This is mostly aimed at flying, but the advice holds true for any long distance travel where you are the only driver.
There are several sites or books (Frommers, Lonely Planet, and Rough Guide to name a few) that will help with what to bring on your trip, so I will make some suggestions on what not to do/bring/wear. To experienced travelers these will all makes sense, but to new travelers they may not be so obvious so each of these suggestions is from one or more of the stories.
When you are traveling you should
- Avoid wearing white cloths – you can bet that something will be spilled or you will rub against something that will stain.
- Keep in mind that you may have to go through security so a lot of zippers, things that will show funny on an x-ray or scanner should be avoided too.
- Try to be comfortable, but not too casual. There have been cases where people have been not allowed to fly because they were too scantly dressed.
- Keep in mind the weather at both your destination and transfer points. Also consider that airplanes are air conditioned and blankets are not always available anymore.
- Comfortable cloths – think layers as airports and planes will be different temperatures.
- Shirt with pockets – hold your seat check, etc.
- Clean socks – you will have to take off your shoes.
- Snacks for delays / long flights / waking in the middle of the night.
- Pen, especially on international flights where you will have to fill in customs and entry cards.
- Something to entertain yourself as in-flight entertainment does not always work.
- Your sense of humor and some patience for the little things that will not go as planned.
How people dressed for flights has changed over the years. Once flying was considered a special occasion for which people would dress up. Less so now. For example my parents tell a story of our going to the gate (yes all the way to the gate) at JFK airport, in New York, to meet my Great Grand Parent who were returning from Miami. My Great Grand Mother came of the plane as if she was going to dine with Royalty, fancy dress, her best jewelry, and her fur stole. While 2 years ago I was on a business trip with 15 coworkers and one of our Divisional Presidents arrived at the airport wearing a blue track suit with yellow trim. Obviously things have changed.
Avoid obvious security red flags, especially on international flights:
- A one way ticket
- No hotel reservation / information about where you will be staying
- No local currency
- No contact information for the people you will be seeing
- No tour or other itinerary
- Traveling alone to meet up with boy/girl friend
- Inconsistent names or details on any of your travel documents (they will cross check)