|Waiting to get on my flight to Anchorage|
Traveling stresses people out. I love watching people give one another the stink eye when somebody walks straight up to the horribly organized lines at the gate where every passenger is bottlenecked towards a ticketing agent that is only the beginning setting of your jetting ways. Truth be told, it doesn’t really matter the order that you line up, as we are all going to be on the same plane. Still, for some reason, traveling stirs great fear of being left behind, being left without, or suffering unimaginable discomfort. Out of all of those, the last one is probably the most accurate item.
|I care so much about packing|
I would say the most stressful part of traveling for me is making sure that I arrive to the airport on-time. Perhaps, I wait a little too long and have to speed walk to the train. Or maybe my partner and I didn’t plan the hourly Enterprise Rent-A-Car well, and we got stuck in rush-hour traffic. But what I’ve learned is that most of the time, even if I get to the airport with barely over an hour to get to the gate, I always make it.
The next potentially stressful step of traveling would be the weight of my luggage. I have somehow mastered the 50 pound mark in a piece of luggage that could easily hold 100 pounds or more. I can pick up my luggage and guess within a few pounds whether I will be over or not. Some people need to stand on a scale with their luggage and deduct their weight, but I have only misgauged the weight of my luggage once in the past 3 years. Worst comes to worst, I am so close that I can easily pull one or two items out and inconvenience myself a bit by carrying it around the entire trip. I almost always bring two bags brimming with a mixture of regular clothes, dance clothes, toiletries, and equipment to keep my body running properly. I find that I can keep the weight of my luggage down by limiting toiletries and purchasing them once I arrive on location. Whether the company that I am working for pays for my luggage or not, I generally try to check one bag and drag a carry-on and backpack to the gate.
|Economy jet-setter < Casual Traveler|
Now that you’ve put everything together and you’ve waited in line watching people roll their eyes, huffing and puffing, or on the verge of tears, you will come up to the next TSA agent. They will look at your ID (that you took out before you put your wallet away) and ticket. I never really understand what they are doing up there. Whether profiling, thinking about dinner, or just making sure that you have proper documentation, I don’t know. But what I do know is that you should at least try to look like you don’t have anything to hide. A smile and a, “Hello. How are you,” might not hurt either. After you are either approved or thrown into a holding cell (joking), you will be pushed towards a line to have your bags and body scanned. Grab two containers. Throw your laptop in one and your shoes/jacket/hoodie/other personal items in the other one. Make sure you put your computer bag in the scanner first, followed by your computer, your personal items, then any carry-on luggage. You can then choose to let some random trained personnel in another room who has seen a thousand outlines of people’s body parts each week look at a scan of your body or do a thorough pat down. I’d rather somebody ogle my shadowy goodies than have them pat down with rubber gloves. Once you get the green light to collect your items, rush over to the scanner and hope that you remembered to remove that canister of mace you keep in your bookbag because your boyfriend is paranoid about you walking the streets alone. Now that you see your items, you are ready to quickly throw everything that you meticulously pulled out back together. I always put my book bag in the scanner first because I don’t want to hold onto my computer while I’m waiting for my book bag to come out. If things start to take awhile, I can throw my shoes, hoodie, and hat back on. Your big carry on should be last because you likely haven’t taken anything out of it. Grab and go.
Once you’ve collected your personal belongings, it is now time to dash towards your gate to wait for an hour and a half because you were nervous that you might not make it to your gate in 2 hours. I always opt for a relaxing walk around the airport. Maybe I’ll find a nice view, a store I’ve never heard of, or an outlet to charge my phone or computer before my oft cross-country flight. Every once in awhile, I run into somebody I know. This method usually helps me feel as if I have yet to begin a potentially long travel day. I do my best to feel like I am just going about a normal day, like walking through a mall. In fact, I try to arrive at my gate within minutes of the boarding time for my flight. Sometimes, I’ll even wait until after the called time to arrive. Once you arrive at the gate, you feel like you are committed. And beyond that, there is rarely a good place to sit, other than the floor, during those moments prior to boarding.
Now they have started to make boarding announcements and have slowly crept from calling military, those with children, or those with disabilities to first class, air mile program members, and whomever else they feel like treating better than we economy jet-setters. Airlines usually like to put stowage on the plane first, and believe you me, ballet dancers never fly first-class, business, or economy-preferred. While your boarding number may have been called, you don’t necessarily have to board with your group. You will not be denied access because you didn’t follow the crowd. Anyway, why would you want to be first on a plane only to sit and watch everybody else get on the flight after you. The last thing I want to do is increase the amount of time that I have to sit in, perhaps, the most uncomfortable chair manufactured next to an electric chair? While a majority of my fellow flyers are performing the stink-eyed bottleneck dance that I earlier referred to, I’m sitting in one of those newly emptied seats at the gate shortening the duration of my flight.
When I finally muster up the energy to drag my carry-on to the gate, I execute one of the best tricks an economy jet-setter has. Most people feel like they need to have their carry-on by their sides all the way to their destination. I have seen grown adults act like this is their childhood “blankey.”I have actually seen people in tears over being torn apart from their beloved baggage. But the way I see it is exactly as it sounds. Baggage! I don’t need any extra baggage. Especially, if my dearest employer wanted to save a few pennies and has me connecting at a hub airport with less than 30 minutes for my next departure. While others stomp their feet and act like babies, I always walk up to the counter and offer to check my carry-on to my destination to save their precious overhead space. The truth is, I’ve only had my luggage lost once or twice. And it was never really a crisis. I always got it in the end. And while, maybe I could have more options to occupy myself on my flight in my carry-on, I almost always bring too much entertainment. So, I check my bag at the gate, which is almost always met with a “thank you” from the tired of the same old story airline staff. In the end, what nobody realizes is that I just pulled a fast one on them. I actually packed my carry-on with all of my heavier clothes, like jeans, jackets, sweatshirts, etc. My drag-bag is actually heavier per-capita than my larger checked luggage. My other luggage was under 50 pounds because of this tactic and I only had to pay to check one of my bags. Very sneaky, right?
Now that I have dropped the ball-and-chain of my carry-on, I walk onto the airplane with a light and airy smile upon my face knowing that I won’t have to run to that next terminal with luggage dragging behind me. I calmly sit in my seat, look around at the rest of the flight, finally taking a deep breath, and beg to whatever god I don’t believe in that nobody sits next to me. This rarely happens, but it’s worth having some hope in life. Before everybody sits down, I check my airline magazine to see if the crossword has been done. And if it has, I sneakily check the other seats before my flight companions take their seats. I pop in my earbuds, start playing some music, and think about how much I would rather be home with my hubby right now.
|My scarf sleeping trick|
Now that you’ve fallen asleep comfortably and shortened the strain of a tedious flight, welcome to your glorious jet-setting destination. Take pictures for Instagram. Post jet-setting statuses to Facebook. And be sure to let people know that you are getting paid to live this facade of a glamorous lifestyle. But all kidding aside, traveling isn’t really that stressful. If your flight is delayed or, even, cancelled, you will be fine. If your luggage doesn’t show up, you will make do. If you’re luggage is overweight, you’ll find a way to make it under or pay the extra fee. For those that travel infrequently, even the most minor hiccups can bring a surge of adrenaline and put one on the defense. But in all reality, you are about 99% going to end up where you are supposed to be, around the time you are supposed to be, with all of your belongings. Oh, and that lucky middle seat that is empty next to me? I kindly asked the father behind me to switch seats with his little bundle of joy, as to stop the 3 hour kicking rampage I have incurred. With this post; you win, I win, we all win! Cheers to the jet-setting life!