Many things improve with age; airline travel is not one of them.  Even before increased airport security slowed things down, the flying experience was loaded with stress-inducing delays and rude behavior. Frequent flyers just grit their teeth and bear it as best they can, but a bit of pre-planning can improve the quality of the experience enormously.  

How can you avoid an exhausting flight?  Here are some simple things that can make a big difference in lowering the stress and hassles of airline travel.

 ° Be considerate of your fellow passengers.  Sounds obvious to me, but considering the number of folks I see who seem oblivious to others, this one needs mentioning.  My personal pet peeve is people seated in the back of the plane who fill the front overhead bins with their luggage so they don’t have to carry it so far. Later boarders, assigned to the front seats, have no place to stow their stuff.  That’s both annoying and rude.  Equally irritating are portable video games that produce sounds when they’re played.  

 Cramped airplanes, indifferent service and bad food are annoyances enough.  Don’t be part of the problem, if you can help it. Your fellow passengers are not your adversaries, after all. 

 ° Come prepared to amuse yourself.  I’m often surprised by the tacky books I see my flying companions reading, books hastily purchased at the airport gift shop. If you know you have a couple of hours that would be ideal for reading, why not be selective and use it to read something worthwhile? 

° Carry a snack.  Even on short flights, you may be overcome with hunger.  Depending on the airport to provide food can be dicey. It’s worth the extra trouble to bring something healthy along. Dried fruit, nuts and crackers are great portable snacks.  Once a year, I eat an airport hot dog.  That cures me of neglecting to carry my own provisions. 

 ° Simplify, simplify.  It’s astonishing to see the amount of stuff people drag along when they travel. Although the airlines are getting fussier about the number of items you can check, I’ve seen several people that I’m certain were moving all their worldly possessions via the airlines. 

If you travel regularly, keep a toiletry bag stocked.  You might also have underwear, nightwear, a hairdryer and an umbrella stowed in your suitcase ready to go. Pare your travel wardrobe to the bare minimum and refuse to pack anything “just in case”. 

Another tip is to proudly carry cheap luggage. The expensive stuff doesn’t survive baggage handling any better than the bargain bags so if you’re going to have to replace it regularly, spend as little as possible to begin with.

 ° Be more than a traveler.  Having something exciting to look forward to can lower the irritation encountered getting there. Once you’ve arrived, be creative about the way you’ll spend your time at your destination.  If your trip is primarily for business, try to leave some time for sampling local attractions. 

Scout out things that are of personal interest, too.  If you are wild about railroad memorabilia or Victorian architecture or Japanese gardens, add to your knowledge in the places you visit.   While it’s not always possible to indulge yourself on every trip, anticipating at least one special pleasure at trip’s end will have a positive impact on your attitude—which is the most important weapon you have for combating whatever unpleasant surprises you encounter on the way.

Explore More: Want to see the world and create a profit center at the same time? So did Anne Estes and she’s doing just that as an international house/petsitter. 

When I first discovered the literature of personal growth and development, there weren’t many titles to choose from. Today there are thousands. I always have a self-help book or two in my current reading pile because there’s so much to learn.

However, the self-help movement has spawned plenty of dropouts. Why don’t all readers find this genre helpful? Here are some thoughts on that.

° Refuse to abandon skepticism. Hanging onto cherished beliefs is a guaranteed way to prevent growth. “I tried that positive things stuff once. Didn’t work,” is the motto of the self-help dropout. Simply reading a single book is not going to produce visible change. It’s more a process of chipping away at limiting thoughts and behaviors that have taken hold over years.

° Exercises are too much trouble. Most of us think of reading as zooming from the beginning to the end of a book. Self-help books invite us to slow down and take a low-speed journey. Exercises are like rest stops along the way, causing us to pause, reflect and apply.

° Wrong book at the wrong time. Personal growth is an evolutionary process and we expand our receptiveness one concept at a time. Sometimes a book arrives ahead of our readiness. When that happens, don’t abandon self-help. Try a different book.

° Don’t have a laboratory to experiment. You’ve got to have context. If you are in a position to try out new ideas and assess the results, you’ll start synthesizing healthier attitudes and behaviors more quickly. That’s one of the secret rewards of self-employment. Running our own business not only requires a high level of self-awareness, but also a commitment to on-going growth and improvement. Best of all, we can try out our new ideas every single day.

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting. ~ Henry David Thoreau