Whenever I prepare to go on a trip, I like to think that I travel like a rock star. I mean, I don’t have to wear saucer-sized sunglasses to travel incognito, and I don’t have a posse to carry my luggage, but I tend to have a good time despite basically being in a aluminum flying bus for more than the recommended daily allowance. After spending pretty much my entire life in Hawaiʻi, where getting anywhere starts off with a five hour flight– I know that traveling can be an ordeal.
For those of you who don’t travel that often, traveling like a rock star doesn’t mean TMZ is waiting at baggage claim when you land, or that you are greeted by the local Five-0 on the Jetway because you had a Amanda Bynes-style breakdown in Economy Plus when they ran out of Fiesta Mix. No, what it really means is traveling with little hassle or headaches, getting through security without feeling violated or yelled at, and maybe scoring a few perks along the way.
In the last five years I’ve gotten on a plane at least every six months, and have seen some pretty incredible places. I’ve been to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Seoul, Guam, Virginia Beach, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Las Vegas, Orlando, Colorado and parts of the midwest and the south. Some of you may live and work in these great places– and some of you maybe saying, “why’d she go there?” But nevertheless, I’ve gotten on a plane and been thrilled to get off my rock. As I’ve traveled, I’ve been in more airports and on more airplanes than I’d care to remember, but it’s made me realize that there are a few things everyone needs to keep in mind in order to make sure your “rock star” status is secure.
You don’t want to be a bag lady
Sorry ladies, I have to single you out. I’ve noticed when standing in line through security and when I’m stowing my bag under the seat in front of me, that it’s the ladies who have the most stuff. Usually they have a rollaboard, a huge duffel bag, and a backpack. For your sake and everyone who you happen to be traveling with that day– don’t bring your bag lady shopping cart with you on the plane. If you need to have 50 lbs of clothes with you, please do a rock star move and pay for your bag to be checked. Believe me, nothing makes you feel more like a celeb, when you breeze through security with your one carry-on that doesn’t weigh a million pounds, and has enough entertainment to keep you busy for a long flight.
I know you’ve heard it before, but seriously, you need very little on a plane. They have bathrooms, they have food and drink, and they show you a movie. And if you take your Kindle or your Nook, you can entertain yourself for hours. You do not need a to take a pillow and a blankie, and even though Paris Hilton takes her own down-filled pillow for her pretty, empty head when she travels, you have a brain to entertain yourself, so just leave it on your bed at home.
Just be ready to bring your credit card (most airlines no longer take cash), bite the bullet, and pay for a snack box and enjoy the flight. Nothing makes a you feel more like a rock star than when you can enjoy a cocktail, take nap with your feet up on your carry-on under the seat in front of you, and know that when the Airbus lands, you just have to pick up your one little bag and hustle your cute self off to your vacation or back home.
You do not want to be lynched in an airport
Here’s the main reason you don’t want to take too much on a plane: if you take too long going through security because you have way too much stuff or you don’t know the procedures—people (read: experienced travelers) get REALLY MAD. Yes, I’m using shouty caps, but I need to get this message across. You need to move through security without inconveniencing others and without making yourself a big bag of nervous wreck. And let me tell you, if the TSA folks don’t yell at you because you forgot the 3-1-1 rules, or to take off your shoes, or empty your pockets– someone in line will do it for them.
I know, seems very mean, but there was a time when I would show up in a the Gold security line (the one for First Class and/or experienced travelers) with my green eyed cherub faced child in tow and I would watch people stiffen when they saw him. But when my son– who has been flying nationally and internationally since he was five years old– would line up his bins, take off his shoes, his jacket, his hat, and be ready to get through security in a minute flat, the TSA agents would nod in approval, smile, and let that boy fly through the process.
That’s what happens when you know what to do– you get rock star treatment. Trust me, it can happen– you just need to know what to do and what is expected, and you need to move quickly and with a purpose. So here’s the breakdown in bullets (which is a word you should not say while going through security).
FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. Believe me– less headache and less hassles when you do.
3-1-1 means one quart sized clear plastic bag with bottles up to 3 oz. max. Don’t forget to take it out of your carry-on while it goes through the x-ray machine.
Dump your Starbucks and water bottles, and chug that bottle of pinot grigio you got as a gift, because you can’t have any liquids—even sealed—over 3oz.
The rules are basically, nothing in your pockets, everything goes through x-ray, take off your shoes, jackets, and hats.
Everything goes into the bins. So here’s a tip: if you are wearing a jacket, a cap or hat, or have anything in your pockets, empty them into your carry-on BEFORE you get to the TSA agent who looks at your ID and ticket. Don’t wait until you get to the x-ray machines to start doing this. Nothing is more frustrating than watching someone empty their pockets, take off their belt, and their shoes, as the line behind them stacks up as we wait for them to push their stuff through the x-ray machine.
Keep in mind you can put your shoes, your purse, and your 3-1-1 bag all in the same bin, but your laptop needs to go in a completely separate bin without anything covering it.
You want to be comfy but not Ho-zy
Be careful about what you wear, for a couple of reasons. If you are going to “opt out”– not go through the full body scanner, which several airports are still using–and you are wearing a low cut top or a tank top, TSA’s gloves can stick to your clothing (especially if it is cotton) and pull your top down if you are not paying attention. If you are going to “opt out,” you will be patted down, so make sure you leave your tube top at home.
When I travel—I wear jeans, Danskos (the most amazing shoe ever), a t-shirt, and a zip-up hoodie. I need to be warm, because it is freezing on a plane, and I need shoes that slide off quickly, and are comfortable. Danskos are popular with many flight attendants, so you know it’s a good travel shoe. They are very comfortable, but do not look like bedroom slippers. If you don’t like wearing jeans and prefer sweat pants, maybe wear yoga pants. On my last plane ride, I wore a Sugar Love long sleeve hoodie with jeans. I was comfy and it looked good. I always wear dark colors because if I spill my Bloody Mary on myself amid flight, I don’t want to look like a homicide victim, or a slob.
Flight attendants and gate agents are usually really friendly and want to help people who look decent and dress appropriately. So don’t get on a flight wearing your fuzzy pink slippers and matching jammie pants. Leave your dad’s flannel long johns at home. And Uggs are too hard to take off in security. Sleeping is fine on a flight, just don’t dress like you’re ready to hit the hay once you hit 30,000 feet. Being comfy is okay, just make sure it’s the kind of comfy that is acceptable for being around people, not for hibernation. No one wants to upgrade a slob to first class. Nor do they want to sit by one.
And yes, I know rock stars tend to dress how they like, damn the man and all– but wearing jeans, t-shirts, and a cool pair of shoes, is pretty much par for the course when you’re on the road, right?
You want to travel—so do it
I love to travel. There are things about traveling that suck, I will not lie. But nothing beats getting off of my rock—whatever my rock is at the moment. My island, my town, my work, my household chores, my busy schedule—it’s all worth it to be somewhere else, meeting and seeing different people and places, experiencing different cultures, cuisine, and history. I had no idea how big the world was until I started to see it. So take all of my tips, or make some of your own, even if you don’t get treated like a rock star, at least you know it won’t be something you will regret in the morning.