How To Survive Long Travel Days
When preparing to embark on a trip overseas there is PLENTY of information out there regarding what to pack, HOW to pack, what not to pack, what kind of bag to pack IN etc. etc. etc. People tend to overlook the fact that between you and an exciting overseas adventure is a 9 hour flight with lots of strangers, smelly people, screaming/crying/mutating babies and exhaustion and stress and DID THE GREASY TEEN NEXT TO ME JUST AUDIBLY FART?!
Air travel is when you get to see humanity at its finest (sarcasm) but with a few tools you can prepare yourself against screaming children, smelly pre-teens and the overall CRAZINESS of international travel. Here are my insider tips on how to survive long travel days.
1. The J Pillow
Make all the comments in the world about how ridiculous this pillow seems or how dumb I probably look swinging this bad boy around on my carry on… I am a J Pillow CONVERT. As someone who embarrassingly sleeps with her mouth open (causing unfortunate drool situations on the reg) this bad Larry lets me nuzzle up in the side of my seat keeping neck supported and mouth breathing to a minimum. Your neighbors will thank you.
2. Peppermint Essential Oil
This is my secret weapon. I was recently on a train in Morocco – a three hour ride sharing a cabin with 4 other Moroccan men who smelled a bit… ripe. Life ain’t fun when you can’t concentrate on anything other than praying to the deodorant gods to spare you from your misery. Enter essential oils. I prefer peppermint but you can also use Lavender or Orange or whatever you want!. Just rub a little of this stuff under your nose and be transported to a minty heaven. Bonus – they’ll help you doze off if you’re trying to sleep.
3. Eye Mask
When first shopping for an eye mask I wanted one of those cute ones (like this Breakfast at Tiffany’s variety or this one that looks like a cat) but lemme tell ya these things just don’t do the trick. I blame my general uneasiness with eye masks on the fact that I usually don’t sleep with one. In fact, the ONLY time I use an eye mask is when I’m on a plane and (even though it DOES help me fall asleep) it’s mostly a visual signal to my neighbors to SHUT UP AND DON’T TOUCH ME. My preferred eye mask kiiiiinda makes me look like an insect but it is SO much more comfortable than anything I’ve ever tried before. Plus it comes with earplugs, which are another clutch addition to any travel kit.
4. USB Wall Charger
Let’s be honest, just about EVERYTHING I need to charge these days can be charged via USB cable. Instead of lugging around a power strip, I carry a much smaller USB wall charger. It has 6 ports. SIX! When wall outlets are a hot commodity and there’s only one outlet available in the entire terminal, you don’t want to have to choose either your kindle OR your phone. This thing has saved my butt not only on travel days but in small AirBnb’s and over-crowded hostels as well.
5. Tylenol PM and Dramamine (the drowsy kind)
I don’t have Ambien but I DO want to sleep. Dramamine is my weapon of choice because I get motion sickness but Tylenol PM is a trusty sidekick. I always wait to pop these until AFTER I get through ticketing/security check/passport control because LAWD forbid I get detained for questioning while sleepy as all heck.
6. The Bags/How I Pack
Since this picture was taken I completely ditched one of these roller bags. Now I have a Samsonite spinner suitcase that replaced the Dockers suitcase Air Serbia destroyed on my most recent flight to London (they broke off 3 of the 4 wheels and said it was within the confines of “normal wear and tear.” Jerks.), a vegan leather duffel bag (similar here) and my backpack with all my work/study essentials (which I already walked you through here!).
The key to packing a carry on back is to make sure you have easy access to all your essentials (for me that’s my passport, wallet, everything listed above plus my kindle, headphones and notebook) BUT ALSO PACK ALL YOUR UNDERWEAR IN YOUR CARRY ON. There’s nothing worse than landing in Valencia late Sunday evening only to find out that the airline lost your luggage. No stores are open, you’ve been traveling in the same stanky clothes all day and nothing in the world would make you more happy than a clean pair of underwear (true story). My general rule of thumb is to ALWAYS pack at least one spare outfit in my carry on but if you’re out of room, just stuff all your undies in there. You’ll thank me later.
What helps you survive a long travel day? I have a 17 hour day coming up from Spain to Mexico City and would LOVE to hear your tips and tricks.