At least once a month I’ll find myself in a line at the airport, shoving a small container of my folded belongings through an x-ray machine hoping they make it, without suspicion, to meet me on the other side. I know what city I’m in based on airport tiles and carpets. I have no shame attached to occasionally gate-checking a bag. I will sit patiently and wait for the system to do it’s thing around me. I feel lucky that travel is part of my work and life- part routine / part adventure. The balance is always: what creature comforts do I carry with me, and how on Earth will I deal with people at large. Here are a few of my travel ways, condensed into ten so I don’t sound as crazy as I actually am.
• Wipe it all down. I can 100% handle all of the side-eye and silently judgy looks I get from fellow passengers on a plane when I whip out my disinfecting wipes and wipe down the armrest and tray table around my seat. Yea, maybe it’s weird… but it can’t be any more weird that being ok with sitting in someone sneezy mess. I am never without disinfecting wipes on a plane and I hit everything from the tray table to the seat belt and window area with it before I settle in. I don’t make a big deal about it… I’m just doing this thing that I do. The people that give me side eye? I offer them a wipe and if they decline I dish the side eye riiiight back at em. Label me a germaphobe, but please don’t mistake me for nice.
• I always take a mega powerful phone charger with me when I travel because I’m nowhere near social enough to gather around an airport electrical outlet and I start to feel anxious if my phone dips below 40% because I’m usually without a car and the only phone numbers I have memories are my parents house in Los Angeles and my best friend from elementary school’s mom and I don’t think she’d pick me up in Detroit if I needed a hand. I could memorize more phone numbers but somehow it seems like carrying around a reliable charger is easier. Sidenote: when the grid goes down, Michelle P’s mom… I’m gonna need your help. I’m Joy, you may remember be from 1988. Thank you.
• Download podcasts to your device so you don’t get up in the sky without what you’d like to hear- the sound of your neighbor eating pretzels is truly more annoying that you could ever imagine. I listen to Revisionist History, My Favorite Murder (obviously), LeVar Burton Reads, 99% Invisible, and Reply All.
• Bring a scarf because even if airline blankets happen to exist on your flight, you likely won’t get one and you definitely don’t want one. I don’t just bring any scarf, I bring a big cotton scarf that also doubles as a blanket and towel without being too bulky. It’s a wonder and I’ve also used it as a beach towel so… this scarf is basically my binky and I’ll own that.
• Be very polite to the people working very hard, everyone else… maybe less so. What I’m saying is, show extra grace and kindness to the flight crew and the baggage dudes and the gate agents… they have to deal with so much of our mess we don’t even realize. Also parenst on a plane with small children are working extremely hard to keep their little ticking time bombs from losing their shit and for that we are so grateful… though if a fit ensues, I mean… it’s ok. BUT don’t get caught up in something you don’t want to get caught up in. Don’t sit in discomfort because you don’t want to ask to get up and use the restroom. The person sitting in the aisle seat knows the duties that come with that seating position. Don’t sit through an over-sharer’s divorce story. Don’t let encroachers encroach. Be gracious, but be a boss about your boundaries. Speaking of… have you ever seen this portable armrest divider? We’re evolving as a species, ok?
• Stay super hydrated, no for real- more than you think! Airplane air is very dry air. You’re not imagining that you’re lips are dry and your eyes are stingy. Air is cold and thin and sucking moisture off of you. It’s aggressive. This is not a drill. I bring an empty water bottle and ask the flight attendants to add their bottled water to it instead of using one of those small plastic cups. It’s a little obnoxious to ask them to fill the entire bottle you’re handing them so I just ask if they can fill it bit. Let’s not get greedy. I always have a little hand cream and a lip moisturizer at the ready, too.
Also, here’s a polite thing that will go a loooong way. If you’d like another drink on the plane, get up, walk to the back of the plane and kindly ask the flight attendant for it if they’ve finished up cart service. Don’t with the call button. Just don’t. Also… I’ve found that for these efforts I’m often rewarded an extra treat (be it a glass of wine or a cookie) which are more likely to happen out of the sight of every other passenger on the plane when I get up and make an effort.
• It only took one incident of bag confusion before I added a bold colored tag to my bag checked or otherwise. A few of my favorite travel bags include: MZ Wallace Black Travel Tote for all of it’s organizational pockets and Everlane’s Petra Market Bag and a bag you can dump everything in, it’s classic and wipes off well when scuffed.
• Snacks. I can not stress enough how important snacks are – something sweet and something salty, something that won’t get crushed beyond belief and something bought at the grocery store and not the expensive airport. I usually opt for a trailmix that I add an aggressive amount of M&Ms and Reese’s Pieces. Things not to eat on a plane: jerky of any sort, anything egg, anything tuna, a giant burger, almost everything else.
