Google “Tips for travel”. In around 0.24 seconds you’ll find “About 976,000,000 results”Try “Tips for flying”… you get 140,000,000+.


I may be mistaken, but I’m pretty darn certain that most of those, while useful, will regurgitate the same info over and over. Which is super fantastic if you have OCD tendencies and trust no one. Otherwise there are more than enough ‘pack light, check your luggage early’ options out there to keep even the most conscientious researcher happy. I wanted to do something different. So here is the first in my series of travel tips with a difference. Enjoy.

Fly Happy 2



Before you leave home, pack the essentials! What do I mean by essentials? Well…

  • Make sure you have your music (sometimes you may not feel like the latest local soundtrack). If the inflight movies suck and my other tips fall flat on their cute little asses, at least you can jam along to your favourite songs. According to the 100 million other lists, stretching on a long flight is good for you… Air guitar counts, right?
  • Pen & Paper. If you’re like me you’ll have your ‘specially designed for hipster travel’ travel notebook, your pen that looks like a panda, and your spare notebook that just happens to proclaim ‘Wanderlust’ on the cover (I’m NOT a hipster, I SWEAR!). Even if all you have is the back of an envelope and a biro, it will come in handy. Make sure the pen works before you leave.
  • A packet of gum. 2 actually – one mint flavour and one in fruity deliciousness. Trust me.
  • Something different that you like and kinda represents you. I like to take my rainbow slinky. It’s an interesting conversation starter, it makes people laugh, and if the music dies, you can play with it. Duh.

Talk to people.

You’ll find that this is something of a personal mantra. No matter how uncomfortable a flight or tedious a stopover, if you have someone to share it with it will be easier to manage. You can share jokes, experiences, whatever takes your fancy. You may pick up some advice for your destination – locals and travellers who have already been there will always have something useful to share. You might have a new friend for a few hours, or maybe even for life. But you will definitely learn something, and have much more fun. Who knows, you might even decide to meet up for a drink sometime soon. See why I said the pen and paper would be useful?  Electronics can die at the crucial moment, but when you need to get that new friend’s number *ahem*, old fashioned paper and ink will never let you down.

If you’re not like me and actually have social filters, striking up a convo with a random stranger may not be the easiest thing to do. This can be made worse by feeling nervous before a long flight, or gross after one. So here are some suggestions to start a dialogue with the person (yes, person; not a fire-breathing airplane demon from beyond) sitting next to you.

Talk to People

  • Offer them a piece of gum. Oh, look! You even have a choice of flavours. How handy. If they accept, there we go – you have an opening. You can say hi, ask where they’re from or where they’re going. I like to mix it up, and be a little more creative in my responses. Whatever you do, be confident, laugh (ONLY if something’s funny) and just relax. If they deny your awesome gum, you can still follow up and continue a conversation. If they are seriously grumpy and don’t respond at all, meh, that’s not your problem. While most people are happy to chat, sometimes with a little encouragement, some people aren’t – things occur in others lives that we don’t understand. Shit happens. So smile, shrug it off, and ask someone else.
  • Ask a practical question. For the shy, this is perfectly normal thing for people to do. Whether on the plane or in the airport, “Do you know if there’s Wifi?” is a very valid question. Ask my American friend, he knows. Wherever you are, the need for information is a valid reason to talk to someone you don’t know ( though I really don’t think you need one). Try not to ask for directions to something like the bathroom or ATM. Think about it – it’s kinda weird if you get the information for the closest loo, then stand there and stare at them. They may think you want company (goodness knows, you may get it).
  • Pull out your ‘interest piece’. I love my slinky. Firstly, because it’s a freaking rainbow, it’s fun to play with (addictive even), and well, it’s a slinky. It’s awesome. But it’s also unusual and nonthreatening – like me. It’s great for engaging people with; it amuses them when the see it, I amuse them when the see it fascinate me. It generally makes people smile. I like that. Once they’ve smiled, I offer them a go, or laugh at myself with them. Whatever it is you have, let it be something you can talk about – explain the reason for it’s existence in your life. Don’t be contrived – trying to look cool isn’t cool. Let it be something you already own and love. Keep it relatively small. Then chat about it.
  • Be observant. Notice that they’re wearing a band Tee you like? Reading a book you’ve heard of or enjoyed? Tell them.
  • Make an innocuos comment. Something like, “It’s really cold in here” can apply to everyone in your immediate vicinity. It has the added bonus of filtering potential chatters for you – those who react are more likely to engage.
  • Make a joke. It’s OK if it flops. The way I see it, there’ll always be at least one person laughing… Me. One of my favourites is, “So, do you come here often?”
  • Just say “Hey”. They won’t bite. If they do, you’ll have a great story for your friends. (Make sure you’re up to date with your shots before you leave home).

AND THERE WE GO. These tips can be applied to any social situation (Though I wouldn’t take an interest piece to a party – there are some places even my slinky shouldn’t go). Even if you say something silly, laugh inappropriately, or ask where the Payphone is while you’re standing next to it, you will survive. Laugh at yourself. Now go chat to people, and beat the boredom. Either way. Meeting new people will only help you grow.