This is an actual dumb thing that I began doing on my plane ride home from SDCC. BEGAN doing, I said. I did not actually complete the ridiculous act. It’s just that as I was scrolling through my list of soothing sounds in an ill-fated attempt to sleep on the plane (a feat which I have never accomplished in more than a 30ish minute stretch), I remembered that the “Airplane Noise” setting was the most relaxing and sleep inducing. Why is it then, that the actual sound of an actual airplane is probably my very least favorite sound?! I’m looking at you, science! Shouldn’t you have an answer for this? Is it a plane-based conspiracy, like chemtrails? Oh, it is? Never mind then.

Where's Carl? shirt - The Walking Dead Calvin and Hobbes Funny Mashup t-shirt, zombies

TIME FOR ACTUAL TRAVEL TIPS! 

1) Noise canceling headphones. My wife got me a pair of these for Xmas or a birthday or somesuch about a year ago, and they rank among my most treasured possessions. I’ve got a rather inexpensive ($80-90) set of noise canceling earbuds (portability was essential for travel) and they have actually changed my life. I find the elimination of engine noise, random chatter and general airplane general cacophony decreases my discomfort during air travel by at least 50%. I have very sensitive ears and all that unfocussed noise was always the aural equivalent of leaky roof dripping directly into my eye. Also the roof is leaking poison. Spicy poison. Notice I say it “decreases my discomfort” rather than “increases my comfort” because the latter would imply that there is a degree of comfort to be had on an airplane other than in first class. There is not. Speaking of…

2) American Airlines Main Cabin Extra. On my plane to San Diego I sat down in my middle seat (WTF, I selected WINDOW!) and noticed that my knees were not touching the seatback in front of me or positioned directly inside my own ribcage. In fact there was a good 12″ of space between my naturally positioned knees and the nearest immovable obstruction. For anyone in or around the 6′ tall range, this is a HUGE DEAL. Every aspect of my 3.5 hour journey was improved by this extra space. I could get to my bag easier, get in and out of the row easier, I didn’t feel as intimately adjacent to my row mates as I normally would in a middle seat and when I leaned the seat back to attempt to sleep, IT ACTUALLY RECLINED! MORE THAN TWO DEGREES EVEN! WHAT WAS THIS SORCERY?! The plane touched down and I immediately tweeted my confused delight regarding the embarrassing amount of legroom to which I, a lowly coach passenger, a thing worse than landing gear failure in the eyes of the airlines, had been gifted with. AA quickly responded via tweet letting me know that I was enjoying “Main Cabin Extra.” I didn’t select this feature or pay any extra for it, and I don’t know if it effected the entire cabin or just a few rows, but let me tell you, tall people, this is a thing that you need in your traveling life. I need to do some research and find out if there’s a way to guarantee the Extra on all my flights from now on, because it was entirely less uncomfortable than the accommodations I am accustomed to.

COMMENTERS: What is your essential travel tip or piece of discomfort decreasing travel gear?