It’s a romantic notion, being whisked away on a plane to some far off destination.
In reality though, it kind of sucks.
You have to deal with long queues, waiting around with not much to do, security issues (which are different depending on which country you’re in), cramped spaces for hours on end and bad airline food. Anyone who has travelled a bit will have encountered all or at least some of the above but I thought I would share how I have learned to deal with airports and air travel.
Rule number 1 of travel is patience. When the airline delays a flight for whatever reason, it’s not usually their fault. They are not responsible for a snow storm hitting at that precise moment you are about to board your flight. Yes it’s frustrating when they announce that due to fog and bad lighting you are not able to land and therefore need to circle for 2 hours before landing in a random out of the way airport because you are running low on fuel causing you to miss your connection and be stranded for 15 hours. Basically you have to just deal with it. There is nothing you or anyone else can do.
Overbooking flights is a whole other issue but being an obnoxious, angry customer is not going to help. What it is going to do is get you a staring role on one of those airline TV shows. You just have to be patient and wait for the issue to resolve itself and remember that airline staff are just as frustrated as you – they just aren’t allowed to show it.
When those delays happen, and they will happen, you need to be prepared. On a trip to London, where I was stranded in Abu Dhabi for 15 hours, I had the foresight to pack a change of clothes in my carry on. First time I had done it to be honest and I can tell you, it won’t be the last! It was wonderful to be able to shower at the hotel Etihad put us up in and change into fresh clothes for the next leg of the journey.
Of course not all delays are that long or require hotel accommodation so being prepared in other ways is also a good idea. Yes it’s wonderful having all those technological devices but don’t forget to pack chargers in your carry on. Make sure also that you have the plugs for the countries you are coming from and going to. I have a pouch that I carry in my carry on. I store all my chargers and plugs in it so I have everything in one place. Most devices these days connect straight to the pc to charge so having a multi use plug for USB’s is a good idea too.
This should go without saying but it’s important to keep your fluid intake up. Air travel is very dehydrating because of the dry cabin air so stay away from fizzy drinks or alcohol and stick to water. Juices are fine but water is definitely best.
My first long haul trip I made the mistake of drinking a lot of fizzy drink. Not only did it keep me bloated for most of the flight, but on the return to Australia I found that it contributed to my jet lag a lot. Since then I only drink water and I found that I travel better and my jet lag is minimal now.
I never ever drink alcohol on a flight. You might think all your Christmases have come at once when they start serving you free alcohol at 30,000 ft but in reality one drink in the air is the equivalent to three on the ground. If you must drink then limit yourself and even though you might be a ‘happy drunk’ that doesn’t mean that your fellow passengers want to witness you hugging everyone in sight because you ‘love’ them.
Lets face it, we want to be entertained.. all the time. We do a lot of waiting and sitting in airports and on planes and unless you are one of those people who can literally fall asleep no matter where you are, you want to be distracted from the mundane nature of the travel process.
Depending on the airline/flight I’m on I will usually watch the provided entertainment. There is normally something that I am happy to sit through, even if I have seen a particular movie or TV show numerous times. At least it passes the time. Otherwise I will have a book (usually something I have picked up at an airport bookshop), my iPod charged and full of my favourite shows and podcasts and a diary and pen.
A lot of people these days have iPads or Tablets, I haven’t had to go down that road just yet but I have been known to pull my laptop out and watch some TV shows during long waits at airports.
For the love of God people, unless you have never travelled before in your entire life there is no excuse for getting to security and conveniently forgetting all about that container with more than 100ml of liquid in it. The restriction of liquids is not some secret that they don’t want you to know, at Brisbane Airport in Australia they ask pretty much everyone before you even get to the security line if you have liquids, so being caught out at x-ray just makes you look like an idiot.
I have very little patience (despite my ‘Be Patient’ post!) for people who clearly do not take notice of the written signs everywhere telling people what can and can’t be taken through security. I am one of those people who have my liquids in a clear plastic bag and my laptop out ready to put in the plastic bins before I get to the counter. I don’t understand why other people seem to have a problem with understanding this, especially when people in front of you are following the rules.
This is one of my pet hates and I could rant for hours on the subject so I will leave it here and just say – take notice!
So there you have it, my simple rules for surviving air travel and airports. The important thing to remember is that everyone is in the same boat, so to speak. So you getting grouchy because of a delay or the fact there is pickle on your meal when you specially asked for no pickle, does not make you special nor is it going to get you to your destination faster.
Basically there is nothing more for you do than sit back, relax and enjoy the flight.
Is there anything you do to helps you deal with the numerous joys of travelling?
How do you cope with delays?
Do you have any habits for travelling that helps you through the process?