I travel a lot and enjoy it. Strange or even unfathomable to some, I find big airport terminals sort of invigorating, containing multiple possibilities of new places and experiences. In the first year of book promotion for Israel Rising, I was regularly throughout the US, coast to coast. I am back and forth to Israel with Ezra Adventures groups, photo shoots, and future book research. Along the way, I’ve learned a few travel tricks that make things easier for me- some by awkward trial and error, others by taking advice from seasoned travelers while sitting at an airport bar. Since I’m often asked about life on the road and “living the dream” (haha, the grass is always greener, right?) here are a couple of secrets that are with me on most travels:
1. Packing cubes- I used to think this was silly… until Israeli airport security showed me the light. I have been unceremoniously, utterly and unremorsefully unpacked at security checkpoints, while I waited for trained personnel to intently search out “the wires” (aka, my electric toothbrush) hidden somewhere in my bag. Then to be quickly pushed to the side, while the older and cantankerous Russian couple behind gives me the suspicious hairy eyeball. Dirty laundry, perfectly wrapped breakables, my trail worn hiking sandals that are wrapped in a plastic bag to bring any odor below a toxic level- it’s all open and on the table. Now I’m trying to set a speed record in restuffing my bag with what took some serious Tetris like skills to fit perfectly hours before. Not to mention my unashamed body sprawl over my bag as I pray the zipper closes while the impatient line piles up behind me. No more. I now have 3-4 packing cubes, organized, prepped and ready for the most invasive of inspections. I’m usually in and out with minimal effort while shuffling past the novice travelers learning the hard way. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t smile at their familiar struggle as I pass on by.
2. Bose noise canceling earbuds- As I write this on yet another plane, I am using them right now. They are small and comfortable, have the best noise canceling tech that I’ve experienced and the sound is amazing for my airline movie marathons, chill music or audio books. Studies have shown that the noise canceling tech actually reduces fatigue and stress on longer flights. I’m a believer through experience and need any advantage I can get. When I’m driving, the small mic makes an easy hands-free set up. If I’m away from home, they are in my bag, period.
3. Compression socks with a silver thread weave- Call me eccentric but it works on several fronts. These ain’t your mom’s compression stockings. I learned and dropped the cash for these years ago while training for a half-marathon. Knee high compression socks will promote blood flow while sitting for long periods of time, reduce swelling and reduce travel fatigue. Hidden quietly under my jeans, no one is the wiser. Furthermore, silver infused threads are woven into these socks. Silver is a natural bacteria killer, which is the cause of much of our body and foot odor. That means I can wear these babies for WEEKS, not wash them, give them the sniff test and find they are daisy fresh. Recently on a long flight from Amman Jordan, I sat beside a large Arab man who thought it was a good idea to take off his socks and shoes before the boarding had even ended. Nope. That was not ok. Even after doing the “ugly run” (ie: running while carrying or pulling bags) thru a humid foreign airport to catch my next flight, I can confidently take off my shoes on a long flight, knowing that that funky aroma isn’t coming from my feet. If I’m flying overseas, there’s a good chance I’m wearing them.
4. Quality Snacks- If I fly anywhere without some choice snacks, I regret it, both financially and emotionally. Do I fast or pay the mafia-esque inflated airport food prices? No one really enjoys being tossed a small bag of pretzels, peanuts or some high fructose processed cookie on a crowded flight. As a result, I often have at least one these treasures in my bag that cover the 4 minor food groups- Caffeine, salty, sweet and spicy: 1) Dark chocolate expresso beans- these caffeine pills covered in dark chocolate can make any weak and crappy airline coffee taste better, improve the dreaded peanut or pretzel snacks if necessary and give a nice little energy boost right before landing. 2) raw trail mix- Easy to pack, the fat content in nuts help to satisfy hunger until you can find some real food. 3) Chili Spiced dried mangos- pleasantly sweet, yet hot from the spicy peppers, these are addictively yummy.
This is just the beginning. Find me on a layover or delayed flight somewhere and I’ll be happy to divulge other secrets. If any other road warriors out there that can add to my list, I’m all ears.
Doug Hershey is the author of Israel Rising, conference speaker and founder of Ezra Adventures, an Israel focused travel and education company. From years of hands-on experience, cultivating unique relationships in Israel and a love for history, Doug provides a rare perspective on the connection between the Jewish Scriptures and present day Israel. When he is not in Israel, he is speaking in churches and synagogues about the prophesied restoration of Israel.