Back in 2005, H and I flew with our children from Nebraska to Hawaii. We spent eleven hours on the airplane. Each way. There were no screaming children on the plane. My own children were teenagers and handled the whole thing quite well. My husband, usually a ball of energy who needs to be reminded from time to time that we’re in public (I’m not saying anything he doesn’t already know), was cool as a cucumber.
I’m the one who fell apart. It wasn’t as bad going to Hawaii as it was coming home. By the time we landed in Omaha, I was a wreck. I was crying and I had a splitting headache and I don’t even remember whether or not my children were with me. Total and complete meltdown. It was not pretty. As I remember it, H covered for me very well by throwing his coat over my head and sneaking me down the jetway. Or something like that.
Since then, I’ve flown quite a bit. On our most recent trip to Pennsylvania last week, even H conceded that I am a vastly improved traveler. It’s true. I now know I prefer to sit in the aisle seat. I dress in layers. I wear shoes that I can easily remove. I pack lotion and lip balm and a good book. But, my flights these days don’t last more than three hours. Manageable.
When I worked at the insurance company, I flew on the company jet. Once. I won’t go into the details here, but suffice it to say, one flight on a corporate jet is really all anyone needs to spoil them for good.
So, when H told me we’re flying to Germany early next year, my excitement over the actual trip quickly gave way to dismay over the ten-hour, transatlantic flight. Between you and me, I fear another meltdown. But I’ve got time. And, I’ve got you. And you? You’ve got solutions!
- Water: Drink it, and drink a lot of it. “As much as they’ll give you,” Megan said. Stay away from caffeine and alcohol. They both contribute to dehydration, and who wants to arrive at their destination with chapped lips and static everywhere?
- Get up and move around: Drinking all of that water will probably help with this. But, sitting in the same seat for hours and hours can’t be good, even when you’re sitting in your living room. My friend Colleen said to wear footies or “walking socks”. I like that idea.
- Wear layers: I’ve been on airplanes where I thought my toes were becoming frostbitten. Once, I wondered if the seal was broken somewhere because the air at my feet was arctic! On other flights, I’ve been so hot and uncomfortable I could barely breathe. Wearing layers gives a little more control over my personal comfort.
- Kindle Fire: For movies and books and games. Interestingly, no one suggested an iPad.
- Music: Because music soothes the savage beast.
- Noise Canceling Headphones: Because sometimes silence is golden.
- Snacks: Last week, on our flight from Pennsylvania, I sat next to pilot who was returning home after three days of flying. He had hummus, pita, cheese, broccoli, and one of those power juice drinks. Brilliant! My friend Libby says to get rid of any food we carry on before we leave the plane. I don’t know why this is important. But I trust her.
- Don’t Overpack: This, from Christine Scheller, is probably my biggest challenge, because I never know I’ve overpacked until I arrive. And then it’s too late.
- Travel Pillow: For sleeping.
- Melatonin: I was thinking Tylenol PM, but that sounds like it may be overkill. Some suggested sleeping on the way over, then staying up until bedtime at my destination. Others said to stay awake on the plane and push through until bedtime at my destination. I’m not even going to pretend I can do that college all-nighter thing. I never did it when I was in college, and I don’t know why I’d start now. So, I’m going to take the melatonin, sleep a bit on the plane, and stay awake until bedtime in Germany. Besides, I’ll probably be too excited in Germany to sleep!