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Travelogue : Tips to achieve inflight zen

Have you seen the movie Non-Stop? It has Liam Neeson in it doing what he does best, that is to look all serious and broody and conflicted. Trust me guys, I would never get into a flight with that guy, he is simply bad luck, with that serious face. The other reason why the movie bothered me so much is because of a scene where he fights with one of the accused villains in the ECONOMY CLASS and during the fight, the villain falls down between the seat in the next rows. and guess what? HE DISAPPEARS! How did a guy manage to disappear in the cattle class where it is difficult to even cross and uncross your legs. Try dropping something between the seats and trying to pick that up. I would rather dip my hand in that hot(lukewarm) cup of coffee that they serve in-flight.
The point is, flights are uncomfortable, messy and leave you with the sensation of having been digested in a whale’s stomach. I have taken a lot of long distance flights, with my longest flight ever being 18 hours from New York City to Mumbai, India, as well as domestic flights from East Coast to West Coast. I have learned to deal with the in-flight discomfort with some of my travel tricks. Many of these tricks are common to roadtrips too that I take many times. It becomes equally irritating in cars, specially when you are with company in the back seats and cannot lie down and promptly doze off. Sharing with you some tidbits that may help you stay calm and not kill the person next to you hogging your armrest.

  • Neck pillow: I had been putting off buying this for the longest time because I always thought of better things to do with $20. But on my last flight to India, I had to take a redeye to NYC, endure a 5 hour layover and then to Abu Dhabi before I could step foot at homeland. I got so uncomfortable on my first flight that as soon as I got to JFK, I bought one, and promptly went off to sleep on a small couch that I found near my gate. It is a savior, you guys!
  • Moisturizer, lip balm, small hairbrush: I am obsessed with lip balms thanks to sometimes single digit humidity in Southern California. My lips and palms are somehow always parched and it simply gets worse in flights with the controlled air. I always keep a small tube of moisturizer and lipbalm to hydrate my skin. A flight is far more comfortable if your lips don’t feel like Sahara dessert. The only reason I carry a hairbrush is to not scare the poor immigration officer and the person who volunteers to pick me up at airports. Long hair don’t take much time to look like a bird’s nest. This is also where those samples from Sephora, Ulta and magazines come in handy.
  • A book/Kindle: Time flies(literally) when you have a trusty book with you. My Kindle is one thing I never ever forget on a journey. I have more affection for a nice paperback or hardcover, but an eReader makes life easier when space and weight is a constraint. The seemingly immortal battery life is a definite plus when your phone fails to make the cute(looking at you iPhone!)
  • Sugar candy and baby food pouches: Now this is one strange tip that I picked up after having a couple of flights where I got really hangry. I buy a few of those fruit puree baby food pouches because they take minimal space and make a tasty vegetarian/vegan snack in a crunch. The hard-boiled sugar candies are good to suck on during takeoff and landings because they stimulate the salivary gland and prevent your ears from that painful popping. They are also useful if you are around a crying kid. Win-win for both. Do ask the parents first.
  • Socks: It would be rather nice to just wear flipflops for a flight, but I get very cold easily and for some reason angry when I am cold. I have to wear a pair of cozy socks and Toms so that I am comfy and warm. Many international flights do give socks in their flight kits though.
  • Oversized hoodie: Like I mentioned earlier, I get cold easily and the flight blanket covers either my neck or my toes. So to avoid losing my temper at the poor blanket, I just like to wear a hoodie that will cover my ears and neck snugly while the blanket keeps my legs and toes toasty.
  • Phone charger, headphones: It is always nice to carry your own headphones in case they work with the in-flight entertainment system. You can even listen to your own music and watch videos on the phone. I always have the phone charging cable, and a portable charging bank because I don’t trust my phone to last the whole time. It also helps to carry a long 10 ft charger cable if you have long layovers. Throw in a multiple USB charger if you are looking for blessings from people trying to find empty sockets.
  • A small bag: If you have a carryon and a personal item, I try to carry just a small drawstring bag or a sling bag. my bag usually fits all the items mentioned above snugly and it takes up minimum space under the seat. With the baby sized legspace that airlines give you, the last thing you want is a backpack taking up that area. Sometimes I carry this drawstring bag inside a backpack(that has even more stuff) that I put in the luggage bin, so that I have my essentials on me and rest of the stuff overhead. 

This list should help you travel more comfortably I hope and will keep you calm and stress-free. Let me know if you have anything to add here. Anything to make me not feel like Hulk in my next flight, is greatly appreciated. Meanwhile, go on tripping.com to check out some great deals on vacation rentals and start planning your next trip. I am already thinking about Florida this year and I see they have amazing beach rentals. Go ahead, get hold of a cute bungalow, book that flight and start packing your bags!

Happy travels!