I recently read a blog post about air travel that included the following great tip:
Get to know your row mates! Strike up a conversation.
And I cried a little. Because my worst nightmare when traveling, whether by bus, plane, or train, is that someone will try to strike up a conversation with me. I will either have to be the weirdo for not participating or I will be forced, out of some backwards sense of what is polite, to suffer through hours of mindless chatter with someone I will never speak to again.
As a result, I have come up with some (slightly tongue-in-cheek) travel tips for those of us who constantly have to be on the defense against the kinds of people who feel the need to talk to us on planes. We shouldn’t have to do any of this, but we live in a world crafted mostly for extroverts and people who are loud (not that these people are inherently bad people, obviously). To fit in without seeming rude, we sometimes have to make some adjustments.
First things first, a tip to the “rest” of you, please do not just assume that the person next to you (a complete stranger) is interested in anything you have to say. Don’t think that they’re being rude for not wanting to have a conversation. That mindset needs to change immediately, because it’s just not fair. For lots of people, travel is simply the act of getting from point A to point B with as little inconvenience and disruption as possible. Travel is stressful for everyone, on some level, whether you realize it or not. Imagine that you are an introvert to the nth degree (whatever), and you’ve just been jostled through airport security, touched by strangers with no awareness of personal space, have had to navigate unfamiliar territory with an arbitrary set of rules, and you’re now having your senses assaulted by the madness that is an airport terminal in the 21st century. You finally board the plane, and you’re huddled against the window, simply trying to recover. The last thing you want is for the stranger next to you to ask you a million questions.
You may be going somewhere amazing, and I don’t want to take that feeling away from you, but the people next to you could simply be commuting to work, or going to a home they don’t want to return to or, you know, traveling to a funeral. They could also be going somewhere amazing, of course, but maybe they don’t want to talk about it. And you need to be okay with that.
Honestly, all it takes is a little body language recognition. It’s not that hard. I feel like the following quote from this article (Why You Shouldn’t Judge Antisocial Backpackers) is apt,
Find your “tribe” and respect the rest.
Take a few extra moments to look for the talkers. You will find them. Kindly ignore the rest of us. ♥
- Understand that you will be pushed out of your comfort zone. It’s unavoidable. Do whatever you need to do to prepare for that. Make yourself as physically comfortable as is appropriate. I go for familiar and comfy loose knits and lots of layers when I travel. Anything you can do to make your travel day easier is going to be a win.
- Opt for a window seat whenever possible. This gives you the option of being able to completely turn your back to everyone else. Body language 101! On the rare occasion that Tj and I travel together and sit in the same row, I usually end up in the middle seat because I’m a small person. This is actually okay, because I can still just burrow into his shoulder. Having a travel partner is great. Call that tip 2 ½.
- Invest in high quality noise cancelling headphones. Ear buds are useless. Giant headphones tell people that you probably can’t hear them, so they shouldn’t bother talking to you.
- If you draw or write, don’t try to do it on a long flight. I unfortunately speak from experience. People will get involved and start asking you questions, even if you do have giant headphones on. I couldn’t begin to tell you why that’s a thing. In the end, it’s not worth it, even if that’s your form of escapism. Instead try a book or a crossword puzzle or a nap.
- Seriously, if it makes even just a little sense, try to sleep. At least close your eyes.
- Wear a hoodie or a large, lightweight knit scarf that you can wrap around your head. A baseball cap also works, but I don’t think as well. Baseball cap/hoodie combo, though, might do okay. I personally prefer the scarf option.
- Don’t let traveling alone prevent you from doing anything you want to do. Tj recently sent me this article (Why You Should Really Start Doing More Things Alone), which I thought was timely. On my trip to Philadelphia last fall, I was really hesitant about venturing out into the city alone, but I’m so glad I did. While you may feel that you need some time to decompress, you’d be surprised that decompression can actually come from drinking a beer and reading a book by yourself at a bar, or wandering around a museum on your own.
