Questions to ask before heading home

Flying Squirrel



The first time you travel to a new destination, or the first time you try a new kind of vacation, there may be a lot you don’t know.

Sometimes this experience can be exciting. Trying something new or seeing a destination for the first time is one of the great pleasures of travel.

Often things go well in our travels, and that’s great. Sometimes, though, we’re thrown a curve ball. When this happens, the seasoned traveler shrugs it off and makes the best of it.

Still, there may be times when you get home, and you’re relaying a challenge to someone, and they say, “Oh, you didn’t know about xxxxx,” and they proceed to tell you a piece of information that would’ve been super helpful, had you known it earlier. I like to call these moments, “Oh, I wish I’d known that before.”

To help with your summer travels, the following are some “if only I’d known” things I’ve learned through experience and from other seasoned travelers.



Pack a power strip. If you’re traveling with a family, you probably have at least two or three devices per person. Phones, game devices, cameras, watches—each with their own plug-in requirements. But if you’re on a ship (especially one built pre-2010) or in a hotel room, there may not be enough plugs for everyone’s devices. Having a power strip can turn one outlet into five or six slots.

Bring a plastic card. In many tropical resort rooms and most cruise staterooms you must insert your plastic room key in a slot by the door to turn on the room’s power. Only by doing so will the room receive A/C and power.

Travelers expecting that their devices will be charged in their absence may be disappointed. The solution? Put another card in the slot, like the room key from your last hotel stay.

Is this cheating? Yes, it is. But if you want your phone and camera charged, sometimes you take the travel law into your own hands.

“ Can I have something else?” If you’re in a restaurant at home and you don’t like the entrée, would you send it back? Most people won’t. But when you’re on vacation, you might reconsider.

On a cruise, or at an all-inclusive resort, if you don’t care for the entrée, politely ask your waiter for something different. Or you may even ask to have more than one option brought out. It’s OK.

“Is there a day rate?” If you’re vacationing at a tropical destination and your flight home is late in the day, you’d love to have a late checkout, right? It never hurts to ask, but if none is available, ask if they have a day rate. In other words, is there a room available just for showering and changing? This may be referred to as a courtesy room.

BYOB? One of the questions I’m asked most frequently is, can I bring my own alcohol to the ship/resort/hotel? The answer: It depends. If you’re staying at a hotel, they usually don’t care whether you bring your own cocktail supplies or wine.

All-inclusive resorts likely feel the same way, since they already offer you unlimited beverage options. Cruises are a little different, and each has its own policy. Some allow you to board with one bottle of wine per adult.

Others will charge you a corkage fee at the dining room. Still, it’s worth asking if you have a favorite beverage and you’d like to save money while enjoying it.

Carry-on. If you’ve ever sweated the suitcase-stuffing at the end of your trip, try this hack. Next time you pass a duty-free store, consider buying something so you can get one of their swanky duty-free bags. The bigger the better.

Now, keep that bag for your next trip. If you find your suitcase is over the limit, take the extra things and put them in your bag from the duty-free. To most gate agents, it will look like you did some airport shopping.

If you’d like to share your own hard-won travel hacks, please drop me a line.

Thor Challgren is a travel writer who lives in Thousand Oaks. For more info, visit Email questions to