Monday, February 9, 2009

The 1-2-3's of Travel Essentials.

There are certain rituals that every frequent traveler performs before a departure. Some travelers come prepared, with TSA approved carry-ons, carefully organized travel documents and the comfort of knowing the ins and outs of airport protocol. Others are an absolute wreck. You can always spot the travelers who are completely oblivious to the rules and regulations of air travel. They're the ones who pack a gallon of milk in their carry-on and argue with security agents about the absurdity of the TSA's 3-1-1 guidelines (3 ounce containers in a 1 quart clear plastic ziploc bag, 1 bag per passenger). They forget to remove their shoes and walk through the metal detecters wearing more gold jewelry than Mr. T. 

No one wants to start a trip by arguing with the TSA over carry-on liquids or be behind someone in line who is. Over the years, I have developed a system for air travel that maximizes efficiency, reduces stress and ensures my comfort throughout the flight.

1. Utilize Your Airline's Website.
You will be surprised with the services you can find on your airline's website. If possible, sign up for free text message updates. The airline will automatically text your cell phone to inform you of delays or cancellations with your flight. Other family members can also utilize the website to check on your flight status for effortless arrival pickups - all they will need is your flight number. Another great service provided on most airline websites is the ability to check-in online up to 24 hours in advance of your departure time. Most online check-in services include the ability to pick seats, update frequent flyer information, prepay baggage fees and print boarding passes. Also, when at all possible, be sure to check your luggage curbside. Be ready to pay a little extra - you will have to pay a nominal fee for the service, in addition to tipping your luggage handler. But trust me, this will save you time at the busy ticket counter, which in some cases could be the difference between making your flight or missing it!

2. Dress For Comfort. 

There's nothing worse than being on a transcontinental flight in uncomfortable fitting clothes. I have several items that I always bring with me and consider indispensable for air travel. Most of the following apply to the women - but the overall sentiment crosses all gender lines. 
{The Pashmina}
I've come to realize that not everyone knows what a 'pashmina' is, but I will tell you, it's purposeful variety makes it perfect for travel. A pashmina is a shawl approximately 28" by 80" made of light-weight cashmere. The pashmina can be used in place of a blanket, for chilly cabin temperatures, as a head covering for unexpected rain and even as a way to block out cabin light and noise during red-eye flights. When not being used for any of these purposes, the pashmina can be easily worn around the neck as a scarf or attached to the handles of your luggage. 
{Ballet Flats}
I love being able to take my shoes off during a flight. Not to mention the ease of going through TSA security. Although you wouldn't want the sweaty man sitting next to you to take off his shoes mid-flight, the responsibility of podiatry hygiene lies with you. 
{I Pod}
This one is a no-brainer. With recent technology allowing for thousands of songs, playlists and even full length movies to be accessed from the super skinny I Pod, it has become my favorite travel companion. Although it's not technically clothing - I consider it to be an extension of my fashion! Please be aware that although having an I Pod is a great way to avoid interacting with your neighbors on the plane, it won't stop anyone from tapping on your shoulder and asking you where you're from, where you're going and why...
{Carry-On Luggage}
Do yourself a favor and bring a carry-on. You'll thank yourself when you still have all your essentials, even after the airline loses your luggage (knock-on-wood). My Diane von Furstenberg carry-all was given to me as a gift by my oldest sister. It's small enough to be unobtrusive in the cabin, yet large enough to carry all my travel goodies. I can even tuck it under my seat as my allowed personal item and bring a larger carry-on if needed, to avoid those extra 'checked luggage fees' the airlines are charging these days.

3. Pay Attention. 

Know where you're going, what gate your plane is leaving from and where you are sitting. While at the gate, it's always a good idea to pay attention to the announcements and be aware of when your boarding section will be called. By being one of the first in line for your section, you avoid the risk of missing out on precious overhead compartment space - and having to unwillingly check your carry-on luggage. If you forget to request seating and end up stuck in a middle seat between the 'I don't understand personal space' twins, take a look around the cabin. Ask a flight attendant if there are any available seats. If there are - they will be more than happy to let you switch to something more comfortable. Also, if you happen to be in the armed services, it's always a good idea to travel in uniform - you'll more than likely be bumped up to First Class for no charge. 

Wishing you the very best on all your future travels! I hope you've found my travel tips to be helpful! xoxo. 

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