The Soul-Sucking Grind Of Frequent Flying

The soul-sucking grind of frequent flying

By Lisa Earle McLeod

Ahh, the glamorous life of a business traveler. Winging your way from one city to the next, whisking through airports, your calf leather luggage slung casually over your shoulder. Los Angeles one day, New York the next, and you looking fresh and fabulous, punctual and polished, everywhere you go. There was a time, in the not too distant past, when people believed that travel – particularly air travel – was somewhat glamorous. Some of us are even old enough to remember when people actually got dressed up to fly. But, after two decades of schlepping myself and my stuff around the country, I can tell you, there’s nothing glamorous about it. What with the security strip searches, the endless delays, the cramped seats and the throngs of people who can’t seem to make it through the terminal without coming to a dead stop in the middle of the walkway to gawk at the electronic Tiger Woods ad, flying has become such a grind that even the Wright Brothers would probably rather go Greyhound. Those who don’t travel often envision life on the road as an endless series of fine meals, free drinks and quiet comfy hotel rooms. But the reality is anything but. Yes, there are a few perks. However, unless you have your own plane, and a staff of people devoted to your comfort, traveling is all about trying to squeeze yourself and your belongings into as small a space as possible so that you can be moved to the next space, where you’ll do it all over again. Imagine shoving a bunch of screaming toddlers and a few open laptops into the back of a Mazda Miata. All the free pretzels and Sprite in the world won’t make it a party. And lest you think you can lessen your pain by packing a big fluffy robe or a few good books to settle into upon arrival, forget it. Most airlines now charge extra for the “privilege” of checking a bag. So, unless you want to pay fifty bucks a trip, you’ve got to cram it all into a carry-on and lug it yourself. I’d love to say that I’ve mastered the art of stress-free travel, but (heavy sigh) I haven’t. However in recent years I’ve discovered a few things that make the experience slightly less awful: * Bring a Blanky – Even if you could snag one of the three measly blankets allotted to each 747, do you really want to put your mouth near a square of poly-blend that spent last night with a sniffling salesman? I pack a Brookstone nap travel blanket ( and pretend I’m at the spa. * Perma Pack – Forget cramming all your lotions and potions into a zip-lock or, worse, finding yourself astringent-less in a strange hotel. Keep your toiletries permanently packed. Buy a pre-packaged kit from or do what I did and get a security-approved kit from Just fill the under-three-ounce containers with your color-safe shampoo and your favorite shower gel, and you’ll never be dependent on generic hotel products again. * Brief-urse – A purse, a briefcase and a carry-on violates the two-bag limit, but a few inventive women have created briefcase/purse combos that look fabulous and still fit under your seat. My favorites are Coakely – ( with tons of perfectly-sized pockets and big enough to hold my blanky, laptop and books – and the Theresa Kathryn line ( – more purse-like, but super hip and still laptop compatible. Best of all, no more looking like Lurch, both lines have zippered panels for slipping the bag over your luggage handles. * Weigh In – If you absolutely must check a bag, buy a hand-held Balanzza luggage scale ( and get your money’s worth by stuffing in the full 49.99 lbs. So treat yourself. Nobody deserves the jet set life more than you.

Lisa Earle McLeod is a nationally recognized speaker and the author of “Forget Perfect” and “Finding Grace When You Can’t Even Find Clean Underwear.” Contact her or join her interactive blog at .

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