If you’re traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, and many bachelors do, don’t give in to eating poorly along the way. Too often, people justify eating fast food or unhealthy snacks by saying that’s what’s available at the airport. If you’re doing that, you’re asking for trouble down the road.
Traveling today, no matter what the conveyance, is a chore. Those folks who said the journey was half the fun didn’t fly on today’s airlines. The whole experience has become so difficult and frustrating that I avoid it as much as possible. Personally, I’m a big fan of passenger trains. But usually I’d rather drive for days than board a four-hour flight that turns into an eight hour ordeal.
The first frustration involves getting to the airport an hour or more ahead of your flight. That’s just so you can get through the security bottleneck. If you’re traveling during a holiday, make that two or three hours. You stand in line. There’s no place to sit or rest. You’re being scrutinized like a convict in a prison yard. Everyone around you is potentially guilty until proven innocent.
Going through security is degrading and humiliating. You have to all but completely undress. Everything in your bag is examined. Privacy is nonexistent. If you get past that hurdle, you have to try to put yourself back together in front of everyone, with people rushing by you, a perfect opportunity to have your things stolen.
Now, you’re stuck on the other side of the barrier. You don’t dare go back into the main terminal. And since there’s so many things you can’t take with you, you probably didn’t bring anything to eat. You’ve got a hour left before your plane boards, you’re hungry, you have no choice, or so you tell yourself.
Untrue! Carrying some easy snacks to eat while you wait or if your plane gets stuck on the runway waiting to take off, will not only improve your mood, but maybe the mood of those around you. It won’t take away all the hassles of flying, but anything you can do to make it less aggravating is worth it.
One thing you can count on, unless you’re flying in the middle of the night, is that you’ll be crammed into a seat that’s too small with no space whatsoever between you and the passenger next to you. Instead of dreading having to communicate in any way with that person who’s forced to violate your personal space, why not take an opportunity to make a new friend. One of the joys of traveling on a train is sitting in the dining car with three strangers and having to be civil, polite and interested no matter how much you don’t want to. It really opens your eyes to find out other people think exactly the same.
On a plane, you can’t count on any service at all. If there is some service, you’ll pay for it one way or another.
One good snack to take on the plane is raw veggies. If you’re someone who likes them, carrot and celery sticks can fill the bill. Usually, security will allow a little cup of peanut butter or dressing if it’s in a see-through container. A plastic baggie works great for the veggies. Just remember to not bring something with a pungent odor. Do not be that stinky person in an airless metal can. You know what I mean. So many people today bring onto the plane their bags from the fast food joints on the concourse, reeking of burgers, fries, pizza or cookies. If you’re hungry and stuck, that’s like torture. Remember the Golden Rule and don’t do to others what you don’t like done to you.
That’s where sharing comes in. Not only will it satisfy you and your too-close neighbor, but it just may make the experience less taxing. A big secret to that is chocolate. It helps the production of the brain chemical serotonin, which improves your mood. It also reduces stress hormones like cortisol. Make a bag of healthy trail mix using chocolate. There are several variations that can match your own tastes. And it’s easy to make without spending a lot of money, so you can make some to share.
Start with some granola cereal and/or freshly popped corn (without the salt) or puffed rice. Put them in a large mixing bowl, the largest you have. In a smaller bowl, melt some chocolate chips or almond bark with a couple heaping tablespoons of peanut butter in the microwave. Heat on high for one minute, stir, heat for 30 seconds and stir again. If it’s not fluid, heat and stir in 30 second increments until runny and smooth. Add the chocolate/peanut butter mixture to your bowl along with a handful or two of raisins, dried cranberries, cashews, almonds and/or peanuts. Stir the whole thing until thoroughly mixed. Spread onto a greased cookie sheet (maybe two) in a layer no more than a quarter inch thick. Allow it to cool for a couple hours, break into pieces and transfer to sealable plastic bags. You’re ready to go.
Obviously, this mixture can be modified to fit your needs and tastes. To cut back on the sugar, use my sugar-free, fat-free chocolate syrup instead of the chocolate chips. Just take equal amounts of cocoa powder and artificial sweetener and stir together with a little water, adding small amounts until you get the consistency you want. Using natural peanut butter instead of the usual will also reduce the sugar. You can use whatever combination of nuts and dried fruit you like.
If you have to travel, do everything you can to make it as pleasant as possible.