I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately, mostly to teach meditation, but also to see friends, go to weddings, funerals, etc. While the idea of being in new places all the time really suits my Gemini tendencies, I don’t often love moving through airports and being on airplanes.
Here I would like to share with you some tips from my traveling mistakes to help make traveling a bit more friendly for you, whether you’re a meditator or not.
1. Pack Light
Take no more than one change of clothes for every 3 days you’re going to be on the road.
So for a week trip, you should have no more than 3 changes of pants and maybe 4-5 tops. Washing clothes or finding a good and inexpensive fluff and fold service on the road is pretty easy.
2. Pick a good airline seat
I’ve been using a site called seatguru.com that allows you to enter your flight number and displays a seating chart with the best and worst seats on the plane. If you’re tall, this can be a life saver because it also let’s you see how much leg room there is on that flight, how wide the seats are, and whether there’s Internet or power outlets on the plane and which seats they are located in.
3. Fly the same airline
I’ve never really cared about frequent flyer programs before I began traveling a lot, but ever since I became a frequent flyer with one of the major airlines, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed not having pay for checking bags or waiting in the long security lines.
4. Keep it small
Not only is carrying your luggage onto the flight less expensive, but you don’t have to spend an extra 40 minutes waiting for your luggage. Invest in a sturdy bag with good wheels. Companies like Tumi and Swiss Army offer lifetime warranties on your luggage. So even though it may be more expensive, you’ll have it forever. Once in NY my wheel broke in transit (because my bag was cheap) and it turned into an unnecessary hassle. Make sure your carryon bag is made for carrying on. Some bags look like they would fit in an overhead compartment but they’re too big. Ask the salesperson. They should know.
5. Use public transportation when available
The subway goes to the airport in major cities like DC, NY, Chicago, Vancouver, SF. They can oftentimes be faster and less expensive than using a taxi. You can use the time you would be waiting for your luggage to roll right onto the subway and spend the money you saved not taking a cab on a nice dinner for yourself once you arrive at your destination.
6. Bring food or snacks!
DO NOT rely on airport food for a decent meal. I’ve learned this the hard way too many times. For people with even a slight sensitivity toward a clean diet, your typical American airport restaurants will leave you choosing between Chili’s-to-Go and Cinnabon. A little pre-planning will go a long way here. I almost always stop at Wholefoods or at a restaurant on the way to the airport to bring food. Even if I’m flying business class, I like having healthy alternatives. There’s nothing better than arriving feeling nourished. And there’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination feeling famished, headachy and dehydrated.
7. Make only a few plans
If you’re going for work, you obviously will have a pretty set agenda. But if you’re traveling for pleasure, keep your plans lite. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve arrived in a place with no plan and ended up finding a better situation than the one I intended for myself. It’s more the rule than the exception. The best things that happen on the road happen when we least expect it.
Make rest a priority when you’re traveling between time zones, so you don’t get sick. The immune system gets severely compromised when we are sleep deprived. It’s not cold weather or people coughing that makes us sick, it’s a weakened immune system. So boost your immunity the old fashioned way by catching up on sleep first and then seeing the sites.
9. Avoid Red-Eyes like the plague
Try to arrive a day earlier if your schedule permits so you can get a good night’s sleep. Quality sleep is so important when traveling. Jet lag can dull our senses and lead to stupid mistakes. Also, seats in the coach session don’t recline enough for us to get even semi-deep sleep. You’ll walk off that plane with lite sleep at best, and you’ll end up paying for it later.
10. Bring a book
Just one book will do. Leave the magazines in the newstand. Magazines are such a waste of the Earth’s resources. With rare exception, the magazine title is better than the article. Any article worth buying a magazine for will easily be found online. So save your money, and more importantly save the planet. I haven’t tried the e-readers yet, but I’m sure those are cool too.
11. Bring a shawl
You can always use a shawl for meditation, for napping, for staying warm on the airplane, or for back or neck support. I always travel with my shawl.
12. Bring a smart phone
The apps make the Android, iPhone or iTouch very relevant to modern day traveling. There are apps to check in, that will display your boarding pass on the screen, there are apps with excellent map and navigation capability, apps for unit conversions, apps for finding apartments in foreign cities, apps for taking and sharing artistic photographs, for seeing the public transportation schedule, for finding any kind of food, for checking the weather, for comparing time zones, for making free video or phone calls. My iPhone has paid for itself ten times over by helping me travel easier on foreign roads.
Photo Credit: Ludovic Bertron
About the author
Light Watkins is one of a handful of expertly-trained independent Vedic Meditation teachers in the world. He is a masterful communicator and an expert at relating the ancient principles of meditation to regular folks using analogies and metaphors from everyday life. Light and his Vedic Meditation colleagues have personally taught tens of thousands of people from all walks of life to meditate over the last 40 years. Prior to becoming a full-time meditation teacher in 2007, Light worked for many years in advertising, both in front of and behind the camera. He grew up in Alabama and graduated with honors from Howard University in Washington, D.C. Light’s professional history involves work and achievements in publishing, design, the toy industry and the healing arts. Light is currently based in Venice, CA and regularly teaches meditation workshops throughout North America.