As a frequent solo traveler, I think it's interesting to watch people get on and get off planes. People trudge on and trudge off. They are grumpy, tired, irritated that they got stuck in the back or the front or - worst of all - in a middle seat. They look to a row with a mom and a baby in her lap, look at their ticket, roll their eyes, and reluctantly plop down in the seat next to her, sometimes making sure to plug their headphones into their ears as a way of saying "don't talk to me, and whatever you do, don't make THAT cry."
People bring their own pillows. They bring MP3 players. Noise canceling headphones. Books. Magazines. Pocket games. Work. They bring things to distract themselves to do whatever it takes to make the time go by. Some airlines are even beginning to offer wifi service to help people stay connected. I have to tell you, I'm connected enough.
I have a different philosophy.
The next time that you're dreading that plane ride, stop and ask yourself the following question: "When was the last time I had any time to just sit, be, breathe and let someone else take care of the driving?"
Not to mention, go 400 miles per hour through the sky.
When I fly, I find what I call My Plane Zen.
My Plane Zen kit includes a book, sometimes my headphones and iPod, and sometimes a small travel pillow (if I remember it). If I'm in the mood to do so, the book will be a journal and I'll actually spend the time writing, pen to paper (crazy, I know), since I have so few opportunities to actually do that anymore, having a laptop or a BlackBerry at my fingertips. And my plan? Have all of this handy, but really, just sit.
I get on the plane, find my seat, take a deep breath and just settle in. I like window seats, so I usually lean up against the wall and just take the opportunity to observe. It is a prime spot for people watching, because you get to see the best of people, like honeymooners, and the worst of people, like fighting parents with hysterical children or a traveler whose bag won't fit in the bins and just can't help but take it out on everyone within a ten foot radius of them; like it will improve the situation. But more than anything, I've noticed that people just take for granted they're about to take a trip six miles up in the air, and cross states in the same time that it used to take people to travel from one city to the nearest next one.
Don't get on a plane thinking it will be a dreadful experience. Sit down and find a moment of calm. Enjoy the fact that you have a momentary respite from phones ringing and messages coming in. Relish the time, and use it to arrive at your destination calm, centered and ready to have a great day.