Your plane was delayed and now you’ve missed your connection. Maybe you’re on international travel heading to your next hunt, or maybe you’re just flying to Nevada for the 2018 Sheep Show, Jan. 18-20, or the SCI Hunters’ Convention, Jan. 31-Feb. 4. Either way, it’s after midnight, and the next available flight doesn’t depart until dawn. A hotel room is out of the question. What do you do?
Aaron Laurich, a Global Rescue Security Operations Supervisor, is no stranger to spending a night in an airport as a paramedic and a former U.S. Army Special Operations combat medic who has operational experience planning and conducting complex rescues from austere and remote locations. Over the years he has developed some tried and true techniques for nabbing some sleep and surviving a night in the airport.
Lower your expectations. Aim for rest and relaxation instead of hoping for eight solid hours. Make your goal to just be as relaxed as you can be, and sleep likely will follow. If not, even some quiet time will help you recharge.
Remember to stretch first—and last. Fellow travelers may raise an eyebrow as you do light yoga in the concourse, but you’ll start your rest feeling loose. After hours on a hard floor or seat, be sure to stretch again when you awake.
Pamper yourself with a few comfort items. We all have a bedtime ritual, and even in an alien environment you can stick to a few of yours. Have your toothbrush and toothpaste handy, as well as a travel-size bottle of your daily moisturizer or lotion. Keeping even some of your routine intact will give you some control over the situation, which is huge for your peace of mind as well as your ability to achieve meaningful rest.
Carry a spare T-shirt, socks and underwear. I like to keep a soft exercise shirt with me that I’ll change into if I get stuck sleeping somewhere. It’s as close to pajamas as I get and it’s an easy way to tell my brain that it’s bedtime.
Prepare to keep warm. Whether I’m traveling to Patagonia or Dubai I carry a small pair of gloves and a light stocking cap in my pack. They come in handy during cold nighttime flights and are worth their weight in gold when the air conditioning has you shivering.
Bring your ear plugs. Standard foam ear plugs will suffice, though silicone ones can be cleaned easier. You don’t need much protection – just enough to lower the volume of that overhead speaker. Bonus Tip: Carry two pairs; being neighborly is a nice touch during rough travels.
The jack(et) of all trades. I carry a lightweight, insulated jacket on my travels year round that I can drape over me like a blanket. I usually opt for a hooded model because the hood helps to block out airport light. The pockets can secure valuables on your person as you snooze, and you can stuff the jacket into its own sleeve for a crude pillow.
Make your bed and lie in it. Some folks need more creature comforts than a minimal puffy jacket thrown over them. Consider a small air mattress, travel pillow or sleeping bag. If I’m going on a long trip with the likelihood of being in small regional airports, I carry these with me. This is especially relevant when on international travel.
Traveling alone? Put your valuables in your pockets or in a purse or backpack slung across your shoulder. Pull other items as close as possible and, if possible, route your arm or leg through a strap. It’s not as secure as keeping a waking eye on everything, but it will make you feel better and help you to relax.
Traveling as part of a group? Establish a guard shift and create a roster—even for a well-lit major airport. It might feel like overkill, but you’ll feel more comfortable knowing your items are safe. As a bonus, the ‘guard’ can keep tabs on any developments regarding flight status.
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Editor’s Note:Global Rescue has provided travelers worldwide with medical advisory and evacuation services since 2004 and has completed in excess of 12,000 missions. Before your next trip, consider a Global Rescue membership as part of your survival plan. For information, visit globalrescue.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-459-4200.
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And speaking of Global Rescue tips for airport travel, if you are like me and are heading to the 2018 Sheep Show at the Reno Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nev., this week, Global Rescue is sponsoring the Welcome Party Banquet and Auction on Wednesday, Jan. 17, from 6:30-9:30 p.m.