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8 Little Victories that Every Traveler Can Identify With

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

Let’s face it- when traveling, hassles abound. But sometimes small things happen- little victories- that make the journey a bit sweeter. Check a few of them out below:

2 volcanoes around Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Victory #1: Getting Upgraded

There is nothing better than not having to sit in coach on a flight, especially an international one.  And a free, unexpected upgrade makes the experience that much sweeter. Let’s face it- you feel like a baller when sitting in first or business class (Or an imposter).   I once handed the gate agent my boarding pass to get onto the plane and she told me, “I’m sorry, you’ve been involuntarily upgraded.” Oh really? What a shame! But you know, I’m flexible.  I then got seated in business class, on Qatar Airways, which is one of my favorite airlines. It’s too bad the flight was only 3 hours long- I was so busy drinking champagne and eating a three-course meal off real place settings that I barely had time to use the fully lie-flat seats.  I will never forget that flight. However, I have a secret, unrealistic hope every time I board a plane that this fluke will repeat itself.

boarding pass
Dream come true!

Victory #2: Speeding through security and customs lines

Do you have TSA Precheck or Global Entry? Most frequent fliers do, and it’s worth every penny/hassle to get it.  Don’t lie- there is a certain satisfaction each time you roll right into security, bypassing all of the poor souls waiting in the maddening lines, and throw your bag up on the scanner- laptop and liquids INSIDE, and walk through just a metal detector with SHOES ON. Yeah, that’s right- shoes on and liquids inside. And on a recent international trip, I got through Immigration and Customs at LAX in 3 minutes, including walking time from start to finish. For my non-global entry travel companion- the whole process took over 1 hour for her.  I already had my money exchanged and a coffee down the hatch before she came out. WINNING.

Victory #3: Sneaking an overweight/sized bag through without paying for it

Sometimes, you just know that your bag is a couple of pounds over the weight limit, and it would be tragic to have to pay some ridiculous extra fee for it. So, whenever the ticketing agent is distracted, or doesn’t bother to check the exact weight, or secretly lets your bag slide through anyways, it’s a victory! Same goes for sneaking a probably oversized carry on bag in the main cabin. I think I attempt that most every time I fly… (gate-checking is really the best kept secret anyways).

Maybe I should rethink calling myself a minimalist traveler

Victory #4: Haggling like a local, and getting pretty darn close to local price

Haggling is a skill to be honed over time- Westerners are pretty bad at it at first. We frequently do terrible mental math with the exchange rates, thinking we are getting a better deal than we really are; plus we obviously look like tourists in many locales, automatically driving the price up. So when we actually bargain for a good deal, it’s noteworthy. Case in point: I’d been staying with a family in India for a few weeks, always buying fruit with them, and therefore knowing the true cost. When on my own in a bazaar popular with tourists, I tried to buy some bananas.

Me: “How much for bananas?

Vendor: “100 rupees”

Me: “No, ten.”

Vendor: Pause. “Okay”

Me: (doing a touchdown dance in my head, because that guy bargained with the wrong tourist! muahaha!)

Victory #5: Having a serendipitous moment when the right person shows up at exactly the right time.

Sometimes, the universe (and obviously, I mean God) really conspires in our favor. I was with two friends in a suburb outside of Delhi, and one of my friends’ VERY heavy suitcases broke- all of the wheels completely detached from the bag, with no possibility of repair. We still had a good ways to walk, stairs to navigate, multiple line switches on the metro, and a walk to our next hotel.  We didn’t know how we were going to carry this suitcase! Just as we are staring at the broken luggage, trying to figure something out, a guy comes up to us, asking us in English if we need help! He said we were the first Westerners he’d seen in the area (he was one too), and he just happened to be going our way, and ended up carrying the suitcase for us. What a godsend. There are no coincidences in life…

Victory #6: Getting an unexpected discount.

This is always exciting. Whether it’s not being charged a flight change fee, getting the student discount because you look young, or getting a lower rate on a room/tour, this is always a bonus!

Victory # 7: Looking enough like a local that you get asked for directions

This moment is sooo sweet- nothing is cooler than looking like you belong. Bonus points if you actually CAN give correct directions.

kenya lion hat
Do I look like a local?

Victory #8: Filling up a passport

Isn’t this every world traveler’s dream? To have explored so much that you actually fill the pages of a passport? Bonus points if it was one with extra pages.  While I haven’t filled every page in one (yet), I’ve been pretty close. So, this one is somewhat unfinished business in my book. But alas, one must always have goals!

What did I miss? What other little victories have you experienced on the road?

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