I have been known to throw a pity party or two in my day, wallowing in my problem du jour. And it just so happens that I was throwing myself my own personal pity party while standing in the security line in Logan airport about 30 minutes ago.
I consider myself a pretty well-versed traveler: I always have my laptop out ahead of time, purposely wear easy to take off shoes and skip the belt, and I fear holding up the line so much that I don’t even bother with liquids. So when I get stuck behind the five or six people in the entire country who apparently haven’t heard the rules, I tend to get a little antsy. Foot-tapping, knuckle-cracking. You know the look. Add into that mix the only TSA officers I’ve encountered in the last 3 or 4 years who seemed genuinely mean and not just fed up with their jobs and, well, I was a cranky traveler.
However, I had the luck of getting stuck between a family of five on one of the moving walkways. Two toddlers running ahead, one standing terror-stricken on the moving walkway, a frustrated mother (of the “Everyone hold onto the leash” variety), and a father sweating as he pushed a stack of strollers and car seats.
Needless to say, I got a nice little dose of perspective. As many flights as I’ve taken in the last few years (particularly with the introduction of a cross-country LDR into my life), I still need to remind myself sometimes that as an able-bodied 20-something traveling alone I’ve got it pretty good.
I realize I haven’t been the best about posting as regularly as I’d like to, but the aforementioned travel has been getting in the way of that. Before it was trains, today is planes, hopefully I can work in a boat one of these days. I’ll leave you with some of my personal airport travel essentials.
Travel Essentials: Flying Edition
- Magazines: I always thought I’d outgrow my inability to read a book during takeoff, but I haven’t, so I always stick with magazines. Plus, they’re one of those things you can read and then pass off to the next guy. My magazine selections have gotten me more than a few weird looks in the airport, since I can usually be found with side-by-side copies of Self, Vanity Fair, Cosmo, GQ and The Economist.
- Snacks: On days like today where I have 12 hours of travel it’s impossible for me to pack enough food to tide me over the whole time, but if I can I like to pack some food and avoid paying $15 for a bottle of water and a sandwich. I’m a big fan of bringing wraps, grapes and carrots, as those tend to be the foods that get me the least nasty looks from people around me who have to hear/see/smell me eating my food.
- Gum: Duh.
- Hand Sanitize & Vitamins: Okay I’m totally not a germophobe in my everyday life, but travel brings out that side of me. I get into an airport and I can just feel my throat tighten up. So it’s really the only time that I’m obsessive about hand-washing (I may or may not have washed my hands twice and used hand sanitizer three times in the hour and a half I’ve been here) and staying healthy.
- Sweatshirt: I don’t know who controls the temperature on planes but I am never colder than when I’m on a plane (and the trains aren’t much better). I’m highly appreciative of the fact that when it’s the middle of a New England heat wave I don’t have to sit in sweltering heat on the plane, but it does make it difficult to dress appropriately when it’s 85 degrees outside and 60 on the plane. After a particularly frigid Philly to Providence flight I learned my lesson and always carry a sweatshirt.
- Entertainment: I’ll admit that more than a few times I’ve packed my bag heavy with books and iPods and sketchbooks only to fall asleep immediately on the flight. But there’s also nothing worse than being 3 hours into a 6.5 hour flight and running out of things to do. At that point you either have to pay for some crappy airplane movie (oh hey, Wrath of the Titans) or try your best to sleep. Which brings me to…
- Neck Pillow: For the last 21 years of my life, or somewhere thereabouts, I’ve thought those neck pillows sold in airports were a sham. Clearly they just need more ways to suck you of your money while your stuck in the airport. I bought one on a recent 6 AM flight, however, and I’m a convert. They honestly making sleeping on the plane so much easier, even if you’re a window-sleeper like me (face plastered against the window, drool sliding down your cheek). I bought the ugliest color I could find for $10 and I would pay twice that for the amount of sleep it has helped me get.
It’s time to board, so I have to start in on the first leg of my San Francisco flight and then make a mad dash through the Newark airport to make my connection. Can’t wait. Hope everyone else’s summer travel goes okay, and just remember: at least you aren’t the dad pushing the strollers trying not to lose his kids-on-a-leash. Or, more importantly, at least you’re not the kid-on-a-leash.