Living in Pennsylvania Dutch Country for the last four years has made me appreciate the simpler things in life, like taking a slow drive through scenic farmland.
But when my life does speed up, and I have to literally and figuratively overtake the horse and buggy, I usually try to make things as uncomplicated as possible by flying out of Baltimore/Washington International (BWI) airport.
Technically speaking, Philadelphia airport is closer to me but it certainly isn't more convenient. In fact, it's down right user-unfriendly. BWI is not.
So why am I prattling on about airports?
Well my favourite local airport is going to be under some pressure both this week and next as folks flood into our nation's capital for the 20 January swearing in of Barack Obama as President.
BWI is taking the job seriously too. It keeps passengers abreast of weather and air traffic via FlightView information monitors in its terminals.
You remember FlightView, the company that last year unveiled a user-friendly mobile app that allows passengers to track their flight via smartphone (now including iPhone)?
Well, if you're skipping Washington National and Dulles (I highly recommend the latter) and landing at BWI, you can have a two-pronged attack for staying on track.
"Not only does everyone want to be in DC, but it's January - weather plays a big role across the country. Using http://mobile.flightview.com/ to monitor flights in and out of the area or watching the screens at BWI will give travelers peace of mind and the foresight to make arrangements to get where they need to be."
Another unrelated option to consider is the new FltAdvisor, which claims to use "a patent-pending process" to locate your aircraft up to six hours in advance, determine the aircraft's route and position up to two legs prior to its arrival to your airport, understand how factors including weather and air traffic control issues along the aircraft's route can lead to delays, and calculate your flight's true status - whether on-time or delayed - to the minute.
Woh momma! That's a mouthful. Not even some airlines are able to do that. Especially the bit about understanding ATC issues. Good luck!
Anything that can make travel a little bit more civilised must be a good thing, however. It's a concept that our friends over at British Airways are espousing.
The carrier, which is enjoying some high customer satisfaction scores of late (and has made its own novel moves in the world of mobile apps), is generously providing travelers with advice from noted aviation psychologist Professor Robert Bor (yes, that is his real name, cheeky monkey) on how to attain civilised travel. We Americans may want to read twice.
1) Civilized travel manners begin before you board the plane. If you're traveling with children, get them involved in the packing process so that they can choose special items to bring on board and that they understand that each passenger is only allowed to bring two carry-on bags. Avoid security line melt downs by making sure that your children have shoes, jackets and sweaters that are easy to take off and on. Print out their boarding passes prior to arriving at the airport to help ensure that you have one less line to stand on. Childrens' behavior will often reflect parents' reactions to a situation. Stressed parents run the risk of 'infecting' their children with the same, which in turn leads to an escalation of stress. Parents should try as best possible to be prepared, rested and calm in advance of flying.
2) Plan for comfort on long flights. Items like lip balm, eye drops, hand sanitizer, ear plugs, a mini toothbrush and toothpaste, a pack of tissues, an eye mask and lozenges don't take up much room and can make you feel less stressed and more at home while you're in the air.
3) Be considerate to your fellow passengers and their space. Think about what you will need on flight - more leg room, closer access to the rest room or seats in the same aisle? Arrange special seating needs when you book your ticket as opposed to at check-in.
Phew. Got it. Maybe the Amish have the right idea after all....