Getting to and from the airport:
- Although it's cheaper to park your car at a lot a short distance from the airport and ride the lot's shuttle bus, this presents another problem: Your shuttle driver may have his own fear of flying, which he might describe to you in great detail as you approach the terminal. One possible solution is to turn on your iPod, but as this might cause you to miss your stop, you might wish to just pony up and park at the airport. Or just ride a pony across country.
- You may be surprised to discover that NYC taxi cabs are now clean and new**, and accept debit cards, and think, "Wow, things have come a long way." Yes and no. You won't have an easier time finding a functional seatbelt than you did in, say, 1977, and the driving hasn't improved even if the driver's English has - a fact you will note when he explains to you that the overpowering odor you smell isn't him but the river. Seriously: don't forget your iPod, the new travel essential.
- Bring lots of books, particularly hardcovers. The extra weight in your carry-on will give you quite the workout as you navigate the airport, and who can't use more exercise? You won't need them for the flight, though, as others will generously share their own entertainment with you. For example, the couple in front of you may have brought only a laptop, an action movie, and no headphones, to entertain their two young children for the nearly six-hour flight. Enjoy the explosions and gunfire, and remember it could actually be worse: those two children might have had no entertainment at all. Turn the volume on your iPod to eleven and enjoy the flight.
- Sometimes, life gives you happy little surprises, like a tailwind that brings your plane (safely) to the airport a full half hour ahead of schedule. Your fellow passengers may immediately all turn on their cellphones to notify their friends that they have arrived early. Save your minutes! Just because your plane has arrived doesn't mean there's a gate available. And although it might be tempting to make a second call when a gate does free up 15 minutes later, remember, you still need a gangway operator if you are to actually get off the plane and into the airport, and it could take as long as a half hour for one to arrive. Of course you might want to call your friends to keep them updated, but keep in mind that all the other passengers do too, and so it may be difficult to hear the person you are calling over the din.
When you finally get to your hotel room, it may be later than you anticipated, so help yourself to the minibar. Gummi Bears and Diet Coke: The midnight snack of champions. Enjoy! You earned it.
**Which is to say, your feet don't stick to the floor.