Ross: The simple secret to a relaxing travel experience
I saw a headline in the Seattle Times titled, “Is it possible to sleep comfortably on an overnight flight?” I don’t think I’m giving anything away if I tell you that the answer was no.
Travel expert Christopher Elliot had several tips on how to make your red-eye bearable, but ultimately, he advises just avoiding the red-eye unless you can afford to fly first class on Qatar Airways, and to me, that’s just giving up.
So, I would like to offer an alternative opinion, because I fly the red-eye to the east coast about twice a year — the 11:30 p.m. via Chicago – and I do pretty well.
To me, the most important thing is to de-stress yourself ahead of time.
To do that, I start packing weeks in advance, and put every piece of clothing into a large baggie so I can easily rearrange the suitcase. This way I can re-pack without having to re-fold – and by the departure date, I can be sure I haven’t forgotten anything.
I also stick to one carry-on, so there’s no baggage claim stress.
By taking an 11:30 p.m. flight you’re not stressing about traffic, and it’s easy to get to the airport two hours early, which also de-stresses you because even if they have to sniff your luggage and strip you naked – you’ll get to the gate in plenty of time.
As for the actual in-flight sleeping, that takes some work. It helps to practice the art of vertical rest. I practice five nights a week writing these commentaries at home. If I get stuck on a word, I’ve gotten to the point where I can close my eyes to think, and boom! I’m out, until my internal deadline alarm goes off. Or until my wife says “are you in there sleeping again? The kale is getting cold.”
But on the red-eye, no deadlines. No stress at all, because my clothes have been in baggies for weeks, I know I haven’t forgotten anything, and there’s no dinner in danger of getting cold. That makes it so that I can give in to the fatigue without a care in the world.
That’s the secret! It’s not about buying a sleeping pod on Qatar Airways, it’s about pro-actively de-stressing and learning to doze off at a desk. If you can master that, you should be able to conk out even in a non-reclinable 17-inch seat.
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