Its that time of year again....the Holidays! Which means crowds, over booked and canceled flights. Be ready with your airport survival kit.
I travel for work a lot. I'm on a flight somewhere at least once a week and I've been through it all. Here is an easy kit to put together and throw in your carry on that will make your travels a bit easier when (note I didn't say 'if') plans get delayed.
Step 1: The Carry On
I always check a big bag and go with a small backpack as a carry on. Bigger is not better. You want a bag big enough to get what you need in, but small enough to go under your seat. There is never enough overhead space for luggage and if you are not among the first half of those to board, you are putting it under the seat in front of you. If its too big to go under your seat it gets gate checked to your final destination, and that sucks.
Im sure some of you are thinking "the airlines always lose your bag". Not true. I have had 1 bag in the past year that didn't arrive with my flight. I knew it was going to happen because my connecting flight was late and I just made it to my plane. They drove it 55 miles to my hotel that afternoon. Out of 147 flights I was on this year Id say that's pretty good odds.
Step 2: What Goes In
I have broken the necessities as follows:
Lets start with clothing. A quick change is nice to have if you are stuck in an airport overnight or your luggage didn't follow you. The refreshing feeling of clean brightens your day and attitude.....more on attitude later.
Shirt, socks, skivvies and Jacket. Pretty simple. Lay out a shirt, place underwear and socks and roll.
A light jacket, tucked and rolled into its hood is not only compact, but makes for a nice pillow.
Step 3: Hygiene
Hygiene products I have are basic. Deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, tissues, razor and a small bottle of conditioner.
Wait what? Conditioner? Really? Yep! Conditioner servers a couple of great purposes. First as a hair style product. Great for that morning hair. Wet hands, dab a little on them and run through your hair and look refreshed. Second as a skin moisturizer. Third as a a shaving gel. Gives a slick shave and leave skin soft.
Remember to put liquids in a 1 quart plastic bag for security screening.
Other items to consider are personal and can be adjusted as needed.
Step 4: Medical
No need for a full blown first aid kit. A couple of bandages, some over the counter pain management pills and any prescription meds you may require. I always recommend antacids, because with heightened frustration and airport food and coffee, you will need it.
Step 5: Tools
Like anything, everyone has their favorite tools. Here are mine.
Small adjustable wrench
And a Pen
You can also take the blade off your favorite multi-tool, but put it in an outside pocket to easily pull out and show the TSA. They inspect all multi tools. Do not put your tools all in one spot. Looks confusing in the x-ray and they will search your bag.
Why all the tools? I'm a dork and feel naked without them. Besides, every one of those tools have come in handy while traveling. I have repaired luggage, tightened up a desk I was working at in my hotel room, fixed my laptop, helped countless others along the way.
Step 6: Power
Outlets in the airport are prime real estate. People squat on these parcels and never move. So be prepared. Of course need your phone charger and cable. A portable battery pack is also handy.
The best power accessory to have is a multi port extension cord. You will make friends when you whip one out and allow others to plug in.
Try to find a wall outlet. I have checked voltage at some of those charging kiosk's. Some of them were only rolling 100V~. That's why your wall wart gets so hot at those stations.
Step 7: Tactics
If your flight is delayed or cancelled, don't freak out. The attendants have no control of the weather or the maintenance issues of the plane. Yelling, snarky comments or demanding action or refunds will get you nowhere.
The airline will re-book you to your destination. Being super sweet or cooperative wont get you special treatment, but the attendants will be more willing to hook you up if they can. Unlike in restaurants where they spit in your food for a bad attitude, in the airport, they make sure you don't get on the earliest flight out.
If you sign up for the frequent flier programs and download their apps, you will automatically be re-booked and notified if a flight is canceled, most of the time moments before they announce it at the gate. That info is critical, because going up to the podium is useless, you have already been re-booked on the next best available flight, Use that time to stake out a power outlet, or book a hotel or rental car before the masses stampede.
Speaking of apps...
There are tons of travel apps out there. My favorite is FlightBoard. It gives real time info on arrivals and departures for any airport. Simple to use and accurate.
Hotel apps are OK, but a Google search and a good old fashioned phone call will snag you a place to sleep quicker than an app.
Rental car apps (I frequent Hertz) absolutely rock. I have reserved a car walking up to the counter on the app, they look at my drivers license and hand me my keys.
Step 8: Closing Thoughts
I know it can frustrating, but relax, use your survival tools wisely, go with the flow and have fun with it.
Happy and safe travels.