How to Sleep on a Plane Part I: Before

Thursday, 11 December 2014

We're off to Colombia soon to spend Christmas with Mr DI's family. This will be my 8th visit and my 4th Christmas, so I'm pretty much familiar with things over there. We're looking forward to a big family Christmas, plenty of good times and great food!

There's one difference this year though ~ direct flights. Yes, those 8 trips have all been at least 15 hours slogs via Europe or the US (oh, apart from the time when the plane had to return to Germany due to a technical fault and the whole journey took 42 hours ~ I kid you not). In short, not the most pleasant of trips to be making, even if it is just once a year.

So when Avianca, Colombia's national airline, announced that they were starting direct flights to Bogota from Heathrow, we held our breathe in anticipation. As soon as it was confirmed earlier this year, we booked our flights for Christmas. One journey each way of 10 hours. I can't tell you how great it's going to feel getting on the plane in London knowing that when we get off we will be there. Job done.

The only teeny, weeny downside to all this is that both the flights out and back are overnight. Previously we have always travelled over during the day and back overnight. Sadly I'm completely hopeless at sleeping on planes, always have been. And don't even talk about how grumpy I am when I've missed a night's sleep and I have jet lag...

So knowing that we'll be doing these two overnight journeys now every year I thought it was high time I faced up to my plane insomnia and got myself prepared to get some proper rest in the air.

These are my plans so far. I'll write an update post once we've arrived in South America and let you know how I got on.

First of all, I asked as many people as I could how they manage to sleep on planes. I was amazed that at least 90% told me they take some form of sleeping tablet. That's not really my style, but as you'll see I've even taken on board this advice to a certain degree. That is the extent of my determination!

Next, I got online and did some research. The key points to nodding off at 30,000 feet seem to be comfort, warmth and relaxation. I looked at various products and this is now my arsenal:

1. Neck Pillow
This model is generally only available in the US, but Proidee supply the UK. It's made of memory foam and comes with a small compression bag that squashes it right down for easy carrying in hand luggage. I've read rave reviews about this pillow ~ apparently the key is in the fact that you can turn it around and wear it backwards to stop your head rolling forward...

2. Eye Mask
Yep, it looks like a bra ~ we had some fun in the office with this one! I've previously tried the fabric/free ones you get on some airlines, but have mixed feelings about them. This one is moulded so that the mask doesn't come into contact with your eyes, allowing them to move around as you sleep, I suppose disturbing you less? The whole thing is super soft so I'm hoping for some success here!
From Amazon

3. Ear Plugs
I've always hated the foam ones that you have to poke into your ears. They either hurt or fall out. So this time I'm trying out these wax ones, meant for swimmers...
From Amazon

4. Herbal Sleeping Tablets
I've been testing these out at home recently and they really do seem to help me relax enough to nod off. I'm not yet ready to go the full hog with chemical tablets, so let's see how these go when I'm in the air...

5. Fleece, Warm Socks & Airline Blanket

6. Positive Mental Attitude

So there you go. Yes, I'm going to look completely bonkers, but I *might* just be able to get a decent enough amount of shut-eye to keep me on the better side of grumpy when we land (at 4.40am with a whole day full of excited relatives to get through!)

Can you sleep on planes? Do you have any good tips which might help me? I'd love to know!

How to Sleep on a Plane Part 2: After


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