A week ago, I found myself sitting in a very familiar spot — waiting for nighttime travel. Yes, this time it was a plane, not a bus. And yes, this time it was in America. But it made me nostalgic — that feeling of trying to claim your little half of a seat as the teyze sitting next to you takes up the other half, the disappointment of realizing you slept through the bus snacks, the ritual of preparing yourself for the journey.
Overnight travel can be simple and successful, if you recognize the stages and follow through appropriately. And, without further ado, I bring you all you need to know and do to for maximum success on your next red-eye adventure:
- Arrive at the terminal/station early enough to get everything squared away, but not so early that you spend half your night sitting in the waiting area.
- Squeeze into a bathroom stall so you can change into more comfortable pants and remove any items of clothing that may cause future discomfort.
- Decide that after 10 pm (and only then, and only on public transportation) leggings may qualify as pants.
- Battle with the automatic sink to wash your face and brush your teeth. You will get water everywhere.
- There are no paper towels. Dry your hands and face on whatever article of clothing in your bag is cleanest/most absorbent/least likely to be worn (in case it is still damp later).
- As you drip water everywhere, realize why public restrooms (especially Turkish ones) are so damn wet all the time.
- Try to cram everything back into your once perfectly packed bag. Get frustrated, give up, and end up carrying half of the former contents of your bag.
- Loll around in the waiting area, squinting into the bright fluorescent lights. Wonder whose idea it was to light a room so brightly and harshly after dark.
- Fight with every other passenger in your attempt to board the transportation vehicle. Nearly get squashed by the most matronly and irritable passenger. Use your glare with wild abandon.
- Stow your luggage and give your seatmate the once-over. Sigh. This is going to be a long night.
- Spend the next three hours tossing and turning, listening to music, and reading, but never quite getting comfortable. Fight for every inch of space you can to stretch out, but be warned, you’re fighting a loosing battle.
- Curse the gods for making you so tired, but not allowing you the gift of sleep.
- Cue screaming child.
- Finally drift off to sleep, 30 minutes before arriving at your destination.
- Get rudely awoken by an attendant. Be generally disoriented.
- Hope you don’t forget anything as you stumble off the vehicle in a sleep-deprived stupor. Realize you will have left something behind.
- Acknowledge that the headache and cramped limbs were completely worth it as you watch the sun break over the horizon.