small changes can lead to big differences.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

traveling tips for infrequent fliers.

Most days, you'll find me like this: 

I am usually a very happy flight attendant. But some days, I look like this: 

Travelers and crew members have those days too, you know? Especially when you find out that those three flights you were gonna work are now cancelled because the plane decides not to work correctly. 

Moving on, there are many different ways and things I bring with me when I go to work to cheer me up when things like that happen, or I have a loooooooooong day of flying ahead of me. While airline crews do get a per diem to cover food expenses, it really isn't healthy or practical to buy every meal at the airport. I've come up with a list of must-have items that help me save money, eat better and make me happy. 

1. You need to drink water! Water is the single most important thing to me when I fly. I'm walking around for hours at 37,000 feet so I lose a lot of water. Short story time: a few months ago, on the 3rd day of my trip, I started to get a sore throat. I decided to drink green tea, but only half a litre of water. I woke up the next day practically immobile. I could barely walk, and I couldn't drink or eat anything. I went to the doctor the next day, and I was dehydrated. That's it. The sore throat, headache, fever -- it was all because I had practically no fluids in me whatsoever. That just goes to show how necessary water is - especially when you fly, even if you are just a passenger. 

Save money and bring your own, empty reusable water bottle. Fill it up at one of the many water fountains once you get past security. Water in the airport costs at least $3 a bottle and bottled water is a gimmick anyway as well as terrible for the environment. 

2. I love coffee and tea.. a lot. Starbucks is an awful rip-off, and the airplane coffee is kind of a last-ditch effort for when caffeine is absolutely necessary.. so I fill up at the hotel and bring my own instant coffee as well as my own reusable coffee mug. If you're an obsessive caffeine drinker like myself, bring some of your own tea packets (make sure you bring your favorites! Chai Green Tea by Stash or Jasmine Blossom are my two absolute favorite types!) and perhaps a reusable coffee mug (the amount of starbucks coffee cups people throw away on any given flight disgusts me!) and just ask the nice person behind the counter at any coffee place or starbucks for some hot water. It's free! Starbucks in particular is pretty relaxed about giving you hot water. Dunkin' Donuts or Tim Hortons might be a little stingy with it.. which makes no sense. You can also ask the flight attendants on your flight for hot water, too. This goes for instant coffee as well - Starbucks Via is really not that bad if you pour just the right amount in and use just the correct amount of water. 

3. Please bring snacks. The food in the airports is notoriously expensive and greasy. With a few exceptions, I really won't touch anything in half the airports we go to. (The exceptions are Heidi's in Denver and PotBelly's in Dulles.. as well  as Starbucks but I'm trying to kick the habit!!) Almonds and mixed nuts are always a good choice. Make and bring a huge fruit salad and call that a meal - because it really fills you up! (plus you can feel awesome about your healthy choice all day long!) The bottom line is that airlines rarely give out snacks these days, and you'll be better off by just bringing your own food. 

4. Cold? Bring a blanket. I never travel anywhere without my tiny travel pillow and a blanket. Take it from me: It's hard to control the temperature on an aircraft. I get so many requests on a single flight about the plane being cold. I have asked the pilots twice to warm it up, which they did, and if it's still cold, oh well... it's out of our control. I get so annoyed with people who complain about  not having blankets and pillows on the aircraft. When was the last time you boarded a plane - a regional one, at that - that had a blanket and a pillow on every seat? Oh and we're given blankets - but the same people complaining are the ones who steal the blankets and ruin it for everyone else. So to be safe, just bring your own. Less germs that way, too. 

5. Don't be afraid about your green tagged bags. Our plane is a lot smaller than those 747's and most carry-on items need to go in the cargo compartment for the flight. Therefore, you're handed a green tag and told to leave it on the jetbridge. Most people do this with ease and understand the process, but some people skip the jetbridge altogether and bring the bag on the plane. You're more than welcome to try and fit your bag, but if the flight attendant tells you it's too big, it's probably too big. We practically live on that airplane, you know. 
After your flight, they bring the bags back up to the jetbridge and you basically pick them up where you dropped them off. All you have to do is wait a few minutes against the wall and you'll be on your way. It's no big deal and yes, it's free! 

Anything I missed? Leave a comment! Happy travels and if you have any questions send them my way!

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