This post was originally going be to called ‘travel tips for winter travel.’ This post was going to be called ‘travel tips for winter travel,’ until I was sitting in a car sobbing on the phone to my mother after hearing a weather report and realized that I am absolutely the last person qualified o give you tips about traveling during the winter. I’ve spent too much time in England. After next year, I’m going to try my hardest to NEVER fly during Christmas.
Luckily, I’ve learnt a few things since December 2010, which marked only the second time I ever flew alone. As I sat with friends over a much-needed Lebanese dinner on Thursday evening, I noticed myself giving them tips and tricks about how to deal with flying in general. I realized that, although I may have my moments of extreme nerves, I am pretty okay at flying.
People are sometimes surprised to find out that I hate flying. I am not a confident flyer and must clutch the armrest for dear life during take off. I have to close my eyes and I have actually had people check with me to make sure that I am okay after some less-than-comfortable landings. When I’m asked to sit in the emergency row, I immediately say that I can’t. Hating flying makes traveling alone a bit more difficult, but nothing that’s not achievable. Whether or not you’re traveling alone this winter, next summer or during some indiscernable time in the future, here are my top tips learnt from running through Heathrow Terminal 3 with a cup of coffee from EAT in my hand.
1. It’s okay if you don’t like, it’s okay if you hate it, just don’t think about that. I hate take off so much that if I start thinking about it I feel ill. So what do I do when the plane starts its trajectory down the runway? Close my eyes, take deep breaths and remind myself that I know nothing about planes. While some people may find that knowing more about how planes work helps them to deal with their nerves, I am not one of those people. Instead, I remind myself that the pilot knows what’s going on and has trained for so long to keep us safe. Not only that, there’s probably a good chance he was once in the military. They’re used to this! Of course, you may want to know everything you can about planes. There are plenty of great websites and courses to help you out. One recommendation: don’t talk to student pilots. Don’t.
2. Don’t eat the plane food. It’s okay to refuse the tray and it’s okay to just ask for water. If you want the tray but not the entree, ask for that! Not eating a proper meal is proven to help reduce jet lag and means that you get to have a yummy meal upon arrival. My menu for a flight? Water, water, water, a bar of 100% chocolate and chinese food upon arrival. It’s worked well for me so far. Nuts and dried fruits are also good choices. Avoid anything too heavy or filling, would you eat while you’re asleep? Probably not.
3. Wear something comfortable, but not too comfortable. For me this changes whether I’m on a day or night flight, but it generally means my comfiest pair of jeans, a white t-shirt, shoes that easily slip on and off, a thin sweater and a large scarf. It’s also a good idea to pack some socks in your carry-on in case you want to take off your shoes mid flight. Wearing pajama pants will probably just make you fee like you should be in bed, while wearing anything too fancy won’t let you relax. Whatever you do, don’t wear boots. You will regret it.
4. Make sure everything is charged. That means your phone, your ipod, your camera, your kindle, your ipad, your nintendo, whatever electronic disctractions that you want when you’re stuck in a small space nearly 36,000 feet in the air, make sure you charge it before leaving, even if you think it’s fully charged. It’s the time that you forget to charge it when the entertainment system will break down. My current flight is nine hours long, I’m planning to disembark having drained at least my kindle and ipod, if not my itouch as well.
5. Research the airport and leave yourself plenty of time to get everywhere. Before leaving, make sure you know which terminal you leave from, how best to get to the airport, where to check in and if you should check in before-hand. Once at the airport, take a lap before security to see if there’s anything to eat or if it’s all to be had once you cross over. Leave yourself plenty of time to get through security and get to your gate. The only time to rush? When getting off the plane after an international flight, run to customs! You won’t be disappointed. Besides, don’t you need a little bit of a leg workout after being cramped in that seat for so long?
Do you have any travel advice for people this holiday season?