Update: Valerie Cecil of Guestdoor.com informed me that my TSA link was all 404’ed. Thanks, Valerie–it’s fixed now!
Check out this article she sent me on how to protect yourself against identity theft while traveling. She’s included some really good tips on keeping your information safe.
If you have a job that requires frequent travel, you’re probably used to many of the inconveniences. If not, and your book hits the big time, you might be traveling a lot. (Yeah, we should all be so lucky.)
I’ve written about flying and how much it sucks these days. I’ve flown more in the last two years than in my entire life, with Egon being so far away. It took a little getting used to.
The Internet is full of tips and tricks to make traveling by air easier. One also finds a plethora of bitching. Rather than do that, I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learned, in my favorite list-ish fashion.
Wear comfy clothes, but not sloppy ones
Long ago, when flying was kind of a luxury, it was also a special occasion. People wore business-type clothes to fly. They spent a lot of money and even in coach, you were catered to. I can remember meal service and comfy seats in Coach. Sigh. Those were the days.
Now the seats are smaller and the planes more crowded. You might wish to clad yourself in comfortable clothing. But please, show a little decorum. Items to avoid include:
- Flip flops – these are horrible for your feet. They’re horrible for my eyes. I don’t want to see your gnarly toes with yellowish, fungus-infested nails. Blargh!
- Pajamas – who thinks it’s okay to wear these out and about? Sure, maybe if you’re four!
- Revealing clothes – anything that would get you on peopleofwalmart.com should be left at home or packed in your carry-on. Some airlines will kick you off for this. Really.
By sensibly, I mean don’t take the entire house. I have trouble with this one. I usually take my computer, since I don’t have a tablet or smartphone, and like to be able to write if the muse hits me. But I’ve managed to get along with one small duffel and a backpack.
- Make a list. I have a standard one that I adapt to each trip. For example, I don’t have to take hair products if I’m visiting Egon or family—either I have some there or can borrow. But I might pack extra conditioner if I’m staying at a hotel.
- Take clothes that can do double duty and don’t wrinkle. Knit blends are best. Downy® Wrinkle Releaser really works, and a travel size is available at Walmart. Many hotel rooms have irons, and if you’re staying at a private home you can wash clothes.
Understand airline and security rules
Like it or not, the reality of air travel means dealing with security and safety. Not only liquids and shoes, but electronic devices on the airplane, and your behavior. Yes, there are hotheaded, power-mad asshats out there. No, you aren’t justified in breaking rules simply because you don’t agree with them.
- Pack according to the rules. You can find them here at the TSA’s website. Do your best to comply, because if your shenanigans hold me up, you can only hope I’m not sitting next to you on the flight.
- Shut your electronic device off and put it away for takeoff and landing. I don’t wish to have your iPad crash into my head if the captain has to slam on the brakes. Before you mouth off about books, I put mine in the seat pocket until the plane is in the air.
The flight attendant’s safety warning says “ALL CARRY-ON ITEMS MUST BE STOWED FOR TAKEOFF AND LANDING.” That means everything. You can survive for a few minutes without Angry Birds. I promise.
- Be polite and considerate of other passengers. This means not bringing smelly foods on board, not getting so stinking drunk you pee on their legs, and not acting like a demanding princess.
On my way back from a recent Egon visit, I was subjected to my very first bag search. Aww.
I did warn the TSA that I had camera batteries and a small wrist/ankle weight in there, but it alarmed and I was pulled out of line. The TSA at the Tucson airport were very professional.
No, I’m not endorsing the agency, but it could have been much, much worse. Next time I’ll take the weight out of the bag, if I have to travel with it again.
- Do not stare at people who are in the little holding area getting their bags searched. They could be innocent and you could be next.
By remembering your manners and adding a little patience to your bag o’ tricks, you can make air travel less of a hassle. And if you’re a writer, airports are great places to people watch. Maybe the next generation of travelers will learn something from you.