There is a competition being run by Virgin Australia and I am gonna share this entry with 'em.
It's all very well to gather tips about traveling with kids or old people, or determining what is best to wear, or what should be packed into you carry-on bag, or what airports are best for stop-overs, and of course Seat Guru will give you all the comparative info you need about seat sizes and plane configurations. All of this info is easily found and useful for 'normal' folk.
But what about those of us, who are other than normal?
Now there are many variations of 'normal' and I can't speak for them all, so here's my advice for people who do not travel well cos they go into panic attack mode - definitely different to flight mode, as soon as the fella in front slides their seat back, and I will include a little aside for migraine sufferers just for good measure.
If you have a fear of every other sod on the plane using up your air, then you need to plan well in advance.
Get your GP, who no doubt already knows most of your quirks, to fill in the airline medical form. Just a little note from your doctor I don't think is gonna cut it. Mine is a MEDIF form for Virgin Atlantic, but I have presented it to other airlines and it seems to be similarly effective. I am pretty sure you can download the forms or your travel agent will be able to help.
When you book your flights I reckon it's easier to do it with an agent cos they can see your letter and then they can call the Seating God and even if there is a policy of not pre-booking seats, usually it is possible cos let's face it, you are nutty, and no-one wants an 'episode' on board a short or long haul flight.
The aisle seats are the only ones to go for - an aisle exit row seat is the best even if you have to pay a few extra bucks for it....root around behind the couch cushions and find some coins cos it is definitely worth it. They will ask you if you are able to work the escape door and of course you are, cos you might be nuts, but that doesn't mean your arms don't work.
Get to the airport early and check in in person even though you will have checked in on line, cos sometimes changes happen and you could have been bumped out of your seat - yes this has happened to me, and then a little melt down is in order to ensure you get what you had already sorted.
Once you have your boarding pass you are pretty much guaranteed to be sitting where you think you are sitting, so you can plonk yourself down for a cuppa and a muffin and begin to enjoy your holiday.
Line up early to board, so you can get on and stow your handies- if you are in the exit row everything will need to go up up up, but don't sit down, wait til you inside passengers get there and let 'em in, cos there is no point sitting in that confined space any longer than necessary.
Not being very tall I often have to stare down giants who have the shits up cos I am sitting where there is more room. Just look 'em in the eye with a 'go to buggery' look on your face.
Listen to the spiel about how to work the door, and try hard to commandeer the arm rest...this is very dependant upon the pushie shovie battle with you neighbour.
Then just settle in.
If it's a short domestic hop, read your kindle or have a little nap.
If it's long haul, take your shoes off, down some Phenergan ( good idea to test drive this at home before your first flight in case it leaves you a drooling wide-awake mess) and see if sleep is possible. An eye mask and some gel ear plugs really do help.
The nutso repercussion for me on a long haul flight, regardless or whether I am in Economy or Business class, ( I have no First class experience - although I would not say, 'No' to giving it a burl )
is that all too often I wind up with a vomity migraine. It is best to carry what ever meds you need to counter the migraine with you, especially if your regime is Aspirin based cos planes seem to be only permitted to carry Panadol. What they will be able to help you out with is rubber gloves filled with ice and these little wonders wrapped in some paper towel placed behind your neck could bring relief.
If unfortunately the vomits cannot be avoided, take a sick bag and head to the loos. There is no room for the usual driving of the big porcelain bus, so you will need to sit on the loo and pop the bag in the sink and hurl away. There's not a lot of room, but there is more here than in your usual economy seat, so claustrophobic panic attacks should not be a problem. It's great when you only have to deal with one thing at a time.
It's not wise to hop into the champers if you have a migraine, but I haven't ever tried having so many that I fall into a stupor, and if you are on a 14 hour flight and if you think you have time to sleep it off, then maybe this is worth a go.
I reckon the number one bit of advice to nutso travellers is to be very very pleasant to the crew, cos you just don't know when you will need their help and I have seen people be wildly rude who are then surprised when there is not much help offered.
The crew are your own personal little angels - treat 'em well.
I have had panic attacks and migraines on planes more times than I care to remember and the staff have always just been wonderful. There's not much they can do but they do it well.
I like to read about travel advice outlining how to pack for a week by rolling shit together so it can fit into a thimble and where to go and what to do and who to see when you get there, but I reckon there might be space in the dim corners of travel guides for those of us who are in need of a little help in dealing with the demons.
Of course we are all different and just cos some of this works some of the time for me, doesn't mean it will work ever for anyone else. Good luck