What brings thankful smiles to the traveler

Nutella giant jars in Doha Qatar Duty Free (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Giant Nutella jars in Doha Qatar Duty Free (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

So many big things to be thankful for.

Drinkable water from hotel room sinks and airport water fountains (so fundamental but not so common, which is why we’re supporting Water.org through this year’s Passports with Purpose fundraiser – kickoff later this month!) Transportation that is usually available right when I need it, for a reasonable price. Meals that are edible and affordable.

But how about the smaller, more mundane things that I’m thankful for as a traveler? Here’s my current list:

**  Road trips. Air travel has gotten to be such a pain, I’m now quite gleeful when I can drive instead. Giant bottles of shampoo! A potted palm in the backseat if I want it! Hooks to hang up a dress or suit jacket! Not having to wait on a flight because the aircraft was delayed in Minot, North Dakota! Giant suitcases; hell, take TWO suitcases….I don’t, but just the idea than I could makes me thankful.

**  Google Maps on my phone.  Sure, I carry a few paper maps from AAA (American Automobile Association) as backups, but how incredibly helpful is it to always have directions when you most desperately need them? Google Maps can also give public transportation and walking directions; it’s been slightly off a few times, but better than the big nothing I’d have gotten in the past trying to find my way in a strange town late at night or early in the morning.

**  A trusty carry-on suitcase. I use the Travelpro Rollaboard, but no matter the brand, it’s a lifesaver when you find a sturdy, multi-pocketed portable container for your life’s necessities. Always using a carry-on means that I’m forced to pack efficiently, but I never pay to check a bag and I’m secure in knowing that it’s sitting in an overhead bin near me, not being lost or sifted through by a rogue TSA employee. Bonus for thanks: how did we live before the invention of wheeled suitcases? New York Waterway ferry approaches Lincoln Harbor NJ (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

**  Pleasant transportation surprises. This past year it was the New York Waterway ferry service going to and from Manhattan (“on a boat!” is such a nice way to start and end the day) and super-helpful New Jersey Transit guides.

**  Energy bars. Thanks to technology and packaging, I always have halfway decent food when I need it, usually a Clif Bar. It’s a small thing, but really important when the stomach gets to growling. Beats the hell out of toting a (usually mangled) banana, the standard portable travel snack when I was growing up.

**  24 hour Duty Free in Doha. When I couldn’t sleep in an airport lounge chair, I had the option of wandering around and ogling giant Nutella containers (photo above, with my boarding pass for perspective) and buying Al-Jazeera swag for a couple of journalist friends. Bonus: Qatar Airlines offers quite a pleasant travel experience, even in coach.

**  People-movers in airports. Hey, moving sidewalks, I like how you make me feel like a speedy Olympic racewalker when I’m plodding through endless airport terminals. Now, if we could get those oblivious fellow travelers to stand to the right….

**  Hotel breakfasts included with the room. This was not always a common amenity for travelers, and I truly appreciate it. Sure, when I’m located near a cool downtown diner, I’d much rather pay to have a fabulous local meal, but often I’m not within easy walking distance of good alternatives. Making a run down to the lobby and grabbing a quick bite is very handy.

That’s my list as a thankful traveler – what’s yours?

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  1. Kerry Dexter November 23, 2012
  2. Sheila Scarborough November 23, 2012

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