5 Expert Travel Tips from a Flight Attendant

iStock
iStock

Travel is one of the most satisfying experiences in life, but it can also totally wear you out. Between the crowds of people, the overpriced airport food, and flight delays, there are so many ways travel can go wrong. We talked to Bianca DiValerio, a flight attendant who also blogs about her goal of early retirement at MissMazuma, about how to make the travel experience more efficient. She gave us five solid tips for making the most out of your trip.

1. PACK LIGHT.

One of the biggest mistakes many travelers make is bringing too much stuff with them. “I once saw a hiking documentary where someone said that we carry all of our fears in our luggage,” DiValerio says. “What if I need this? What if this goes wrong? But what if it rains? Whatever it is, handle it when it happens. That is part of the joy of travel!”

If you’re traveling alone, you can likely bring everything you need in a small carry-on that fits under your seat. If not, pay to check your bags (or fly with one of the few airlines that still offer free checked bags) so that you don’t have to carry them all over the airport while you wait for your flight. Many people are afraid to do this because they don’t want to wait at baggage claim, but DiValerio says most airlines have sped up this process. “I promise they come out way faster than they used to,” she says.

One final packing tip: Instead of wasting precious luggage space for toiletries and essentials, consider buying these at your destination.

2. GET THERE EARLY.

You might be surprised at how many travelers don’t show up to the airport with ample time, DiValerio says. Err on the side of getting there too early rather than too late. “Planes leave at the scheduled time,” she says. “They can close the door for boarding 10 minutes earlier than the departure time and give your seat away to a standby. So get there early.”

A good rule of thumb is to get to the airport an hour before your scheduled departure. If it’s an international flight, get there two hours early.

3. GET SOME EXERCISE.

OK, so you’ve made it to the airport early and now you’re bored. What to do? “Most people hit the bars and restaurants to pass time,” DiValerio says. But she advises against this: As most seasoned travelers will tell you, the food is always overpriced and usually terrible. Instead, use the time to get some exercise and move around, which is especially important if you’re going to be sitting for the next few hours. “I like to take advantage of ground time by walking laps to get my steps in or just sitting and people watching,” DiValerio says. “Everyone is coming and going. There is excitement all around and, if we take a moment to look up from our devices, that energy is contagious.”

Of course, if you get sick of that, you can always get back on your device to binge watch some Netflix to pass the time. Make sure to download your shows in advance so you can watch without Wi-Fi.

4. BE CAREFUL WITH THE BOOZE.

If you feel completely out of it when you have a single drink on your flight, it’s not your imagination. “One drink in the air equals two on the ground,” DiValerio says. “Low cabin pressure equals less oxygen, which is the main attribute to such magic, so don't think you can beat it. You will wind up arriving a disheveled, drunken mess.” So go slow.

5. BE KIND TO THE CREW.

Yes, delayed flights can be a nightmare, but remember: It’s not the crew’s fault. In fact, they may be even more bummed about the news—it means they’re not getting paid. “Our pay starts when the forward entry door is closed,” DiValerio says. “That means every time we are boarding or deplaning or the flight is delayed due to weather, mechanicals, or medicals, we aren't making money.”

Thus, a little kindness will go a long way when you’re stuck on the ground. “We’re just as anxious to get on the move as you are,” DiValerio says. “If it happens to be the end of our trip, we too have families waiting for us at home, parties to get to, holidays to enjoy, and funerals to attend.” So remember, you’re in it together. And once you’re in the air, you want to make sure the flight attendant is your friend.

Eco-Friendly, Reusable Deodorant Containers Are Good for the Earth and Your Pits

Myro
Myro

A fair amount of plastic goes into keeping your armpits smelling fresh. Few of us recycle our empty deodorant tube after swiping on that last layer, after all. In many cases, it’s not even clear if you can, though there are a few special recycling programs that make it possible. But one company aims to make it easier to both smell clean and keep the planet clean.

Myro deodorant comes in refillable, reusable packaging, as Design Milk reports. The essential-oil-based deodorant comes in pods that you can pop into colorful reusable canisters. Created by the award-winning industrial designers at the New York studio Visibility, the fashionable containers are also made with 50 percent less plastic than most drugstore deodorant sticks, according to the company.

The deodorant sticks aren’t fundamentally different than something you might pick up at the drug store, even if they would look more at home on the shelves at Urban Outfitters or Anthropologie than CVS. You use a dial at the bottom of the tube to advance the deodorant stick, and when you reach the end of the deodorant, the pod that held the formula pops out. You can then refill it with one of Myro’s replacement pods. If your container needs a deep clean, you can stick it in the top rack of your dishwasher.

A red-orange deodorant canister next to a Myro refill pod
Myro

The deodorant itself doesn’t use the standard aluminum or baking powder formula, instead employing an antimicrobial agent made from sugar to reduce smells and barley powder to absorb moisture.

