The 10 Golden Rules of Travel

by Tori Ward, ROX Travel, Cruise and Resort Specialist

I’m sitting in an airport lounge as I write this, feeling confident I’ve packed everything I need to revisit China. I’m with my favorite travel companion and photographer, my husband Jerry Chinn. We are such total opposites. I packed for this trip last night, while he started packing a month ago. We travel so often, though, that I know I’m not going to need three flashlights, not as long as I stay close to him. I have an essential list that I check off and then add nonessentials in the space that remains in my suitcase.

As different as we are though, there are some “Golden Rules of Travel” that we adhere to wherever we go:

  1. Pack lightly, and make smart choices. Take items that can serve dual purposes and clothing that will wash and dry quickly.
       I learned this lesson the first time I went to Europe and trimmed a huge suitcase down to a single backpack. I still laugh that, to this day, the single most important item in the bag was my shampoo. I used it to wash my hair and my clothes.

    PRO TIP: A neutral colored tunic-length jacket can pair with jeans or tights for flights and can be buttoned and dressed up with a scarf for dinner. Wear the heaviest shoes you are going to need on the plane, and make sure the jacket has lots of pockets so you don’t have to pack a purse. Keep a list of essentials you must take, and like Santa, check it twice! When traveling, never forget to pack your sense of humor. 

  2. Take potential travel companions out for a test run. I will never take a trip with anyone who I haven’t vetted on at least an overnighter that includes public transportation, restaurant dining and early morning meet-up times.
       A casual acquaintance who invited herself along on a trip to Paris with two very dear friends quickly turned every event into drama. She never shut up on the flights, took two large suitcases that had to be checked, causing stress and delay, and sent us on a spree of super marches in search of softer toilet tissue in Paris.

    PRO TIP:
    Unless you want to be a handler, leave the drama queens – and those who travel differently than you – at home. 
  3. Do research about your location before you leave. Why does this area call you to visit? If you are going to Milan to see “The Last Supper,” research will help you avoid disappointment when you discover you should have purchased a ticket months beforehand.
       When I was in Vienna is 2003 I was fortunate enough to attend the opera one night and go to a service at the chapel the following morning to hear the Vienna Boys Choir. It took some research, though, to find out where the chapel was located and to know to buy tickets early so we weren’t sitting behind a post.
  4. Don’t become totally reliant on artificial intelligence or a travel companion’s daytimer regarding flight dates and times. Check details yourself.
       A few years ago, we showed up at the Air Canada counter at 10:30 p.m. for the first leg of a flight to Japan. The fact that we were the only ones in line was a strong indication that something was off. The trip tracker application my hubby was using had us at the airport a day early. They’ve since gone out of business.
  5. Take precautions to stay healthy. This starts with hydration before, during and after boarding. A refillable water container if you’re going to a foreign country will hold you long enough to find bottled water.
    PRO TIP: Once you arrive, stick to bottled water, even for brushing your teeth. Don’t eat raw vegetables or fruits unless you can first wash and then peel them. As much as I crave a crisp salad after days of rice in China, it’s not worth getting sick. Take lots of disposable hand sanitizers and tissue. Don’t forget to stick them in those pockets of your jacket so you have cleaners or tissue when you need them most. 
  6. Avoid new shoes. Wear shoes you can slip off and on easily, both for airport security and comfort walking through museums, wandering city streets or running to catch the train. 

    PRO TIP: Take compression socks for long flights, but put your shoes on if you get out of your seat. 

  7. Use your debit card for currency exchange and get your cash at an ATM. Get money daily or every other day so that you carry small amounts of currency at a time in case you are the victim of theft.
    PRO TIP: Check with your bank before your trip to determine if there is an affiliated branch at your destination. Many banks don’t charge members foreign transaction fees. Exchange rates can fluctuate daily and will be posted at financial institutions. Download a currency converter so you’ll be wise about your spending. Don’t engage with anyone who attempts to change money for you on the street. 
  8. When you arrive, even if your mouth is watering for pizza on the way to your hotel in Florence, eat a small, light snack. If you can check in, take a shower and set the clock for a two- hour nap only. 

    PRO TIP: A heavy meal will make it harder to wake up. Treat yourself to a good dinner, and go to bed at what your normal time would be if you were home. Well, at least the first night. 

  9. If you are in a big city, walk if it’s safe. Happy surprises that you would never find riding in a cab will be the stuff of stories when you get home. And, don’t make assumptions about people. Smile, ask questions, say hello and thank you. Expect to make friends and you will usually be successful. 
  10. Finally, to make packing and enjoying the trip your primary responsibility, call a travel agent to pull the rest of the details together for you. Travel agents don’t charge for most of their services and will be able to source deals you won’t be likely to find on your own. And, any travel agent worth their hand sanitizer will advise you to purchase travel insurance.


  • Dual-voltage immersion water heater
    (along with instant coffee packets)
  • Battery-powered, motion-sensing night light
  • Flashlight to keep on night table
  • Mini travel multi-tool, without knife blade
  • Rubber shower shoes/flip-flops (also work as slippers)
  • Compact travel humidifier
  • All-in-one universal power adapter
  • Dual-voltage travel appliances and chargers
  • A stretchy clothesline

Victoria “Tori” Ward is a cruise and resort specialist with an interest in traveling and seeing the world since she first began to crawl. For more information on these tips and others, contact Tori at or 928-254-9968.