I continue to maintain, in my advanced globe-trotting state since moving countries, that anyone who says that they cannot sleep on airplanes is simply not tired enough. Here, as a service to you, is a series of tips and tricks gleaned from my latest trip.
- Procrastinate travel-related planning until the night before the trip, including all packing, laundry, and anything even remotely organizational
- Sleep as little as possible the last few nights before you go. Stay up all night before you actually leave. If you have to sleep, make sure it’s no more than 2 hours (I did the 2 hour nap pre-Singapore but for this trip I stayed up all night).
- Pick a senseless fight with one of the more important people in your life. That way you have hours of emotional stuff to work through, fueling the staying up (point 2) and allowing for further procrastination (point 1)
- Realize an hour before you need to leave the house that you will have to actually pack. Rush around and throw things into bags more or less randomly. Don’t give in to lists. Recognize that you can survive anywhere with a passport, laptop/cell phone, and credit card.
- Make trip to the airport as inconvenient and time consuming as possible. Involve multiple steps of trains, subways, and other public transport. If you have planned well, as I did, it will be raining and there will be no taxis to get to the train station and you will have to walk in the rain. This adds to the goodness of the trip.
- Be sure to get put into the queue for extra security checks, either during the main security phase or at the gate. Volunteer if necessary, although if the trip is going to plan you won’t have to. Get felt up by an airline attendant and have your bags hand-searched.
- Eat the heavy airline food, definitely take a pasta option if it’s offered. And yes, by all means, take the wine when offered.
- Have embarassing but familiar music ready on your iPod. In my case, that means songs of the “Monster Ballads” sort — ballads by hair metal bands of the late 80s and early 90s. I know every word, every chord.
- Relax neck muscles. Most important thing I think, and the least tongue-in-cheek point of this list. In the uncomfortable coach airline seats, bunch up either the stupid little pillow or blanket they give you so your heavy head can actually rest without any support from active neck muscles. Off you get, to the land of nod.
I slept about 4 solid hours on the plane, arrived in Minneapolis without too much incident, although the customs-baggage-rental car stuff took way too long. Much more to come from Minnesota, it sure feels nice to be “home”.