Myro deodorant comes in five different scents that you can mix and match with five different packaging colors. There’s Solar Flare, a mix of orange, juniper, and sunflower; Big Dipper, a blend of bergamot, lavender, and vetiver; Cabin No. 5, which smells like vetiver, patchouli, and geranium; Pillow Talk, made with violet leaf, ylang ylang, wild amyris; and Chill Wave, a blend of cucumber, jasmine, and spearmint.

One Myro deodorant, including the refillable container, costs $10 and can either be bought one at a time or through a subscription that ships refills every three, four, or six months. The refills can also be purchased one at a time. Customers that subscribe will receive free shipping, while one-time purchases will include a $5 shipping fee. You can pause your subscription or switch scents at any time.

Check it out here.

[h/t Design Milk]

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

5 Trouble-Shooting Tips to Keep Your Houseplant Alive

iStock
iStock

Maybe you’ve heard that houseplants can help improve indoor air quality. Perhaps you’ve read that looking at plants can help you focus. Or maybe you just really like how that ficus looks in your living room. But buying a plant and keeping it alive are two different things, and the answer to your botanical woes isn’t always “don't forget to water it.” Here are five green-thumb tips to make sure your plant stays as leafy green as it was the day you bought it.

1. Don't overwater your houseplant.

You don’t want to neglect your plant, but it’s easy to go overboard with the watering can, and that can be just as harmful as forgetting to water your plant for weeks. A watering schedule can help you keep track of whether or not your plants need attention, but you shouldn’t water just because it’s Sunday and that’s when you usually do it. Before you go to water your plant baby, make sure it actually needs it.

Your plant’s water needs will vary based on the type of plant, its location, how old it is, and plenty of other factors, but there are a few rules of thumb that can put you on the right track. Lift the pot. If it’s heavy, that means that the soil is full of water. If it’s light, it’s dry. Dig a finger into the soil around its roots, making sure to feel beneath the surface. Still damp? Hold off. Dry? Grab the H2O.

If you really struggle to strike the right balance between too much and too little water, consider a smart plant system. And regardless of how often you water, make sure to use a pot with good drainage to prevent root rot.

2. Watch the temperature of the room your houseplant is in.

Be aware of where your plant is situated in the room, and whether there might be any temperature extremes there. Is your fern sitting right above the radiator? Is your peony subject to a cold draft? Is your rosemary plant stuck leaning against a window during a snowstorm?

As a rule, most houseplants can handle temperatures between 58°F and 86°F, according to a bulletin from the University of Georgia. The ideal range is between 70°F and 80°F during the day, and between 65°F and 70°F at night. Below 50°F, sensitive plants can suffer damage to their leaves. However, as with most plant advice, it depends on the species—tropical plants usually do well in higher temperatures, and some other plants are happier in colder rooms.

If your sad-looking plant is sitting in the middle of a cold draft or right next to the heater, consider moving it to a different spot, or at least a few inches away. If it’s near the window, you can also draft-proof the window.

3. Maintain humidity for your houseplant.

Be mindful of the kind of ecosystem that your plant comes from, and know that keeping it happy means more than just finding the right amount of sun. A tropical plant like an orchid won’t thrive in dry desert air. According to the Biology Department at Kenyon College in Ohio, a dried-out plant will look faded and wilting. You can immerse it in water to help it bounce back quickly. (Warning, though: A plant that’s getting too much moisture can look that way, too.)

If your home gets dry—say, when you have the heater on full blast in the winter or the AC on constantly during the summer—you’ll need to find a way to keep your plant refreshed. Your can buy a humidifier, or create a humidity tray by placing the pot on a tray of pebbles soaked in water. The plant will soak up the humidity as the water under the pebbles evaporates. You can also get a spray bottle and mist your tropical plants periodically with water. (But don't mist your fuzzy-leafed plants.)

Not sure how humid your house is? You can get a humidity gauge (known as a hydrometer) for less than $10 on Amazon.

4. Look out for bugs on your house plant.

Even if you do all of the above correctly, you can still struggle to keep a plant healthy due to infestations. Keep an eye out for common pests like spider mites, which will leave brown or yellow spots on leaves or make the plant’s color dull. If you discover these tiny mites (you may need to use a magnifying glass), wash your plant immediately with water to knock off as many mites as possible. Wash the plant with an insecticidal soap, too, but make sure the label says it’s effective for mites.

5. Repot your houseplant.

Healthy plants often outgrow their homes. if you notice that there are roots coming out the drainage holes at the bottom of your pot, or that water sits on the surface of the soil for a long time before draining down, or that your plant’s roots are coming up out of the soil, it’s time to upgrade to a bigger pot. Signs of a “root bound” plant whose root system is too big for its container can also include wilting, yellowed leaves, and stunted plant growth.

No matter what the size of your plant, it’s good to repot it once in a while, since the nutrients in the soil deplete over time. Repotting creates a fresh nutritional start and can help perk up unhappy plants.

If your plant looks unhealthy and you're still stumped, try consulting the website of a university horticulture department for other signs of plant distress and potential solutions.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER