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!