Ten tips for smarter packing

If you haven’t checked out the search engine Mahalo, you might be pleasantly surprised. Mahalo’s goal is to hand-write and maintain the top 50,000 search terms. The effort they’re putting into these articles is refreshing. They’ve even tackled a subject near and dear to Gadling; ten packing tips for your next trip.

I was glad to see that I’ve incorporated at least eight out of ten of the tips when flying. For now, I might pass on donating my clothes at my destination, and I would add a couple of others, like making a checklist–which admittedly I still haven’t done even after forgetting to bring pants on my last London trip. To avoid the real horror of forgetting a power adapter for my laptop, I’ve bought an extra to leave in the suitcase permanently, along with my second set of toiletries which are a must.

How about you? Let us know of any tips that you’ve discovered to make packing less of a pain or if you’ve found a better way to travel light.

Mahalo: How to Sleep on a Plane

I’ve never been able to sleep on planes. Sure, I doze off occasionally, snapping my head forward every few minutes in a shot of confusion — but I’ve never truly slept in a way that leaves me feeling refreshed upon landing. It’s either too crowded, too loud, too hot, too cold, too comfortable; I can always find a reason to toss and turn. One of the only times I was able to really fall asleep was on an Alitalia flight to India, but that was because they served unlimited, free beer and wine. You get the picture.

The “human powered search engine” Mahalo has a handy how-to on sleeping on a plane. A lot of the info is obvious if you’re a semi-regular flier, but there are some tips that I hadn’t heard before. For instance, did you know the National Sleep Foundation says alcohol prevents sleep? I beg to differ. PLEASE let me differ. PLEASE.

Anyway, the how-to is broken up into 6 helpful steps:

  1. Book the right seat
  2. Prepare before your flight
  3. Use accessories to increase your comfort
  4. Warn people you plan to sleep
  5. Use sleep medications
  6. If money is no object, fly business or first class

Overall, it’s another great guide from the folks over at Mahalo. It should have you sleeping on planes in no time. But since it is a human-powered search engine, I, as a fellow human, would like to offer up a piece of advice for addition. The how-to warns that both the last row and the rows in front of the exit seats often do not recline, so you shouldn’t sit there unless you plan on sitting upright the entire time. Fair enough. However, if your seat does recline, mind the person sitting behind you. Even though the seats are designed to recline with minimal intrusion of your backseat neighbor’s personal space, it doesn’t always work that way — especially if they’re eating. So do everyone a favor, and communicate with the person behind you. Is he or she eating, or working a laptop perhaps? Don’t recline your seat quite yet. Instead, turn around and ask, “I’d like to recline my seat when you’re finished eating. Is that a problem?” Nobody likes a head of hair in their lap as they try to choke down the already-questionable food.

Or you could always just buy the Knee Defender.

Mahalo on How to Fly With Kids

Mahalo has been cranking out lots of travel-related how-to articles lately: how to book a cheap hotel room, book a cheap flight, successfully bid on travel, fly with pets, and their latest on how to fly with kids.

I don’t have kids, but I used to be one. I remember a trip to England with my Mom when I was 4 or 5 years old. Before we boarded our trans-Atlantic flight, I got lost in JFK airport. I can only imagine the pace at which my mother’s heart raced when she turned around to see her 4-year-old out-of-sight in one of the nation’s busiest airports. Luckily I was a smart little kid, and I wondered back to the women’s restroom where we had just came from. She found me waiting patiently inside the doorway, but by that time the airport staff had already been alerted. One of the gentleman who was in the search party gave me a NASA-branded Matchbox car to celebrate. I remember the strangest things.

One of the most useful parts to Mahalo’s guide is tips on keeping your kid entertained during the flight. Nobody likes a screaming, out-of-control kid, especially when they’re locked in the same tube as you at 35,000 feet. I usually feel bad for the parents… as long as they’re at least attempting to settle the child. It’s a weird feeling: I hate you and your child for giving me a headache, but I understand that kids are kids, they’re going to scream and cry from time to time — especially when locked in a tube at 35,000 feet. So it’s okay.

I was easy to entertain, apparently. I spent the majority of my time on that first flight to England untying and re-lacing my saddle shoes while drinking ginger ale.

Mahalo: How to Fly With Kids