- If you’re traveling by train, bus, or public transit, find the other people with headphones on and their noses in books. Sit near them in quiet solidarity. That “tribe” mentality suits us, too.
- Practice your “resting bitch face” in the mirror before you depart. I’m kidding. A little. Maybe. It honestly bothers me that “resting bitch face” is a commonly used term (because it only ever refers to women, and seems to imply that we should always be gracious and smiling and ugh), but looking disinterested and unapproachable helps, so make use of it if you can.
- It’s okay if people decide not to like you based on a single interaction. Because they don’t know you, and they don’t even need to. I have finally accepted that it’s impossible to please everyone, and that not every single human being on the planet is going to like me. I was always very concerned about first impressions, even when I knew that realistically, I would never see that person again. I eventually decided that my mental state is more important to me than some random individual’s opinion about me. You shouldn’t ever feel guilty about (politely) telling someone you’re not interested in talking to them. And, honestly, if someone reacts so negatively, they probably weren’t worth getting to know anyway. Related note, you don’t owe anyone you don’t know an explanation. “I don’t feel like talking” is enough. Your choosing not to talk doesn’t mean you’re not a great person.
I’m definitely not an expert traveler or giver of advice, but I am an expert at avoiding human interaction in my free time.
Travel well, friends. Be you.
I recently got a somewhat frantic text message from a friend about wanting to switch all her cosmetics over to cruelty free brands. Let’s talk about it, without photos of tortured animals, because there are as many reasons to make the switch as there are people wanting to make it.
A “cruelty free” label might mean different things to different people. My personal checklist, in relative order of importance:
- brand, parent brand does not test on animals (finished product or ingredients)
- brand, parent brand does not sell in countries that require animal testing
- high ratio of recognizable and/or natural ingredients
- no animal ingredients (I’m not vegan, so I am okay with honey and soaps/etc. with goat’s milk, but I stay away from animal-derived dyes and colorants)
- free of preservatives, parabens, etc.
- eco-friendly packaging, etc.
- Fair Trade or made in the US
Decide what’s important to you. If all you’re worried about is animal testing, then focus on that.
Numbers 1 and 2 can mean doing a little more digging about parent brands, because sometimes labels aren’t 100% accurate, and policies/companies can change overnight. Generally speaking, I try to support brands that come right out and say that they are vegan and/or cruelty free. It means I can that much lazier. I talked about it a little bit in this post, but it’s getting easier to find cruelty free products on a budget. There’s no reason to be intimidated about the cost of switching over. You don’t necessarily need to go through all your stuff and throw everything out. Make the transition a little easier on your wallet. Replace your old products as you finish them, or find a friend who can get some use from them. You’ve already spent the money, no need to let it go to waste.
Let yourself be flexible. If there’s a product I love (a luxury product, or something I use regularly and am 100% happy with), I purchase it. My Venus five-blade razor comes to mind. It’s not made of recyclable material, and I’m pretty sure the moisturizing strips contain all kinds of garbage, but it’s the best razor I’ve ever used. I don’t use the disposable version, and I do my best to make the cartridges last a long time. So do what you can, and don’t beat yourself up. If someone were to hand me an alternative that fit my requirements and was comparable, I would switch in a heartbeat, but until that day comes I’m happy with my choice!
You should familiarize yourself with animal ingredients and the names of commonly used chemicals. This list is a good place to start, but provides no explanations. Some can be found here. Learn where these ingredients come from, how they’re manufactured, and what they do. Basically, understand what you’re reading when you read a product label. Not all chemicals with complicated names are bad for you and bad for the planet. Some are. Sometimes preservatives are necessary, and sometimes they’re not. Products without preservatives may not last as long. It’s a lot of stuff to to understand while shopping.
Keep in mind that “certified organic” and “certified cruelty free” labels cost money. Keep an eye out for small or local companies that you can support that may not be able to afford the label! Also, just because a product is labeled as “natural” doesn’t make it cruelty free. Many companies have a “natural” product line (which may or may not be tested on animals), but still participate in animal testing. Again, decide what’s most important to you, and shop based on that. Be prepared to compromise.
