Misadventures of a traveling teenager

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By: Amanda Reid, Columnist 

Every great adventure has its ups and downs, and my adventures in the airports of the world have certainly been an experience.

The best place to begin is at the beginning, so let’s chat for a second about my flight to Spain, which was almost a month ago. I travelled with US Airways, which means I have a weight restriction of 50lbs and you are guaranteed one suitcase, one carry-on, and one personal bag.

Amanda pro-tip number one: weigh the suitcase (or cases) you want to check multiple times before you leave for the airport. I made the decision to check two bags since I am going to be in Spain for nine months, and one suitcase was not nearly enough. However, when I got to the airport, one of my suitcases was 5lbs overweight. I had the pleasure of sitting on the floor in front of the airport staff in near hysterics as I jammed 5lbs of stuff into my other suitcase.

Amanda packing pro-tip number two: as far as the carry-on and personal item go, if you are traveling for a long period of time, use a duffel as your carry-on and a backpack as your personal item.

Airlines, like US Airways, have size restrictions for carry-on luggage, but I walked easily through customs and onto the plane with my Vera Bradley duffel and High-Sierra school backpack.

Also, make sure either your duffel or backpack can fit under the seat in front of you. Luckily, I had the window seat, so my enormous backpack could be shoved up against the window and the flight attendants did not say anything to me, but I would have been in serious trouble if I had an aisle seat.

Packing pro-tip number three, if you don’t have room for everything you own, malls are a magical, universal creation. Everything you cannot bring with you, like those cute heels, or your favorite straightening iron, you can easily replace those things here.

Also, buy the right outlet adapter. I highly recommend buying a power-strip as well, so you can charge multiple electronics at once. The power-strip was especially handy when we were in Portugal and France because all three of us were able to charge our phones at the same time without fighting over the one outlet that was in our room.

When taking shorter, weekend trips to countries, only take a carry-on. Not checking a bag is monumental in saving time. Some airlines, like Transvia, have extremely specific size restrictions for carry-ons, but if you have a backpack or duffel, you do not have to get your bag checked for size.

My friends and I watched with horror as one hard-shell carry-on after another had to be checked because they were too large. We were all blessed to have brought bags that can be squished down in order to make more space, so the security did not even check to see if our bags were too large.

And my final airport/packing pro-tip is to pull up your boarding pass on your smartphone instead of printing it. We had no access to a printer because our Airbnb did not have one, but when we asked at the check-in desk about how to print our boarding pass, they told us as long as we have our boarding pass on our phones, they can scan them at the gate. Granted, it is always better to ask if the pass needs to be printed, but having one less piece of paper to keep track of was a major help as we rushed to the gate.

Stay tuned, next week I’ll be full of more fabulous pro-tips on how to procrastinate tourist-style instead of Netflix-style!

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