Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Airports 101

Okay, so I'm not going to bill myself as an expert on international travel or anything. I am pretty new to the whole adventure, but I have schlepped through Pearson International to parts Not Canada twice in the past six months, so my experience is at least recent.

First off, you want to be as comfortable and as compact as possible. I am well known in my intimate writing circles as one of those crazy authors who likes to edit. It is a good principle to apply when packing for international flights. Edit, edit, edit.

Folks, hotels have everything you need in terms of hygiene, and if you require something specific, budget a trip to the local pharmacy when  you get there. Seriously. you have to check all those liquids, and why take the chance they'll end up all over your carefully packed evening wear and cute pj's? Use what the hotel has, or buy it. Because I promise you, there is nothing quite like opening your suitcase and finding your clothes are covered in shampoo. It's a special moment of discovery, I promise you.

Pack your purse and put all your essentials in your laptop bag. One carry on, one suitcase. Trust me on this one. Sooo much easier.

As for comfort, dangling jewelry? Pack it. Don't wear it. Tight belts? Same. Doc Martins? Comfy? Yes. Convenient? um...NO.

The girl operating the x-ray thingamagigy will laugh her ass off as you struggle to unlace the 14 hole Docs and get those stinky suckers off your feet. The guy in line behind you? Will be much less amused, believe me.

Next, if at all possible, and if it's necessary, caffeinate yourself before you get there, even if it means getting up a half hour early to brew a pot or stop on the way. Trying to juggle bags and tickets and passports and a hot cup of coffee is, shall we say, less than fun. And if you haven't injected enough of the elixir of life into your bloodstream by that point, it's also bound to end in disaster. Once you're on the plane, if you're still desperate, they will give you coffee for free. Just ask for extra cream and sugar, because, um, yeah, best to mask the actual taste as much as possible.

When boarding, best get yourself through all the line ups first. Once done with the paperwork and bag checking, you're better off to have an infinity of time at the gate, where you can eat, drink, read and/or write at leisure than to, say, look at your ticket as you're sitting down to a bagel and coffee and realize our plane boards fifty minutes sooner than you remembered it did, and that you have less than half an hour to get to your gate. That scenario sucketh. (Which also brings up the point: Remember to actually look at your boarding pass as you are planning your arrival at the airport, so the above scenario does not occur in the first place.)

So I hope a few of these hints and tips will be useful to you. I can tell you, they would have been useful to me before the fact. Now? I'm keeping a list.

Happy travels, y'all! Pop in on your way out and share some of your better airport moments, won't you?

20 comments:

Anthology Authors said...

The shampoo/conditioner at the hotels turn my hair into knots, so I bring the small bottles of my own. To prevent the scene you describe, I take a small piece of Saran Wrap, or that cling stuff, and put it over the top of the opened shampoo and/or conditioner container. I screw the lid back on, and, voila, even if the bottle pops open in flight, it will not spill on your clothes. I learned this from my mom. You can do this for lotion as well. I put toothpaste into a Ziplock plastic bag.

Lily and I just went on a trip to San Antonio. I had one carry on and a suitcase. She had one carryon. That was it. Like you, I am a light packer. If I could, I'd go with one bag period. (g) When I was young, I could. Not any longer. (g)

Anthology Authors said...

Oh, and a large bottle of water in the airport is $6. O.o However, you can no longer bring your own. (sigh) Highway robbery!

Jaime Samms said...

I did this trick, Marci. I can only assume something heavy was placed on top of my suitcase, as when I opened it up, the bottle itself was split and the baggie it was inside had popped open, oozing the shampoo all over my pjs and skivvies. Sucktastic.

And the $^ water...yes. Thankfully, at Pearson, there are Tim Horton's kiosks near the gates, and the coffee there is the same price and delicious flavour as it is at any Tim's outside the airport.

Faith said...

I've never been on a plane and I'm not too keen on the idea.

Jaime Samms said...

Faith, the plane ride itself doesn't bother me all that much. What always freaks me out is the travelling on my own. Let me tell you about the map in my head. It's pretty much broke. I'm easily distracted, which we all know, and when I'm with a group of people, I tend not to pay attention to where I'm going. I'm better when on my own, but travelling alone give me all sorts of anxiety.

