Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

The 6 Most Uniquely Annoying Airplane Passengers & How to Survive Them

On a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, one of Kimmel’s guests took on role-playing the results of an Expedia poll describing the most annoying airplane passengers you might encounter when traveling. The guest actor was none other than the incomparable Sir Patrick Stewart and the sketch was very entertaining. Kimmel and Stewart shared the caustic characters of Chatty Charlie, Stinky Snacker, Seat Climber, Seat Kicker and Landing Clapper as the most annoying. This sketch got me thinking. If I were to compose my own list of annoying personalities, who would make the cut? This post features my breakdown of several special characters unfortunately encountered during my many hours spent airborne. I encourage you to check out the video here to watch Sir Patrick expertly nail the five listed above, and do read on for my particular brand of annoying passenger behavior.

Meagz’ Six Most Maddening

1. The Window Shade Blinder

We’re up in the air and I’m settling in at last for a little light airplane nap when suddenly “THWACK!” Your brutal handling of the window shade makes me visibly jump from the sound and now the inside of my eyelids are on fire. I’m forced to make my Tom Hanks face, searching for a plane from my deserted beach. It would be great if you would consider whether there might be a blinding ball of gas reflecting off the wing into your neighbor’s eyes before opening, as she is rather fond of keeping her corneas. And go slow. It is not an elastic retractable window shade and therefore should not sound like one. Thanks.

2. The Bad Parent

I’ll be forthcoming and honest, I do not have children of my own. I respect that airplane travel with said offspring could be one of the most challenging experiences for any parent. But there are some parents that are doing it right. They manage to keep their kiddos from kicking the seats in front of them, or tearing up and down the aisles, squawking loudly for attention. Basically, they pay attention. My last flight to Honolulu from Las Vegas featured a lone mother with two children who sat in the middle seat between them. Sporting her massive Beats headphones, she pretty much zoned out while they slammed armrests, worked the window shade incessantly, threw food, bounced the seats all around. Her answer to calming them down? Giving them candy and hand held video games with the sound on. She didn’t care about the sounds driving everyone else mad; she was lost in her freedom bubble, courtesy of Dr. Dre. I don’t expect kids to be the picture of good behavior, but I do expect some serious effort on the part of the parent(s). If I see you trying, you’re off the hook. If you’re wearing Beats and you have hellions; prepared to be loathed by all passengers around you.

3. The Noisy Chewer

One of the categories in the Expedia report was what Kimmel called the Stinky Snacker. I agree that is totally annoying to have smelly food on board. Beef jerky and an onion sandwich, really? However, what’s worse is having to hear it. Channel your mother and close your damn mouth when you chew. Absolutely no talking. If God wanted us to talk and eat at the same time our vocal chords would be in our nasal passages. Clear your gob hole and then we can talk. Swish it down with a beverage and avoid any possible UFOs potentially headed in my general direction.

4. The Ice Chomper

Let’s be clear right now, if the beverage mentioned above is finished, if you start chewing on the remaining ice I will grab the cup from you and hold it menacingly. I don’t quite know what I would do next since I would prefer not to get tackled by an air marshal, but it will be taken, and I will find your dentist and totally tell on you. No one can sleep/read/exist calmly when the Titanic-meets-iceburg re-enactment is on repeat in the seat next to them. Do not ever chew your ice cubes next to me. Or anyone else for that matter. It will make a sane person crazy.

5. The Farter

No one likes to talk about it, but everyone has been the unfortunate recipient of a nasty gassy on a flight before. I believe it could even be a secret factor in contributing to airplane sickness. A fart cloud might happen to you every time you fly. It might even be you creating said cloud. All I ask of The Farter is this: if you know some foods makes you leak out your rear end, don’t eat them on this plane. Bring a little pepto or beano for the long flights. Or a plug. Whatever it takes to keep it to yourself. You might be immune to your own rank stench, but I’m going green back here.

6. The Back-of-the-Plane Line Jumper

We’ve landed. Hooray! The time has come to de-plane. There’s a natural order to this. You allow the rows in front of you to clear out and then it’s your turn. If you have a short layover and you’re desperately trying to make your flight, be a human and communicate with those around you. You’ll advance much faster if you have everyone around you on your team helping you move forward. Don’t be that groaning, toe-tapping, under-breath mumbler that no one likes. And if you announce that “some of us have a flight to catch” to no-one in particular, I will be tempted to pop you in the face with my neck pillow. Stop it. The majority of my flight experiences haven’t featured all these characters at once (praise be), but I have encountered each of them on more than one occasion. Thus, I’ve been driven to develop tactical defenses and management devices for each:

I combat both the chewers and children with earplugs of headphones of my own (not Beats though, sorry Dre), the shade blinder with an eye mask, and the farter with scented hand lotion applied just under the nostrils. The ice chomper gets straight-up-spoken-to. “Please sir/ma’am, I’m having trouble sleeping due to your ice chewing. Will you please refrain? Mahalo.” Lastly, to prevent the line jumper I simply stand up and block the aisle to allow those in my row and beyond their right to exit when their turn arrives.

