18 August 2010

Take Along A Snack

On Valentine's Day 2007 there was a bit of a blizzard going on in New York. At 4 a.m. I awoke to catch a flight back to Los Angeles. From my hotel suite, I could see the streets were icy and snowy. I debated even trying to make my flight.

I checked my flight, it was still on time, 7 a.m. departure. By the time I got to the airport it had been delayed an hour. Finally mid-morning we boarded the plane, where we then sat until 4:30 p.m.! All the planes were waiting for pockets of clearing to take off and we had to stay on the plane so we'd be ready if it happened.

We got no movies, no food or water, for the entire day on the plane. By late afternoon a man in front of me was starting to crack and became very agitated towards the flight attendants. It was turning ugly. It had just been announced that we might be able to take off soon, so I was not about to let this guy start an air marshall take down in the cabin and further delay us.

"Eat these almonds, sit down and be quiet, Sir," I said firmly but kindly handing Mr. Hungry the small bag of almonds from my purse. "We've all been on this plane a long time and we don't need you getting removed to further slow the day." The flight attendants and my seat mates thanked me and Mr. Hungry quieted down. That was the last I saw of my almonds.

I had eaten breakfast in the airport. But my cell phone battery was almost dead and my charger was in my suitcase. I had one half-full water bottle and the small bag of almonds I kept in my purse. Because of my delay I really needed my phone the entire day to call work, my ride in LA, and my friends in NYC who were wondering what was happening with me. I turned my phone off to preserve every bit of juice. I had just enough to check it every couple of hours and then call my ride when I arrived back in L.A.

In my defense on this trip I thought I had plugged in my phone and the charger was not plugged into the wall. Every time I have traveled since then I have traveled with a phone charger in my carry on and a charged battery the night before.  There are always available plugs in airport concourses.

Water and snacks-wise I could've done a lot better too. One of the best snacks I have traveled with is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich tightly wrapped up. Almonds are great too, but can get pretty uninteresting with only water to drink. Cut up veggies and fruit along with goldfish, graham or saltine crackers with cheese are good too.

I learned my lesson that day. These kinds of emergencies usually happen when least expected and at the worst possible times. They can happen if a sudden road closure traps you on a freeway or out of the way highway, if you are away from home and suddenly evacuated to safer location, or on trains and planes. If you are traveling with small children emergencies like this can turn vastly worse much more quickly.

While these days are going to be a bit miserable anyway, a few minutes of additional planning to grab some healthy snacks and sufficient water make them less vastly more survivable. Happy traveling!

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