Monday, May 16, 2011


In the past two months I've been fortunate to take two trips — one to South Carolina and the other to Oklahoma.  I say fortunate because I still love air travel, even though I’ve endured horror stories over the years like everyone else. Cancelled flights that left me stranded (twice in Atlanta, once in Dubai, all three times in the middle of the night). Lost luggage. Late arrivals that had us running through the airport to catch our connection. Traveling for more than 24 hours straight with no sleep. And more recently, paying for everything from checked luggage to curbside check-in, to in-flight food.
With airlines downsizing and security folks scrambling to keep ahead of the latest terrorist technology, I'm sure we'll be seeing more flight delays, security restrictions, and other inconveniences.
To make it a better experience, here’s my list of "survival" items that I won't leave home without. They're all low-tech, easy to pack, and don't break any security regulations that I know of:
1. Ear plugs: They offer relief from the fussy baby across the aisle, or from the less-than-soundproof hotel room. (Or from your spouse’s snoring!)
2. Sugarless chewing gum: Chewing gum helps your ears to "pop" when you're feeling changes in air pressure during takeoff. It also keeps your throat from getting dry, which often happens when you’re flying. And it's a quick antidote to bad breath if you don't have toothpaste or mouthwash.
3. Lightweight black blazer: It can dress up a rumpled pair of jeans if you're without a change of clothing, or make a party dress look more businesslike. Last month, I arrived in Charleston, S.C. just in time for a formal dinner with the National Chicken Council. Unfortunately, my suitcase didn’t come until the next day.  At the airport, I was nearly in tears as I kept waiting at revolving luggage carousel in hopes that my bag would finally appear.  I had nothing to wear to the dinner but the black pants and blouse that I’d flown in, and no time to change anyway. I threw on my black blazer and once I was sitting down, I forgot my troubles and enjoyed the evening. 
I don’t know if I’m dating myself by calling it a “blazer,” or if the term today is a “boyfriend jacket.”  But, it's useful no matter what you call it.  
When the plane gets chilly, it can also double as a mini-blanket. I sound like a mom when I say ALWAYS, ALWAYS bring a multi-purpose blazer/ jacket, even if you’re heading to a warm climate. At a conference in Puerto Rico, the air conditioning was cranked up so high that I would have frozen without it.
4. A set of clean underwear: Enough said. And yes, it came in handy during the above-mentioned luggage fiasco.

5. A good book: It makes a long wait feel more like a luxury, especially if you usually don't get much time to read at home. I like paperback books because they're lightweight.  On my trip to Norman, Okla., I took a Mary Higgins Clark whodunit paperback. I also like culinary mysteries or biographies.

6. Soy nuts: They're lower in fat than regular nuts, high in protein, and filling when there's no time or place to eat a meal. A couple of handfuls in a plastic zip-lock bag can tide your over for a few hours. String cheese is another good option.
7. Postage stamps: You can actually put your souvenir postcards or that fancy hotel stationery to  good use. Write someone and tell them you love ‘em, even if you'll likely beat the snail mail home.

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Great tips!! Having just come home from a short trip to Canada, I could have used them.