Five Easy Ways to Keep Travel Fun, or "The Tao of the Nintendo Generation"
Traveling by plane is ... not always the most fun. There are lines, rules and babies everywhere, 75 percent of people either eat or breathe too loudly, and everything else is either a chair you don't fit in or a Sbarro Pizza that you're pretty sure has been a victim of arson. So, usually not the best time. But, that doesn't mean you have to let it bring you down. There is a philosophy popular among my generation, a "tao" if you will, that I think is helpful in dealing with the filthy, grinding hell that is air travel:
"True Harmony is constant video-electric stimulation."
It's a little hippy-dippy, sure, but you know us Gen-Y ers: poorly co-opting Zen aphorisms in 140 characters or less is sort of our thing. But, shameful understanding of Confucianism aside, the statement is at least accurate in that computers can make even the most delayed, baby-filled trip a joy. Here are five easy ways to make your trips more bearable through the glory of electronics.
1. Get a Game for Your Tablet or Smart Phone
Nothing kills 80-hour airport imprisonments like a good video game, and now that you don't have to sink $200-plus on a Game Boy to get decent portable device, it's never been a more accessible travel option. After all, you've already bought a tablet or smart phone for working-while-traveling, so why not drop a $5 game on it? I'm a fan of strategy games myself (high replay value per dollar spent), so I'd personally recommend Civilization: Revolution (a little more expensive, but well worth it), Fieldrunners 2 (iPhone only I think), or the classic Plants vs. Zombies. All these games also work well without sound and are easy to play in 5-minute bursts, making them even better for travel.
2. Invest in Good Headphones, Remember to Bring Them
Movies, video and music are great for travel - but you'll need a solid set of earpieces to enjoy any of them. I'd recommend losing the default Apple buds since they're the worst, and getting a mid-range pair of portable, normal headphones instead (something like these maybe? http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-RP-HT21-Lightweight-Headphones-Port/dp/B00004T8R2/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1347030197&sr=8-6&keywords=headphones ). Big, fancy, noise-canceling headphones are an option too, though I'm not a huge fan since they're a little cumbersome to travel with, and also I don't think the slight boost in quality isn't worth the hassle of traveling with one more expensive, breakable electronic (since most of us are rolling with at least two as is).
3. Battery Backups are Great
Because their batteries completely suck, if you're going to be putting major hours into your iPhone, consider getting a backup pack. There are little snap-on devices you can get, or you can get the kind built into a case. The case is probably a better idea, since nothing says "lose me" like a tiny metal oval meant to snap into a slightly larger oval.
4. Load up on Videos and Music Ahead of Time
Don't waste time and battery life trying to download video while you're already at the airport (because the only thing worse than being bored is waiting to have fun). A day or so before you leave, load up your iTunes Queue/media service of your choice with a big chunk of stuff you'd like to watch/listen to. Don't be afraid to download more than you can watch. Media and disk space are cheap, and running out of stuff to watch is basically the highest price you can pay (because then it's just you, your thoughts, and the lady behind you who will not stop complaining about something she saw on Facebook).
5. Save Space and Hassle with E-books
I'm actually a big fan of physical books, but they can be a pain to carry everywhere, especially on planes where space is limited. There are about a billion e-readers and book services out there to help you save space (and bring more books), but I'd like to toss out a recommendation for Comixology. It's for comic books only, so if that's not your thing, I guess forget about it! But, if you have even a passing interest, you can get a lot of great books for the road, sometimes at discounted prices (there are usually sales every week from Thurs.-Sunday, and old books are often sold at lower prices). The reading experience on the iPad is very good; Colors pop, it's easy to turn pages or read at a zoomed-in, panel-by-panel view, and there's a decent archiving system. If you're looking for some good series to read, try The Walking Dead (Zombie survival series, inspired hit TV show), Y: The Last Man (follows the adventures of the literal last man on Earth, after a freak plague kills every other man in existence) or Fables (Every single fairy tale character is real, and has fled to the mortal world to escape a terrible, dark army run by someone known only as "The Adversary.")
Thanks for reading everyone, and see you all next week!
MONDAY MIKE FACT: I am super-behind on reading both Fables and The Walking Dead.