Enjoy the Journey: Tips for Easy Long-Distance Travel

Zzzzz...

With some planning and luck, you will sleep on one or more of your flights. Earplugs or noise reducing headsets are good investments. Even though I have a nice set of headphones to listen to music and the movies during flights, I always carry a pair of earplugs with me when I travel. You can use earplugs during flights or in noisy rooms during your trip. The last time I needed earplugs was in New York City to eliminate the noise of honking cabs and ambulances going past my hotel window all night.

Another good investment is eye covers. You can slip these on when it's time to rest and eliminate most of the airplane cabin lighting, including the reading light of the person sitting next to you.

Some people are gifted snoozers; they can sleep any time, any place. Others struggle to get good rest when they travel. A common prescription sleep aid is Ambien. Some people have trouble with Ambien and do better with a mild sedative such as Diazepam. Unfortunately you won't know how you are affected by these medications until you try them.

Over-the-counter remedies include Tylenol PM and Advil PM. Some people prefer melatonin, which can be purchased at some grocery stores and at health food stores.

Before taking any medications, consult your physician to make sure it's right for you, and be sure you know how you will react to them well before the trip. Also, if you are an athlete that is under a drug testing program, be sure that any supplements you take for sleep or other physical maladies will not flag you with a positive drug test.

Luggage Packing Tips

When I travel, I like to take the least amount of luggage possible. Eagle Creek makes compression sacs in three sizes that allow you to put clothing items into a giant resealable bag and then squeeze all of the air out. It is like vacuum-sealing your clothing. Items take up much less space in your luggage when a good deal of the air between them is removed. Secondly, the sacs can be used to separate wet and dry items for the trip home.

Packing folders are another great option. They have a flat, stiff plastic center piece that you wrap several items of clothing around. The final outside folder wraps around the clothing and keeps all of the items remarkably wrinkle-free.

You can also make use of the empty space in your shoes. I use regular, light-weight baggies for my socks and underwear. I can roll them up, similar to the compression sacs, and then stuff the baggies into my shoes.

Pack light and plan to wash out a few items to wear more than once. You can purchase Campsuds or other packable laundry detergents to rinse out clothing.

A Smart Carry-On Bag

Snacks: When most people get tired, they are more likely to eat high-fat and high-sugar foods. If you pack foods that are healthy and easily accessible in one of your carry-on bags, you are less likely to eat foods that make you feel bad.

A No-Shower Shower Kit: Pack moist towelettes or a wash cloth so you can use them to freshen-up near the end of your long flight. Use your carry-on personals to simulate a morning shower and routine (tooth brush, deodorant, etc.) as best you can.

Just in Case: I typically pack one change of clothing in my carry-on bag. It doesn't happen often, but I have been at my destination sans luggage. It really stinks (in more ways than one) to sleep in the clothes you have had on since you left home.

You can increase the odds of a smooth trip with a few items purchased ahead of time and a little planning. Aim to make the travel part of traveling as enjoyable as possible. Safe travels!


Gale Bernhardt was the 2003 USA Triathlon Pan American Games and 2004 USA Triathlon Olympic coach for both the men's and women's teams. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's pre-built, easy-to-follow training plans. For more information, click here. Let Gale and Active Trainer help you succeed.

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