5 Must Haves for flying anywhere
Things I bring to get me from Departure to Arrival with my sanity
Let’s face it, flying these days is like playing the lotto. Every flight, be it short or long haul, comes with its own set of challenges. Obnoxious passengers, overworked flight staff, supply shortages, these are common occurrences no matter the class of service you’re flying and even the carrier. Of course, I generalize. In the 50 years I’ve been flying planes, I’ve been lucky to have very few of those. As an actor in the 90’s, the union contract provided for First class travel to locations for filming overnight. New Zealand, Singapore, Paris, Toronto and others I got to see how the 1% lives while flying and it’s not something easily forgotten. It’s really not like flying. Becoming a tour guide, however, made those fond memories painful ones of time gone by as I sit, 6’2″, cramped in economy next to or sandwiched in between my worst nightmare and talks way too much. I’ve developed a system, or a regimen, if you will, for getting through any flight, no matter where I’m sitting.
1. A bottle of water and a healthy, non-messy, non-smelly snack.
Drinking water is required on planes given the dehydration factor that comes with flying. Experts say 80z/hour is necessary but given that I’m usually in a window seat by preference, no way I’m getting up more than once to use the toilet every couple of hours or so. Taking a snack bar or something you like that tastes good can prevent food that doesn’t suit you or that has run out, which happens often. I think it’s rude to take on smelly food that fouls your whole area. Think of a plane as your workplace breakroom or your community. Would your co-workers approve of your limburger/fish sandwich?
2. Compression Socks
I put them on, I instantly start complaining. “Dang, these are too tight.” “No way I can wear these all the way to wherever!” Then I start walking around, they start to hurt less, I put on the rest of my clothes and by the time the Lyft has arrived, I’m used to them. If you don’t have Global Entry, which you should (see below), or Pre-TSA and have to take your shoes off, your feet feel extra protected from the floor. No more swollen legs and feet on long haul flights and, by the time you arrive, will remark on how beneficial they are. A good pair are $20US anywhere. A worthy investment.
In 1997, I flew to Auckland, New Zealand, to work on a film for Showtime called A Soldier’s Sweetheart with Keifer Sutherland and Skeet Ulrich (really nice guys). I flew Air New Zealand, First class and was sat next to a very eccentric Kiwi businessman, who was very nice, but before departure, placed his finger up his 2 nostrils with this…stuff. I didn’t know what it was and decided to not speak to the supposed freak who appeared to be fingering his nose. About 5 hours in to the 15 hour flight from Los Angeles, and after my best screening-for-freaks interview, I asked him about his pre-flight ritual and have been grateful ever since. Used for Nasal hydration and soreness in the winters from 1906, a little dap up each nostril before every departure and I haven’t caught a cold on a flight since. About $7.50US
4. Good Noise Cancelling Headphones
I prefer the over-the-ear and corded kind so you can use it both for your phone and the IFE (in-flight entertainment). A good pair can cost a pretty penny, but a worthy investment and, in many cases, a game changer. I try to load my phone or tablet with my favorite podcasts, books on tape and music to help me get through flights. I use the audio-technica quietpoint and they have worked amazingly for the last 4 years of flying. Under $100
5. Anitbacterial Wipes
I wish I could roll camera on the number of side-eyes I get when I sit down and immediately pull out my handy wipes and begin wiping down my immediate area. The arm and headrests, the tray table, the wall, anything a body part might possibly touch, I wipe down. It gives me peace of mind. Working in the travel industry for the last 15 years has given me insight into things I probably shouldn’t share so early into my blogging career, but, suffice to say, public transportation and hotels cannot be properly maintained for cleanliness comparable to the rate of turnover. One must be responsible for the maintenance of ones area, albeit temporary. A few wipes can help with that. Proven to be just as effective as hand sanitizers in eliminating 99% of germs without drying the skin like many of the sanitizers do. $2.00US
2 Bonus flying tips for Long Haul flyers
The TRTL neck pillow
I’ve tried countless neck pillows. I’m not a fan of most of them. About a year ago, my friend Erin D of The Unimaginary Friendcast podcast, a photographer and traveler, recommended the trtl neck pillow after one of her long haul trips. I tried it on the flight to and from Chile last year, I’m hooked. Adjustable, comfortable and doesn’t take up a lot of space, which I dislike about those other bulky neck pillows. About $30US
Global Entry (US Only)
If you don’t have it already, get it. $100, good for 5 years, comes with pre-TSA (no more shoe removal on domestic flights) and the 1st time you use it coming back from abroad in US Customs and Immigration, you’ll want to sing and dance. When I went to Cuba in 2017 (magical trip), my fellow travelers in the group were far more experienced than I. The other 11 members, young and not young, had traveled everywhere. I owe them a debt of gratitude for educating me on the benefits of global entry. As there is limited appointment availability, I would apply ASAP were I you. Head to the Department of Homeland Security and apply for their Trusted Traveler program http://www.ttp.dhs.gov mine took about 4 months to acquire, but so worth it.
Flying can be challenging, no question about it. As with most things, a little preparation and a positive attitude can go a long way. Some good will toward your fellow community members, or workplace breakroom mates, however you want to look at it and a few must haves, allow you to arrive at your destination better prepared to handle what faces you. From beautiful beaches, to your mother-in-law.