TEN TIPS FOR AIR TRAVEL
Traveling by air, like anything, can become an art. It can also become a monster, growling and gnawing at you if done wrong.
In light of yesterday’s flight from CLT-SYR, I thought I’d post a few tips. It’s by no means exhaustive, so feel free to add your own.
1.) The TSA is a joke.
I don’t know how else to say it. Knowing this simple fact will help you stay even-keeled when in security.
People that have 100% access to the aircraft – like rampers and gate agents – don’t pass any airport security (and are paid minimum wage; propensity for coercion anyone?), while pilots (who could literally do anything they want to an aircraft) are subject to the same crazy searches we are.
That being said, rules for what should or should not be placed in or outside a bin, on the conveyor belt, left on or taken off your person, are due to change at the whim of whatever over titled, under-credentialed agent you encounter.
2.) Check TSA’s website.
Marking 10 years since 9-11, you’re finally able to pack almost everything in a carry-on again. This is especially helpful for short trips, or those who prefer packing light (like me). Contrary to popular belief, shaving kits are no longer considered threats, fingernail clippers have ceased being a hijacker’s weapon of choice, and even solid-stick deodorants are allowed to stay in your bag (apparently filling them with C4 is out of style).
And while you still need to take your shoes off to go through security, children under 12 can keep them on now. (Terrorists don’t mind blowing up innocent people, but they’re quite averted to putting shoe bombs on random orphans).
Any drinks, however, must be consumed in their entirety or be thrown out before going through security. (That HCL you’re carrying may not burn a hole in your sleekly altered plastic bottle, but it sure does a number on your digestive system).
Checking their website can help you know how to pack. And because they’re constantly changing protocol, it’s worth checking regularly if you fly a lot.
3.) Get good luggage.
When purchasing luggage for check-in, I prefer non-fabric, non-zipping. Samsonite clam-shell style cases have been the best I’ve ever owned. Strong, lightweight, and durable. They’ve never gotten knocked out of alignment (where they no longer close right), they hold a lot (with new weight restrictions, often too much), and they protect well. I’ve had one since 2002 with over 500,000 international miles on it.
Granted, I recently broke this rule with a higher-end TJ Maxx find, but it was calculated: the bag was med-sized, had super-heavy-duty zipper construction (ye’ big ole’ fat kind), and the nylon weave exterior was extremely dense and double layered. It’s served very well for shorter trips.
Asking people in the airline industry what they prefer is always a good idea. Certain manufactures try and make handles, wheels, and overall dimensions conducive to the majority of aircraft types.
4.) Roll your clothes.
Yes, it really does create more space.
5.) Leave a little extra room for your return flight. Whether it’s an item your friend wants you to bring back with you as a gift, to souvenirs you purchased at the airport, to a bag of cashews you bought at a gas station but never quite finished, you’ll virtually always be bringing back more than you left with.
6.) Use technology.
While I may be a pastor, the only thing truly sacred is His presence. Therefore, that beautiful, leather-bound, 8″x10″ beast of a Bible I’ve loved so dearly over the years? Yeah, she stays home.
All my notes, messages, Bible translations, concordances, cross-referencing software, and bookmarks are kept on my iPad, iPhone, and MacBook Pro. Should they all be stolen or fail, everything is backed up to two different cloud services. And when all else fails, I’ve either memorized my messages and scriptures in advance, or I snag a Bible from someone willing to lend me theirs.
Because of the advent of the e-reading age, I also take a whole library of books with me, as well as my music. Loading and charging your devices properly ahead of time can help fight boredom later. And I rarely get so much free time to read as I do on planes.
7.) Think power.
I always pack a three-socket 10′ extension chord in my bag. While carrying my chargers is important, often there is no wall outlet close by (this goes for airports and destinations). That home extension chord has saved me more times than I can count.
I also carry a AA backup charger for my iPhones. The day Apple finally finds a smart phone battery that last for than a day will be celebrated in the Hopper house with gusto.
In addition, I keep multiple terminus convertors (or plug adapters) for each nation I frequent (and purposely collect them). While almost every gadget I own will have a power convertor built in (110v-220v), the physical plugs need to be changed. No more than a dollar or two, without them you ain’t got nuthin’.
8.) Embrace your new clock.
While there are a myriad of remedies – natural to neurotic – that help with jet-lag, the best tip I’ve found for adjusting to time change is all on the opening day (especially traveling east).
If you land in Europe at 7:30am, resist that urge for a 5-8 hour nap. Sleep at 12noon for an hour, but then stay up as late as you can. By day 2, you’ll be feeling more acclimated and alert. This practice is especially useful on short international trips.
9.) Stay hydrated.
Planes are, by nature of air filtration, a dry environment. Resist your soda pop, ask for bottles (or multiple cups) of water instead.
10.) Be yourself, but be courteous.
I like talking with people. I’m an extravert. But not everyone I meet is. Learning how to engage in casual in-flight conversation can be daunting, but rewarding. I have friends to this day that I met on flights.
But some people are over-talkers. Having a pair if earbuds or a book/e-reader is a great way to politely signal, “I’m tired if talking and would like to be left alone.” ch: