The Ugly American: Unconscious Babies Make Nice Neck Pillows and Other Holiday Travel Trips

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1. Argue the Benefits of Alcohol

Booze will dry you out like you’ve been stuffed in a bucket of salt for a week. Ever wonder why hangovers feel like a shower of flaming hatchets falling on your head? Because all your blood vessels are constricted and sending torture spikes to the backs of your eyeballs due to the sudden lack of moisture in your hardened carcass. The cabin pressure of an airplane only intensifies this misery. So a huge advantage over the battle to survive long-haul flights is to not drink on long haul flights. This is a tough one, I know. You’ll have to weigh the importance of surviving the flight against actually standing the flight.

2. Dress Accordingly

People used to be so excited about taking trips that they dressed in their Sunday best to board the plane. But present-day travelers have not just abandoned that old-timey practice, they’ve taken it behind the barn and killed it with a shovel. Today it’s customary to see airports full of people wearing clothes dumpier than a load of moldy Mormon underwear, and why not? It’s safer to wear comfortable clothes. You never know when you’ll have to dive down an inflatable slide in order to escape a broken-apart fuselage burning up in a cornfield.

3. Bring Baby Benadryl

It comes in a dropper vial the size of lipstick and it’s not for you. (Your kids are grown.) It’s for the fool-ass new parents who brought their screaming, sinus-infected sprog onboard and now everybody’s eardrums are bleeding. Just reach into your travel-amenity kit and, bla-DOW!, be the hero. The parents may have boarded the plane full of earthy-crunchy conviction, but ten minutes into cruising altitude and they’d give the kid Mexican Quaaludes if they could. (Side tip: Unconscious babies also make nice neck pillows.)

4. Knock Yourself Out

Nyquil, which is one ingredient away from being a big bowl of Roofies, also comes in the form of travel-friendly gelcaps. Two Nyquil gelcaps and you’ll be drooling in such deep sleep you’ll have to be shaken awake by immigration agents upon arrival, after which there is a slight risk you’ll be in need of rehab.

5. Stop Freaking Out About Air Quality

Long-haul flights are usually serviced by large, newer airplanes such as the 777, the Boeing Airbus, the Bellagio AirHotel, etc. These planes are outfitted with sophisticated Hepa-equipped air filters that make the atmosphere inside the fuselage cleaner than the air in your office building, practically. So be realistic and freak out about potential surface contaminants instead. That tray table, for example, is a fetid cesspool of bacteria. And don’t even think of going to the lavatory, but if you must, just do as the other germaphobes do and urinate on the floor while aiming at the toilet from a hovering half squat so as not to come into contact with anything. So to recap: Swaddle yourself like a little baby Jesus, don’t touch anything, don’t drink liquor, but do dose yourself and any babies nearby, and have a nice flight. You’re welcome.

Photo: Craig Sunter, CC-BY

Hollis Gillespie is Paste Travel’s The Ugly American columnist. She is a writing instructor, travel expert and author of We Will be Crashing Shortly, which is on bookstore shelves now. Follow her on Twitter.