How & Where I Traveled in 2017

Jan 7, 2018

How I Traveled

Air travel remained mostly terrible in 2017. I fly economy, but even for those in the premium cabins, the essential problem is that air travel is pretty unpleasant, starting with long security lines, poorly designed terminals, increasingly late flights (the US on-time percentage is down year-over-year, accroding to the US Department of Transportation) that are more crowded and offer smaller seats when you finally get on board (a Federal District Court ordered the FAA to look into "the incredible shrinking airline seat" in November). The one spot of good news that there were no fatalities on commerical airline flights in 2017, even while there were a record number of flights last year.

My basic philosophy with air travel is to minimize the impact all of the above can have on my travel. This boils down to a few components:

  1. Travel as light as possible to avoid baggage fees and the vagaries of checked luggage, bringing just a single bag on board;
  2. Aim to get on board as early as possible and go immediately to sleep (I find it hard to work on planes);
  3. If sleep is not possible, make sure you've got plenty of self-care available to make the hours you're awake tolerable.

My personal kit: If you're just bringing one carry-on, a backpack is a good choice. If it's a longer trip and I need to bring more/nicer clothing, I usually carry a Tom Bihn Areonaut 45 backback. On shorter trips, I've gotten used to using this 13 liter backpack from Stone & Cloth. For quick sleeping, I typically wear hoodie, carry a Nidra sleeping mask, and Bose in-ear noise-cancelling headphones (I'm still looking for a good neck pillow if you have recommendations). And by self-care, mostly mean downloading a lot on Netflix.

I finally learned to bring water and snacks with me on board in 2017. My go-to water bottle (for travel and home) is this one from Thermos. If I remember, I usually grab a bunch of snacks from the BuzzFeed canteen a few days before my flight, but the best and most travel-friendly snack is the humble peanut butter sandwich. If I feel fancy, I'll bring some bitters and raw sugar, too, and fix myself an Old Fashioned when the drinks cart comes around.

Finally, my travel hack of the year award goes to: Cup of Noodle. On a long international haul, there is no better mid-flight treat than a warm cup of noodles. All airplane galleys have hot water, so you can pad back and politely ask an attendant to fill it up for you, then slink back to your seat and get some of the chill out of your bones. Try it, I promise you will thank me.

Where I Traveled in 2017

I was on the road about the same percentage as last year, roughly a quarter of the time. I haven't included the nights I spent on planes in the past, but was curious what it would look like if I did, and it leapt into the #2 spot for me, ahead of Tokyo. That's only counting overnight flights, not lengthy daytime ones.

For next year, I imagine slightly fewer miles, as I'll be off for part of the early year for parental leave, but many long trips, as I'm hoping to get back to Brazil and Tokyo early in the year.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Scott, 2018