As the pilot announced our flying time to Hawaii, a loud sigh escaped from my traveling companion. No matter how we break up a mainland trip, the leg across the Pacific is a long one. I’m collecting ways to make it more pleasant for folks coming here on their Hawaii Vacations.

I have read many advice columns about how to make air travel more comfortable. Many mention timing when you eat or sleep to suit the time zone where you are headed. That may help in theory but I find it of little practical use – the food comes when the flight attendants bring it. It may be possible for some people to sleep on cue, but I find it is it is also fairly dependent on fellow passengers. There were many families traveling on our recent flights to and from Hawaii. It’s great to have them visit the islands, and most of the children were well-behaved (including infants). However, it increases the activity in the cabin. In the best circumstances, there is an excitement and energy in the air as youngsters try to distract themselves with games or videos. In the worst cases, it’s like being in the middle seat of a very large station wagon on an extended family vacation.

One approach is to join the fun. Watch the in-flight movie or bring your own headphones for music or videos. I always bring a book and rarely read it – I just don’t have the concentration. This time, however, I brought the instruction manual to a camera I bought a year ago. I never had tried out all the options. I now have a series of photos of the clouds outside the window and the airplane blanket with various exposures and special effects. It was just enough to keep me entertained for most of the flight (and as a bonus, I get to scratch “read the manual” off my to-do list).

Even so, I was happy to have remembered my favorite travel aid: a good set of ear plugs. Because I always forgot to pack them, I bought several pair and put them in every suitcase and carry-on bag that I own. They muffle the cabin noise when I’m reading and make it possible to doze on evening flights when the pace of the cabin slows. Other than wearing comfortable clothing and shoes, and bringing a sweater, that’s about all I do to prepare. As with all travel, the best tip is to have a good attitude and expect that something unanticipated will happen.


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