Last month I think I might have finally understood partly how new mothers feel. You are able to sleep anywhere, eat anywhere and everything, for some reason you shower 3 times more than usual cause you’ve forgotten what day it was and most importantly you’ll do anything to block out noise.
Jet lag, times motherhood, equals frequent ultra long haul cabin crew. Within a month I traveled East to West to East to West so many times that I couldn’t sleep unless the sun was up. Even though some people were happy that I could stay up and chat all day, I almost lost it. Nah, I did lose it, I just can’t remember that I did. So after I went to Sydney and my state of mind miraculously readjusted, I tried figuring out how to keep it that way. I would be so tired that I’d sleep for 18 hours straight and that’s not only incredibly confusing and scary, its also unhealthy and I kept losing my days.
From napping to packing to getting on the plane, here’s how I stay sane…
I don’t take naps, I think its silly and I am the grumpiest person ever when I wake up from a nap, so I adjust my sleep. I make sure that I get at least 5 – 8 hours sleep before my flight, cause you see, I need to be awake and happy at the same time. So a lot of times I’ll be up through the night before a flight, like when I was studying for big exams in college… Minus the strobe lights and “thirst quenching beverages”.
I’d have showered and packed before the sheep line up, otherwise every sheep would question my flight preparation. Depending on the weather forecast, which should not be trusted, I try to have a little bit of everything in my trusty “Trunki”. So I check the weather just to disregard it anyways, then I pack my hooded leather jacket, a summer dress that looks good with tights, a pair of jeans and a shirt or two that works with everything. If its snowing I pack boots, if not, the boots stay. So ballet flats and sandals work. I don’t know where my trip will lead me, so I pack a pretty little black dress and a pair of heels just in case. Obviously I have the usual toothbrush, underwear, sleepwear, etc. Then I have learnt to pack a small carton thingy of milk, because the hotels give minuscule amounts and I like a lot of milk in my tea / coffee (also packed in teeny amounts). Oh and swimwear! Cause there’s bound to be a pool or a beach or a jacuzzi or something.
My carry on has the usual on-board black crew pajamas for the crazy far flights, together with facial water spray, lip balm, hairspray, millions of extra bobby pins, toothbrush and toothpaste and my make-up (all liquids and gels separated into clear plastic bags for customs). I also carry my tablet, camera, a folder with paperwork, my legal documents and licenses, wallet with the correct currency if I was bothered enough to go exchange before hand, my cabin shoes, trench-coat and finally my on-board uniform.
Thank goodness for air conditioning and blackout curtains.
After my 7th alarm has given up on me, I force myself out of my comfy pillow-nest and quickly make my bed before I change my mind. Kettle on. YouTube playlist on. As I walk back into my room with a hot cup in my hand, I smile at the sound of the lyrics… da da da “I flick the switch on the generator…..” and I do a little happy dance. After dance-fighting myself into my compression tights for flying, it takes me about 10 minutes to do my makeup, then about 5 minutes to make the signature low-bun then about 5 minutes to decide whether I should have breakfast. After either having breakfast or not, I throw my charger and my make-up into my carry-on, I lock my Trunki bag. I finish getting dressed and I chuck my phone and my flight journal into my handbag, and earphones for blocking out the noise on the bus and making a video call in public. Out the front door. Whatever I’ve forgotten I’ll survive without for a couple of nights, or I’ll walk into the nearest mall. I know I have the basics, I’ll survive.
If I am travelling as a guest (happens more often than you’d think) surviving on the plane is just about securing yourself a window seat and scaring the people next to you into moving away, if you’re in economy. Normally I am in business class, cause it’s nice and I get to sleep more, and I don’t have to scare anyone. I just throw on the noise-cancelling headset and watch every movie that the in-flight entertainment has to offer, or connect to the wi-fi and go about my business as per usual with the crew happily bringing me whatever I want.
If I am working and everyone in first class has eaten and is asleep, I survive by walking around and annoying the other crew in the other galleys. Or if the crew isn’t as fun as I’d hoped, I just sit in the cockpit and wait for something interesting to never happen.
I never shower right after a long flight, it’s something about your skin and it being bad after the dehydration on the plane or whatever, so I just moisturise. And depending what time it is, I either go to sleep or I go out into the city and explore. After a couple of hours exploring, having dinner with the crew at a cute little hidden place that the locals recommended,and the sun is setting, I’d be back at the hotel taking a shower and getting ready for a good nights sleep.
Getting back onto the plane for the ride home is the part that sucks for everyone going back home after a fun holiday, but if I have gotten enough sleep, I’ve eaten a good meal and seen the sun shine for a while, I can handle it just barely to smile at the fact that I got to experience a new country. Even though travelling is tough on my mind and my body, I am happily exhausted by the time I get back home. I throw on my most comfortable shirt and I try to relax. I try not to be bored, I Skype, a lot (ask my flatmates). I go outside, I go shopping, I go to the beach, I go have lunch, anything. Cause the next time I lock myself in an airplane for 16 hours (either as crew or as a guest), I need to make sure I smile at the people who keep me company.