Playing With Yourself and Other Ways to Endure a Flight


You wake up at SeaTac, SFO, LAX. You wake up at O’Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, BWI. Pacific, mountain, central. Lose an hour, gain an hour. This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time. –Chuck Palahuniuk, Fight Club. I always identified with this sentiment, because even though travel was my livelihood, it made me miserable. Airports are lonely, soulless places, and being on a plane can be trying, not just for flight crew, but for passengers. When I reach my destination, I am usually parched, hungry, cranky, and ready to crawl into a hole. Since traveling by plane is a necessary evil for the majority of the population, I thought I’d share some thoughts on how to make air travel less wretched:


Avoid having to wear adult diapers. If, like me, you have a frequent peeing issue, make sure you book an aisle seat. I used to wear Depends on my drive to work from San Diego to LAX. Trust me, it’s not pleasant sitting in your own urine for any amount of time. And if you’re not wearing a diaper, you have to be a contortionist to get over your seat mates to use the lavatory.


If you get stuck in a middle seat, make sure you bring a travel neck pillow; you’ll be more comfortable. And if you are one of those lucky people who aren’t challenged with frequent urination, window seats are most comfortable for curling up and taking a nap.


Have your own pill party. Before you fly, get a prescription for Xanax or Valium. Popping a downer or sleeping pill right after take-off will make the lavatory less repugnant, the Chatty Cathy next to you sound like she’s singing a lullaby, and the frightening turbulence more like a gentle sway in a hammock. However, it’s a good idea to test your pills pre-travel. Ambien often causes people to flash their genitals in public; Valium mixed with wine can turn you into a drooling clown. Please figure this out at home; you don’t want to dance naked in front of everyone on your flight. If you cannot take prescription drugs, homeopathic tablets such as Hyland’s Calms Forte are a helpful alternative.


Stock up.  Once you’ve passed through airport security, buy a large bottle of water, even if costs twice as much as what you’d have paid outside the airport. Once you’ve been in flight more than an hour, you will be parched. And the shot-sized cup of water you get during the beverage service is not going to do it for you. Also, bring or buy some snacks and, if you’re on a long flight, a meal. Some airlines offer a free meal service in main cabin, but you don’t want to rely on half-cooked chicken for sustenance during a six-hour flight. Having the runs in an airplane bathroom is a calamity no one should have to endure.


Avoid a Camel Toe. Wearing tight jeans, or any constricting clothes, will cut off your circulation and split your genitals in half (yes, I do mean both men and women). The result: a camel toe—when, due to overly tight clothing and anatomical factors, the outline of a person’s labia or penis/balls resembles the forefoot of a camel. Since the cabin is pressurized, your body will bloat. A lot. Imagine wearing your size 8 jeans in a pressurized cabin, and your body swelling to a size 12. Now imagine what your crotch looks and feels like. So wear something comfortable, like loose jeans or a long skirt with room in the waist.


Tune out. Bring an iPod or earplugs unless you want to hear someone’s life story or listen to other in-flight unpleasantries.  I immediately don my headphones when I get to my seat. I smile at the person next to me, but don’t feel trapped into talking because I can’t hear them anyhow.


Play with yourself. Many people who play games on-line admit that they lose track of time, and can’t explain why. A Czech study found that gaming manipulates the temporal frames in our brain to alter time perspective. Sudoku (on-line or on paper), Words With Friends, Angry Birds—whichever games engage you—all have the capacity to make a six hour flight feel like two hours.


If you aren’t into gaming, reading a good book or watching a movie are two other ways to forget you’re stuck in a metal tube at 35,000 feet.


Be kind. Mot importantly, be polite to your flight attendants. Even if they’re scowling. Try waking up at 2am and having to stay awake and on your feet for 15 hours. How would your face look? A person who says “please” and smiles at me gets a comped Jack & Coke; a person who acts entitled and demanding gets crop dusted. From crop dusting:farting while walking; walking while farting;

I crop dusted my way down the aisle.

I’d much prefer enjoying an in-flight libation to smelling an angry flight attendant’s flatulence.


Happy travels.