I miss the days before airport security wasn't so....strict. It was easy to sneak onto first class. All it took was waiting to be the one of the last ones to board, and then confidently sitting down in an empty cushy seat. Bring your beverage of choice from outside the security gate onto the airplane with no problem. Keep your shoes on and not get patted down like a criminal. Now there's added security and special precautions to make sure everything and everyone is in order. Trust has been lost. To make matters even more inconvenient, airlines are becoming more and more stingy (ie, fewer comfort accommodations such as pillows and blankets). As a result, for those suffering chronic pain must suffer even more (or bring a bunch of pillows and such) unless they wish to pay a premium price.
I don't like those options. With a troublesome back, I try to keep my on-person load as light as I can to prevent any pain and discomfort. Yes, I know I can lift some heavy weight, but that's just build up my muscles so they can support my body weight and allow me to do fun activities, like martial arts. It's also a very short-duration activity. Just to give you an idea of what someone with back pain has to deal with, carrying a load of groceries (doesn't matter if they're front, back, or side loaded) for longer than 7 minutes will make me need a stretch or a foam roller (which is why I always bring my emergency lacrosse ball!). Think about a full day of traveling with a laptop, and whatever carry on luggage I have in that back pack. The weight adds up pretty quickly, and I want to keep it as light as possible.
During lengthy travel sessions, I make sure to take extra care of my comfort (for those of you who know me personally, yes I CAN get more comfortable in a public setting!). If I don't, my back will give me extra trouble for the duration of the trip and oftentimes require extra TLC upon arrival of my destination. I'm a big fan of inexpensive amd functionality. If you have ever visited my gym, you will see that we are there to get results, not to visually impress people with shiny, overly expensive, equipment. Of course, there are some situations where some bills need to be spent, especially when safety is on the line, but when you can get just as good (or better) functionality out of a $7 pvc pipe and and some foam as you can with a $60 status symbol of a foam roller, I'll choose the pvc pipe every time. I'd rather spend that extra 50-some bucks on a few good meals or towards an adventure of some sort. But that's me. Anyway, onto the hacks!
I like to travel with a disposable water bottle. I used to do this just so I could have a large water supply while on the plane (keeping well hydrated helps prevent jet lag, helps keep your immune system running well so you don't catch whatever germs are flying around in the cabin, it helps keep your blood flowing better, and it forces you to get up frequenty to potty, further helping your circulation and helps prevent strokes and other blood clots). It's also super light (so great for my back), and pretty resistant to squishing and getting dropped. During my travels, I have discovered a few other purposes for the water bottle.
1) It makes a great lumbar support pillow. Just squeeze some air (or drink some water, but make sure the cap is screwed on tightly), and place it behind your lower back in a horizontal direction. Adjust the level of support according to your comfort needs. You could also use it as neck pillow (if you put cold water in it, it's pretty refreshing and cools you down), but it may be noisy to some people. Liquid in the bottle helps dampen the crunchy sounds.
2) You can put some cold water in it and roll your feet on it as refreshing way to cool your feet and up some blood circulation.
3) You can make drinks with it. This sounds like a "no shit, Sherlock" thing, but I don't like spending $10usd on a tiny non-alcoholic beverage that is probably filled with chemicals, dyes, and sugar. I made my own organic lemonade with a water bottle and a homemade lemonade kit! All you need to prepare is a lemon (or any other smashable fruits of your choice) in a ziplock bag. If you wish to bring your own sweetner, you can do that, too, just remember to follow TSA's 3oz guidlines. The knife, paper towel, and some sweeteners (just go to a coffee shop in the airport) are available at any airport or in the plane.
Make sure the lemon (or whatever fruit you have) is washed thoroughly. If you're washing it at the airport, make sure the final rinse is with clean, drinkable water, as some countries don't have drinkable tap water.
If it's a citrus fruit, you can halve it cross-wise with a plastic knife (or convince a kitchen staffer to cut it for you). To help get more juices out, stab each section parallel to the rind to break the cells up. This part may be a tid bit messy, so I recommend doing it on the paper towel. Don't worry about the seeds.
Place all of the fruit back in the ziplock back and zip it up, making sure there's no leak, and leaving the bag only half inflated.
Now the fun part: SMASH the fruit with your palm using your bodyweight to lean into it. Get as much juice out of the fruit as you can.
Unzip a small corner of the bag and pour it into the empty water bottle. The small hole is just enough for the juice to come out in a nice little stream so you don't need a funnel; just a steady hand. The zip acts as a strainer, so all of the seeds remain in the bag!
Add your sweetener and any other things you want in your tasty beverage.
Find a water fountain or machine and fill the rest of the bottle with cold water. Voila! Tastey beverage that passed airport security! If you have a longer total travel time with a layover, you can bring extra fruit to make another drink if you want one. Just wash the bag and reuse it. If you don't, you can either eat the fruit or throw it away if you're traveling internationally.
Enjoy these simple travel hacks! Leave a comment if you have any others that you can do with a water bottle :)