And please, if it applies, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re a hypocrite for wanting cruelty free products while still eating meat (or dairy products, or whatever). I’ve gotten that before (no joke), and it seems to me, to quote Hank Hill, “just asinine.” Spending money on cruelty free products lets companies know that more people want these options. I call that a win for humans and critters alike. Besides, your diet is none of anyone’s business if you don’t want it to be. Heck, your shopping habits aren’t either. Don’t sweat it. Let your choices come from a positive place. Other people can be jerks if they want to be.
If you want to get to know some animal-friendly brands without making a huge commitment to a single product, check out the following curated subscription boxes:
- Vegan Cuts Beauty Box $19.95/month with free shipping, 4-7 products (full sized and samples)
- Petit Vour $15/month with free shipping, 4-5 products (full sized and samples)
Neither of these companies are affiliated with this website, but I highly recommend both. Vegan Cuts is perfect if you’re just starting on your cruelty free journey, and Petit Vour is such a treat to receive every month.
If you consider yourself a product junkie, have no fear! Going cruelty free will not cut you off. This is coming from a girl with a 45+ bottle nail polish collection.
Websites and brands to explore:
- Abe’s Market (affiliate link): You can browse beauty and bath & body products based on the qualities most important to you! Use the “featured qualities” and “certifications” drop downs on the side bar. Each individual product page will also list qualities and certifications. Some of my favorites (affiliate links):
- My Konjac Sponge charcoal face sponge
- Schmidt’s lavender and sage deodorant
- Antonym Cosmetics eyeshadow quad in “croisette”
- Karma Naturals lavender nail polish remover (reviewed here!)
- Vegan Cuts: Check out the body care and lifestyle sections, in particular.
- Nail Polish Brands I Love
- Julep (affiliate link): New customers get $10 off first purchase of $30 or more
- Spa Ritual
- Jamberry nail wraps
- Other Favorite Brands ♥
- Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs perfume
- EcoTools brushes
- Hurraw! lip balm (reviewed here and here!)
- Lily Lolo
- Other Resources, Blogs
Please share your favorites in the comments!
Hello, again. It’s been a while. I’m sorry. Not terribly sorry, mind you, but a little.
I am quickly writing this post and snarfing down an entire fancy nitrate-free frozen pizza before I collapse into bed. I am basically a 90s cartoon character.
The AAA driving class I am taking is over in a week. I know. The month seriously flew by. I still have two more observation hours scheduled, and I am halfway through my driving time with the instructor. Because the class is for teenagers (I am one of two people over the age of 19), we’ll be spending our final few days talking about peer pressure and driving under the influence and, I don’t know, things like texting, probably, OMG. It’s just a little funny, to me. You know, because I am almost thirty.
my advice to younglings:
- Please don’t drive distracted, or under any sort of influence; don’t get into a vehicle with people who are.
- Remember to carry your glass with you during parties, and pour your own drinks (or drink with people you trust).
- Don’t be afraid to say no, for yourself or for anyone else.
- Call your parents.
- Don’t feel like you’re missing out. You’re not. Someday you will be thirty, but you will often forego the bar to stay home in your pajamas and eat an entire pizza. *
- Stay hydrated. With water.
- If you’re going to drink illegally (you are), don’t waste the effort with garbage. Stay away from vodka in plastic bottles.
These four happen to be at the top of my “must make” list, along with the Moscow Mule. Follow the links to learn how to mix. I feel like the proper glassware is necessary because these are just the right amount of fancy, but do what you like!
I found these through the magic that is pinterest. You can follow me here.
* By “often” I mean “the majority of the time,” but sometimes you’re quite classy and also very clever. Don’t worry.
Thanks for stopping by. My name is Naomi, and this space is made of girldust. This blog is a picture of my comfortably scattered life on the coast of Maine. I'm trying to be a slightly better version of myself every day. I like old houses, reading, the ocean, ghost stories, and museums. You can learn a little bit more about me here. Follow along elsewhere, or get in touch: