Thursday, March 31, 2011

Traveling With Boots

I travel more now than I have been traveling in a while. Work-related trips have brought me to the U.S. West Coast three times in the last three months, and also to Puerto Rico. I anticipate more domestic travel in the coming months, including a trip to a U.S. Commonwealth way out in the Pacific.

As readers of this blog know, I choose to wear boots exclusively. I don't own any shoes or sneakers or sandals. I have expressed my opinions before about those types of footwear. Sum it up as, "yuck."

Recently, a close friend who has contributed a lot to this blog with comments and guest blog posts traveled for his work to Houston, Texas. He remarked about taking the trip on Facebook.

One of his Facebook friends asked him, "Sportin' the boots?" to which he responded: "Not this time. Traveling with them has become such a pain these days."

I replied also, saying, "oh my lands, what's this world coming to?"

My friend, chagrined, admitted in a follow-up email that he was concerned about the amount of walking that he would have to do in the airport, which is why he chose not to wear (or bring?) boots with him.

Hmmm... well, buddy, I have some comments about this matter:

1. If the boots you currently own are uncomfortable to walk in, then you should consider getting gel insoles, which I wear in many of my cowboy boots that I wear when I travel. The insoles add a spring to my step, and make walking a pleasure.

2. Alternatively, perhaps, you should consider a different size for a new pair of boots? I have found that boots that fit me perfectly do not have adequate room to accommodate a gel insole. The insole in well-fitted boots causes the top of my foot to press against the inside top of the boot, and soon enough, the bones in my feet begin to hurt as they rub against the inside of the boot. I solved that problem by getting boots a half-size larger. The insole takes up the room so the boots do not slip when I walk, and the slightly larger size accommodates the room required for the insole. Plus, as an added bonus, I found that insole-supplied half-size larger cowboy boots give more toe room, so I can wear pointed-toe cowboy boots more comfortably, as well.

While my friend didn't directly address concerns about hassles in going through airport security with boots, let me address those issues as well.

First of all, these days, everyone has to take off footwear, regardless if the footwear is a pair of boots or anything else: sneakers, shoes, etc. Therefore, don't think that if you wear shoes or sneakers that you'll be able to get through without having to take them off. (I have observed that in larger U.S. metropolitan airports, everyone has to take all footwear off. Perhaps one can get through wearing sneakers in smaller airports, but not in the big ones where the TSA staff are more formal and drone-like in enforcing "the rules.")

Wearing boots at an airport is no big deal. One just pulls them off like any other footwear. Therefore, keep in mind that since you have to pull boots off while balancing at a table before the magnetometer, the boots should be easy to pull off, and not require untying laces or a helper to remove them for you (such as my situation if I were to wear tall motorcycle patrol boots).

Once the boots go through the magnetometer and you go through the x-ray, you should have boots that are as easy to pull back on as they were to take off. For me, I carry them to a seat, then sit down and put them on while I also put my laptop back in its case, retrieve my cell phone and pocket change and put it away, etc. I abhor the slogs who bunch up at the end of the magnetometer who try to put their shoes on right there and put their stuff away. That behavior causes the lines to slow down significantly. Just get your stuff and walk away (in socks) to a nearby seat and put yourself back together. Don't make the rest of us behind you wait for you to get your act together and move on.

While addressing the issue of boots and travel, let me point out that if you will be in the air for more than a couple hours, take your boots off when you get seated on the plane (provided you have room enough to do that; some airlines make you pay a ransom for more leg room, and if you don't pay the ransom and don't have status to get you priority seating, you may not have enough room to do that.)

The reason why you should take your boots off is to allow blood to circulate in your legs and feet. As we age, we become subject to all sorts of maladies when the circulation slows down and blood flow becomes sluggish. You need to stretch your feet, circle them around at the ankles, bend forward and back, etc., several times an hour. Doing so will help several ways: 1) it prevents DVT (deep vein thrombosis), which can be deadly; 2) it helps your feet feel refreshed so your boots feel better when you put them back on your feet; 3) your feet won't sweat in the boots, so your boots won't get as stinky. My recommendation: take your boots off in flight. You will feel much better. And who knows? Maybe your seatmate is a secret Bootman and will notice and strike up a conversation about your boots with you. :-)

Another thing about air travel: wear comfortable clothing. I shudder when I see men dressed in suits and ties on the plane. They look so damn uncomfortable. They worry about wrinkling their jacket, and make the rest of us wait while they carefully fold it and put it in the overhead bin. I know, I know, sometimes some men can't avoid it -- they go right to a meeting upon arrival, or they work for the airline which requires their employees to wear a suit when flying their airline. But most of us don't have these situations. I usually wear a comfy pair of jeans (denim or leather) and a shirt with two pockets (helpful to carry ID and boarding passes, cell phone and glasses). Be comfortable when you fly, as most airlines these days make air travel cramped and uncomfortable.

In summary, I will forgive my friend for his transgression, for he knew not this advice (because he didn't ask, yet. LOL!)

Life is short: wear boots!


Booted Harleydude said...

Message sent about this blog via email from a loyal blog reader. I am posting it here because it is helpful, additional information:

A thought for your readers: be careful what you wear in an airport or while traveling with exotic leathers. Some leathers will set off the customs radar and you could get in a heap of trouble. Don't wear your best anteaters or your vintage sea turtles. Some types of elephants may give you trouble as well if you have to be anywhere near customs.
My friend is right, and I didn't think about that because the most exotic boots that I have ever worn while traveling have been ostrich skin boots.

It is legal to wear boots made of these materials to and from different states within the U.S., even if boots made of certain exotic skins cannot be shipped there. However, be very careful about wearing or bringing exotic skin boots outside the U.S. (or your own country.) My friend is right -- customs officials may seize them. Check what's legal to bring with you with the customs website of the country(ies) you will visit.

If in doubt, just wear leather boots. They are always legal anywhere.

/BHD, with help from "A".

Tef said...

Just get your stuff and walk away (in socks) to a nearby seat and put yourself back together. Don't make the rest of us behind you wait for you to get your act together and move on.

If I get 1 USD every time I mutter the chant when I clear customs, I'd be a trillionaire by now. Sigh. Commonsense is indeed not common these days.