Frequent flyers offer air-travel suggestions

One thing you’ll want to leave at home is your expectations

How we used to catch a plane. Those were the days.
  • How we used to catch a plane. Those were the days.

Air travel has lost the glamour it embodied in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. Gone are the days of smoked salmon, caviar, and champagne on Pan Am flights. These are the days of complimentary tiny packs of peanuts — if you’re lucky.

My friend Marie and I bemoaned the loss of such travel glamour over sushi last week. Marie leaves for Ireland in a couple weeks. “I am swamped at work — can’t spend any time figuring out what I need to bring. Could you send some tips my way?”

Eve is always ready to help a friend. It’s become something of a hobby, really. So, I put out a call to some frequently flying fellows for their air-travel suggestions.

Brookstone Pan Am Messenger Bag. Only Baby Boomers will get the joke.

Brookstone Pan Am Messenger Bag. Only Baby Boomers will get the joke.

Pilar, who travels extensively to Europe and all over the U.S. for work, was a wealth of travel hints. “I prefer suitcases that can expand in case I find some extra treasure on my trip,” she said. “Pack and then remove stuff. You won’t need it all. I personally haven’t gone the route of packing cubes, but my aunt and uncle swear by them, and also the bags that suck the extra air out.” (Bagail 4 Set Packing Cubes, $19.99 on Amazon.)

“Locks [on luggage] are pretty useless. You have to make sure that they can be opened by TSA. So pack jewelry, medication in your carry on.

“I use a red luggage strap to protect against any zipper failure.” (Tranvers Heavy Duty Luggage Strap, $8.99 for a 2-pack on Amazon.) “Any name tag on bags is fine as long as it’s secure; put info in a couple of places.”

When traveling day arrives, Pilar suggested, “set your clock to the time of the next destination, whether it’s a connecting airport or final destination....

“Dress comfortably, but dress well; people have to look at you,” she continued. “Bring a wrap that can double as a scarf. It could save a plane ride. Do not dress for summer on the plane.”

For catching some sleep, “an eye mask is a great option.” (Three-pack sleep mask, $10.99 on Amazon.) “Or one of these headphones/eye mask combos, which looks like an awesome splurge.” (Wired Sleep Headphones Eye Mask, $24.99 on Amazon.)

“Bring two bottles of water onto the plane with you,” she said. “If you stay hydrated and sleep, you probably won’t get sick, and you’ll definitely adjust better to jet lag. Bring sani-wipes for hands and plane trays and keep surfaces and hands clean. I hardly use hand sanitizer except when traveling.

“Bring a spritzer and a moisturizer on the plane for your face.” She uses Evian and Dermalogica moisturizer. (Evian Mineral Water Spray, $15 for two 1.7 ounces at Sephora; Dermalogica Active Moist, $26.90 for 1.7 ounces on Amazon.) “And bring your toothbrush and mints with you and Band-aids in your wallet for when the blisters come — they will come....

“If you want to throw it way back, Brookstone is selling Pan Am bags,” said Samantha with a smile. ($71.99 for the 16-by-11-inch blue with white Pan Am Retro Messenger bag at Brookstone.) “I bought the passport cover for myself,” she added.

“I don’t leave home without my L.L. Bean toiletry organizer,” offered Julie. “The hanging multi-compartment-style organizer keeps little items all in one spot. All my toiletries, medicine, jewelry, scarves are popped into it. And the bag is roomy enough to fit the shampoos and lotions also.” (Personal Organizer Toiletry Bag, $39.95 at L.L. Bean.)

“For our family vacation last year we had a bit of a drive from the airport to our rental place,” said Joe, “so I bought a USB charger that plugs into the cigarette lighter and charges multiple devices all at once. Seems like a no-brainer suggestion, but it made for a much quieter car ride after a long day of travel with everyone plugged in to a device.” ($39.99 for a 4-Port USB charger at Sharper Image.)

Pilar offered one last important travel tip. “I really, really advise people to go without expectations. Too often I find myself or others disappointed because of previously held expectations. Throw them all away and get ready to have an adventure revealed to you. Attitude is everything.”

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