If you’ve been paying attention to the news or social media lately, airplane travel is getting more stressful and less enjoyable. With all the recent incidents on the news lately, no wonder most people state that it’s the worst part of their vacation.
I’ve developed a new mindset lately and I now ‘almost’ look forward to the airplane portion of my trip. Note I did say almost. It’s still a hassle, but with these simple tips, you can definitely make it more enjoyable and perhaps even think of it as part of the vacation itself. I like to think of my vacation starting when I leave my home, not when I get off the plane.
Arrive at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours before your flight
While the airlines will always recommend you get to the airport early for all the obvious reasons, let me take it a step further. Knowing you have a lot of time will allow you to relax through the process of parking, checking in, and getting through security. When you are relaxed, your less apt to make mistakes (like forgetting your passport or chargers at home!), and it makes you feel like you’re already in vacation mode.
Since I’m always early and usually have an hour or so in the waiting area before boarding, I always have a project in mind to fill the time. Often, it’s a task that I struggle to find time doing at home, so getting it accomplished while waiting to board my flight is time well spent.
- Write cards.
- I bring a stack of birthday cards, thank-you notes, etc., and spend the hour catching up on my correspondence. This is a task that I never seem to make time for when at home. Sometimes I go to the bar, get a drink, and work on it there. This works out well because I then have a table.
- Look for podcasts or TED Talks to load on my iPad for the trip.
- Even though I already have my books and in-flight apps already loaded on my iPad, it’s nice to have options, especially if the airplane in-flight entertainment isn’t working (this has happened to me on more than one occasion). I look for interesting podcasts or TED Talks that can be downloaded.
- Have a drink in the bar and make a phone call.
- I am not much of a phone-talker, so I use this time to go to the bar, order a glass of wine, and make that phone call that I’ve been putting off for so long. And what’s even better, I can set a time limit on the call since I know I’ll have to board the plane at a set time. Just be sure to keep a watch on the departure information in case of a gate change or delay!
Bring a special treat for the flight
A few days before my trip when I’m at the grocery store, I look for an interesting treat to bring in my carry-on. This is usually a snack item that I usually don’t allow myself to have or have been wanting to try. On my last trip, I brought cheddar cheese popcorn, which is something I NEVER eat at home. I bought a glass of wine on the flight to enjoy with my popcorn and I was much happier than just eating the airline peanuts. I actually looked forward to getting on the plan so I could enjoy my guilty pleasure.
Other fun ideas for treats:
- Cocktail kit
- Cheese and crackers
- Beef jerky
- Dried fruit
- Alternative chips
I could also recommend a long list of healthy snacks to bring on board, but there are thousands of other blog posts on that subject and sometimes you just gotta indulge a little.
Research your airline’s entertainment options
One area (probably the only area) where airlines are improving is with their in-flight entertainment options and it really benefits you to know what they are before you head to the airport. For instance, most airlines now have free wi-fi entertainment if you bring your own iPad/tablet and earplugs. Many airlines also provide complete internet access for a nominal fee. On Southwest, it’s only $8.00 to access the internet on your tablet for the duration of your flight.
It’s important to download any apps before you board the plane, so getting the apps ready a few days early will eliminate any issues you may have on your day of travel.
Here are links to a few of the airline’s inflight entertainment information. You can read about what they offer and apps needed to access their entertainment. Once you’re on board the plane, you just open the app and you’re good to go!
Do something completely different on the plane
Listen to an e-book on your iPod: Audible
Instead of reading your book, listen to it in audio form. Audible has 180,000 titles to choose from.
Download your own video: Amazon Instant Video
If you pay for Amazon Prime, you have free access to Amazon Instant Video’s lineup of TV and movies which you can cache to play offline as long as you have enough storage on your device.
Learn a new language: Duolingo
If you’re headed to a foreign destination, take the time during the airplane trip to brush up on some basic conversational phrases to help you during your vacation. What a fun way to get in the mood. You’ll feel like you’re already there!
If you want to unplug and not be connected to technology, there are other ways to entertain yourself. Different ideas include:
- Color in an adult coloring book
- Bring a puzzle book
Airplanes can be really cold and it seems the farther back you are, the colder it is. I once overheard flight attendants talking about this, so I guess it’s a real thing. Sitting in a cramped space for a few hours while shivering will make it impossible to relax, so here are my recommendations:
- Bring socks.
- Wear shoes that easily slip on and off and cover your entire foot (no flip flops)
- Bring a light sweater that has a hood.
- Wear a shawl.
Be nice to the other passengers
While I don’t really like to talk a lot on planes, being nice to your neighbors can make or break your airplane flight. You never know who is sitting next to you (maybe the head of HR at that company you’ve always wanted to work for or the manager of the hotel your staying at). Being nice and friendly has 2 advantages:
- You may meet someone that you have a real connection with and begin building a lasting, mutually beneficial relationship.
- Being nice makes YOU feel good.
The second one is really important. For example, I am a rather small woman so people’s eyes light up on Southwest flights when they see me as they come down the aisle. This usually means that larger people sit next to me. When this happens, I have 2 choices, be annoyed or accept it. The person isn’t going to move so I might as well accept it and make the best of it. I do my best to make my neighbor feel comfortable. I’ve actually had people thank me after the flight for being nice to them! By being nice, it lightens my mood and makes a difference in how I feel. For that reason alone, it’s worth it. Not to mention that it’s just the right thing to do. While we’re all hurtling through the air at 30,000 feet and 500 miles per hour, I try to remember that we’re all in it together. For better or worse!
I hope these tips help in some way. Please let me know what you do to endure the airplane portion of your trip.