Habits, hangups, quirks, superstitions, rituals—they’re known by many names, and when it comes to travel, everyone has them. Some people bring good-luck charms on airplanes, for example. Some people will sit only in forward-facing seats on trains, some avoid particular foods while on the road, and others dose themselves with melatonin to avoid jet lag.

I know someone who collects cheesy fridge magnets from all of her travel destinations (she’s currently up to a few hundred), while another friend collects snow globes (well over the five hundred mark). One traveler actually managed to make a career out of his travel habit: he has a distinctly odd manner of dancing, and he asked people around the world to do his dance with him on video! (And then a few years later, he made another video in which he joined locals in their dances!)

I’ve got a few travel habits of my own. In an earlier post I described my pre-boarding ritual of downing eight ounces of water mixed with Emergen-C or Airborne. Do either of them actually prevent illness? Probably not. But as long as they make me feel better, I’ll keep using them!

One of my other habits, however, is definitely rooted in science. During my first trip with Mom, when we went to Italy together twenty years ago, I managed to catch some awful foot fungus from the shower, which meant a trip to a Natural Healthcare Center. I was so freaked out by the experience that I developed a very specific routine regarding my feet while traveling:

  • First, I rigorously inspect the shower before settling in the room. If there is a hint of anything untoward in the shower, a little moisture or any sort of weird smell that sets my noise off, I insist on changing rooms! In one hotel, after I changed rooms four times, the cleaning crew was summoned to “freshen up” the new room before I was allowed to enter it!
  • I also test the shower drain. If the water does not flow freely down the drain, that’s another sign that a new room is in order.
  • I’ve been known to take a shower while wearing socks if I’ve checked into a hotel too late to perform my other shower rituals to my full satisfaction.
  • Finally, I use one towel for nothing but my feet—and I make sure that my feet are 100% dry.

I’ve kept up these practices ever since, and so far (knock on wood!) my feet have remained fungus-free!

I also have a takeoff ritual. As soon as the airplane’s wheels leave the ground, I start counting seconds (“one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand,” etc.) until two minutes have passed. During those two minutes, I can’t talk to anyone—not even to Mom when we’re traveling together.

Why two minutes? I read somewhere that most plane accidents happen during takeoff, and since then I’ve always felt that I’ll be fine if I can count for two minutes. (And even though I first tried this during takeoffs, I find it works even in the roughest mid-flight turbulence, too!) This ritual doesn’t actually affect anything that’s happening to the plane, but does affect how I feel about my flight—so it works for me!

Do you have any travel habits or rituals? Any interesting things that you do every time you travel? I would love to hear about them! Please share them in the comments!