• Unsolicited life advice: always pack a swimsuit because you neeeeeever know and bringing a swimsuit is optimistic, which is a nice quality in general.
Speaking of plane travel. I’m headed up to Detroit this week. I’m going to eat your pie, see your art, and hopefully see your smiling face at Pages for a book signing this coming Thursday night July 27th at 6:30pm.
Happy airport times to you this summer!
Mary Jane McNeill
My Favorite Murder podcast is a scream. Try Thinking Sideways, too. The thinking mans MFM.
As for the wipes…I absolutely don’t care what people think when I use them. I even wear latex gloves when pumping gas! Keeps the germs AND the gas smell off my hands. I keep a box in my car.
Great post! I like the idea of wiping down everything with wipes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Great tips! xx
Coco Bella Blog
Live Simply by Annie
I am straight-up ritualistic about wiping down my whole airplane world. Too many articles about tray tables being more germ-infested than airplane bathrooms combined with my pre-existing propensity to be germ averse. Mostly, I think whenever people do notice me maniacally wiping down the headrest, arm rest, seat belt, tray table lock…they look like, “geez, wish I had thought of that.”
Molly killed the Detroit recs, so I’m merely second-ing Eastern Market, Seldon Standard, and Belle Isle conservatory. And if you venture into the suburbs, Royal Oak is great–Rail and Anchor is a favorite shop of mine, and Cacao Tree is a great hole-in-the-wall spot for healthy food and smoothies. Ferndale has loads of good restaurants.
The Queen Of Dreaming
So many good tips. I’ll save this post into favorites as in a couple months I’ll move abroad to study. Alone. And I think I’ll come back quite often in the weekend, so this involves a lot of plane travel.
I often walk to the back of the plane to ask for a drink more to stretch my legs than anything. On some flights the crew don’t seem to like it though. It’s like I’m invading their personal space or something.
As an aisle sitting, I have to say that yeah, we expect to get up to let people out but I have occasionally been tempted to ask people if they’ve seen their doctor about their frequent urination needs! On a two hour flight, more than one trip to the bathroom and you should be seeking medical attention or maybe asking for your own aisle seat.
I’m also on the disifecting wipes team! I thought I was the only one doing it, but seriously, after you witness what you see… I wouldn’t touch anything until I’ve disinfect it.
I agree with all the points from your list… because that’s exactly what I do too! I’m really surprised :) It was a good one.
You’re the reason I bring wipes with me when I travel–think you brought it up in a previous guide! Bless! I will add my two essentials: a molded sleep mask (the kind with eye cups that allow you to blink when wearing them. Makes a world of difference for REM sleep + comfort esp for those with longer lashes or makeup concerns) and a good set of earplugs. I loved my Surefire EP5s before I bought my noise-canceling Boses, but anything that blocks out that continuous loud airplane sound will work and your old lady ears will thank you down the road.
The best trick I’ve learned is from my friend who’s a flight attendant, and that’s bring chocolates for the flight crew. I took her advice on my recent flight from Auckland to Singapore, and I got 2 business class amenity kits, extra snacks, and my glass was never empty. Definitely doing again on my flight from Singapore to London in 10 days.
Wow, I’ve never thought about that, but yes, I guess the crew appreciate our consideration towards them.Thank you for sharing that tip Deanna!
A charged and many podcasts always do a good job. Last time I had 8 hour flight, then stop for 2 hours and again 3 more hours flight. Thank God I didn’t forget my charger (cause I usually do so).
I love you. Thank you – I’ve been travelling a lot and this resonated. May I add – be super OCD about packing, check that list twice, keep things you may need readily accessible and not at the bottom of your bag requiring you to dump all you baggage for the airport to see, and treat yoself – I get a trashy tabloid and some bold chex mix. I love you.
I’ve recently really got into podcasts so I love this idea!!! Snacks, a book, and my Seabands for bouts of motion sickness or my other go-tos! If you’re looking for some actual travel inspiration I have guides for food lovers and travel enthusiasts alike! ( http://www.behindtheplates.com ) Plan your trip to places like Puerto Rico, France, Oregon Wine Country and more!!
Great simple and plain (get it, plane!) advice, Joy on the travel front! I am sadly flying OUT of DET right now…had I known you were going to be teaching awesomeness I would have flown back tomorrow instead of tonight! I am a frequently traveler as well….sigh….. But, yes, preach sister! Wipes, stocked! Snacks, stocked! Kindness to attendants, absolutely…and the side eye for the encroachers and subtle headphone placement for the divorce stories….I am with you x100 ;)