Tips from Air Travel Hell: How to Make Your Trip Easier
It’s that time of year when travel is a major part of our lives. Whether we’re off to backpack in Europe, explore ancient ruins, or just heading home to spend the summer reverting back to the days of our youth and being catered to by Mom, it’s no secret these days that air travel has become increasingly frustrating and difficult as airlines make cuts, flights get cancelled if they aren’t full because of fuel prices, and the cost of tickets rapidly go up.
Needless to say, air travel can be a headache and after a few hellacious experiences of my own, and stories of horrendous experiences from friends and family, I decided to write down a few things I’ve learned in order to better deal with what can be an upsetting and exhausting experience.
There are a few things I recommend you bring with you in your carry-on so you’re sure to have them if you get stuck overnight somewhere and don’t have your luggage. They may make your carry-on a tad heavier, but in the end, I believe peace of mind is more important than a sore shoulder/back.
Cash: Although most everywhere these days takes cards, having a bit of cash on you is important, just in case something goes awry with your card. Also, I recommend keeping it in a separate compartment than your wallet.
Phone Charger: There is nothing more frustrating than your phone battery dying and having no way to charge it. My mom learned this the hard way when she got stuck in Atlanta for not one, but two days and had packed her phone charger in her checked luggage. You can always find outlets to give your phone a quick charge.
Change of undies: And better yet, a change of clothes. Both my mom and little sister got stuck for 2-3 days without their checked luggage and let me tell you, wearing the same underwear and clothing for several days…not so fun.
Toothbrush/Toothpaste: Having a funkafied mouth can make your crappy day seem even worse, so carrying a toothbrush and small container of toothpaste is a light and easy remedy to this situation.
Contact Lens Solution and Case: Dried out contacts are uncomfortable and irritating, so bring a small container (3 oz. or less by TSA restrictions) so you can give your eyes a break.
A Good Read: Whether it’s your favorite gossip mags, or the latest bestseller, it goes without saying that having something to read makes the flight itself, and any waiting time, a lot more interesting.
Snacks: Just a couple of light bags of some sort of snacks (preferably healthy) makes those delays a little easier to handle, and then you don’t have to gasp when you pay $5 for a bag of trail mix at the airport.
Pillow and Light Blanket: These can be a pain in the behind to add to your carry-on, but believe me when I say, they are a blessing. I have a very light fleece blanket that rolls up pretty small and can be shoved into the top of my carry-on, and I swear by my neck travel pillow (or you can get one of those squishy pillows with the beads inside — easy to smoosh into a small compartment) because it’s easily transportable and it makes my time on the plane much more bearable. My friend is a flight attendant who warned me never to use their pillows or blankets because they never get washed, and I’ve never forgotten that. Also, if you get stuck overnight in the airport, it’s a lot more comfy to have your own blankie.
My best advice is to go into things relaxed and mentally prepared. Chances are, you’re going to have some sort of glitch, whether it’s a delay, a cancellation, or something else, and if you’re already stressed out and on edge, all those little things are gonna be even more upsetting. Try to get a good night’s sleep the night before you go, and just remember, you will eventually get to where you’re headed, it might just be a longer process than planned.