Bring Activities for Downtime

When you are an independent budget traveler, you are often faced with a lot of downtime because you are at the mercy of someone else’s schedule. You will have to get to the airport early, remain seated with your seatbelt fastened, wait on the platform for connecting trains and sit on the airport shuttle bus while the driver waits for more passengers. For these times (and lying on the beach or relaxing in your hotel room while you wait for the rain or snow to let up), it is nice to have some activities to enjoy. First and foremost: music. In the old days, you had to bring your Discman (or Walkman!) and a bunch of CDs or tapes to listen to. In order to cram more into your suitcase, you left the jewel cases at home and put the CDs into surprisingl expensive Case Logic. Nowadays, thousands of songs fit on an iPod the size of a half-full package of pocket tissues. But don’t make the mistake of loading up all of your songs at once and then selecting shuffle. Take the time to create playlists; calming music for the airplane (Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain make for a good start) and more up tempo music for getting ready to go out for dinner and drinks. You don’t want to be trying to sleep on the plane only to have “Four Horsemen” shattering your earballs.

If you just If you are an avid reader, books can really weigh your bag down, so load up that Kindle, Nook or iPad with your favorite reads. Just remember to bring the chargers and accessories for these devices or you will be left with a large paperweight. Those of us who prefer to read words on paper should bring a lightweight paperback or some magazines that you don’t mind leaving at the airport for someone else. Advantages to these (and New York Times Sunday crossword puzzles!) is that they can be used anytime, anyplace and without electricity. If you run out of things to read and you are in a country where you don’t speak their language, you may have trouble finding something to read in English, so try to bring enough. If you are traveling with someone else, a deck of cards or travel-sized Scrabble can go a long way (L&A has a running tally of cribbage scores going back to 2002).

Know Before You Go

“Bring a book for the plane” seems obvious enough, but with all of the other things to manage before you travel, leisure items can often be overlooked.

Bottom Line

Those who have mastered the practice of meditation and have a rich inner life may not need any diversions, but for the rest of us, having a little something to pass the time in seat 43E is necessary.

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