Travel Gadgets – Popping Bubbles, Popping Ears

Chewing gum is probably one of the best known, but least utilized, travel gadgets I can think of.

Everyone who has ever been on an airplane knows that your ears pop when you go up in altitude and again when you come back down.

Nearly everyone knows that chewing gum will help to make that process easier. Moving your jaw causes more frequent micro pops that equalize the pressure inside your head with the airplane’s cabin pressure more gently.

Yet as much as I travel, I see very few people actually chewing gum on board airplanes.

Side benefits

One of the side benefits, if you get a mint flavored gum (especially if it’s sugar-free) is fresher breath.

Speaking as the person who may end up sitting next to you on your next flight, I know I would find conversation with you more pleasant if your breath is minty fresh.

When to Chew

You don’t want your gum to run out of flavor before you’ve reached cruising altitude (or landed) so it’s important to time when you start chewing your gum.

Don’t be too quick.

When the plane pulls away from the gate is too soon. Even when accelerating down the runway is still too soon. No matter how fast the plane is going, you’re still on the ground and it’s altitude that causes your ears to pop.

More specifically, they won’t start to pop until you’ve gotten at least a few hundred feet up.

After the plane has left the ground and you’re airborne, that’s the time to pop in your gum.

Save the wrapper!

The flavor only has to last 10 minutes or so. If you’re like me and not really a gum chewer by habit, you’ll get tired of chewing after about that amount of time anyway. There are no trash cans on board airplanes and you may not be able to get up from your seat.

Spit the gum back into the wrapper and wad it up. Then you can dispose of it when the flight attendants come around to collect trash after their in-flight service. If you don’t want to keep it that long, a quick trip to the bathroom will give you access to a trash can where you can dispose of it.

On the way down

When the pilot comes on and announces, “We’ve started our descent…” is the time when you should chew another piece of gum. Once on the ground, you can throw it away inside the airport.

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