How to Make Interminable Flights Suck Less

Hi Travelers!  I think we can all agree that traveling is the absolute best, is it not?  Even for someone who has traveled 'round the world and back again, there is nothing like the sweet satisfaction of scoring an awesome flight, finding a hidden gem in a hotel, or booking the sweetest walking tour of old town Antigua.  I've always loved the planning part of travel (which is, ahem, why I'm now doing it for a living) but the actual stepping on the plane part? 

It's not my favorite.

Plane travel involves a lot of suck.  Even the ride to the airport is rife with, "Should we call Uber?  Lyft?  A proper old-time yellow taxi?"  "Should we park at the airport and pay a million dollars a day to do so, even though we won't get a real parking place?  Must we be relegated to the grassy curb by the trees?"

Ugh.

If only flights felt like this!

If only flights felt like this!

After traveling lo' these many years and being on my fair share of flights, I have some tips and tricks to offer you, friends.  Heed this advice, or forever hold your wonky airplane pillow.

Travel Tip #1:  Figure out what makes you happy, and do that thing. 

Every time I'm on any kind of trip, my body has an immediate need for BBQ, Kettle-Cooked Potato Chips.  Not want, NEED.  Many times, these are only sold in the high-fallutin' gas stations and convenience stores on the way to the airport.  Thus, if I have not bought my BBQ chips ahead of time (which I always do) then I stop on the way to the airport for said chips.  They make travel-time me very happy.

What are your favorite travel snacks/magazines/playlists/podcasts?  Grab those suckers before you ever hit the road.  Then, when someone bumps into you in the security line, or your flight gets delayed (because the pilot forgot to pick up her BBQ Kettle-Cooked Chips) you can breathe deep in the knowledge that you have a special treat coming your way.

Travel Tip #2:  Figure out what makes you the opposite of happy, and do not do that thing. 

Once, in high school, I was on a group trip to the Appalachian Mountains.  I'm quite prone to motion sickness, and these mountain roads were quite prone to causing motion sickness.  A friend handed me some Dramamine.  "Take 2," she said.  "You'll feel much better!"  Welp, she was quite right.  I did feel much better.  I also slept fairly solid for the next 48 hours, getting up only to use the restroom and pop some pizza in my mouth every now and again.

Don't let the first time you try medicine (or any kind of natural remedy, really) be whilst heading out of town.  Your trip deserves better than that!  Disclaimer:  If you are traveling in a foreign country and you have a malady heretofore never experienced by you, listen to the nearest old lady's advice.  If she gives you an ointment that she bought from a lost tribe in the Amazon to use on your poison ivy, use it dammit.  Trust me.

Travel Tip #3:  Ignore the omnipresent advice about not drinking before a flight.  (Kind of.)

It used to be that every time I arrived at the airport, I'd promise myself I'd "be good" and not have a glass of wine prior to flying.  I've read all of the blah blah about not drinking before/during/after a flight because of dehydration.  And that is all well and good, I suppose.  However, when I got through security, found my gate and still had two hours to kill... I'd head to a bar.  A glass of wine made me feel like a proper traveling lady!  I could sit on my own and watch passerby and sippity sip sip to my heart's content.

Lesson:  Again, do what makes you happy.  Flying is hard enough without depriving yourself of life's luxuries.  No, I would not recommend dousing yourself in whiskey before boarding... dehydration is real after all and the post-whiskey headaches are no joke.  However, one cocktail?  Girl, please.

They're laughing because they don't have to fly with the common-folk.

They're laughing because they don't have to fly with the common-folk.

Travel Tip #4:  Wear your comfiest, non-pajama-esque clothing.

Dress in layers.  Carry a sweater.  If you are wearing sandals, pack comfy socks in your purse.  Bring an eye mask that feels like a silky eye blessing has been bestowed upon you.  Pack two chapsticks:  one for your pocket, and one for your purse when the one in your pocket falls out in the airport bathroom.  Wear a long, tunic-like something that will actually feel like a bathrobe/blankie combo.

However.  Do not, under any circumstances wear pajamas to an airport.  Every time I spot this happening I wonder where we are headed as a species.  Plus, you cannot sip wine in public while wearing pajamas.  Get your priorities straight, I beg of you.

Travel Tip #5:  Be Kind.  To Everyone.

Flight Attendants.  The folks at the airline counter.  Security folks who yell at you to take your shoes off right now!  Other travelers shuffling through the endless lines that airports and long flights provide.  Be kind to everyone.

Why?  Because air travel is difficult.  Everyone is at least a little bit stressed out.  Those security folks have to give the same reminders a million times a day.  Can you imagine that?  Give them a smile.  It won't hurt, and it will make both of you feel way better about the whole situation.

Whisked Away Surprise Travel

Travel Tip #6:  Breathe.

When you are twenty hours in to a forty-six hour flight, there is really no tip that anyone can give you that will make that awesome.  No one has ever said, "I wish this flight were longer.  I'm having such a blast!"  (Except maybe people with private jets? And good for them?)  You may not be able to make it a party, but taking deep, slow breaths when things get tough on a flight (or anytime really) makes such a difference.  Seriously.

If you aren't sure how to do this effectively, try this exercise:  Breathe in slowly, to the count of 4.  Hold for 4 seconds at the top, then release for 4.  Hold for 4 seconds at the bottom. Repeat.  I've heard this called "square breathing" and that makes a lot of sense to me.  I like the visual of it.  Go ahead and give yourself a breathing treat right now, and try it on for size. 

How about you, traveler?  Where are you headed next?  Got travel tips to share?  Leave a comment below!  (Yes, really!  We love to talk travel!)