We were going to drive north to the village where my grandfather was born, but that got sidelined at the last minute. The day, though, was still wonderful. Nice leisurely walk and breakfast, thirty frustrating minutes at Best Buy (where we were told by some kids hardly out of their teens that our English was WRONG and that we weren’t reading the description on the Apple box correctly, therefore the item couldn’t possibly be what we needed EVEN THOUGH IT WAS AND PLEASE HAND IT OVER NOW, after which the discount we had been quoted mysteriously no longer applied)—and finally my own little Nirvana: shoes.
SO cute. You can’t get things like this back in the USA, and I don’t know why.
Mitch asks: I’m not looking forward to the 13 hour flight from LA to Sydney. Any suggestions for minimizing discomfort and jet lag?
Ah, friends. When flying in a sardine can for 13 or 14 hours, there’s only so much you can do. But here’s how I endure:
First of all, you have to choose the right seat. You won’t always be able to get your first choice, but even so, this is probably the most crucial part of your travel planning, because the seat you reserve will become, for better or worse, your home base for however long you’re on that flight. And if you’re on an international flight, that’s gonna be a darn long time.
I prefer bulkhead (seats behind a dividing wall) or exit seating. The simple reason is that in those two areas, no one will be in front of you. You won’t have to worry about getting stuck in your row, or feeling too claustrophobic. Unfortunately, these seats are golden and hard to get. Which leaves you with deciding whether you want an aisle or window seat. The good thing about the window seat is that you have the wall to rest your head upon, when, at the fifth hour or so, you decide you want a nap and don’t want to drool on your neighbor’s shoulder. The bad thing is…well, if you have to use the bathroom, you’ll be forced to roust everyone who is blocking you in. You won’t have that problem with an aisle seat. You can move about as you wish. But whatever you do, if you can help it, don’t get stuck in the middle. Please, please, please do not. Not unless you’re with friends or family, because that helps—that really helps.
Also think about whether you want to be close to the bathroom. Or near the front of the plane—in which case you can be off a little more quickly so that you reach customs as part of the first wave and not stand at the back of the line with several hundred people in front of you.
Secondly, on the long international flights, they’ll feed you a lot—dinner, snacks, breakfast. But if you get hungry or thirsty and there’s nothing to be had? That can drive you crazy. So pack some water and juice in your carry-on, the one you keep under the seat in front of you. Throw in some nuts or raisins, power bars, a slice of your grandmother’s homemade cake—whatever. Make it light, comforting, and keep it close. In fact, you’re probably better off eating and drinking that stuff than taking what the airline offers. A friend told me a horror story of flying from China on United and getting food poisoning after the first meal service. That’s a long time to be sick. Take care of your guts, people.
Third, and just as important, is finding a way to whittle away the time. I’ve gotten good at sleeping on planes, but it’s taken me years to reach that point. I won’t travel without my Kindle, or some kind of reading material. Music is nice (though the plane engines make it difficult to hear), pen and paper can be helpful—but bring something that will take your mind off where you are, and how long you’ll be sitting there.
Also, if you can, pack a pillow in your carry-on. You can clutch it, if nothing else, or stick it behind you. If you’re in the economy section, consider bringing something you can prop your feet on. It eases the strain on your back and neck.
I chew gum on flights. It helps with nausea.
That’s all I’ve got for now. I’m no expert, but if you’ve got other questions, leave them in the comments.
PS: Jet lag? Try not to sleep until it’s nighttime where you’re at. Force yourself to stay up all day, if possible (even if it’s the middle of the night back home). That will help. Really, though, when you’re having a good time, remaining awake and adjusting to the time difference isn’t too difficult.