Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How I did not die of boredom during a 21 hour flight to Sydney

Cheers from down unda!!
I’ve been here in Australia since June 29th. I’m sorry I did not write sooner, but I’ve been so busy trying to see as much as possible that internet has not been at the top of my “to do” list. This week we’ve arrived at our last stop, Cairns, after spending time in Sydney and Brisbane. The country is so rich in natural beauty, and almost Disneyland like in the sense that it’s so well developed, new, orderly, and ultra prosperous.
I want to devote the adequate space to all of these cities, so first I have to write about how I got here. Let me tell you, it was quite the trek. The 21 hours worth of flight time are honestly the only downside I can see about visiting Australia, but with my frequent travels and desire to visit far off places, I’ve had to learn to entertain myself while lacking resources and being confined to small uncomfortable seats.
So here are some of the things I usually do while airborne:
For long flights like this I sometimes take a sleep aid like Tylenol PM, or my mom really likes Sleep Easy. I don’t want to recommend this for everyone though because it affects everyone differently. I personally don’t like to because I’ll be drowsy for several hours the next day, but being in a daze for a little while can be worth it if it means you can get more sightseeing in on your first day of travel, and it will help you get accustomed to a new time zone faster.
Exhibit A: Our first day in Sydney
I tend to not sleep at all on airplanes. I can manage to doze a little if I curl up in a ball in the cramped seats, but that only lasts until I begin to lose sensation in various limbs. I usually resign myself to spending the night up watching movies. No exaggeration here, I’ve spent numerous flights watching movie after movie in a sleeping pill induced zombie state while passengers snooze around me and I want to cry from my exhaustion and inability to sleep. Despite my usual insomnia, even in my own bed, I miraculously managed to sleep on and off for several hours throughout the 15 hours from Los Angeles to Sydney.
 During the three and a half hour flight from Houston to Los Angeles, I did a lot of reading. Always have plenty of book options! I didn’t choose very well for this vacation. I brought a book by Douglas Adams that was sort of entertaining for a while but nothing special. I also brought Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s biography that my mom bought for me in Barcelona. Unfortunately I’m not even a fan of his fiction writing, so I was bored a few pages in and stopped. On the flight from Los Angeles to Sydney I finished off over half of the Douglas Adams one. I’ve done a lot of book shopping while here so I’ll be set for the flight back. You want to choose one of those books that you can’t put down so time seems to go faster. I also sometimes choose puzzle books like Sudoku or crosswords to keep my mind busy. This is also fun because I never get the time to play these games in my normal day to day. I personally don’t like spending the money on magazines, but do love reading them when they’re available.

On long flights, airlines will always show movies and TV shows. Depending on the company and the type of airplane, you’ll either get the screens in the middle of the aisle or above the seats like I had on this flight, or if you’re lucky, you get screens on the back of the seat in front of you. In the latter case, you’re set with movies you get to choose for the whole flight! I was not so lucky. We had screens in the middle of the aisle and they chose really bad movies. I watched “When In Rome” on the way to Los Angeles. It was my first time seeing it so it passed the time. On the way to Sydney however, they showed “Date Night” and I had barely tolerated that movie in theaters. I also like to bring along music and zone out to some of my favorite music for a while. This sort of mediation/ relaxation is also not something I take the time to do very often so it feels like an indulgence and can be really nice.
Now on the stars of the show! – > yes, I find food highly entertaining. It’s really important for me to plan and pack well when it comes to meals and snacks. I have several reasons for this. First of all because I’m vegan and not all flights offer special meals; second, even when they do offer vegan meals, airplane food is just not that good so I’d rather be prepared. Worst case, I end up with double the dinner. Win/ win. Lastly, even with the airplane meals, I usually eat more quantity and more often. Plus, I’m bored, so why not have a few extra cookies on hand?
There are meals and snacks that are easier to pack, but I like to have good fresh foods so sometimes I’m a little unconventional and just pack a lot of tupper wares with my usual meals. I also like to have fresh fruit like bananas and apples, and snack bars are also good and easy to carry around. Pack extra because it’s better to have leftover snacks that will still be good while you’re touring a new city, than to get hungry on the airplane. Since I love baking, I like to prepare a small zip lock with cookies or something I’ve made beforehand. PB and J’s are also lifesavers and will stay good for a long time. Also, airplanes are very dehydrating, so take advantage every time a stewardess offers you water! And if you need to, don’t hesitate to get up and ask them for a drink also. It gives you an excuse to move around and stretch anyways. I always like to choose an aisle seat for this reason, too. I get up to go to the bathroom frequently if only for the little bit of movement it allows me. Then while I’m up, I’ll stay standing as long as possible and do some easy yoga stretches. 

Upon landing, I like to go at least splash my face with water in the bathroom, then as soon as I’ve collected my bags- COFFEE is #1 on the itinerary so that I’m ready to begin the sightseeing right away!
I really hope this post was slightly less boring than the plane ride itself. It probably wasn’t but thank you if you read it all anyways! Has anyone else taken absurdly long trips on airplanes? What do you do to pass the time?


Anonymous said...

I never sleep on airplanes. The only way I've found that I can is to lower the tray table and bury my face into my arms, but even after awhile that gets cramped, too.

It's so hard to pick out a good book for a long flight like that. I find that selecting a familiar book that I read a few years back is the best bet -- I know I liked it then, but it's been long enough that I can enjoy it now.

Your aisle seat advice is good! I hate having to crawl over a couple of surly business travelers when my bladder is telling me for the 1000th time that it needs to take care of business. Hah. xD I'd rather hold it, but then it's just miserable. But, with an aisle, then you have no excuse to not get up and take a minute stretch or two.

With my sensitive stomach, extra snacks are a *must*. I love packing things like dried fruit and nuts, just in case.

I think my longest flight was probably five or six hours. I was so bored out of my mind. :P Sudoku helps pass the time, but there's only so many you can do before you're ready to scream. xD

Ellen@FirednFabulous said...

I can fall asleep anywhere, so I usually don't have a problem on planes. I do get worried about my blood circulation on long flights though, so I always get up and walk around and stretch. An.Y.way. I'm impressed with all your snacks! Way to plan :) I need to start bringing PB&Js with me on trips...they're always good, and so easy!

Mitri said...

I have never taken that long of a plane trip, but I do have trouble napping at any time of the day and only occasionally fall asleep in flight early early in the morning... Occasionally I have taken Advil PM, but it does make me feel groggy when I wake up.

I hope you're loving your trip!!