Following up my “How to Pack” travel post, the next step is the flying part that some people dread. Here are some of the ways that I survive on flights that might help you too.
What to Wear
- For women (or anyone who isn’t afraid of being comfortable), wear a comfortable dress or skirt. I know, it doesn’t sound as good as wearing your yoga pants. But traveling shouldn’t mean that you have to dress down. Anecdotally, I’ve heard that airline employees treat you better if you’re dressed well.
- Wear a dress, preferably one with pockets, and then bring your leggings. Put on the leggings during the flight and enjoy. You’re practically wearing pajamas, a goal I strive for.
- On long international flights, bring slippers or socks–or both if you’re feeling ambitious. I save the slippers I get from hotel rooms and bring them on the flight so I can kick off my shoes but have something to wear when I go to the bathroom. Or, put long socks over your regular socks or bare feet and walk around in those on the flight. Then, when you land, pop the dirty flight socks into your bag.
Hydration and Sustenance
- Water: Bring your lightweight, foldable Vapur Water Bottle and fill it up in the airport after the TSA Security check. You never get enough water on flights.
- Tea: Bring your own herbal tea bags since they usually only ever have black tea on flights. The flight attendant can give you a cup of hot water–even though it requires a special trip to the back. Don’t worry, they’re used to it. My favorite tea of the moment is the fantastically fragrant, fruity and smooth Mariage Freres Marco Polo black tea that come in muslin tea bags.
- Snacks: I avoid certain food groups, so the food on the plane isn’t usually a good option for me. It’s also pricey. Put your fruit, salty and sweet snacks into a resealable plastic storage bag with some paper towels and carry it on the plane to avoid getting “hangry”.
How to Avoid Getting Sick
- Germs: Everyone knows that planes are cesspools of germs. Bring portable disinfecting wipes like Wet Ones for the tray table, video controls, armrest and anywhere you have to touch.
- Supposedly, it helps to direct the air flow in front of your face to help blow any cold germs floating in the air away from your face.
How to Choose a Good Seat
- Get an aisle seat if you are a frequent bathroom user. You can hydrate and pee with impunity!
- Use Seatguru.com if you want to get the mostly accurate details of the good and bad of all the seats on the plane. It sounds a bit obsessive, but it’s been helpful when finding out that the under-seat storage in front of me is severely limited because there’s a big video system box installed in the foot space. These audio/video on demand (AVOD) in-flight entertainment (IFE) boxes are usually found underneath aisle seats and it’s so annoying because it’s hard to plan for it.
Getting an Empty Row:
- If you’re a traveling as a couple, you can choose a flight that has an empty row and select the window and aisle seats for that row. Airlines usually automatically assign seats from the front to back and choose window or aisle seats first. No one wants a middle seat, so those are usually the last ones taken if it’s a full flight or by standby passengers at the last minute. You might get the entire row to yourselves–and if you don’t, you can ask the person to switch from their middle seat to either aisle or window so you can sit next to each other.
- When you check into your flight, select the “change seats” option just to review how seats are filling up and switch to one in an emptier row. The odds of those seats next to you being taken so close to the flight departure time are low, unless there are lots of standby passengers. Recently, I was able to get an entire row to myself on an international flight using this method and could sleep more easily, so it’s worth it!
Carry-On Baggage – Where the Heck Can it Fit?
- Most airlines have a rule that you can bring one bag and another “personal item”, like a small purse–and will stop you before getting on the flight if you have three. Sometimes I’ll have multiple items: a laptop bag, a purse and my miscellaneous snacks and magazines in a bag. If I stuff them all into a larger, lightweight tote bag like the Rume All Tote Bag, they’ll let me get on the plane.
- Bring a separate bag for your purse to avoid getting it dirty on the floor under the seat in front of you. I use the soft fabric bags that come with your purse when you buy it, or a tote bag. You can also feel fine putting your feet on it since it’s protected.
- Don’t stress if you can’t find space for your bag in the overhead space war that breaks out while boarding a plane. If you can’t find space, it simply means that you will be “gate checking it,” i.e., checking your bag like everyone else–but you’re not paying the fee others had to pay to check your bag. It’s kind of a win, isn’t it? Embrace the bag check and feel more zen.
- Public Service Announcement: Please don’t be one of those people who consistently ignores the pleas of the flight attendants to put small items under the seat in front of you. It’s inconsiderate to the others on the plane who can’t find a place for their bag because there are small backpacks taking up a suitcase-sized spot. I’m talking to you, frequent-flyer business man with a small backpack who could easily put it under the seat in front of him.
Speaking of polite behavior on a plane:
- If you’re in the aisle or window seat, let the guy in the middle seat have access to both armrests. Seems fair for such a crappy seat.
- Put your window shades down so I can watch my movie without glare.
- Put your tray table up and down carefully so you’re not pushing my seat forward.
- If you’re tall enough, please steady yourself in the aisle when walking by putting your hands on the overhead storage bins, not my seat. There’s nothing more jarring than finally being able to sleep on a plane and then being rudely awakened by someone’s hand pushing on the top of your seat.
- Give your used magazines and books to the flight attendants! One flight attendant said that my Us Weekly magazines that I gave him were “like porn for flight attendants.” Ha. Probably goes a long way to make them feel like you appreciate them.
Animals and Children
- I’ve seen more and more animals on planes–mostly dogs who are usually in carriers, which doesn’t bother me. But please don’t be the guy I saw on a flight who had his large dog on the plane, not on a leash and sitting on the floor by his legs in a middle seat. That can’t have been comfortable for the dog or the other passengers.
- Okay, go ahead and travel with small children, but please don’t ask the adult sitting near them to babysit them. Yes, this happened to me when I was about to be seated next to two young boys whose father was conveniently not sitting with them because he was upgraded to Business class. He told me that I could tell them to settle down if “they got out of control.” Uh, no thank you.