Sunday, 29 January 2012

10 things you can do on a plane (or a train, or a coach!)

We've all been there, long journeys, extreme boredom, sardines in a tin. Never a problem for those of us who can afford first or business class but unfortunately I am not one of them.

Over the past year and a half of living in Prague, I have spent a fair chunk of my time travelling. Last year I had the luxury of a Eurolines business class coach to and from Croatia (which was a bonus because I'd only paid for economy!). I also flew business class on a business trip to England which was great (lounge, tons of food, fast pass through security, everything!). If I could afford it I would always travel this way, however, I cant.

I used to love flying, but these days it really stresses me out, I just cant relax. I have some confounding issues regarding crowded places that have developed over the past 2 or so years. 200 + people all trying to cram into a little metal tube does nothing for my anxiety. I end up landing a nervous wreck and invariably doing something stupid (such as causing a bomb scare by leaving my baggage in Manchester airport last Christmas Eve - true story). So, to try and attempt to preserve whats left of my mental health I thought I'd come up with some ideas to alleviate the stress whilst travelling.

  • Ipod / Iphone / Ipad- I never go on a trip without my Iphone. Make sure batteries are fully charged and loaded with your favourite tunes then plug your earphones in and you're away. If you're lucky enough to have a coach with wifi, you can use the Internet too whilst you're outside your home country to avoid those dreaded roaming charges (however please be aware that on these wifi enabled coaches the signal is invariably crap).
  • Take your laptop and have some films ready. This passes alot of time and you can concentrate on the film (rather than the fact you're in a small space crammed with people). If your mode of transport has plug sockets, great! If it doesn't, take a spare battery.
  • If you're travelling with your partner, participate in the mile high club?! Whilst this well known phrase is usually reserved for planes, there is no reason why it cant be extended to trains. I advise you not to try try it on a coach, I've seen bigger shoe boxes than coach toilets, not my idea of fun. If you're contortionists you may still consider it. My friend told me he recently had some solo me time in the toilet of a train, if you're on your own, I guess this is also an option! I will pass on that one though.
  • Play Alive! You've read the book or seen the film right?! Well, have a look around the cabin.... You're travelling in adverse weather conditions. Suddenly, the plane begins to shake, and before you know it you've crash landed in the middle of nowhere (or broken down). But, your alive (hooray!). Now all you need to decide is, if you aren't rescued in the next few days, who looks the tastiest? Don't choose the biggest person, they're likely to have all kind of nasty toxins in their bodies, think along the lines of someone not skinny, but who works out a bit, think lean! Ok, this is just a bit of fun, don't take it too seriously! If you're scared of flying this is probably not the best of games to play. Being ex cabin crew myself, I'm most definitely not scared of flying so this game is fun for me! 
  • Pretend you have just got married (this only works if you're travelling with someone!). Sweet talk the cabin crew into giving you an upgrade (If you don't ask you don't get!). This may be your best and only chance of ever flying business or first class, grab it!
  • Stretch your legs. Sitting down in the same position slows your blood flow and can stagnate, which can lead to DVT. Simply walking to the toilet, stretching your legs on the way is sufficient. On a coach, there is usually 10 or 20 minute breaks. Use this time to get off the coach, have a stretch and a walk around. You will feel much better. Drink lots of water too.
  • Read a book, or even the air plane magazine. I always read these and usually take them with me, most are free to take. They are full of great articles and often some great tips on things to do at your destination.
  • Sleep. This is a good time to catch up on it if the journey is particularly long. The other week I had a nap in the carriage of a train from Krakow to Wroclaw. You wake up more refreshed, alert and ready for the day ahead. It can be hard to sleep whilst moving but its worth it if you can.
  • Bring some travel guides of your destination. Depending on how long you are going for you could plan your itinerary whilst on the plane! If you're feeling adventurous, learn some basic phrases of your destination country. I can guarantee you if you learn a few things the locals will be much more appreciative of you.
  • If all else fails play whack a mole! Its simple. All you need to do is kick the seats in front of you. When their heads pop up to find out what the commotion is, WHACK EM! Ok, this is a joke, but if you're really bored....

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