I was thinking about what I might want to write in my next blog entry. I have been doing a lot of traveling so I thought I could write about some of my traveling tips as a seasoned veteran. But of course, life doesn’t always go as planned. It’s pretty ironic that just when I am feeling confident enough in my traveling prowess to give others advice, that I would make a rookie traveling mistake that would prove to be a big hassle.
As I begin to write this, I am sitting in a comfy lounge (literally what it is called) at the DFW airport. And I will be here until early tomorrow morning. I flew from Calgary to Dallas earlier today. I went to my next gate, checked the time of my next flight on the ticket and went off in search of food. I got some BBQ and sat down at a nearby gate to charge my laptop. When it was about 5 minutes until time to board (or so I thought) I headed to my gate. I realized there were not many people around so I asked the man at the counter about the flight. He asked me where I had been and told me that I just missed it. What I had thought was the boarding time, was the departure time. I felt so stupid and unseasoned. He issued me a standby ticket for the next flight, which unfortunately turned out to be sold out. And thus, I am sitting in the airport until my flight leaves at 6am tomorrow morning.
Thankfully, I am not being charged for this ticket and I have found this comfortable lounge to hunker down in and watch Dexter. Despite my latest foible, I do want to share some of what I’ve learned in my travels. These are things that work for me… well, most of the time.
I like to wear specific clothes when I am flying. I have noticed many different airplane clothing philosophies from the many hours I have spent at the airport today. Some people wear shorts and flip flops, others seem to dress as nice as possible with lots of make-up or a business suit, and some women wear those monochromatic velour sweat suits. I must admit that the sweat suits do look comfortable but I don’t think I am New Jersey enough to pull it off. Not even the Victoria’s Secret kind with “Pink” written on the butt. I prefer long pants of some kind; jeans are good. I have found that shorts are unacceptable due to the fact that airports and airplanes are kept at roughly the same temperature as the penguin area of the zoo. Some people like flip flops but I prefer close-toed shoes because they provide warmth and protection from the elements that may be found on the floor as you walk through security. Who knows where their feet have been and you don’t want to get athlete’s foot. It’s best to have shoes that slip on and off quickly to facilitate going through security quickly. Taking a long time or getting flustered will make you look like a dork. I don’t know why they are still making us take off our shoes. I am afraid at some point it will be acceptable to make us strip down completely naked to walk through the metal detector. We won’t be able to complain and it will just become the price you have to pay for traveling. I hope I am wrong because there are plenty of people at airports that I do not want to see nude. Ever…
In addition to jeans and closed toed shoes, I also bring a light jacket or sweater. This helps to insulate me from the above mentioned chilly airports and frigid planes. For entertainment, I always carry a backpack with my toys. As an adult, it is no longer Barbies I need to entertain myself but things like my laptop with DVDs, a book, Bible for when I want to be spiritual, iPod and sometimes my Nintendo DS. Though I don’t normally use all the play things, I do like to have options. If I am going on a long flight or an early morning flight, I like to bring a full-size pillow. No puny travel pillows for me. I also like to put a sheet or thin blanket inside the pillowcase. This provides an optimal sleeping arrangement as the large pillow can be squeezed and molded into a good sleeping position. This works best in conjunction with the window seat, which is the one I always choose. If you are in a big plane, you may have those headrests you can adjust to prevent your head from flopping from side to side. Those work well too. I am pretty much a professional at sleeping while traveling on a plane or bus. On rare occasions that I fear I will not be able to fall asleep, a little Benadryl goes a long way. Sleeping is my preferred activity on a plane since it is what makes time go by the fastest.
I was glad to have my full size pillow and sheet during my overnight in the Dallas airport. The sheet I brought was for a full size bed so I was able to cover myself and all my luggage with it as I slept. When I went to sleep, there were four other people who’d also found the comfy lounge. When I emerged from my yellow sheet cocoon, those four people were gone and there were about ten new people napping. It was a little disconcerting.
When I am flying, I also try not to drink much so I don’t have to use the airplane bathroom. Contrary to what Jerry Seinfeld thinks, those things are awkward and gross. It never fails that during the rare occasion that I do not have the window seat, my seatmate at the window will need to use the bathroom. This is always awkward since the person has to wake me up and then I can’t go back to sleep until they return, which always takes way longer than I’d like. At that point, at least in my mind, they no longer deserve a window seat because they can’t hold it. I’m tempted to commandeer their seat and fall asleep and hope they settle in mine understanding it’s the price they pay for having to use the restroom.
I always use the restroom right before and right after a flight and try not to drink too much in order not to use the bathroom on the plane. I can probably count the number of times I have used the bathroom on a plane in my entire life, on one hand. The system works, people.
These are just some of the things I do when traveling. They really do work for me. I broke one of my travel rules at the DFW airport and it’s why I had to spend the night in the comfy lounge and not in my comfy bed. My rule is to find my gate as quickly as possible during my layover as to assure that I don’t miss my plane. Then I double check the time before going off to find food. Then I return to my gate to wait so I can’t possibly miss my flight. This time I was charging my laptop a few gates away and could not see my gate. If I had been at my gate, I would have realized my mistake and not missed my flight. It looks like I need to stick to what works so I don’t end up spending the night in another airport that may or may not have a comfy lounge.
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