1. If you need to wake up at 3am, don’t bother going to sleep the night before. Pull an all nighter of watching YouTube videos (you can find mine at youtube.com/hiimerika), or search centrepieces on Pinterest. (I had to do that for work once, and let me tell you that is some pretty shit to look at).
I followed my own rule once. In 2014, I was in Fargo, ND at a non-conference and found out that the closing party was the night before my 7am international flight home. I had to be at the airport around 5am. So I did what any smart sensible person would do, I stayed at the party until 4:45am, walked back to my hotel, changed my clothes, and went to the airport. Killing it!
This year, on my way to the same conference, I did not follow my rule. I had to wake up at 3:30am and be at the airport by 5am. I like early morning flights within North America, I have the whole day once I get there. For this flight, I decided to go to sleep the night before, I had just come back from Ireland two days before. Worst idea ever! I slept through my alarm and woke up at 5am. I missed my flight.
2. Make sure you pack your toothbrush! I don’t want to tell you how many trips I’ve taken where the first thing I did was buy a toothbrush.
3. Lay your clothes out the night before. This way when you wake up late – because you didn’t follow step 1 – you won’t have to think about that, just where you put your passport after your last trip.
4. Locate your passport a couple days before your trip. This way when it isn’t in that spot you keep telling yourself to put it – but don’t – you won’t freak out as much. You have another day to tear your apartment/room/house/place you sleep apart. I never do this. I try to find it the night before my flight.
5. Charge your music device. Planes are weird. Most people don’t talk so you’ll probably be sitting in silence. And those that do talk, and loud enough for you to hear it, are talking about things that your don’t want to know. Music will help. I usually try to find a new album or two – I ask my friends to suggest something – and then I listen to that and not Sam Smith whom I’ve heard 20+ times.
This goes for your movie device as well. And make sure you can play the movie files. I once took my laptop to only find out that I hadn’t downloaded the right app to play the files.
6. Bring a sweater. Some – but not all flights – will give you a blanket if you ask nicely, so be prepared if they don’t. I don’t like using plane blankets. I don’t think they wash them. And I get cold easily so I always bring a light weight zip hoodie that I can pack in my carry on, so I don’t need to remove it at security. I also never put my belt on until I go through security.
7. Always pack a dress (or something nice if you don’t like dresses, I love them). Even if you haven’t planned to go out, anything can happen.
8. Get up to use the washroom before you really have to go because you’re going to have to wait in a line.
9. You’re using your seatbelt wrong. If you can, take your seat belt off, and want to sit with your legs curled up, wrap the seat belt around your ankles. This way your feet don’t slip off the seat. Note: the flight attendants don’t like this when the seat belt sign is on. (They also don’t like having to tell you to take your headphones out – twice – during take off and landing).
10. Bring a book. Or something productive to keep yourself busy. I get – I used to get – very restless on flights. I don’t like flying and sitting in the same spot for 2+ hours gets to me.
This year I went on a business trip and had to bring my computer with me. I took my personal one because I had personal work to do (i.e. I had to edit the next weeks video because I like to do that last minute). I told myself that I’d edit the video and then sleep, as it was an overnight flight to Ireland. I can’t sleep on planes. I knew this from my last overnight flight to Ireland. So I edited the video and then wrote three blog posts, sketched out a social media plan, ate all the food they gave me, and got one hour of sleep.
Since that flight I have been on five more, and have learned it doesn’t seem so bad when you are editing videos, listening to music while reading, or writing a months worth of blog posts, like this one. I always take a book and a laptop (or my iPad and keyboard). I actually did some coding on this flight before realizing I needed Facebook to see if it worked.