The journey of 1,000 miles begins with… a trip to the airport, generally. In this miraculous era of aviation, most long-distance travel is conducted, at least partially, by plane ride. There is a lot about air travel that is less than enjoyable. As a traveler, there are a few things you can do to improve the airline experience for yourself. Try these five tips the next time you fly, and you will find yourself soaring above the turbulence of the average travel experience.
Prepare for Disaster
Murphy's Law is in full effect at airports.
No one wants disaster to befall their voyage. Odysseus wasn’t exactly looking forward to a date with Circe or a showdown with a cyclops. He just wanted to head home after a hard day at work. While Poseidon may not curse your trip to the airport, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared. Between TSA-related delays, missed connections, and lost luggage, there is a lot that can go wrong.
Your best chance of experiencing a flawless flight comes with careful preparation. Get to the airport earlier than you thought necessary, by about an hour. Pack a quick change of clothes in case a baggage hauler misplaces your unmentionables. Go directly to your connecting gate before wandering off to that pretzel stand. The more uncertainty you can eliminate and the larger the time buffer you can give yourself, the better.
Hope for the best, but always prepare for the worst.
Assemble a Media Buffet
Don't forget a good pair of earbuds.
Odds are, you have hours and hours of empty time ahead of you once you pass through that metal detector. You may as well binge watch The Office again while you wait. It will take some planning to pull off correctly, though. You aren’t going to make it from one end of your trip to the other on a single charge, that’s for sure.
Make sure to fully charge your phones, tablets, laptops, and more esoteric gizmos the night before your voyage. Also, make sure you’ve packed every charger you are going to need, including any adapters necessary for a foreign connection of the direct current kind. It probably isn’t going to hurt to bring along a power brick or two while you are at it, just in case every outlet in the airport is being camped by Insta addicts desperate for another dozen selfies with their boarding passes.
By the same token, try to avoid dependency on public WiFi or running up your data plan by downloading as much content as you can beforehand. Queue up those Spotify playlists, download any games you want to try, or load that steamy romance on your Kindle. You never know when LAX is going to be experiencing a bad data transfer rate day.
Hive is portable, durable, and addictive.
If you prefer face-to-face interaction, pack along a couple of board or card games. There are plenty of pocket-sized games that require a tray table or less of space to enjoy for any number of players.
For two, grab Hive Pocket for a bug-themed strategic showdown, or maybe a bit of Jaipur will keep you trading all the way from JFK to SLC. For up to four, wild deductions will have you laughing the delay away in Love Letter, and Sushi Go! keeps you from regretting that mediocre $20 California Roll. For larger groups, try something like Zombie Dice in the terminal, though you probably can’t chuck a bunch of dice while aloft, if for no other reason than the noise that shaking a cardboard tube full of 13 dice can cause.
If only they were so appetizing in those little mylar baggies.
Let’s face it, airline peanuts are so bad they are almost poisonous (or are actually poisonous, if you have a nut allergy), and post-security food costs about four times as much as it is worth at the best of times. To help you regulate your blood sugar and stave off hanger-induced viral YouTube incidents, you should bring your own nibbles in your carry-on. No, you aren’t going to smuggle them through the TSA checkpoint like a kid with a box of grocery store Junior Mints at the movie theater. There are plenty of tasty options that you can take through the lines without a hassle.
Forget anything with any liquid in it. Homeland Security regularly misses actual firearms in carry-on luggage, but, somehow, they are going to accuse you of trying to join ISIS because they found a packet of honey from that KFC you visited last week. No yogurt, peanut butter, cans of tuna, or PBJs. The 3-1-1 rule is way more of a headache than it is worth. Stick to dry goods and packaged snacks. Grab your own jerky, crackers, dried mangoes, trail mix, pita chips (no hummus, though), or Swedish Fish, and laugh at the fools stuck glumly masticating those terrible bags of glorified sawdust.
Interestingly, the TSA website states that you can bring a live lobster through security, but it is probably frowned upon to try eating a raw shellfish at 35,000 feet. But, to each their own. The TSA might be cool with it, but Delta and Southwest probably aren’t.
Go on a mind journey while you wait to go on your physical journey.
If there is one thing that everyone in an airport could use a lot more of, it is chill. Everyone is having a bad day at an airport. Those TSA screeners probably made some poor choices in high school to land there, and nobody aspires to standing in line like ill-tempered cattle in business-casual for an hour at a time for the dubious privilege of sitting in a pressurized tube full of the farts and coughs of more than a hundred of their fellow travelers.
Instead of freaking out about the fact that you are one flea bite away from being the start of a zombie apocalypse movie, try taking a deep breath and meditating. Studies show that a few minutes of good meditation are going to both extend and enrich your life anyway, so you may as well take some of the time you are about to spend packed in like a sardine and use it to relax, center yourself, and connect with the universe.
Lie back, take some deep breaths, send yourself to a beautiful mental place, and you might just enjoy this whole travel thing a whole lot more once you open your eyes again. Maybe everyone involved would be happier if they all just took five and expanded their collective consciousness.