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What Are the Ten Commandments of Travel?

Updated on August 21, 2017
Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran is a writer & former newspaper reporter/editor who traveled the world as a soldier's better half. Her works are on Amazon.


The Well-Traveled Will Say AMEN

If you have ever gone from Point A to Point B you've learned a thing or two along the way. Usually we learn the hard way, by process of trial and error. My husband did his best to teach this truism to our teenagers: "Don't insist on making every mistake in the book yourself. I've already made most of them. Learn from me and skip a few."

This truth absolutely applies to travel. Why make all the mistakes yourself, learning as you go. Take a little advice from those of us who have already been around the block a time or two. Learn from us. In that spirit, I offer you:


l. Never, ever, pass up an opportunity to go to the bathroom. You never know how long it might be before you get the chance again or what the condition of the bathroom will be when you finally find it.

2. A trip with friends can be a lot of fun. But - travel with friends with the greatest of caution. Nothing has the potential to ruin a friendship faster than hitting the road together. Traveling is a continuous series of making small decisions. Trying to make all those decisions by committee will lead to wasted time, money and excruciating frustration. When vacationing with anyone outside your immediate family, the best advice is to make as many arrangements as humanly possible in advance, like on a cruise or a tour group. Still, even under the best of circumstances - Danger! Danger! Will Robinson!!!

3. Try the local cuisine. Why travel if all you are going to do in Rome is look for a McDonald's? In most countries I've been to, most of my memories are from me eating my way from one town to the next. Best pizza I ever had was in Wengen, Switzerland, which is at the top of one of the Alps. The toppings on this pizza were mussels and white asparagus. I still dream about it. My children, who had all been to five of the seven continents before they entered high school (Army Brats), became convinced that in Heaven we will eat pizza, french fries, and cokes because you can find some version of those three items anywhere on the planet. It might not be pizza like you've ever tasted before, but everybody has pizza of one kind or another.

4. Take an extra jacket. You can always take it off if it gets too hot. But there is nothing worse than being cold all day when there is nothing you can do about it except spend $80 on a sweatshirt at a tourist trap. Which leads directly to number five:

5. Avoid tourist traps. Tourist junk is tourist junk all over the world. Why go all the way to Iguazu, Argentina, to buy a snow globe made in China? Get a postcard you can frame when you get home, or better yet, buy a watercolor from the artist selling them on the street. You'll recall your adventures every time you walk past it in your house for the next twenty years. Also do not spend your precious time shopping for souvenirs for the folks back home. Your pictures and tales of your adventures are the best gifts to share with them. Besides - tourist junk is tourist junk everywhere.

6. Forget fashion when it comes to footwear. No matter what adventures are planned for any given day, odds are by the end of the day your feet are going to hurt. To ensure the next day's adventure is just as enjoyable as today's was, wear good walking shoes, whether they match your outfit or not.

7. Leave some cash at your house. You will certainly be broke by the time you return. I mean, seriously broke. Like no money to put gas in the car till next pay day (unless you plan well enough to arrive home on payday!) A funny thing happens to money on vacation. It takes on the attributes of Monopoly money. You tend to spend it like there is no tomorrow. But you know what? Tomorrow always comes once the vacation is over.

8. Never, ever, under any circumstances, pack everything you need in one bag. Luggage gets lost. This is a law of nature. Make sure each one of your bags (and never take more than you can carry by yourself) needs to contain everything you'd need for at least an overnight stay in the event the other one gets lost somewhere between your hometown and your first port of call. Yes, that means buying an extra toothbrush. If you can't afford that luxury, you probably can't afford to leave home.

9. Within reason, let your children pack their own bag and make them carry their own bag. It is the best way to make them understand why they can't take every toy they own on vacation.

10. Finally, take security seriously. The back alleys of Naples are not Disneyland. There are real dangers out there in the big, bad world, and acting like you are immune just because you are on vacation is not only naive - it's stupid. Also remember that your rights as an American do not extend to other countries. Once there, you are subject to their laws - and customs. Things are different in other countries. That's why you go there. But follow the laws and learn enough of the customs to avoid trouble. Having your stay in some new and exotic place extended indefinitely and involuntarily is not a good thing.

By all means, GO! The more of this amazing world that you see for yourself, the more you will want to see. But don't go uninformed. Knowing a thing or two (or ten!) about traveling will expeditiously increase your chances of having the time of your life.


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    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Wow! I haven't recycled this one for a while, and I'm glad so many new folks have enjoyed it. fpherj48: I just got back from three weeks in the UK (all but Northern Ireland) and it was amazing. But at 62 I was more tired, ready to be in my own house, and uncomfortable on the flights than I was at 32. But then flying ain't what it was 30 years ago either!

      bdegiulio 5 and moonlake: Welcome to my hubs!

    • fpherj48 profile image


      3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Kathleen. This is a real treat for the avid traveler. Invaluable information and advice! With all of this in mind, any trip would be more enjoyable.

