Traveling by airplane isn’t anything that’s new to me. I’ve been flying by myself since I was five years old. To put that in perspective for you, that would have been 1990, pre 9/11 and all the airport security changes. I could take my full water bottle or apple juice from the car all the way through security. My parents could walk me to and from the gate. On occasion my mom was even allowed on the plane to buckle me in. Unless you were in First Class, there were never assigned seats. For some of you that just blew your mind. For me, I’m mulling over whether that’s my version of, ‘in my day we walked up hill both ways in the snow to school…’ Ha!
Through the years, I’ve seen all sorts of strange, odd, or even crazy things. I’ve seen people at their worst and people at their best in airports. I’ve come to appreciate the flight attendants who have a strong sense of humor, even late in the day after dealing with, you know, “those” passengers. In my teens, I even made a request to my dad that he no longer purchased flights from a particular airline, swearing they made it their mission to recruit the angriest, grumpiest people they could find. Let’s just say they were a stark difference from the Southwest attendants who told you lighting up a cigarette was fine as long as you were willing to sit out on the wing.
Needless to say I’ve also learned a few tricks to making my flight, and the time spent in the airport waiting for my connection, more enjoyable.
- Take a snack: Remember even the best laid plans can go awry. Regardless of whether you ate before you got on the plane, timed your connections so you could visit the airport food court, or your flight is so short you’ll eat at your destination, timing can change due to weather and plane maintenance. My new favorite is a Vital Proteins collagen bar. It’s small enough to fit in the front pocket of a laptop bag or tiny purse, but has enough protein in it to tide you over for a while. The other perk to sticking a couple of these in your bag (one for going and one for coming back home), is that you’re not paying crazy airport food prices, or settling for junk food because “it’s quick.” Plus you can still make your flight in a tight connection. Also, they’re not messy or smell, so eating one on the plane isn’t going to bother the person next to you.
- Bring earplugs: These I leave in my purse in their little protective box at all times. You just never know when these bad boys can come in handy! I’m sure many of you are thinking of tuning out that screaming toddler, because let’s face it, most of the babies fall asleep. However, they’re also good for getting some shut eye on that 5 am flight when two adults out of 100 decide to have a dramatization about what happened on last night’s reality tv show. Trust me, those dirty looks and eye rolls aren’t going to do you a bit of good. Do your blood pressure a favor and come prepared.
- Hair coils: Especially if you’re traveling during the warmer months, having one of these on hand is helpful. If you’re one of the first people to board, or you’re at an airport where there is a long taxi to get to the runway (Chicago O’Hare anyone?) it can get a little warmer than comfortable in the cabin area. Being able to pull your hair up off your neck can make this time more enjoyable. Also if you’re prone to air sickness of flight anxiety, keeping your neck cooler is really helpful. Why coils instead of the traditional band? Besides being fun to look at, they will stay put without being really tight, so if your hair is curled for the business meeting you’re running to right after leaving the airport, you won’t have a ponytail crease leftover.
- Burt’s Bees All Aglow: With luggage check fees increasing more and more, people are opting to carry on all of their luggage. This poses some rather irritating consequences instead of what should be standard courtesies, but I’ll stay off my soap-box…for now. Instead let’s focus on the fact that the room in your carry on is at a premium. This two-in-one stick is a recent discovery of mine. It’s a chapstick with a little pop of color and it can also be put on your cheeks as a blush. This is especially helpful for those super early mornings and those late evening flights. Either you didn’t put any makeup on because you were barely awake or what was on your face 12 hours ago needs a little touch up. This will save you from dumping out your make-up bag in the airport bathroom.
- A comfy face mask: Whether you have to travel for business or you’ve decided to quarantine no more, face masks are in fact the latest hygiene and safety trend. We use a variety of masks in our household, from the homemade fashions, to designer fabrics from your favorite retailer, to the occasional disposable. Whatever you use, be sure it’s following the CDC guidelines before you make your selection. Also, keep in mind that many airlines are still packing passengers into their planes like they were before Covid-19, so forget the thought that you might not be sitting close enough to your neighbor so you can do without. Don’t be the person making everyone else nervous about travel in an airport.