7 Ways to Avoid Going Crazy When Traveling

PHOTO: Travelers make their way to flights in the concourse of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Win McNamee/Getty Images
Travelers make their way to flights in the concourse of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

If you love to travel as much as I do, you are well aware that stuff happens. Flights are delayed, bags go missing (or in my case, sometimes get torn to pieces), and on and on. You've been there, but did you also know there are simple things you can do to avoid going crazy?

Let's get to it. Here are seven things that can drive you crazy and the solutions to make your travel experience less stressful.

1. Avoid the crush

Ever been to Venice in the summertime? Taking a selfie in the Piazza San Marco isn't easy thanks to the 50,000 other tourists cramming into the square with you. U.S. attractions can be just as packed as any parent navigating amusement parks in the steamy summer heat of Orlando knows oh so well.

The solution: Fly to your dream destination in the off-peak season or just around the edges of tourism prime time. If you can travel before mid-June (say, depart by June 9) or wait until Aug. 23 or beyond, the crowds melt away and lines everywhere get a whole lot shorter. Even better, flights are significantly cheaper.

2. Avoid missing the attractions

Want to see the White House? Visit the Uffizi Museum in Florence? Travel to these cities without tickets in hand and you could be turned away or stand in line for hours. A terrible waste of vacation time.

The solution: Book attraction tickets online. It's fast and easy and you won't have to stand in any crazy lines (though you may have to stand in short ones). Hurry, some attractions or tours fill up months in advance.

3. Avoid the airport on Fridays and Sundays

These are the most popular days to fly because it allows travelers to get the most time possible out of the standard days off. The problem is, popular equals expensive and the airlines take full advantage of this demand by hiking ticket prices.

The solution: Take time off in the middle of the week. The cheapest days to fly are usually Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but Saturdays are less expensive too. Plan your itinerary accordingly and you could save big. At the very least, fly one leg of your trip on one of the cheaper days and you'll still reap half the savings.

4. Let people know where you are

We live in an age of "uncertain times," as we recently saw during the horrific attacks in Belgium, so be sure your loved ones always know how to get in touch.

The solution: Make sure they have your phone number along with hotel numbers or any friends you're staying with. If you'll be out of the country, sign up for the U.S. State Department's STEP program (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) which is a simple matter of going online, providing itinerary and contact information along with anyone you'd like notified in an emergency. It's quick, easy and free.

5. Avoid phone problems

These days, phones are so much more than communication devices: They are our maps, our cameras, our flashlights, our document repositories, our entertainment, our key to the world. But phones die and phones get lost. Don't let it happen to you.

The solution: Keep your charger cord on your person; when your phone is about to go bye-bye that cord in your checked bag will be no help whatsoever, so keep it handy and take along a portable charger as well. Then, keep an eye on your phone; better yet, keep it in your pocket. I can't tell you how many stories I've heard about scoundrels sauntering by outdoor caf├ęs and casually picking up the phones casually strewn on the table tops in full view of their owners.

Similarly, don't get caught up in any distraction scams where someone "accidentally" knocks over a drink and after many apologies and wiping of spills you discover your phone is MIA. Be aware of your valuables no matter what happens, every step of your journey.

6. Avoid flight connection problems

Ever run into a delayed or cancelled flight at the airport and are directed by your airline to run to gate whatever and see if you can make that flight? With luck, you will make it, but sadly, checked-bags can't run that fast.

The solution: Use a carry-on and your bag will always fly with you. It'll make life much easier on public transportation, too, such as buses and trains where bag space may be severely limited or non-existent.

7. Avoid security snafus

You go to the airport expecting the usual quick trip through the security checkpoint but the line is out the door. You'll never make your flight (or be a sweaty mess from all that running if you do).

The solution: During peak travel periods such as spring break, summertime and especially Thanksgiving, get to the airport at least an hour earlier than usual. I hate to do that too, but you know you'll make your flight and if you've got your phone and charger cord at the ready, you won't be too bored.

Two other suggestions: Check out the TSA's "Can I bring my ...?" app which tells you items that are banned, including liquids in containers larger than 3.4 ounces, and join PreCheck or Global Entry. Both programs are a real bargain ($85 to $100 for five years) and will have you zipping through security.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of Rick Seaney and do not reflect those of ABC News.