Say you have an object. And let’s say this object needs to be transported from point A to point B. Now imagine that the distance from point A to point B is over 5,000 miles. For good measure, throw in another 400 or so similar objects. Finally, place all of these objects in a fairly cramped container, in a somewhat orderly fashion, and send them on their merry way.
Now say that precious cargo is you, and the other 400 “objects” are your fellow travelers. Whether the cargo is light bulbs or humans, some planning is certainly needed to make sure no “breakage” occurs in transit.
The following is a long-distance traveler’s guide to comfort – organized by traveler type – complete with a list of travel items and tips to help make your trip more civilized:
The Germaphobe – Does the thought of recycled, Sahara-desert-dry airplane air give you the willies?
- Find out the layout of the plane and avoid sitting near a restroom.
- Travel blanket and pillow.
- Hand sanitizer.
- Wallaby Toiletry Kit.
The Long-in-the-Limb – We all know airline seats are designed for the average sized person.
- Exit rows are your friend. Aisle seats are fine, but remember, every time a cart or passenger goes by, your knee is fair game. Stay away from the row just in front of the exit row – these seats often do not recline at all.
- Bring travel socks and save yourself a half-inch of legroom by taking off your shoes.
- Store your carry-on in the overhead bin, not underneath the seat in front of you.
- Travel on “off days” if possible – the middle seats may be empty.
- Listen to music – we read somewhere that your pain threshold goes up when listening to music.
- Stand up, stretch, and walk around at least once every hour.
The Human Thermometer – When a 1/50th-degree change in ambient temperature makes you crazy.
- Travel blanket. Ours has a nice little pocket to keep your feet cozy and insulated from the uncomfortably chilly airflow.
- Layers! Layers! Layers!
The Ping Pong Ball – You just can’t sit still for 5 minutes, much less 15 hours.
- An aisle seat is essential if you want to keep on friendly terms with your seatmates.
- Sit near the back of the plane so you can get up, stretch your legs and go to the bathroom as many times as you’d like without raising too many eyebrows.
- Book your trip with an airline that offers video on-demand services; bring your own headphones, and practice something the rest of us call “vegging out”.
- Crosswords, Sudoku, magazines, books, music – anything to keep your brain occupied.
- Think! Being cooped up for several hours can be a great opportunity to catch up on mental projects. Taking out a pen and a notepad to brainstorm on a work or home project is a great use of travel time.
The Child Phobe – You love kids but….
- iPad™. iPad™. iPad™. Tune in to what you love, and tune out the crying baby.
- Earplugs will help you tune out everything - so if (1.) doesn’t work, (2.) should.
- Eyeshades go really well with (1.) and (2.)
The Omnivore – Do you find your appetite unsatisfied with airline peanuts and mini pretzels?
- Pack-It™ Cube filled with energy bars and snacks.
- Your favorite gum it will help tide your tummy over.
- Cash and a credit card for on-board food purchases, just in case you run out of energy bars and are still starving.
The Narcoleptic – Who says you can’t catch up on the last 12½ years of sleep loss?
- Travel pillow. (Do we need to say it again?)
- Travel blanket. (Ditto.)
- Comfortable, loose-fitting clothes and shoes (avoid jeans and bulky layers).
Whether you are flying cross-country or around the world, being comfortable in the confines of an economy airline seat is worth some pre-planning.