I agree that it can be hard to judge when to "snatch" under a safelight. They do have a tendency to look good, especially the highlights, before they are ready. With more experience, of course you will get a feel for what the ones that were easy to print looked like. To add insult to injury, if you pay very close attention to the shadows, under the safelight it can look like not enough detail has emerged when in fact they are pretty good!
I really like to aim my exposures so that the negs are good when developed to completion. For a long time I was using dektol 1:4, not just for paper negatives but for all my darkroom printing. The higher dilution was not so much for slowing development but for increasing the volume of developer to make it easier to quickly cover the paper. I think the higher dilution marginally helps reduce uneven development, but pre-soak and getting the whole paper covered with developer fast are the main factors. I keep a bottle of well-used and aged dektol 1:8, but that is for intentionally overexposed paper negatives to get a certain look, not to "rescue" normally exposed ones.
Lately I've been using LPD 1:2 for paper negatives and most of my darkroom printing. Notice that is a pretty standard dilution and since I have a nice big bottle of it volume is not a concern. I've made plenty of perfectly nice pinhole paper negatives with that, relying on pre or post flash to control contrast.
FWIW, I think you should shoot some test shots at home where access to your darkroom is convenient, try to duplicate your travel exposure, and see what happens first with a normal developer. Then you can use a colder or more dilute developer if you are still worried about them being overexposed.
With an overexposed paper negative, it's alarming to see thet entire paper quickly turn dark... you are tempted to snatch it right out! But often those negatives are still printable, unless the overexposure is more than a couple stops. With an underexposed paper negative, it's much worse because no matter how long you leave it in the developer, nothing will change the pure white... those are more likely to be a total loss.
I haven't been at APUG long enough to be sure, but I have a sense that more people are playing around with paper negatives now, and I think that's wonderful! Have fun!