Turn your red-eye into some shut-eye

Sleeping well on a plane has developed into a certain kind of art — and into a healthy business — with savvy travelers constantly scoping out new ways to make long flights more conducive to actual rest. Here are a few that really seem to have some payoff.

Splurge on a better seat. Sure, not everyone can afford a premium seat in first or business class, where you can take advantage of fully- or almost-fully-reclining seats and loads of leg room. But for long-distance flights, it can still be worth it to spend the extra money on an exit-row seat, a bulkhead seat, or a window seat. Flying on off-peak days, like a Tuesday evening, will also increase the likelihood that the flight will be less crowded and quieter.

Do the best you can with flight times and direct flights. While crossing many time zones always poses its own sleep challenges, do your best to pick a flight time and schedule that will sync up most naturally with your sleeping and waking times. Leaving in the evening will work better than trying to get REM at three in the afternoon.

Know your cues. Which side of the bed do you sleep on at home? Book on that side of the plane. Do you usually have a cup of tea before bed? Bring a few packets of your favorite herbal. And grab your own small travel blanket and comfy slippers while you’re at it (the airline pillow or blanket can be used for extra cushioning or lumbar support if you like). Spritz your pillow with a mild lavender essential oil. The more familiar things you can do, the more your brain will recognize the cues that it’s time for rest.

Sweet darkness, sweet silence. On most trans-oceanic flights, you’ll see the blue glow of nearly every seatback screen flickering, no matter the time. We know that the type of light emitted by screens is proven to disrupt sleep. For any rest at all — let alone good rest — keep your screen off. Bring an eye mask or cap to block out as much light as possible. Use earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones to create the quietest environment you can.

Buckle up over the blanket. When the plane hits turbulence, flight attendants are required to make sure people are safely buckled in. If they can’t see that your seat belt is fastened, they have to disturb you to check. Make it easy for them and for you — simply click the buckle over the blanket.

Rather than paying more for less in the airport, do some quick research before you leave to find the best travel pillow for you. There are dozens to choose from, and they range widely in price, portability, and visual quirkiness. Check out reviews like this one from Travel + Leisure — and note how the reviewer coordinates the best pillows with each type of sleeper. Chances are, there’s a pillow out there that will support your head and neck and give you the rest you need.

What are your best tips for getting good sleep on an airplane? I’d love to hear them. And if you’re ready to plan your next (well-rested) journey, I’m here to help! You can reach me today by clicking here.

Scientists may have found the “wanderlust gene.” Do you have it?

You know them when you meet them: those people who always keep their passport on hand, who can pack for an international trip in about twenty minutes flat, who’ve almost never met a travel idea they didn’t like, who would rather take three international trips a year than own a car. They never get tired of exploring.

Scientists might have discovered why some people tend towards wanderlust and others don’t.

One gene in particular, simply known as DRD4, is associated with dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is one of the brain’s natural “feel good” reward chemicals. For example, it’s released when we eat a delicious piece of chocolate cake or when we win at a race after training for months.

A derivative of DRD4, called DRD4-7R, is what’s come to be known as the “wanderlust gene.” In people who have it — only about 20 percent of the population — it shows up with an increased curiosity, restlessness, and desire to explore. And the one thing that almost all people who have DRD4-7R share in common? A history of traveling.

While nailing down the urge to explore and travel to only one piece of DNA might seem a bit simplistic, part of this unique gene mutation might be linked to the fact that the human brain and body are uniquely suited for exploration: unlike other primates, we have legs and hips that are designed to walk long distances; we have hands that can perform incredibly detailed tasks; and our brains are large and are naturally wired for creativity and change. Another source of the 7R gene might be those people groups in human history that experienced mass migration over long distances — they cultivated and passed on a relentless curiosity about new territory because that was what they were doing for generations.

Dr Richard Paul Ebstein, Professor of Psychology at the National University of Singapore, explored the question of the “travel gene” more in depth in this recent article. Regardless of its origin, Ebstein notes that people who possess the 7R mutation are people who exhibit “novelty seeking or extroverted behavior”.

Sound like anyone you know?

If you’re longing for your next great adventure, let’s talk travel! You can get in contact with me today by clicking here.

Staying Wise, Staying Calm, And Looking Ahead

For any person who loves to travel, who loves the freedom of being able to go almost anywhere, who sees the world as a beautiful place to be explored — this is likely a time of some discomfort and uncertainty.

It is, of course, good to be wise. It’s smart to listen to experts and make necessary preparations.

Many of us are having to adjust our businesses, our budgets, our schedules — and for many of us, that might include huge changes to vacations, weddings, honeymoons, reunions, and other getaways we’ve been looking forward to for months.

I want to say: I’m sincerely sorry for the upheavals. I’m feeling them, too.

And I also want to say: there is hope, and there is so much great stuff to look forward to.

There will be a time when this uncertainty will be resolved and the fear will lift.

While we’re doing our part to keep ourselves and our communities healthy — practicing social distancing, being conscientious about washing our hands, staying home, not touching our faces — we can also experience the excitement and joy of making future plans.

Four quick things to know about travel in the coming months:

  1. Many airlines are waiving change fees on all tickets booked for future travel.
  2. Amazing destinations are offering refundable packages, special offers, and extra freebies to those who book now. 
  3. This is a smart time to buy inexpensive trip insurance so you have the option to cancel and get your money back if things change before you depart. 
  4. It’s not too early to start dreaming, planning, and booking for 2021 trips!

Right now, it is a season of stillness, of staying close, of appreciating all that we have right in our own homes. It’s in our best interests to accept this temporary shift. We have a unique opportunity to be of service to one another in ways we maybe haven’t imagined before.

And just imagine how incredible it will feel, when the time is right, to stretch our wings, set off across oceans and mountains and miles, and make the whole wide world our home again.

I am sending all my best wishes for health, healing, happiness, and hope for you and your loved ones in the coming weeks and months! If you have any questions about your travel plans, please don’t hesitate to reach out here.

Sincerely,

Jenny