      I was much more adventurous years ago than I am now. I have no idea what the reason is for this. Now it seems I merely go TO and FROM as quickly & conveniently as possible to visit one of my sons and families.

      I do long to return to Europe again once more, especially Germany.

      Great work as always, Kathleen!

    • moonlake profile image


      3 years ago from America

      Great hub loved your photos and your information. One thing I did when going on a trip I bought a coat that could be rolled up and put in a small bag. It was small enough to carry on a plane.

      Sometimes you think you're traveling with a good people and find out you're not. My last fun trip turned into misery because of one person. I didn't know she was like that and none of the other friends did either. I have not traveled since then and don't know if I want too.

    • RTalloni profile image


      3 years ago from the short journey

      Good stuff start to finish. Thinking tips like these through is crucial to a successful trip and your husband's quote is very useful in making oneself go to the trouble of learning from others' experiences.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Wonderful Hub Kathleen. We definitely abide by this list when we travel. Local cuisine is a must. And the only thing I come home with are postcards and photos. Love the pictures, an impressive resume of places you've visited. Well done.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I enjoyed reading your travel tips. I can tell you speak from experience. All ten of them make a lot of sense.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      emilynemchick: Number one reason for most of us, I'll bet!!!

    • emilynemchick profile image

      Emily Nemchick 

      5 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

      Local cuisine is my number one reason for travelling. Great information.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      travelholidays: So glad you found this early hub. I'm anxious to view some of your adventures too. The food is just about the best thing about travel to enjoy the differences in the places we visit. And you remember to good and the bad for years to come!

    • travelholidays profile image


      5 years ago from India

      Indeed :) This hub is real travel commandments . #3 is a great idea and a welcome one . where you have travel try the local cuisine then only your tour will be satisfied . Thanks for sharing :)

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      trelesstraveler: I'm honored. Link away!

      Austinstar: I agree about American hamburgers, which is the main thing I always missed living abroad. And the best KFC I ever had was in Hanau, Germany - unusually spicey. But I lived in Germany for three years and had time to explore beyond the local gasthaus. If I'd only been there for 2 weeks I wouldn't have bothered with any U.S. brands.

      Thanks for y'all's comments. I appreciate them.

    • Austinstar profile image


      5 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

      America does a great hamburger! I've never eaten a good one in Mexico. My favorite is the Jalepeno burger from Sonic.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      5 years ago from California

      Very good suggestions. Linking to my hub on travel.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Austinstar: Welcome! I'm with you on fast food - except hamburgers! Went to Italy with a couple only to find out he didn't like pasta! Really?

    • Austinstar profile image


      5 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

      Excellent. Loved it. I wish I could always travel alone or just with one other person. Having to explain to travel companions how to do something in a foreign land is exasperating. Why did you come? Learn something new - the money, the language, the food.

      I do hate to go to fast food restaurants, even in the U.S.A.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Absolutely! We received terrorist training while we were an Army family and the main advice was to trust your gut feelings. Sometimes something that sounds like a gunshot - is a gunshot!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      6 years ago from California

      Bravo! Excellent advice.

      I have been blessed with a couple of traveling friends that I can take anywhere.

      Would like to add one thing. Just came back from Memphis. Beloved Husband and I both grew up in big cities. We stopped in a neighborhood that should have been tourist friendly. We parked. There was a problem with the meter; both of us said at the same time. "Lets get out of here this place gives me the creeps". If you have a creepy feeling in a strange place. Get out. Its better to be safe than sorry.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      You sound like a vet. Good comments. Definitely will watch for more of your work. Thanks.

    • greatparenting profile image


      7 years ago from philadelphia, pa and corolla, nc

      Absolutely excellent advice. I'd add one more which is to do some homework online before you go to help you narrow down best places to stay. People who have been to places offer great reviews online and they often give the best advice for finding the little, lesser known spots that they found when they were there. And, yes, we have lost friends after travel. People don't believe how badly that can go until they go through it themselves.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Right on point and well-written as always. :)

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Truckstop Sally: We know we can experience those three just going to the mall! Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Good to know you!

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 

      7 years ago

      Great hub!! I lived #1, 3, and 6 this weekend!! Nothing like a wet weekend to upset the applecart.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Welcome to my world carlo_olano and kerlynb. Thanks for the comments. I have a hub on where I would go if money were no object that you might like. I'll take a look at your hubs too. Do you write about travel?

    • carlo_olano profile image


      7 years ago from Cebu City, Philippines

      Amen! Great advices

    • kerlynb profile image


      7 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      "Try the local cuisine" - AMEN! :D Sometimes we find other countries' cuisines too exotic. But I guess that's what makes them interesting, they're different from our "ordinary" foods. We just need to be a little bold and adventurous in sampling local dishes wherever we go.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks cvanthul: You read this hub before I was even finished setting in links. Hope you didn't catch any spelling errors!

    • cvanthul profile image

      Cristina Vanthul 

      7 years ago from Florida

      All good advice, and well-written.


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