Tips for Surviving Plane Travel

We’ve all read those guides about plane travel that state the obvious.  Show up on time.  Have your passport handy.  Don’t clutch your backpack as if it’s an explosive you’ve been entrusted with.  Ever notice something about those guides though?  They’re not about how to survive “plane travel”, they’re about how to survive “airports”.  Now sure, once you’re in your seat most feel you can now relax, because the worst is behind you.  Nothing left except sitting in the same place for several hours.  Yeah… remember back in school when being forced to sit still was a means of punishment?  Sitting in a plane is no picnic.  Whether it’s the kid kicking the back of your seat, or just grinding away the time, there are ways for surviving, heck even enjoying, plane travel.

Ear Plugs – No extra cash?  No problem.  It’s simple.  Ear plugs.  Think I’m joking?  Try it.  Heck just try it at home.  You’d be surprised how mentally tiring the ambient noise of even a quiet airplane can be.  Ear plugs will turn riding coach into a veritable Zen garden.  Best of all, they only cost you a couple bucks and you’ll probably get a whole box of them.  Forget therapy, forget meditating, sometimes just cutting out the audible portion of the outside world is enough to put your mind at ease. shop for ear plugs at amazon.

41x5xazjnql_ss400_Noise Cancellation Headphones – As common as these are now days, some people still don’t know they exist.  Granted, some noise cancellation headphones work better than others, but they do work.  Besides quieting the ambient noise around you, they also make it easier to hear whatever it is your trying to listen to.  And let’s face it, if you’re listening to something on a flight, it’s to forget that you’re stuck in a plane. Noise Cancellation headphones from Amazon.

Where You Sit – This can make a world of difference.  It’s always been strange that “window seats” receive all the glory, while sitting on the aisle is considered a pain.  Consider this.  It’s a trade off.  Sitting next to the window will give you one heck of a view, but you’re also crammed against the side of the cabin.  Sitting on the aisle lets you stretch out, but you’re more exposed to being bumped into, having your drink spilled, etc..  For some people though, being able to completely stretch out one leg is well worth the risks.  Also, remember that the row of seats beside an emergency exit will always have more leg-room. Get seating tips from SeatGuru.com

Laptop – You’ve seen them on the plane with their spreadsheets and word processors running.  You’re probably now thinking, “Yeah, great idea.  I’ll survive my plane ride by doing work, thanks.”  On the contrary, to heck with that, and no I’m not recommending you play games.  Anything more advanced than minesweeper will suck your battery dry faster than you can finish your salted peanuts.  What I suggest is watching movies.  Most laptops these days have DVD drives, so you can easily play movies on them.  The problem is that just like games, watching DVD’s can also drain your battery fast.  Here’s the trick…  Rip your DVD’s onto your computer before you leave.  Too technical?  Then just buy some movies on iTunes.  The point is, it’ll require a lot less power from your battery to watch movies stored on your computer than it would to watch them on DVD.  Want to go even further?  If your laptop has a detachable battery then one of the best investments you can make for traveling is to buy a second battery.  And don’t’ forget that iPods can play movies these days as well.

41zmb6c7wbl_sl500_aa280_Power Splitter – Few think of this, but it can be a life saver.  While waiting during lay-over, clever people will find a power outlet to recharge their electronics a little bit before their next flight.  The problem is there aren’t that many available electrical outlets.  The solution is to carry along a power splitter, allowing multiple plugs to be used with one outlet.  If an outlet is taken, show the person who claimed it your splitter and they’ll probably share. Shop for Power Squid at Amazon.

Sleeping Pills – Do you just flat out not want to deal with it?  No problem!  That’s what sleeping pills are for (or any other kind of medication that helps you relax).  Talk to your doctor, decide what’s right for you, and you could spend your entire trip in dream land.

Not Kidding Yourself – Ever notice how lots of stories involving travel nightmares begin with, “I thought I could handle…”.  If that’s how their story starts then they have no one to blame but themselves.  When you travel, know your limitations and cater to them.  All too often people arrange what’s easy to plan, not what’s easy to do, “The first flight leaves at 5am?  Count me in!  How hard could it be?”  Take the time to arrange a trip that works the way you need it to.  Sure there will be times when you have no choice, but for all those other times, exercise your options, and ignore anyone who criticizes you for not doing what they would have done.  There is no one way to travel.

Attitude – Too many people suffer airplane travel, because they simply won’t speak up for themselves.  If you’ve got someone being obnoxious, say something.  If they’re of questionable character then don’t press the issue, but at least mention it.  If you suffer in silence then you’re essentially your own worst enemy.

Plane travel doesn’t have to be unpleasant.  If nothing else works, at least keep some perspective.  A couple of centuries ago, the same journey you’re on would have taken weeks or even months.  People would have been born and others died during the journey.  When considering that, sitting in a cushioned chair in a crowded vehicle for eight hours might not seem so bad.

Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: Flickr/The Wandering Angel