Tuesday, October 16, 2012

5 Ways I Make Air Travel More Enjoyable

I've always loved flights.  The excitement of packing up and going somewhere far away has never worn off completely.  Both of my parents worked for Braniff Airways.  One of my earliest true memories, not a memory recreated by photographs or home video, is passing out candy to passengers during a flight with one of my mom's co-workers.  It only happened once, I think, but I remember feeling special.  Oh, the little things!  When I got older and started traveling solo, I felt like such a grown-up.  I'm not going to lie.  I still have that funny "I'm such a big girl now" feeling when I travel alone!  Some things just never get old.

For whatever reason, that "big girl" feeling usually makes me the best airplane seat neighbor in the universe.  I have entertained kids while (grand)parents catch a break, given a mom and her baby my aisle seat, and traded seats with taller people who clearly would not be comfortable in a middle seat.  More than once.  You'd think it was Christmastime with that kind of giving mood.  The interesting part of the scenario is that I think doing things like that made the flight more enjoyable for me too.

These may not apply to everyone, but here are...

Five Ways I Make Air Travel More Enjoyable

  1. Plan to get to the airport early.
    The standard recommendation is to check in at the airport 90 minutes before departure for domestic flights.  I always plan to get to the airport at least 15 minutes earlier than that (30 minutes if I'm parking at the airport).  Traveling is stressful enough.  The last thing I need is to be late and running through the airport.
  2. Avoid checking a bag, if possible.
    This makes a world of difference.  Even when I've flown home for weddings, I have only taken a carry-on suitcase.  Skipping baggage claim saves me time on both ends of the trip.
  3. Put your best foot forward.
    It is amazing how much more likely people are to help you if you smile, make eye contact, and put your best foot forward.  When I do this, the airline staff is always more willing to help me with questions about tickets, seat assignments, shuttles, and directions.  That makes my life a lot easier.
  4. Say hello to your seat neighbors.
    Similar to point #3, those people you have to sit next to for hours?  Yeah.  They'll like you a lot more if you greet them when you sit down.  You don't have to be their new BFF.  Just smile and say hi when you sit next to them. 
  5. Bring something to keep you busy.
    It makes the flight go by quickly.  I can rarely sleep during flights, but it's boring as Hell to sit and stare at the back of the seat in front of you.  I never assume I'll be able to sleep.  I always bring a book to read.  If I get to sleep, it's an added bonus.

What kind of traveler are you?  Do you keep to yourself?  Make new friends?
What do you do to make your travel experience easier?

* All photos taken on my trip to Philadelphia last week.


Megan said...

I definitely agree with all those tips! And I like being early to my flights so I have a little time to sit in the airport and collect my thoughts.

Rhiannon said...

Great tips! I am similar - I can't sleep on a flight so I always pack books etc.

Brianna Tucker said...

I hate flying. I get so anxious and nervous. I pray I fall asleep!

Jasmine said...

I like these :)

I like to befriend people next to me so it's not awkward. It stresses out the other people I travel with, that I talk so easily to strangers, but it's generally a bonus because they tend to not hog the arm rest ;)

Do you have any tips to calm nerves, especially around take off and landing? Xx

Sam said...

These all make sense to me! I have to talk to my seat neighbors, I always feel so awkward if I don't!

Allie @ Between Dreams said...

The last flight I was on was to go from Toronto - Poland, getting there we left at 10pm, and getting back to Toronto we left at some ungodly hour early in the morning... so my main priority was sleep.

Movies, and sleep :)

I think maybe my next flight (to go to Punta Cana to get married!) I'll probably be a little more cheery. Hahaha.

Empirically Erin said...

I've flown a couple times in the past couple of weeks and on both flights the person next to me asked if I wanted gum. It was such a small thing but so sweet!

Betsy Transatlantically said...

YES. especially to the thing about feeling like a grown-up. haha!

except #2 and #5.

because no matter what I bring on the flight, I'm never interested in it. EVER. it's a curse.

and I find that checking a bag (if I can for free) elevates my mood instantly. even if the only thing I check is small enough to be a carry-on, I'm automatically a nicer person if I'm only lugging my purse around, which is heavy enough as it is!

Whitney said...

I'm such a weird person: I love airports but I HATE flying. Maybe it's because I didn't fly for the first time until I was 17, but I still haven't really gotten used to the experience. I can't sleep because it makes me nauseous and I'm usually very on edge. And flying during a storm? FAHGETABATIT.

Bev said...

I'm SO glad you touched up on BIG GIRL feelings when you fly alone.. I thought I was the ONLY one who still feels that at my age!! I just flew home a week ago, and caught 8 flights in ONE week... let's just say I was feeling pretty dayummm grown!!

And I couldn't agree more with BRING SOMETHING TO KEEP YOU BUSY! Usually it's my phone and the Twitter/Instagram/etc. that keep me busy during any down time (like at a red light LOL), but I learned to stock up on some good books for the plane ride... otherwise you're staring out the window at the same picture for hours!!

Oh and I MUST SAY... those doughnut looking pillows... don't do any justice for me. I don't know if it's because I'm not using it correctly, but no good for me!

Glad you got home safe and sound!!

xo, Bev

Michelle said...

I'm the same way! I feel like such a big girl when I fly alone :) And I used to do it all the time!

These are definitely good tips. I always leave myself enough time to get through security and grab a snack and something to drink. I need to work on not checking a bag. I hate checking one and paying the fee, but I'm always afraid TSA is going to confiscate my liquids. I've seen it happen so many times. No matter the rules, some TSA employees are just jerks.

It definitely helps to be nice to whoever is sitting next to you. I don't know how people survive a flight without a book!

Now I'm itching to go somewhere...

Jess said...

I need to get my little butt on an airplane ASAP. I've never been on one! CRAZY.

Maybe Texas will be my first airplane trip destination?!

:) love you!

Unknown said...

I love this post! Thanks Lindsay! I fly a lot- both for work and for fun. I'm like you, I like to be friendly to people I have to spend time with on flights. I've also met some really awesome people on flights!

I started flying by myself when I was 6, around that same time I used to carry a teddy bear with me everywhere- this one passenger (Jane from Maine- I'll never forget!) sewed an eye back on my broken teddy bear! How sweet is that?!

I love flying, even more when you walk away from your flight feeling like you've learned something new or met an interesting person.


Kana said...

Those were some kickin' cloud hummocks you photographed! I do love cloud watching, oh my yes. Not enough to not bring a book (or 2!) with me, though - like you, I never assume.

Unknown said...

i love traveling too :) flying has always been one of my favorites - thats so neat your parents worked for an airline! I always have a few things to do - a book, usually a magazine (the only time i really read them), and now ususally my computer. I use the time to catch up on journaling, read, and check out the latest additions to skymall :P

fun fact - i always travel with a book of mormon too and have it sitting on my tray table. it almost always makes for a conversation starter :)



jami lynn said...

Awesome tips! I just wish I was as good as traveling as you are - I get terrible anxiety and am completely stressed. Not looking forward to traveling to Ohio in two weeks, I'll have to come back to this post right before I leave :)