From a man who has been in more jets than taxi cabs...
1) Wear your most loose and comfortable pair of underwear. You are likely going to be seated for at least the next 4 hours, maybe more. If you have not thought of this before, you will every time from this moment forward.
2) When arriving at the airport, the later you check in, the better. The closer you are to check-in closing, the more people have checked in before you, the later your bag is placed under the plane. The reverse effect is what happens when they unload the bags, and yours will be one of the first on the baggage reclaim conveyor belt.
3) Have a fake return-flight ticket ready on your phone or laptop in case you have not bought a return because your return plans are volatile. Rather than spend money on uncertain dates, use this website to make your pass though check-in hassle free - http://www.returnflights.net/
4) Cheer lightly at security when you pass through the metal detectors and do not set them off. Pump your fist! Your enthusiasm will make security smile and break their mold from an otherwise drab day. *I have yet to be randomly selected for additional screening since I started cheering after passing through.
5) Head to a bookstore to check out the Top-10 listings to inspire your creativity. Scowl at anyone buying fiction.
6) You know all of those pesky small coins you have in your pocket? Spend them! They are no good to you in a foreign land anyhow and you will be sorting amongst them for the coins you actually do need once you have foreign currency in your pocket. Buy something inside the airport before you leave. Put all of the coins you have in your pocket on the counter and tell the person at the cash register that you will pay for the remaining portion of the purchase with your bank or credit card.
7) Smile and be nice to the retail people running cash registers. The last person was probably in a hurry and was probably a dick to them. Your smile can save their day.
8) Keep your passport upside-down when you have it out. Remain mysterious and keep people guessing.
9) Charge your phone at a power-source inside of the airport while you are waiting for your flight. It is difficult to know when you are going to have electricity again, so be sure to get powered up while you can.
10) Find sexual interests within the vicinity of your gate and smile at your favorite, hoping with a little lottery-luck that person will end up with the allocated seat next to yours for the flight. Or, perhaps they will remember your smile when you both arrive at your destination and you are equally as lost and confused as each other. Maybe then you can amalgamate your helplessness together and it will make you acquainted. See where that goes...
11) Use the airport toilet before you get on the plane. You will be glad you took care of business while you had free room to range in what will later seem like tons of space.
12) Be the last person to get on the plane. There is no reason to be a sheep in the line. No one is going to take your seat and if you have a checked bag, the plane is not leaving without you. They will call your name over the intercom if you are late. Get on last and you will not be caught in the line-up to wait for passengers standing in the aisles trying to determine how the alphabet system works to find their seats while putting their bags in the overhead compartments.
13) Ask the stewardess greeting passengers at the door of the plane if there are any window-seats open if you did not get one when you checked in later than everyone else. Show her your seat-number. Tell her you will be able to sleep if you have the stability of an airplane window-wall to put your head against. She will come and find you before the flight leaves if there is one free.
14) Smile at that stewardess with a genuine and friendly smile. That will make certain that she remembers to come and find you when she discovers there is a free window-seat.
15) No eating of beans of any kind for a minimum of 24-hours before your flight. No exceptions. You know better... You have likely been on one of those flights where someone within the other 8 seats that surround you did not follow this rule and you want to find the culprit and completely flip out on whoever is secret and silent but deadly.
16) If you are single, be certain to have one emergency condom in your carry-on bag. You never know who you are going to end up sitting beside (see #10). The Mile-High Club is not so unattainable to become a member of should you find the right flight partner. Do not miss an escalated opportunity because you were unprepared. Stranger things have happened.
17) Bring your own earphones with you. Many carriers will try to sell you a set, or else they will provide you with ones that are really lousy. Your own set are always better.
18) Make sure you have an earphone splitter with you in your backpack as well. A splitter allows you to plug two sets of earphones into the same device. This can change an entire flight if someone cool is sitting beside you. *One of my best flights was on the worst carrier (Ryanair) between London and Athens where I brought out my iPod + splitter after I made friends with a Greek girl next to me who plugged in with me... We rocked-out together for the entire flight, having our own concert in our own world where no one else on the plane mattered as we alternated songs, jointly head-banging in our seats.
19) Red-wine your red-eye. One glass or two of red wine should help to put you to sleep on that overnight flight.
20) Get off the plane in an orderly fashion when it arrives at your destination, but, once you get through the gangway, step up a gear and walk faster than everyone else. The entirety of fellow airplane passengers from your flight will also be heading to immigration, so all you have to do is walk faster than the crowd to be 150 people ahead in the passport control line-up.
21) Now, get out there and go and see the world!
Stephen Harris was a farm-boy/cattle rancher from Big Beaver, Saskatchewan, Canada. He is now a freestyle journalist, a rock and roll ambassador, a travel-holic, and a good time always happening who lives every day like it might be his 3rd last. He is also the proud voice behind www.bigbeaverdiaries.com.