Jessica Subject said...

I'm like Faith in that I've never been on a plane, but we're planning to take the kids on a family vacay by plane in the next couple years, so this is good info to know. Though I've had the luggage leaking incident happen to me before. Not fun!

Debbie Gould said...

Try it with a baby. Not fun. The baby himself was great. The security and having to check out the formula and unhelpful people can make it extremely unpleasant. On the upside...no one wants to sit next to the woman with an baby and if the plane isn't full you can often get to sit with no one beside you.

Jaime Samms said...

Debbie, my son is eight and just now at the point where I would consider taking him on a flight. A baby? Brave soul, yo are, lady :D

Jaime Samms said...

Not fun at all, Jessica. And trust me, buying underwear in the hotel gift shop? It isn't stitched in gold thread like the price might indicate.

Valerie Mann said...

I like to work in the airport and on the plane. But what I edit is never something I want the average commuter to read over my shoulder. I had a very long layover in Nashville a few weeks ago and tried to work on a particularly erotic story. I had to close my laptop screen three times because the man next to me was reading as I edited. I couldn't move because there were no seats left in the lounge area. I guess the moral of the story is that I don't mind flying or anything else about the process, but I don't like the lack of privacy.

Oh, and I use ziploc bags for anything that might leak. Glad I did when I got home from one trip and nail polish AND the remover had both broken inside the bag.

Jaime Samms said...

I get what you're saying about the privacy. I ended up listening to audio books on the way down because of the close quarters. Lucky I didn't have to share on the way home so I got a lot of work done.

As for the zip locks, it's ideal to make sure the zips are locked before you close that suitcase! lol!

DawnsReadingNook said...

Good to know. I am off to New Mexico for the GayRomLit Retreat and I never flew before. This is good information to have. Thanks for it.

Jaime Samms said...

Good luck, Dawn! Just keep in mind that the roughest spot (at least for me) is going through that dratted metal detector thingy. What a pain!

Kate Richards said...

I recently returned from a conference where they flew me to SanFrancisco, got there late, flew me back to Los Angeles...and put me on a direct flight to San Antonio...which did not exist when I booked! I only arrived seven hours late. I did meet a lot of nice people, and actually read a book for hours on end...that was good!

Jaime Samms said...

MMmmmm....reading a book for hours on end....Kate, I don't think I even remember what that's like!!

Lynne Connolly said...

I love flying solo. Love it. You have to plan carefully beforehand, but the Internet makes that much easier than it used to be.
Alone, you can read what you want, listen to what you want, watch what you want, sleep when you want. Bliss!

Jaime Samms said...

Very good point, Lynn! The drive to the airport is always an agony of..."can I get away with breaking out the laptop now, or does hubs still want to talk?" lol

P.A.Brown said...

My rule of thumb is if I can't put it in my two available carry-ons, it doesn't go. I went to L.A. for two weeks and had my laptop and personal stuff in a shoulder bag, the rest into a suitcase that would fit in the bins. Laundry is easy to do, at a minimum underwear can be washed in sinks and hung to dry.

want to be able to walk off the plane and not even have to think about where my baggage is.

Jaime Samms said...

That is an awesome rule, Pat. My first trip, which was to New Orleans, I had a large suitcase to check, and when I got off the plane, I must have looked dazed because an attendant approached me to ask what I was looking for. I told him "The baggage claim for Air Canada, please." He looked at me funny and said "Sorry, M'am, but Air Canada doesn't fly into this port." I was all...."Huh? Dude, I just got off the plane. I'm pretty sure it does..." Anyway, somehow, during the flight, my plane morphed from Air Canada to some other airline, and I did eventually find the right carousel, but it was a slightly surreal moment. Getting off the plane this time with all my luggage present and accounted for was quite nice.

Dalia said...

Like Lynne said, I look forward to my solo trips.
Over time, I've got my packing down to a fine art. I always wear simple easy-fit clothes and footware to travel.
No liquids in my carry-on--can't be doing with all the fuss at security, just my laptop, e-Reader and my special blanket--essential for that overnight wait at the airport.