned on your own travels? Would love to hear about them in the comments below!
All the best,
This post was written in partnership with SWISSGEAR. All opinions and experiences are entirely my own.