Banishing Bad Hair Days since 1997!™

Travel Tips For Teeny Tiny Airplanes

Yes, my saga with air travel continues.   First there was the recent double punch of an American Airlines trip from Dallas to Burbank (regional airport near Los Angeles) where I sat for hours on the return leg waiting for a mechanic to drive a part to the plane from LA.

(Image of airplane courtesy of Haap, Media, LTD - All Rights Reserved)

I was less patient than normal on that trip because on the first leg from Dallas, the AA plane was also sent back to the terminal due to, you guessed it, a mechanical problem.

Two mechanical issues on two different planes on just one trip was a show stopper for me.  Fed up with American Airlines, their delays, and all their never ending rules I switched for my next trip to US Airways.  I was in air travel heaven for my trip from DFW to San Diego.

The US Airways planes departed and landed precisely on time, I had tons of leg room, the seats were nice and the restrooms were fresh and clean.  Ahhh.  Even though I had to change planes in Phoenix, I was very impressed with US Airways.  They also seemed to have less rules and more pleasant flight attendants.  Maybe I was just annoyed with American at that point but US Airways won my favor for sure.

Last week a death in the immediate family found me scrambling for a direct flight from Dallas to Madison, Wisconsin.  You guessed it.  I was back on American Airlines.  Even worse than being forced to travel to Madison, the airplane was a ERJ145 which means small seats, tight spaces and very little room for overhead bags.

The battle for overhead bins is fierce on those tiny airplanes which only holds approximately 50 passengers and little else.

No worries.  Over the years I have become a pro at airline traveling.  I never, ever check my bags, pay a baggage fee or fight for overhead carry-on space.

(Image of airplane courtesy of Haap, Media, LTD - All Rights Reserved)

If the airlines keep squeezing travelers for more fees I will resort to traveling in my fuzzy pink bedroom slippers, jammies and robe with just my iPhone set on Plane mode so I can listen to music or audio books.

Traveling Light Tips

Seriously.  I have learned to strip down to the bare essentials when boarding an airplane. Over the years I've gleaned a ton of travel light trips from a range of people including my dearly departed husband who was a lifetime platinum AA member.  The man packed lighter than a turtle.

Listed below are some starting points for lightening your load for a any sized airplane or trip:

1.  Wear as many clothes as possible on the flight

If I need a suit for my trip, I wear it on the flight and keep my jacket on as I board.  I also wear separates such as a wrinkle free top and skirt which can be easily switched out with a spare skirt and top.

It's much easier to pack just one top and skirt than multiple dresses or outfits.  I even have a reversible skirt which can be worn a variety of ways with a soft belt (easy to fold) or dressed up with my jacket.  Remember in an emergency that many hotels have a laundry service.  Or head to the nearest thrift shop.

2.  Beg, buy or borrow as much as possible when you arrive

Many hotels and motels provide hair dryers, lotions, toothpaste and other grooming basics.  Usually on my way from the airport to my lodging location I stop at the nearest drugstore and buy a travel toothbrush, throw-away mini-deodorant or back up pair of pantyhose.

I also like that some hotels will offer bathrobes, slippers and shower caps.

[amazon-product text="Travelpro Walkabout Lite 3 20 Expandable Rollaboard" type="text"]B002HMC8PY [/amazon-product]

3.  Ship anything heavy in advance.  Don't forget to include packing tape.

If I'm going to stay anywhere longer than 2-3 days I'll pack in advance and ship it to my hotel via UPS or Fed Ex.  The rates are much cheaper than paying for checked bags and the boxes can be easily tracked.

I keep the box intact after I unpack it and include packing tape in the box.  I just repack the box, tape it up and call UPS or Fed Ex for a pickup.

Note: United Airlines can deliver customers' bags door-to-door overnight via FedEx. The price starts at $79 for a bag up to 50 pounds. Disney World resort hotels, W Hotels and Marriott Vacation Club offer similar luggage delivery options for customers.  Many hotels will accept advance packages.  When in doubt call to make sure.

Another trick is to ship anything you purchase on your trick directly home.  Most stores will handle that for you, especially if you purchase a significant amount.  My guilty pleasure is old books which can be very heavy to lug onto a plane or expensive if checked.

4.  Choose your shoes wisely

If I'm going to a hair or beauty show I'll need to take my walking shoes.  Since they take up so much room I'll be sure to wear them on my flight but take a pair of roll up soft flats that will even fit in my handbag.  That way I can switch to a dressier look for evening if necessary.

5.  Minimize sleepwear

I don't like to sleep sans PJs when I'm in a hotel since I am a borderline germaphobe and worry about what bodies have touched the bed before me.  Yuck.

However, I have found a great travel night shirt which literally folds into a compressed square of fabric I can easily tuck into my small knapsack which usually easily tucks underneath the seat in front of me next to my small handbag.

6.  Double up on skin care and cosmetics

For my favorite skin cleansers, moisturizers or other creams I have to keep them very small due to security checkpoint issues.

[amazon-product text="Travelpro Crew 7 20 Rollaboard" type="text"]B002ACFSO4 [/amazon-product]

As a result I have purchased all required items in small travel sizes which pass the plastic bag test.  I also have a tinted lip balm which works as a touch of color to my cheekbones.

7.  Dress up with accessories to upgrade travel fashions

As a rule of thumb I always wash, condition and style my hair the night before I travel for a 2-3 day trip.  That eliminates the need for shampoo, conditioners or styling products.  I know not all hair types, textures and lengths can follow the same regime but for me it works great.

I also pack a soft headband which can double as a ponywrap along with 1-2 tort style hairclips.  My goal is to avoid setting off the security buzzers while keeping my hair looking great.  Depending on how long I'm on my trip I will wear my hair down, up in a twisted cinnabun or in a soft twist.

[amazon-product text="Kelty Hub Suitcase Backpack" type="text"]B001H329VM [/amazon-product]

Adding a pair of sparkly (but small) earrings ties it all together and can definitely dress up a simple look.

8.  Avoid notebooks, big power cords or other-bulky add-ons

I used to be afraid to travel without my notebook.  I eventually transitioned to a much smaller netbook and now I depend on my iPhone for any major communication needs.  Although I loved the freedom of having my note or netbook with me, they were bulky, heavy and a pain in the rear to lug around.

My motto now is to use my travel time to clear my head and minimize my electronic office leash.  I can still receive texts, emails and phone calls.  Enough said on that point.

Summary

If the airlines start charging for carry-on luggage and my handbag can no longer be a pay-free-zone I'll have to address this issue then.  For now, I'm saving the aggravation of waiting on a jet bridge for my tagged bag and paying $25-100 (depending on airline) for checked luggage.

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