Apparently, I left Norway for this
Welcome back to Edinburgh!
I’ve learned many things about traveling, probably some that I can’t recall, but here’s a list of a few notables in case you’re going abroad:
- Make your seat and meal request with plenty of notice. The earlier the better. If it doesn’t really matter, over a 7 hour flight or longer IT WILL, especially if you’re stuck in the middle. I forgot to make a reservation with enough time in advance and was stuck in a middle seat for an over-booked 12 hour flight with a woman who fell asleep on me. Also, if you’ve got an allergy of some kind or don’t like particular food, make a meal request!! As I’ve said before, if you make a meal request, you’ll be one of the first ones on the plane served.
- Arriving 2 hours before the flight time isn’t really necessary. Note that depending on the airport and time of day might have a little influence on this general rule. Of course, don’t arrive 20 min before either. In my experience with a lot of flights in Europe especially my most recent flights with SAS and Lufthansa, they usually are delayed, so being punctual made no difference. If you’re familiar navigating through airports, doing the whole strip down through security, and finding gates then you definitely don’t need 2 hours. Travel through the states is an infamous unorganized disaster, so plan ahead if you’re going to be coming through major airports like LAX because you just might need at least 90 min.
- Check your visa. Different countries have different regulations. As an American, I’m able to travel through a decent amount of countries easily without needing a visa beforehand. Some do have a few weird regulations though. As I’m going to Taiwan soon, I happened to check up on the visa thing probably a little later than I should’ve and had to make some other arrangements so that all would be clear upon arrival. Make sure you have at least ONE MONTH in one place prior to leaving if you need to process a visa or request a new passport.
- If you’ve got a particularly long layover, and in a cool place, try to leave the airport. I had an 18 hour layover in Bangkok a few years back and decided to be bold and see some of the sites alone. I got lucky though, as I was checking my hand luggage, I made two friends from the Netherlands and had company for the day.
- Unless you’re flying Ryan air, where seats are unassigned, its not necessary to line up at the entrance of the gate before the staff announces the time for boarding. I often see people standing around with all their stuff, getting irritated or trying to inch their way to the front before they can even board the plane. Relax, you’ll get on and you’ll get to your seat! If you’re worried about having enough overhead compartment space, save everyone the hassle and only store what’s necessary above. I was rather surprised on my most recent flight that everyone stuffed their jackets in the overhead compartments, leaving little to no space for the actual carry-on luggage. Selfishness aside! We all have to fit. Consider storing your jacket under the seat as it will save room and be useful if you get cold onboard. Also, ladies, just keep your purse with you, it comes in handy so you don’t have to keep getting up. I often store snacks, make up, moisturizer and other fun things to keep me entertained over the long haul.
- Hydrate,hydrate. If you have the space, bring an empty bottle and ask the flight attendants to fill it up with water once onboard. Hydration is of the utmost importance as you travel and reach high altitudes. I always carry eye drops as my eyes tend to feel like major sandpaper. Additionally, I’ve even given myself a mini facial during the flight. I admit, it was a little awkward, but I felt so refreshed after, it was fully worth the strange looks of passengers nearby.
- Bring snacks and lots of things to keep entertained. Airport food is so incredibly expensive. In the past, I have brought steamed veggies, roasted sweet potatoes and apples onboard. These days, Iphone’s seem to occupy most people’s excess time. However, if you’re cool like me *not* and don’t have an iphone or smart phone or sometimes no phone, make sure you have something to keep boredom at bay. My video monitor has failed me onboard in the past, or I’ve seen every good movie available already, so having a book or kindle handy is smart.
- Last but not least, don’t be afraid to smile!! It makes for an easier time getting through the potentially laborious security process. No one enjoys long lines. No one enjoys being held up in a queue. Let your awareness of that fact awaken your compassion for the process (potentially your process of patience) and for the employees of the airport.