Or, like one should in any social situation where other people behave less than admirably, I just try to get over them. They make great fodder for storytelling and casual, comfortable complaining, but in the end, that’s all they ever are. There’s no greater feeling when flying to actually sit back, relax and allow yourself to be amazed that a plane is whisking you off to your destination, at 30,000 feet in the air. Annoyances be damned. As comedian Louis C.K. likes to say about the miracle of human flight: “You’re in a chair… in the sky.” Sometimes a little perspective makes nearly every annoyance seem trivial. Except perhaps, chewing ice cubes.

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Packing tips for a backpacking trip

The irony of packing for a trip of epic proportions lies in precisely the lack of stuff you are able to bring with you. Here’s a few tried and true things to bring and tips to travel light from the road less traveled.

1. Dryer sheets (laundry softener sheets)- I read this tip in a Condé Nast Traveler magazine some time back and it is by far the best piece of advice I’ve used for any kind of travel. I’m an olfactory-focused person, and the dread of the dirty-laundry smell permeating throughout my pack was a very real threat the first time I took an extended trip. Slip a few dryer sheets in-between your rolled clothing to keep the whole bag smelling light, lovely and fresh from the line.

2. A few extra large sealable plastic bags – These are terrific for temporary storage of wet swim suits and for encapsulating dirty laundry. Utilize those dryer sheets again and override the laundry smell by putting a sheet in a sealed bag (especially with the socks) and you’ll be delighted at the effectiveness.

3. Face wipes – To clean the dirty city off your skin, or to de-salt after a day at sea; for those times when a sink isn’t to be had. There’s nothing like a fresh face to make you feel instantly revived. Be sure to go green and buy biodegradable ones!

4. Hand sanitizer- Use sparingly; you’re going to want your own immune system functioning at its peak. Go all natural and avoid the alcohol-based kind. Juni Hand Refresher (www.xango.com) is my germ killer of choice: all natural, fresh smelling and moisturizing.

5. Underwear x2- There is nothing more reassuring on a long trip than having a clean pair of underwear close at hand. Just when you think you’ve packed too many pairs of underwear, pack two more. Take out a shirt or two if you need to make room. TRUST ME. You can re-wear a shirt several times, but undies, well, you get it.

6. Sarong – This was the most versatile item I used in my pack. I picked one up early in my trip to Thailand as a cover-up at the beach, but used it countless ways. It doubled as scarf, a blanket, sun protector, a temperature regulating head scarf, a pillowcase, a dress, changing screen and even a towel. I won’t travel without one.

7. E-reader – I am a book lover. The feel, the smell, the look of a real book is irreplaceable to me. I swore for years that I would never go digital. I felt like I would be betraying the books that have shaped my character to do so. And then I was given my Nook for Christmas. Best. Present. Yet. While I will never lose the pleasure of caressing paper pages, my e-book allows me to bring an entire library with me while never adding pounds to my pack. I download free e-books from my local library’s website. I even download guidebooks, maps and language books of the regions I’ll be visiting. Awesome!

8. Small dry bag – It is comforting to be sure your electronics are protected within the contents of your pack. Even if you aren’t traveling by boat or near bodies of water, rain or spilled drinks are the enemy of your camera, phone, e-book, passport, etc.

9. TSA-approved lock – If you lock your pack, TSA is almost guaranteed to break it open and then you’re lock-less on the trip. They’re really cheap but can help you avoid being a sitting duck. Just remember, anyone can cut open the pack, or take the whole thing- the lock is just to prevent you from the simple unzip-and-slip on the train or bus.

10. Baby wipes and small package of toilet paper – It is essential to have a backup plan in case things go awry. Your body might not be used to the food you’ll be eating. Just sayin’.

11. Carabiners- A few of the simple, cheap carabiners (not necessarily the weight-bearing kind) are a neat and useful tool. I use them to hang towels, hang my pack away from the ants in our bungalow, and to attach my muddy shoes to the outside of the pack after a hike in the jungle.

Go forth and adventure!