Saturday, May 14, 2011

How do you do that…..Part 4

OK…the bags are packed, the tickets are booked and you are ready for take-off!!!  How can you make those airline hours better……

On most flights you are allowed one carry-on bag and one personal bag.  In the earlier days of our travels, we used every ounce of free luggage that we were allowed and carried a backpack and small suitcase each.   This becomes problematic when you arrive at your destination and each have to pull TWO suitcases, while carrying a backpack.  Make it easier on yourself and limit your bags!!

On an aside….when we moved to Australia back in 1982, we couldn’t afford to ship our stuff.  Back then, you were allowed 3 suitcases each and two carry-ons each.   AND, you could check an extra 3 pieces of luggage with limited additional cost.   SO……we arrived at the airport with 1 suitcase, 10 boxes (weighing between 50 and 70 pounds) and 4 carry on pieces!!!  Sounds crazy to do, but it only cost us about $300 to get everything from Lubbock, Texas to Canberra, Australia!!!!    Mind you, when we returned back to the US….6 years and 2 children later……we shipped over 40 boxes and carried 3 suitcases and a huge Hiking Pack filled to the brim.

I carry  a Swiss Gear computer backpack ……

0072142757231_A this one was purchased initially because it was the only one big enough to hold my laptop.  I have since moved to a smaller computer, but still really like this bag.

These are the items that we always carry with us and do not check…..

- Computer with necessary power cords

- Camera with batteries and cables

- Prescription medicines

- Books (or Kindles)….by the way, we bought one with the idea of sharing, but then fought over who got to read it so we have a second one winging its way here!!!

  -  Short socks…..  I take my shoes off as soon as I get onto the plane and put on socks.   They are comfortable and keep my feet warm.

I also carry a small, zippered bag that has the things that I might use during the flight…… puzzle books, reading glasses, Kindle, Nintendo DS (I LOVE games), I-Pod (for music and podcasts), small packet of Kleenex, and lightweight jacket.   This bag will fit into the large pocket of my backpack, but I take it out as soon as we get to our seats.  That way the big pack can go into an overhead bin.   I use a zippered bag since I lost my reading glasses (prescription ones) because they dropped out of an open bag.

We normally take a few snacks with us, but have started limiting them somewhat.   We DO try to find a place to buy a Sub Sandwich and take that on the plane with us.  We eat it sometime during the flight and try to avoid the airline food as much as possible.   Our favorite layover is in Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris because we can get wonderful French Bread sandwiches.

We also avoid alcohol on the flights and try to limit our caffeine intake….we have found that this helps us to get over Jet-Lag upon arrival.    Also, it is important to stay hydrated on the plane!!

Speaking of Jet Lag, we have learned that it is important to stay up on the first day….even if you fall into bed at 7:00pm……DONT TAKE A NAP!!!!  Also, it helps greatly to get out into the fresh air and sunshine.    (On our first day in Italy, we had a late dinner with some friends and fell into bed THIRTY EIGHT hours after we had woken up the day before.)

We always ask for an Emergency Exit row.  These are wonderful because you can stretch your legs out in front of you and the chair in front of you cant push back into your lap.  You don’t always get them, but they are wonderful when you do.

During the flight, Michael and I have different strategies.   He reads and works on his computer and seldom naps.  I tend to watch the movies, read, play games and nap.   I used to worry when I couldn’t sleep on a flight, but have finally relaxed with the idea that I wont die from lack of sleep.  Since coming to grips with this, I have found that I often sleep for several hours on the flight.

It is also important to get up during the flight and walk around.   I sat for 14 hours one time and my legs hurt and had Charley-Horses for several days.   I wont do that again!!!!

As for dressing for the flight, I was once told that you should always wear baggy, comfortable clothes (think ….jogging suit) and tennis shoes.    We do wear comfortable clothes but prefer to stay somewhat fashionable!!!!   My clothing of choice are Capri pants and a short sleeve shirt.

My best advice for airline travel is to just “go-with-the-flow”.  We once flew into Los Angeles and found out that our flight to Australia had been canceled.  We had a slightly longer layover, but ended up on a Qantas flight that was much nicer.  We also ended up spending the night in the Newark Airport which could have been a disaster.  Instead, we  sat in a McDonald’s and chatted with the other weary travelers who were in the same situation. 

Finally, be sure that you are kind to the people behind the desks!!!  On one flight where the kids and I were delayed over 6 hours, the ticket agent took one look at the line of angry passengers behind us and promptly closed his booth and personally walked us to our terminal.  AND, one  attendant (once she heard that we had been in the airport all night)  moved us onto a flight where we were only on stand- by.  As we walked past I heard her say…."I hope the ticketed passenger doesn’t show up now”.

So…..take off……and have fun!!!!

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