Travel Series Part 2: The Plane Ride
I love to travel, seeing new places around the world, but when it comes to the actual traveling part I'm not the best at it. Since I don't want to stay home I've developed routines that make traveling easier for me. This three part series will cover everything from preparing to leave to time changing at the destination. Part two is about the plane ride.
Most of the time when I'm flying these days I'm flying to the same place - my favorite city, London. So, I've been able to develop a flight routine to follow that helps me get through the 10 hours and arrive on the other end in relatively good shape.
When traveling domestically I avoid taking red eye flights, since I find it almost impossible to sleep on planes all I end up doing is arriving sleep deprived and sick, but traveling to London is a different story. Taking a red eye means arriving late enough to be able to check into my hotel when I arrive. If I take an earlier flight I'm stuck either waiting, bleary eyed in the lobby, or wandering the streets of London like a zombie.
For the people who can sleep on planes the flight is a chance to get a slightly shortened night's sleep so they can arrive fresh and rested. I envy those people. First I tried tiring myself out before I got on the plane so my body would be forced to sleep. I'd get up early and workout the day of travel. It never worked. Then, I took the opportunity to watch a bunch of movies and basically pull an all-nighter, figuring I'd catch up on the other end. But that led to me throwing up in those lovely air sickness bags in the seat pockets and being screwed up for days afterwards while I try to time adjust eight hours. Not fun. So instead I make sure to get on the plane rested and use the time when everyone else is sleeping to meditate for several hours.
While that might seem like a ridiculous amount of time to meditate I've found it to be very effective. I slip on a second pair of socks, pop in some ear plugs, put on a sleep mask (after trying several this one is my favorite), recline in my seat, and focus on my breathing. I often need to take breaks, to check the time, shift positions, go to the bathroom, but chunks of time pass without much effort or discomfort. If you've never meditated before and want to try this I recommend practicing for several weeks beforehand. Not necessarily in big chunks. The most I meditate for at home is 20 minutes at a time. But enough to get used to sitting still and focusing on your breath. The first couple of times I did this I used a counting method where I counted each inhale and exhale, from one to ten and then starting over again at one. It's made a huge difference in how I feel when I get off the plane.
The other thing that has helped is ordering a special meal. The in flight meals are usually loaded with carbs and sugar in leave me feeling queasy. So, when I make my reservations on United I request a Hindu Vegetarian meal. The dinner entree is usually a spicy vegetable curry with rice and yogurt. Not only does it taste better, but it makes me feel better. They offer a special breakfast too, which is usually very simple but avoids the sugary pastries and rubbery eggs served with the regular meals. Even if I'm very successful meditating I'm rarely in the mood to eat anything before landing, but if I can force myself to eat at least a small portion of my breakfast it helps to rest my body clock to the new time zone at my destination.
If I eat my special meal, avoid alcohol and caffeine, meditate, and eat a little breakfast I usually wind up tired but in reasonable shape when I land. It's taken me a fair while to come up with a routine that works, but I'm always looking for tweaks to make it even better. If you have a hard time on planes what do you do to get through it?
This is not a sponsored post. All opinions expressed above are my own.
Photo by Sophia Dunkin-Hubby