By Travel columnist
updated 9/8/2005 1:33:30 PM ET 2005-09-08T17:33:30

I try to aim my columns at readers on the high end of the intelligence spectrum. By doing so, however, I never connect with a rather large portion of the traveling public. So in a drive to increase readership, I’m downgrading my usual lofty advice to offer up some hints for traveling nitwits. Here are my “Top Ten Transportation Travel Tips … for Doofuses.”

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Pee before you board. Sure, you don’t have to go when you’re sitting in the departure area, but what about an hour later when the flight attendants start a beverage service? Seeing them pouring all those juices and soft drinks will remind your system to check things out and, sure enough, the ol’ bladder will be saying, “Hey! I gotta go, and I gotta go now.”

Naturally, the beverage cart, which brought on this physiological crisis in the first place, will be parked between you and the lavatory, so you’ll have to squeeze your butt between the cart and the face of some unlucky passenger — twice.

Have your ID and boarding pass ready. In general, gate agents work for the airlines, not the FBI. They don’t have your rap sheet or access to your police booking photos. They don’t know you, so they don’t know you’ve been going straight for the past half-dozen years. The only way they can confirm that you are who you say you are is to compare you to your mug shot. And the only way they know that you are supposed to be getting on the airplane is by eyeballing that little stub you were given when you checked in.

Bring something to do. An airplane is not a sports bar. Don’t expect to be entertained while you’re in flight. If you bring nothing on board to help you pass the time, you will have only your thoughts to occupy you. (It could be a vacuous few hours.)

Nor is an airplane a Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant. So most definitely bring something to keep your little brats … I mean, your little children … busy. If you don’t, they will find other ways to entertain themselves, like using the tray tables as drum sets and the aisles as racetracks.

Avoid midriff mistakes. Girls — and women with the mistaken notion that they are still girls — should leave those midriff-exposing outfits to the likes of Christina Aguilera and Tyra Banks. Other passengers won’t find it a treat to see your stomach pooching out over your way-too-tight jeans.

Do your do in the lav. If big hair is part of your look — and it does seem to be a popular fashion statement for both men and women among traveling doofuses — do your do in the lavatory. The guy behind you already has enough concerns about his chicken dinner without having to worry about hair flying over the seat back into his meal.

Keep your chew in your pocket. Chewing tobacco: Aagh! — a disgusting habit any way you cut it. And if chewing weren’t bad enough, there’s the whole drooling-and-spitting-tobacco-juice routine. It’s enough to send me to the lav. Sharing your chew, drool and spit may be appreciated by your buddies back home but not by your fellow passengers on board.

Wash your hands. Pleeeeeese wash your hands after you’ve been in the lavatory. There are enough germs circulating (and recirculating) in airplanes without you dragging more out of the john to join the petri party.

Keep your shoes on. Actually, I have mixed feelings about this tip because socks do a pretty good job of cleaning splashed urine off the floor of airplane lavatories. Nevertheless, just because your nose has become habituated to the stink of your feet doesn’t mean that your fellow passengers can’t smell them. Believe me, they can.

Watch your bag. If you want to get something out of the overhead storage compartment while in flight, open the compartment door slowly and grab your sack firmly so you don’t bop people on their heads with your paraphernalia. Same goes for after you land.

Take your crap with you. When you leave the plane, don’t leave a pile of trash behind. Although you may be a professional garbage collector, flight attendants are not.

Terry Riley, based in Santa Cruz, Calif., is a corporate psychologist specializing in the management of travel behavior. Terry is the author of "Travel Can Be Murder" and "The Complete Travel Diet." He also edits Travel Fox, a satirical news report. E-mail Terry or visit his Web site.Check out forums here!


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