Sunday, 21 July 2013

Comfort's in the bag

Some travellers can wander onto the plane for a 30-hour journey to Europe with just their boarding pass and a smile.

I don't know how they do it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those people who try to smuggle aboard massive carry-on bags that threaten to crush fellow passengers while it is crammed into the overhead locker.

Call me what you like but I like to be comfortable

But I do like to go prepared.

While my "flight essentials pack" has grown over the years, I feel my flight kit means I'm ready for all eventualities.  I even pack all my bits and bobs in a tote bag I keep inside my daypack so that when I get on board I can pull it all out in one go rather than faff around during boarding and clog the aisle.

For me it's about making the flight as relaxing and as conducive to sleep as possible.  Sure I've got the eye mask and ear plugs, but I'm always on the lookout for what else can help.   I figure you tend to be disturbed by three things while on a plane: cabin noise, the cold or general discomfort.

Here's five important parts of my flight kit:

1.  Puffy vest:  a portable doona
I discovered the power of a puffy vest by accident.  I wore it on a flight to Canada for skiing and was anticipating a chilly arrival.  I noticed wearing the puffy vest not only kept me warm on the plane when the cabin got chilly, but also gave me a nice cushioned lining against the hard plane seat.

On a flight you're just looking for a comfy ride
2.  Foot cushion:  a pillow for the feet
Ok.  So this sounds precious, but I found I was much more comfortable with a cushion under my feet.   There's something about the plane floor's vibration on my feet for a long period of time that makes them start to ache.   With this trick I can almost imagine I'm sleeping somewhere much more comfortable.  Almost.

3.  Food:  snacks on the move
While taking food sounds like I'm preparing for a series of Survivor, I like to be able to have a snack when I want to.  Some rice crackers or muesli bars are just the ticket when delays or slack inflight service hit.   On one eight-hour flight to Singapore (after a two hour delay sitting on the tarmac awaiting take-off), I was served just a light lunch at the start and then nothing else.   People literally ran off the plane in Singapore in search of food.  Oh and some mints wouldn't be a bad idea either if you're planning on striking up conversation with anyone else on the plane.  

I like to pretend I'm here, not there

4.  Noise-cancelling headphones:  a sweet slice of shhhhhhh...
A bit of a luxury, but their ability to tune out the plane's engine and hundreds of other people is pretty remarkable.   Not the most comfortable to sleep in as you invariably end up crushing one ear, but for a moment you can almost imagine you have the plane to yourself or that you're really sitting in the pointy end of the plane.  After a lengthy trip from Sydney to Athens some years ago when the crew had "forgotten" to pack the headphones for the entertainment system, I resolved to always bring my own headphones.

Sometimes it's all about sensory deprivation
5.  Sleeping tablets:  the post-meal snack
No doubt frowned upon by the medical fraternity, but a sleeping tablet washed down with a white wine means I can gain a good four hours of sleep.   I can still be easily woken, as demonstrated when the hostess once rammed her trolley into my legs, but it gives a nice "detachment" that helps you stay relaxed or asleep a little longer.

What's in your flight kit?   Care to share?

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