Wednesday, January 25, 2012

10 Travel Tips from a Frequent Flyer

Encore Post: March 2010
You know you're a frequent flyer when you buy personal care items based solely on whether they come in containers of 3oz or less.

That would be me.  I have just come to the realization that the contents of my bathroom cabinet are now better suited for the seven dwarves than Snow White. 

Earlier this week I was in CT.  Today I am in CA.  Next week I will be in MA, RI and PA.   I try to keep the trips quick so as not to miss the kids; in and out in one day if I can manage it. Still, it's a lot of time packing, waiting in security lines and sitting on airplanes.  

On my six hour flight from BOS to SFO, I thought I'd pull together some fun travel tips and tricks for y'all.  This is a list of things not covered in the recent George Clooney movie, "Up in the Air." 

I'm already jet lagged, so this should be interesting.   Drum roll please:

1. DO use SpaceBags.  You can buy cheap imitations as long as they don't require you to pack a vacuum or a really big straw.  For those of you who don't watch TV and have never been in a WalMart, SpaceBags are basically giant ziplock bags with an "out" valve.  Stick your clothes in there and roll to get out the air.  Instantly maximized space.  No, it doesn't wrinkle your clothes.  At least, not any more than everything getting jumbled at one corner of your suitcase in a big ball under your trainers.  Pack an empty one for dirty clothes.

2. DO print your boarding pass at home by logging into the airline website 24 hours before your flight.  Some airlines such as Southwest prioritize boarding time based on when you check-in.   Online check-in also allows you to see in advance that you are in the last seat next to the lavatory and make a change before its too late.  Many airlines will also offer cheap last minute upgrades to higher class seating sections.

3. DO give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport.  Most frequent flyers do the opposite, so here's where I may differ from those cocky bastards experienced travellers.  Worst case, you get to the airport early. Hang out, browse trashy magazines and drink a $5 cup of coffee.  Isn't it worth it not to be stressed?  If you are traveling with kids, this is especially important.  When Mommy & Daddy are all cranky because they didn't plan properly, it freaks out the kids and then the rest of us also have to deal with the screaming brats poor darlings.

4. DON'T try to beat security.  On this particular trip, I stood behind a woman for several minutes while she desperately tried to convince a security agent that her Lancome sunscreen was far too special to be subjected to the usual 3oz rule.  She was unsuccessful.  You will be too.   Just for fun, take a look in the trash barrel next to the security belts.  You could stock a Walgreens with the contents of those bins.

5. DO make sure that any liquids or gels you may need during the flight are handy once you are through security.  The first thing I do when I get to my gate is grab my moisturizer, hand sanitizer and lip balm out of my quart-size plastic baggie and put them in my purse for easy access on the plane.  I hate to be dry.  Airplane air is sooooo dry. (Yell it with me:  How.. dry.. is.. it?)   I once bought a hamburger in San Antonio and it was beef jerky by the time I got to Chicago.  (*badum-pha*)

6. DON'T apply perfume or cologne on the airplane.  Don't even put it on before you get on the plane.  It's not a date.  The last flight I was on smelled like a brothel.  Thank you lady wearing gold lamé and too much Jean Nate.  Now that I think of it, any Jean Nate is too much.

7. DO apply hand sanitizer to all buttons on your arm rest, your seat belt bucket and the tray table latch.   Oh.  Am I the only one that does that?   Ew.  OCD going into maximum overdrive!

8. DON'T underestimate the need for entertainment.  Personally, I like to have a mix of low-tech options and high-tech gadgetry.  My iPod and the latest issue of Popular Mechanics for example.  I also always bring a notepad and pen.  In theory, that's so that I can jot down ideas for my blog or notes for work.  It also came in real handy for the kid next to me who got sick of playing with barf bags, sugar packets and plastic cups after about 10 minutes.  (Usually I also have a snack-size baggie of crayons handy.)

If you are traveling with kids or you have ADD, you may want to pick an airline that has seatback in-flight television.  Here in the States, Virgin America is my fave with JetBlue a close second.   As a side note, my last flight on American offered in-flight Wi-Fi.  Nice.

9. DO medicate.   The need for this becomes more crucial if you and/or the parent next to you failed at #8.   It's amazing how even complete swill like Sutter Home becomes ambrosia of the gods under the right circumstances.   If you don't drink, you can meditate instead.  (And, maybe invest in some noise-cancelling headphones.)

10. DON'T forget snacks.  The best strategy is to bring snacks from home; no drinks of course.  At the very least, stop by the little stand near your gate and get some trail mix or something.  There's nothing worse than being stuck on a flight for hours with only one tiny bag o' snack for sustenance.  I speak from experience.  I am on hour four and my Blue Terra Chips are long gone.  I feel like a contestant on Survivor.   I'm expecting the flight attendant to start handing out flint and bags of rice any minute.

Your turn:  Got any travel trips to share?

Happy Trails!
Add To Google BookmarksStumble ThisFav This With TechnoratiAdd To Del.icio.usDigg ThisAdd To RedditTwit ThisAdd To FacebookAdd To Yahoo


webb said...

