My husband, Rich, is blessed with the enviable ability to drop off to sleep just about anywhere, including the dentist’s chair. When I began getting serious about my painting, I often overcame his reluctance to model for me by asking him to stretch out on the sofa for just a few minutes; in no time he’d be snoozing away, and I could sketch to my heart’s content.
So it will come as no surprise when I tell you that Rich’s ability to sleep on airplanes is legendary. Once, when we were seated separately on a flight from the US to Norway, I went to check in with him toward the end of the flight. And I found his seatmate regarding him with frank astonishment.
“I don’t know how he does it,” she told me. “He fell asleep when the wheels lifted off the ground and hasn’t woken up since. At one point, he was kneeling backward on the seat with his head against the headrest. When dinner was served, the flight attendant came by, lowered his tray table, left the food and then eventually removed it uneaten. So he leaned forward and began sleeping with his head down on the tray table. Then the guy in front of him put back his seat, trapping your husband’s head between the seatback and the tray table. Your husband barely managed to wriggle free. All this and he never once woke up!” Half an hour later, as the plan began its decent into Oslo, Rich sat up, smiled at his seatmate and said, “Not a bad flight!”
It’s a gift. But preparation helps, too. We don’t eat too much, either before or during the flight; airline food quality makes this a lot easier. We drink lots of water and never touch alcohol or coffee. For ten-hour, overnight flights, we usually take half a sleeping pill; any more and we’re too groggy when we land. We bring comfortable eyeshades (the ones provided by the airlines tend to be too tight with stringy straps) and soft earplugs. And we take a homeopathic product called No-Jet-Lag.
The first time we used No-Jet-Lag was on a flight from Cleveland to Istanbul. Stumbling off the plane in the morning, after 14 hours in transit passing through seven times zones, we expected to be total zombies. We were surprised to discover that although we were tired, we weren’t trashed; after a cup of strong Turkish coffee, we spent the day sightseeing and went to bed at the normal local hour. How does it work? Who knows? I’ve never been able to grasp the logic of homeopathy. The smaller the dose, they say, the more effective the remedy, which suggests that the best results would occur if you didn’t take any at all – but of course, the manufacturers don’t recommend that. All I know for sure is that we've had good results with it, and I always pack it for long flights.
The same manufacturer (who frankly deserves a Nobel Prize) also developed a homeopathic product called Drink Ease, which prevents hangovers. Being a total alcohol lightweight, it’s easy for me to over-imbibe when others are just getting into their stride for the evening. When I travel, and new-met friends insist on introducing me to their favorite local libations, round after round after round, it’s nice to know I’ve got Drink Ease tucked in my suitcase. These days I don’t leave home without it.
This post was written in response to questions I've been asked about packing for long and varied trips. Unlike some of my better-organized and more practical blogger friends, I haven't obtained free or discounted gear or supplies in return for promoting anything on this blog. I'm just letting you know what products Rich and I consider to be the most useful for our kind of travel. Watch for future posts about the garments, gear, gadgets and supplies that find their way into our suitcases!
I'm an American travel writer based in Spain and currently living in California.
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