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Rules for Life

Making Travel Tolerable – Part 2: Preparing for the Trip

6) Plan ahead: If you don’t want to be that person sprinting through the airline terminal, make sure to plan your entire trip process ahead of time so that you don’t cut it too close. The stress and cost of missing a flight can ruin your entire trip, especially if it has connections.

The day before your trip, make a checklist and pack everything instead of waiting for the day of. If you’re calling a car to take you to the airport, schedule it in advance instead of waiting for a delayed Uber stuck in traffic the day of your flight. Check in online and use the airline’s app instead of having to print it at a kiosk. While you plan, work backwards with your time estimates:

  • My flight is at 9:00 am.
  • Boarding begins at 8:20 am.
  • To get through security and get to my gate on time, I’ll need to arrive by 7:00 am (unless you have CLEAR , then all you need is 10 minutes for this). This should also give you some time to grab food or drinks.
  • If I have to check a bag, add 30 minutes for that process in case the lines are long.
  • To get to the airport on time (including traffic), figure out the normal time it will take to get there, and add 45 minutes.

7) Dress comfortably and use your carry on wisely:  You’re going to be sitting around in a small area for a while, so you might as well be comfortable. Sweatpants, comfortable shoes and a loose-fitting shirt are the way to go. You’ll want to pack an entire set of clean clothes in your carry on so that you can change when you arrive at your destination. This helps if your baggage is lost, or your room isn’t ready. Shorts, sandals and sunglasses always go in the carry on when traveling to a warm destination.

8) Steer clear of germs: Airplanes, airports, buses and trains are dirty because lots of people have poor hygiene. To prepare, pack the following:

Airborne, Zantac (or Tums), Advil, breath mints, and some form of disinfectant wet wipes and/or hand sanitizer. As soon as you get to your seat, wipe it down, along with the seat belt, tray table, seat pocket and TV screen.  Studies have shown the dirtiest places on a plane are the ones I just mentioned, and exposing yourself to them will get you sick. If you have a choice in seat selection, choose the window. Recent research has revealed that window seats have the least exposure to germs, while the aisle seats have the most.

9) Anticipate a long delay: Planes get delayed pretty often. What’s worse is sometimes that delay occurs while you’re sitting on the runway. If a delay lasts a couple hours, you’ve got to make sure you’re prepared. First off, buy a water and a snack in the terminal, just in case. Next, bring your charging cable AND a portable charger so that you don’t run out of juice. If you brought a laptop or a tablet, make sure it is fully charged. You might want to pack some comfortable shoes, a pillow, or a sweater in your carry on in case you need to settle in due to a long delay. You never want to be the person sitting on the runway for three hours with no food, no water, and no way to communicate with anyone or entertain yourself. To keep tabs on your flight, you may want to use flightaware.com. This site helps to track the status of your flight, and could give you an idea of whether or not your flight is on time.

10) Be nice. I always say if you want a true look into the soul of a person, observe them on the airplane’s boarding line. People are complete savages, ignoring social norms and manners just so that they can board quicker. It’s a dog fight, and if you let it get to you, you’ll wind up getting aggravated and stressed. Try to be nice and avoid interaction with these barbarians. It’s not worth the stress.

Up next is Part Three: Supplies for a Successful Journey