Sorry to hear you are having to do so much traveling right now - it's so tiring and takes so much time away from home, family and self. At least it sounds like you are finding ways to make some time for yourself while traveling. Amen to the Jean Nate!

Vivianne's Vista said...

Great tips, although I am terrified of flying. I am sooooo with you on tip #7. It's not OCD, it's being SMART. As for #9? Heck there's nothing better for calming phobic nerves!(and I mean lots of it)

Hunter said...

11. If flying Southwest, feigning a horrible cold will often keep anyone from sitting in the seat next to you.

Good list!

Charlene said...

Webb - Thanks. I don't mind it as much as it seems. At home, I never just "sit" - so being on airplane is actually a break!

Viv - Glad to know I'm no alone!

Hunter - That's a GOOD one. Definitely will need to keep that in mind!

Melissa @ Cellulite Investigation said...

I hate that you can't bring your own water to the airport anymore. Some airports don't sell ANY quality water. Drives me crazy. Sometimes I bring a juicy orange instead.

Sarah said...

I totally agree with the whole printing your boarding pass before getting to the airport. It makes things so much easier. Especially when you are traveling with kids!!

Life with Kaishon said...

I hate flying. My advice would be to be kind and nice to the person next to you. Even if you are the most important person in the whole world it won't kill you to smile and say hi : )

Sit10 said...

Thanks for this. I am afraid that New Job will require more than my liking of long distance "day trips." I do pretty well with magazines, 1 book, iPod and some crossword puzzles. movies are better, but that is a big battery drain.

Charlene said...

Sit10 - I have one of the clunkier iPods but I do like the ability to watch movies, or at least Podcasts on it. You would love VH1's "Best Week Ever" video podcast!!!

Kaishon - That is GREAT advice! Even when I am in the gate and when I am boarding the plane, I smile and say "hi" to people. They either think I am really nice or crazy cookoo; not sure which. :-)

I am Harriet said...

Hi there.
Wonderful tips!
Stopping by via SITS to say hello.
Have a great day!

WhisperingWriter said...

Fantastic tips!

I always print out our boarding passes. We usually fly Southwest so I try to get us in the A group so we board faster.

Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest!

Crystal Escobar said...

That was the perfect post for me, as we are getting ready for a cruise!!! Yeah, thanks for the tips!

Charlene said...

Crystal - what cruise are you going on? I've been in a bunch so I may have some extra tips there for you too!

gigi said...

I have a very unreasonable fear of planes, so i dont really fly lol. But i liked your post, it was funny:)

foxy said...

ALL of these are super good tips!

Jenny said...

Great tips...if I ever get to go on a trip again! Seems like a long time since we've taken more then a stay-cation!

The Guy's Perspective said...

My only travel trip would be, don't bring the kids! :) Just kidding, although it certainly makes things easier.

We went on our first family trip this summer and getting through security with five was quite a feat.

Good tips by the way. "Do medicate!" Yes!!!

correspondent said...

Hi there,
Glad to hear that Space Bags make traveling easier for you! Did you know that if you submit your success story on our online community, you could win free Space Bag product? Please feel free to use the "contact us" form on at if you have any questions. Hope to hear from you soon.

Space Savers community correspondent

North West London Girl said...

Hi, just dropping in from SITS, and glad I did, what brilliant tips - I have made note. Very glad to have found you.xx

The Local Cook said...

Ha! So true. I'm on a business trip right now, actually. I normally avoid checking luggage (even before the rules changed where it costs $25 a bag) so I've learned to pack REALLY light.

McVal said...

Wow! You get around!
Great tips! My only tip would be to bring chewing gum along, especially if you have kids, for the take offs and landings. Or if they're young kids, give them a pacie!

DebA said...

I am with you on all of these tips. I will say that the wine tops my list. Drink it quickly, grab a book that is a "must read" but never has held my attention and like magic sleeps comes. Now if I could figure out what to do when I find myself waking up with still two hours to go covered with drool and nursing a stiff neck.

Sarah said...

#12--if the guy next to you exceeds 6'3", request to change seat as soon as possible.

spacebag, now that's a good one i'll have to remember.

PJ said...

Great tips. I log in plenty of hours on long flights. Having an ebook reader has changed the quality of those hours for me. Also I leaned small lightweight but higher quality earphones really improved the quality of what I was listening to. Weight is a key criteria for me.

Meredith said...

Overall, great tips! I haven't tried the travel space bags, but the regular ones never work for me. They always seem to lose their vacuum quality!

alex said...

I have always pre booked my London airport taxi with Hummingbird Cars as they are licensed private hire London Airport Taxi company. They Provide Airport Taxi Service From and To London Heathrow Airport Terminal 1,2,3,4 and 5, London Gatwick Airport, London City Airport, Stansted Airport and Luton Airport ......I have used them on quiet a few occasions and they Reliable and Affordable. They have very well maintained cars and even the driver are very good.

Post a Comment