“Travel is only glamorous in retrospect.” - Paul Theroux
As I began to prepare for a lengthy family vacation ahead, I found these words truer than ever. Honestly, as hard as we try to make our trips fabulous and Travel Channel-worthy, it never quite works out. Dad forgets the passports, Mom’s inability to walk quickly leads to a missed connection, the seats are so uncomfortable you can’t feel your butt for days after and the security line nearly pushes you over the edge. Our sense of glamour is lost in the baggage claim or stuffed into the overhead bins, and we’re left trying to make it all bearable. Nevertheless, I like to think I’ve acquired some knowledge through my years of travel mishaps. Here is some advice to allow your travel experiences to verge on the pleasant side.
1. Don’t dress up.
Unless you are some sort of businessperson or a member of the Kardashian family, there is absolutely no reason to look good on the airplane or while traveling in general. Seriously, you don’t want to be that person. You know, the one who looks photo-shoot ready after a six-hour flight. First of all, it’s just obnoxious. Second, it is completely unnecessary. Traveling is one of the only times in your life when you can justify looking completely terrible. No one is allowed to judge you, because chances are they’re looking pretty bad themselves.
2. Don’t wear any jewelry.
I guess this goes along with the “don’t dress up” rule, but some people don’t view wearing their entire jewelry collection as “dressing up.” Do us all a favor and don’t wear anything that can set off the metal detectors. We get it, you're trying to rock the whole “2 chainz” look, but it won't be worth it when a security guard is groping you. And everyone is just going to hate you for holding up the line. No one wants to stand there as you remove 20 pounds of metal from your body, and your mom will never forgive you if you lose that hideous family heirloom by leaving it loose in a bin.
3. Wear slip-on shoes.
Please, spare us all the hassle of waiting for you for 30 minutes in the security line as you remove your footwear. Traveling is not the time to wear your knee-high, lace-up combat boots or your new “sneaks” that have 20 different straps. Wear a pair of shoes that you can remove in less than 10 seconds. You’ll be doing yourself and everyone around you a favor.
4. Bring your toiletries.
C’mon, you’re human. And if you’re sitting in a confined space for multiple hours, you are going to start smelling. Please accept this fact, and address it. I won’t lie, sometimes the walk from your seat to the bathroom seems like a trail of tears. You start thinking to yourself, Does my breath really smell that bad? And the answer is always YES. But there are solutions for your laziness. Bring loads of breath mints, gum and really anything that changes the odor in your mouth. Also, bring any toiletry that doesn’t require a bathroom. Face wipes, wisps, chapstick, deodorant. You can use all of those things in the comfort of your seat. But if you muster up the energy, you can move that party to the bathroom.
5. Bring spare clothing.
Bring an extra shirt or underwear in your carry-on. I know this seems like something a mother would do for her semi-potty-trained toddler, but I promise you it will be worth it. You may think you’ll never be one of those people that gets stranded in the airport for two days or who misses multiple connections, but it happens to the best of us. And when it does, you’ll be amazed at how much of a difference a fresh pair of underwear or a clean shirt can make.
6. Movies and music are your best friends.
Don’t forget your in-flight entertainment. Honestly, this is a good chance to watch whatever the heck you want. Download every single season of the “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” Watch countless episodes of “Vampire Diaries.” Turn up the Taylor Swift. I’m sure some wandering eyes will judge you but chances are you really won’t care because, well, you’ll never see them again.
7. Be nice.
DO NOT mess with the flight attendants or anybody who works in the airport or in other places of transportation. Your comfort, and in some cases, your life is in their hands. Before you try to make that funny joke or be crabby because of the slow service, think to yourself Is this worth it? Is it worth getting mad at the flight attendant for her slow service if she refuses to serve you for the rest of the flight (even when your mouth is as dry as the Sahara desert)? Believe me, based on personal experience, I am telling you it is not. Also, customs officials have ZERO sense of humor so don’t even bother trying to make them crack a smile. They can and will prevent you from entering their country.
8. Get on your seat grind.
Whether you’re flying, taking the train or carpooling, scout out the best spot to make your temporary nest. The first thing I do when I get on a flight is search for the seats that will probably remain vacant until takeoff. This requires a lot of trolling and creeping on other people. And I won’t lie, it can get intense. Not everyone is cut out for it (seat scouting has resulted in altercations involving violence with airplane pillows and blankets). But if you manage to score an entire row to yourself, you can die knowing you’ve accomplished something great. You will be the Donald Trump of that airplane.
9. Prepare for sleepy time.
Now, I do not condone the use of any illegal drugs. Drugs are bad! Stay away! But I’m a strong supporter of the use of any over-the-counter medicine that can knock you out during your travel time. Sitting in a moving vehicle for hours is exhausting, uncomfortable and just an overall terrible experience. What is the best way to pass the time quickly?…SLEEP. My medicine of choice is NyQuil. I take the proper dosage, and sometimes I’m lucky enough to sleep until arrival time. So, find the medicine that puts you to sleep, and cuddle up close to it during your long journey.
10. Differentiate your bag.
Every single bag looks the same. Unless you’re one of those paranoid weirdos that get their bag saran-wrapped, you probably have a pretty average-looking suitcase. The last thing anyone wants to do after a long flight is go on a scavenger hunt for his or her bag. So do yourself a favor and make your bag an individual. Do whatever you want. Maybe you want to add some bows. Maybe you want to practice your graffiti skills on it. Whatever tickles your fancy; just make sure you can spot it from across the room.