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!
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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Don't Look Back Now, It's a New Year

January 1st found me and my dear hubby (aka "Big D") thoroughly disgusted with ourselves.   The reverie of the holidays, as enjoyable as they were, left our bodies bloated and sluggish.   It was time to take off our feedbags and amp up the exercise.  Happy flippin' New Year.

January 2nd, Big D and I took on P90 Circuit with a vengeance.

January 3rd, Big D worked late and I did P90 Sculpt alone.

January 4th, I asked Big D if he wanted to work out but he was too exhausted.  I caved and decided "comfy, cozy" was a good option for me too.

By the end of the first week, I had only worked out a couple of times and Big D. not at all since that first day.  Yet, we weren't eating cannoli for breakfast or making declarations like, "Well, it's 5 o'clock somewhere!"

Lulled into a false sense of security, we were on the fast track to complacency. 

Fifty percent of people who join gyms in January quit within six months.  I would love to know how many of those people really only go for the first month, then take two more months to admit to themselves they aren't going back, and then another three to actually go into the club, face their shame, and cancel their membership. It's no mystery why almost no club will allow you to cancel over the phone.
Here's the realization that kicked me back into gear: motivation based on shame isn't sustainable.

If you were ever in a position where it was always about catching up on what you didn't get done (or did wrong) yesterday, or last quarter or last year, then you know what I am talking about. 

Similarly, trying to just "undo" the gluttony of the holidays isn't enough to keep the fire lit under our jiggly butts. 

Sustainable motivation is based on outcomes. 

Note I didn't say "goals."  Goals are about setting targets.  Outcomes are about reaching them.

Focusing on the abundant feelings of energy, accomplishment and fabulosity I know I will have after I get back into my healthy, fit groove -- THAT is what gets my arse out of my comfy cozy.

If you find yourself wavering on your own New Year's resolutions, think about what's motivating you.  If it's "so last year," adjust accordingly.   Focus on what you want to be, do, or have in the future, not what haunts you from the past.  Focus on outcomes.

Here's wishing you a happy, healthy, prosperous 2012!

Now on Twitter @BeamingBalance
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