Last year I traveled an average of twice a month, mostly with groups of strangers: other writers and PR reps who I'd be meeting for the first time in an airport lounge or at a Caribbean resort cocktail reception. One of my favorite ways to break the ice is to ask my companions to share their personal travel quirks; the rules and rituals they live by when they're on the road.
To get the ball rolling, I'll start by confessing my own idiosyncrasies (No matter how fancy the resort, I won't set foot in the shower without flip-flops; paranoia always forces me to hide my toothbrush from the housekeeper). And soon, perfect strangers are gleefully sharing the type of info usually reserved for the ears of therapists, priests and hairdressers.
From packing rituals to pet food, here, in no particular order, are my top 10 travel quirks of 2013. (All names have been changed to protect the innocent -- and the downright crazy.)
1. I always carry a Ziploc of dry cat food or treats with me. You see so many skinny cats in the Caribbean and I always feel sorry for them. So I bring my kibble to dinner and feed them. - Tracy, newspaper editor
2. With the exception of deodorant, I never pack toiletries; not even a toothbrush. Every hotel I've ever checked into has them at the front desk, so why bother? So far I've never been let down. - Kim, online journalist
3. To stave off germs, I always wrap the TV remote in a plastic bag. In a pinch I've even been known to use a condom from the room's intimacy kit. - Rebecca, PR agency owner
4. I never go anywhere without my vibrator. And since I always carry on my luggage, I always alert the TSA agent at the scanner before I put my bag on the belt. - Alana, multimedia journalist
5. I have to unpack all my shoes and line them up against the wall (never in the closet). When I'm away they make me feel at home. Then I take a picture of them, but I never share it on social media. It's just for me. - Suzanne, PR rep
6. There was a time when I'd spray my airplane seat with a mix of eucalyptus, peppermint and other sanitizing herbs. But I've stopped now because people tend to freak out when they see you spraying. - Crystal, journalist
7. I never ever take my underwear out of my suitcase. I'll unpack everything else but I'm wary of putting my unmentionables anywhere in a strange hotel room. - Tanya, PR rep
8. When I'm boarding a plane I always have to touch the exterior on the right side of the door. It's a personal travel ritual that somehow makes me feel safe. - Sophie, PR rep
9. I must unpack, put away and organize all my gear immediately. I don't like to see my suitcase in the room, and if there's no place to hide it I'll ask the staff to take it away. I want the room to look exactly it did when I first checked in; not cluttered up with all my stuff. - Alexandra, blogger
10. No matter how long I'm staying in a hotel I never unpack my case. As soon as I use or wear something I fold it and put it right back in my bag. That way, if I have to leave in a hurry I can do so without forgetting anything. I don't always zip my case but the lid's always down and I'm ready to go at a moment's notice. - Petra, pharmaceutical operations director