Crowds, long lines, delays, lost luggage: Navigating a busy airport can be stressful in the best of circumstances—and it’s even worse during the busy holiday season. Luckily, at a number of airports nationwide, you can now find various animals on hand to reduce stress and anxiety, boost happiness—and, in some cases, even keep us safer.
At my local airport SFO, LiLou the pig greets weary travelers and calms nerves by offering snorts and selfies. She’s just one of about 300 therapy animals (including dogs, cats and rabbits) taking part in the airport’s SPCA Animal Assisted Therapy Program. But LiLou is special not just because of her adorable costumes and painted hooves, but also because she is the very first pig greeter!
Dear friends, are you traveling anywhere fun this holiday season? While I’m staying close to home this month, I will be flying to Florida in the new year for my annual class at The C.A.R.E. Foundation. This year’s topic? “Mindfulness With Exotic Animals.” I can’t wait!
Of course, getting to Florida from San Francisco requires a pretty long plane flight. I fly a lot for business these days, so feeling relaxed in flight means packing a well-thought-out carry-on. For me, that means making sure I have the following 10 items, no matter what:
1. Sleep mask: Sometimes you just want to doze on the plane or tune out others around you. My go-to sleep mask is the Bucky 40 Blinks mask. It’s lightweight, super comfortable and designed so your lashes have room if you blink.
2. Remedies: I seem to get sick or worry that I’m getting sick half the time when I’m traveling. Oscillococcinum, Emergen-C or COLD-EEZE zinc lozenges give me a little peace of mind if I think I’m coming down with something. I also like to have some Advil on hand, just in case a headache strikes.
3. An awesome book you don’t want to put down: It’s sometimes hard to find the time to read, isn’t it? But when I’m on a flight, I feel I can finally fall into that book that’s been sitting on my nightstand for weeks. I highly recommend Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awakening Your Life’s Purpose if you haven’t read it yet.
4. Healthy snacks: Most airlines don’t sell snacks anymore—but if they do, they’re probably not healthy. So I like to bring a little stash to get me through to the other side. My go-to soy-free protein bar is from Vega One: Chocolate Coconut Cashew is the yummiest! Veggie sticks, nuts, dried fruit and granola are always good options, too. My absolute favorite granola is Love Crunch Dark Chocolate & Red Berries! But these days I’m eating my second favorite, as it’s gluten-free: Kind Oats & Honey Clusters With Toasted Coconut.
5. My laptop: It’s got my favorite movies and music, and I’m set for hours. I just have to make sure the battery is fully charged.
6. Dramamine: Maybe it’s because I have such tiny ears, but I tend to get a bit woozy in planes. Rather than risk a motion-sickness headache, I just pop a Dramamine. Plus, it will help me get my nap in!
7. Tissues: You can’t predict when or why you will need a tissue, but you will. Bring a little travel pack with you or else you’ll be digging around the front seat pocket for that tiny square napkin you got with the drink service.
8. Lip balm: I don’t wear much makeup, but a dab of lip balm works wonders—especially in the ultra dry air inside the plane. My favorite is this one: Chocolate Whipstick by LUSH.
9. A bottle of water purchased after security: How many times has the drink service been delayed for one reason or another? I always bring my own now so I don’t panic or get parched while waiting for the turbulence (or an especially slow flight crew) to pass.
10. Gum: So you don’t have to wait until checking into your hotel room to feel minty clean.
Friends, what are your carry-on bag essentials?