Airplane travel is not fun, let’s face it. But I’m always careful to balance my grumbling with sincere gratitude. If it weren’t for a few cramped hours on airplanes, I probably would not know the weight of the air in a pharaonic tomb, or the light inside the Hagia Sophia, or the night-sky in the Sahara Desert, or a thousand other first-hand, unique sensory experiences found many thousands of miles from home. Honestly, I hardly remember all the hours I’ve spent on airplanes. It’s the places and people at the end of the ride that leave the lasting impressions. Still, it doesn’t hurt to pimp that ride as best you can. For me, that means swaddling my body in warm, soft things so it thinks I’m at home on the couch watching a Homeland marathon.
The foundation for a comfortable plane trip is comfortable clothing. Basically, you want jammies that you can wear in public, proudly. Your feet need to be warm and free to do what they do on planes. Socks don’t cut it. You need slippers. Then you need a blanket, not only for warmth but for privacy and to define your space. It’s a security blanket really, to make up for the vulnerability and lack of control we feel on airplanes. The protective powers of the blanket increase many fold when you know that blanket and where it has been. (Am I too attached to my blanket?) Finally, you need pillows to support the inevitable floppy-head and slouching back. (Is it really so hard to build a chair with lumbar support??)
My essentials, from Travelsmith:
Soft, stretchy, breathable, wrinkle-resistant, cling-free, machine-washable fabric, keeps its shape so you don’t have to.
$99 on sale from $149 through December 18, 2013
A blanket disguised as clothing, 100% merino wool, 65″L x 27″W.
$69 on sale from $99 through December 18, 2013
Women’s Nufoot™ Mary Jane Slippers
soft, water-resistant, with protective sole for visits to the loo
soft, breathable, lightweight and all yours
open 70″L x 55″W; folded: 7″L x 3 1/2″W
Super Snoozer Memory Foam Pillow
I like the combination of memory foam, for just the right amount of neck support, with inflatable areas for less packing bulk.
16½” x 11″(inflated); 5 1/8″ x 5 7/8″ (closed & folded)
17″W x 5″D x 9″H; folded: 8½”W x 4½”H. 8 oz
Check out Travelsmith.com for these and other gift ideas for all the travelers in your life.