You don't have to read Dante to know about deadly sins. The travel experience is filled with enough good -- and evil -- that it would probably inspire the medieval Italian poet Dante Alighieri to write a new volume of his divine comedy.
Here's my list of the seven deadly sins of travel.
Pride. Every travel season I hear travel magazines and travel journalist talk about the “hottest destinations" or “must-go to places." These are the places to avoid. Not only will you run into crowds, but you'll also find peak prices. So put your pride aside, let your neighbors pay the high prices and follow my contrarian strategy, which means hitting undervalued destinations offering great luxury at a discount. Destinations like ski resorts or New England coastal towns like Providence, Rhode Island, offer great bargains during the summer. Providence's extensive art and cultural history is reminiscent of Europe, so it's more affordable for vacationers looking for an exceptional experience.
Envy. Whenever and wherever you travel, you won't have any trouble finding someone with a nicer hotel room, better airline seat, a grander cruise cabin, bigger rental car, higher elite status, and, most disconcerting, a lower price. This is something you just need to accept. Instead of envying your friends, neighbors, co-workers, or the person in the suite next to your tiny room, just follow my strategy of “Know Thyself." Get to know what is most important to you. This might be a cheap seat on a discount airline but a luxury hotel with great service and a view. The key is to know what works for you, what you can afford, and where you're willing to make compromises. When it comes to elite status with travel providers, be practical in the type of travel you do and where you stand in the pecking order. Don't go up to a gate agent and tell her that you want an upgrade because you are the airline's most loyal customer when you only fly once a year. Instead, try saying that you don't fly often, however when you do, you make (the airline) your first choice.
Anger. A fit of anger with a travel provider will get you nowhere fast. (Throwing a phone at a hotel clerk might end you up in jail.) Getting angry at poor service or a delayed flight will not correct the problem. For me, I often find myself tempted to get angry at inept service people but by turning the other cheek. I don't look like the bad person, and besides, you attract more bees with honey than vinegar.
Avarice. Quality travel providers will go out of their way to assure that their customers are happy. This can make some travelers become greedy and try to get away with too much. In a previous column, I wrote about an experience where I received poor room service and how the manager of the hotel took extraordinary steps to remedy the situation. In that case, the manager asked what he could do for me, if I would have told him that I wanted a free week in the hotel's presidential suite I would have come across as disingenuous and greedy. Other forms of greed include cheating your frequent flier program to earn a few extra miles, or complaining about a hotel's service, hoping that they'll offer you a few freebies. As I have said many times, you need to build mutually beneficial relationships with quality travel partners by not getting greedy or taking advantage of them.
Sadness. When things are not as expected, don't wallow in sadness; instead take proactive steps to solve your problem. One affirmative step to avoid sadness during your trips is to double-check your reservations. Recently, I booked a trip from Orange County, Calif., to Philadelphia with a telephone reservation agent. The agent forgot to put me in the upgrade-clearing queue that would have automatically upgraded my flight five days prior to departure. Double-checking the reservation saved me from flying coach instead of enjoying first-class. Booking travel can be a complicated with many codes that have to be just right. It's common for reservations and requests to end up somewhere in cyberspace, so do your advance planning to assure that your travel day goes well.
Gluttony. Too much of anything can led to trouble -- even a luxury vacation. I like to take my trips in small doses, giving me enough time to enjoy what I set out to do, without overdoing it. Shorter trips provide a getaway while saving money for another wonderful destination. It might be hard to believe, but I have been at the most wonderful resorts in the world where after a few days I became bored and am ready to move on. Why spend excessively for a week when three or four days will do? Save your time and money for another day.
Lust. This is similar to having envy -- lusting for something won't yield any worthwhile results. Lusting for a luxury vacation won't get you on that beach chair with a pina colada. Like all things good, make a plan and follow through with appropriate actions that yield results.
My seven deadly tips most likely won't gain the notoriety as Dante's work, but they certainly will help make your travels more enjoyable. And trouble-free.