Once upon a time, I learned all of these tips through either the wisdom of others, or my mistakes. I've done more driving than flying lately, so I forgot nearly all of these, so I thought I'd write them on the blogosphere for next time.
If you're flying, airports are your biggest challenge, and where you might end up spending a few extra hours for weather, or sinkholes, or other awesome events that make planes late.
Here are musts to have in your carry-on bag, preferably near the top, but you can only do what you can, right?:
5 - A light sweater (also near top) - Planes and airports alike do not follow weather patterns, and often like to crank the air conditioning. Being cool is cool. Being cold sucks.
These 5 things being said, it's a good idea to keep your carry-on luggage pretty light, especially if you want to grab a meal or something. This is one of the reasons I will always check a bag rather than cart it around. I know, it's faster since you don't have to wait, and it's more secure since the airline doesn't have to lose your luggage, but it's hassle at security to go through your toiletries and you have to hire a pack mule to go to Tim Horton's. To each their own.
1 - The front row of an aircraft might have extra leg room, and you will be the first off the plane if you've got your carry-on luggage. That's a big if, because if the airline keeps their stuff in the cabin, it's often up at the front so the staff can do the safety dance and show you how to wear an oxygen mask. To prepare for this eventuality, I recommend carrying numbers 1-3 in a jacket, which will also be your pillow and sweater, and you can put it in your lap.
2 - The emergency exit has awesome leg room, but some airlines will charge extra for the privilege of stretching out your tootsies.
3 - The last row of a plane is often built for tiny people without elbows. Sure, it might not be a priority to get off the flight first, but after sitting jammed into that tiny space for awhile, those priorities change FAST.
4 - This might be common sense, but if you're a person who might have to go to the bathroom, or is a brave soul who travels with children, pick an aisle seat. If you're gonna hold it until the airport anyway, pick a window. Please.
1 - Wear slip-on shoes for ease of getting through security. Quick off, quick on.
2 - If you're bringing a laptop, have it out already before you get to the station, or pack it in checked baggage if it isn't your entertainment.
3 - Wear a watch, or find a seat facing a clock - this keeps me "in time" so I don't lose track, either missing stuff, or thinking it's been FOREVER when it's really only been 5 minutes.
4 - Online checkins rule, and should be done as soon as you can. That way you get access to the prime seats (first row or emergency exits for legroom), and if the airline decides there aren't enough people, or the plane is broken, they can let you know before you show up at the airport.