THE FACT OF the matter is, while planning a trip, most people prefer to focus on the destination and choose to put the actual travel time out of their minds. Many travellers dread airports and view any flight longer than an hour as a scheme on behalf of the universe to ruin their lives. If you are experiencing the unlucky lot of all-day travel, fear not, voyager! There is hope for making your travels intriguing yet. A transatlantic trip is no longer a tedious two-month-long journey on the Mayflower, but rather a perfectly survivable half-day flight that can be (dare I say it?) enjoyable.
Knowing how and what to pack is crucial. Besides the obvious passport, ticket, and trip itinerary, you need to remember to abide by the increasingly strict airport-security regulations. Make sure you put all of your toiletry items in the piece of luggage you plan to check, as you will not be allowed to carry products like shampoo, perfume, or razors on board with you. Canadian airport regulation allows a passenger to fill a one-litre capacity plastic bag, provided at the airport, with bottles of liquids or creams 100-millilitres or less. Bring a travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer, but leave your massive container of conditioner in your stowed-away luggage.
When dressing for air travel, remember that layers are key. Opt for sweaters instead of jackets because they can double as pillows and are less likely to have to be taken off when you go through security. Always bring a change of clothes in your carry-on baggage. Airlines tend to lose luggage like it’s their job, so you could potentially have to survive for a couple of days without your bags.
In order to beat boredom in an airport, bring a deck of cards instead of board games, which take up much more space and contain many small and easily lost pieces. Take your favourite paperback book as opposed to a hardcover one—hardcovers will only weigh you down. If possible, leave your laptop at home in favour of taking your iPod for entertainment. Laptops are cumbersome and will have to be stored in the overhead bin while your flight takes off and lands, which leaves them at risk for being bumped around. You may, however, use your laptop during the flight, as long as it is set to “airplane mode.”
The price of food in an airport is atrocious, so pack something from home, but be sure it’s not a snack that will get squashed. Bring an empty water bottle that you can fill up once you make it past security and are at your gate.
Airports are designed to dissuade people from sleeping, so finding the right place to nap is paramount. Choose somewhere far enough from other people that the noise won’t distract you, but close enough that you won’t sleep through your boarding announcement. If you do choose to take a snooze, use your luggage or purse as a pillow. Never leave any baggage unattended in the airport.
Above all, try to have fun while you wait for your flight. Get excited about your trip, go shopping, or read a book. Besides, no matter how many martinis you toss back pre-flight at the airport bar or how lost you get trying to find your gate, the staff is there to guide you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And remember, most transcontinental flights serve free alcohol, so if worse comes to worst, indulge in a bottle of wine and enjoy a peaceful slumber until you land. Safe travels!
—Spencer Van Dyk