I am by no means a true frequent flyer, but 2016 is shaping up to be my personal Year of Travel. I've already taken eight flights and a handful of train trips equalling over 80 hours of travel time, and I've got at least four more flights before the year is over. Though I'd previously done a decent amount of traveling, this is the year I finally got smart about surviving the sometimes endless journeys. With a little pre-planning and investing in the right tools and gear, I took a huge step in making my time on a train or airplane a bit more comfortable.
* Reusable and collapsible water bottle - this collapsable water bottle is my no.1 smartest purchase of the year. While bringing an empty water bottle to the airport is a no-brainer (fill it up after security at a water fountain to save yourself some $$ and the environment from another discarded plastic bottle), the collapsible nature of my bottle means I'm no longer carrying around the weight of an empty bottle. Granted, it's not as pretty as some of the "fashion" bottles out there (because we need water to be fashionable?), but at 3oz in weight, I'll take it over your 11oz Swell bottle any day.
* Clean socks on long flights - I love taking my shoes off on long flights. I often sit cross-legged in the seat and for obvious reasons, don't like to do so with shoes on. However, my go-to transit shoes are a pair of Tom's (they're flat, comfortable, and quiet, and perfect for this 32-going-on-62-year-old) - but thanks to my smelly feet I need to wear little nude socklettes with them. The socklettes are great underneath the shoes, but not so much as stand-alone socks. Cue a fresh pair of clean, white cotton socks. I'm not sure why, but there's nothing so refreshing as putting on a pair of socks just as you're settling in for a long winter's flight. I don't necessarily do this for quick trips to Chicago, but by hour 4 of my 10-hour flight to Hawaii? So glad I added a pair of socks to my carry-on.
* Snack attack - I do not care what time it is in New York or what time it will be in California. If I'm hungry I'm hungry (and if I'm hungry I'm cranky), and the airplane is not the place for me to reset my internal clock. If you're unlike me and use the flight to get yourself on "local time" then you must be a robot and please tell me your secrets now. I've learned (the hard way) to always have a snack or three on hand. Subsequently, I've decided that I am too old and fancy to eat like I'm at an airport just because I happen to be at an airport. So remember: as long as it isn't a liquid, you can get it through security. A giant bagel with artisanal cream cheese, a Tupperware full of fresh blueberries, or a DIY cheese and cracker plate will not only sustain you beyond Delta's idea of a dinner, it'll also make you feel downright posh.
* Wrap it up - I make sure to pack a scarf, sweater, or a Turkish towel in my carry-on, even if I'm going to Mexico in June. That flying metal tube can get mighty chilly, and even if you're not cold per se, it's sometimes nice to wrap yourself in something soft and comforting.
* Charge it - I've mentioned this before, but I recently invested in a second set of all my charging cables/plugs/cubes/doohickeys. While it's certainly not necessary, it is a tiny luxury to not have to undo my at-home charger situation every time I travel. I now have a ready-to-go baggie of all the cords I need for all my devices and have shaved at least a few minutes off that dreaded packing process.
* Go analogue - even though I do my due diligence and save PDFs of important documents and correspondence to both my Dropbox and email, it's often very helpful to have a physical printout of a few of those documents. Itineraries, contact info, and maps are all things I need to have at the ready - and I don't want to wait for my phone to turn on, recharge, or find a strong signal to access this info. And, because I'm an adult and it looks bad to use crumpled papers pulled out of the bottom of my bag, I store everything of this ilk in a slim, old-school folder. It's lightweight and doesn't take up any extra room but does wonders for my overall organization level. Also - I add an empty #10 envelope to the folder for any receipts I need to save for reimbursement purposes. The last thing I want to do is scramble to find a random $3 parking lot receipt that I know I put here somewhere but can't find so I guess I'll just eat the cost. No way.
Are you a frequent traveler? What tricks have you picked up over the years?