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4 Smart Strategies for Finding Calm During Turbulence

4 Smart Strategies for Finding Calm During Turbulence

The plane jostles and shakes, as if we’re riding a bucking bronco in a rodeo. The overhead, ever-so-polite DING sounds to indicate the fasten our seat belts icon has illuminated again. Barely a moment passes before the airplane’s intercom crackles to life, suspending all of the in-flight movies. First in German, and then in English, we’re informed of turbulence. Yup. Kind of hoping that’s all it is. Sebastian squeezes my hand, and I squeeze his back. I take a deep breath. It's time to break out one of my tools for mentally getting through the heart stopping moments of turbulence when my imagination wants to concentrate on every single horrible, tragic ending to my situation.

1. Mental Images: Good Imagination For Peace of Mind
A therapist from college taught me how, and it's the closest I’ve ever felt to being a jedi. First you imagine white light. Starting from inside you, you envision the light, and concentrate on expanding it, pushing it out as if you’re in a bubble of white light. Personally, I take this a step further and imagine a polar bear, my favorite animal, something that brings me peace and a spark of joy. For you, it's probably a different animal, or a person, or a good memory, or a place. Famously, in my favorite movie French Kiss, Meg Ryan’s character Kate has a little cottage she’s supposed to imagine. Or if you’re a Harry Potter fan, think of the Expecto Patronum spell, what’s your Patronus?

2. Bottle Up Your Happy Place
When you start to panic during turbulence, break out your good smells. If you have a calming essential oil you like, a book that’s sporting the new book smell, or a sweatshirt that smells like home, get it out, close your eyes, and breathe it in. Let your nose fool you into believing you’re anywhere else but on a plane. Smell is our only sense that projects directly to the amygdala, a center connected with emotion and memory. Using smells during emotionally heightened episodes, like turbulence on a plane, can retrieve pleasant memories more powerfully than other senses.

3. Tick Tock, Tick Tock
Hyperventilating? Being told to take a deep breath isn’t very helpful is it? Something that helps me find my rhythm is a ticking clock. Look into downloading a sound or nature app on your phone. Most of them have an old fashioned clock and more. I’ve seen one that has a cat purring sound. Anything that is regular and a soothing sound can help regulating your breaths or heart rate. Yes, the next time the plane lurches suddenly you'll have to start over again, but it gets easier.

4. Give Yourself Something to Look Forward To
Notoriously, the flight back from German to the U.S. is worse as far as turbulence goes, with the plane fighting against the wind and jet streams the whole time. Once, personally I experienced turbulence over the Atlantic that dragged on for hours. You may need a long-term plan. Save the next few episodes of a TV show you’re currently loving to binge watch during the turbulence. Similarly, get hooked on a new book a few days before your departure date so you can’t wait to jump back in again. Don’t buy a new book that you may or may not get into, take one whose world you’re already distracted and enthralled with.

What has gotten you through seemingly never-ending turbulence?

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How I Was Able to Sleep for 5 Hours on a Transatlantic Flight: Product Review

Bose QuietComfort 35 Review
For several years I had seen noise-canceling headphones at our local Best Buy, who had several headphones on a testing display. While Denise was looking at the movie selection, I played with the noise-canceling headphones, fascinated like a child. I have always bought headphones in the $35 to $50 range, because I could never justify the tenfold price for the Bose headphones with noise-canceling technology for flying only a few times a year. However, I kept looking at the weekly ads every now and then, hoping that the price would drop or they would announce a special doorbuster sale. Anyone who has already purchased Bose products knows that Bose has solid pricing and special offers are unfortunately extremely rare.

How I was able to sleep for 5 hours on a transatlantic flight in economy seating

My Best Sleep on a Transatlantic Flight Ever
When Bose announced that their new wireless headphones with noise-canceling technology would be released in June 2016, I was thrilled and kept watching early Youtube review videos. In 2016 we also happened to fly to Germany on my birthday and Denise surprised me with the headphones right before the flight. You can imagine my excitement, even though I had to tame myself not to bounce up and down the plane aisle. This was also the first flight where I slept 5 hours just listening to an audiobook. I rarely get more than 2 hours of sleep on the nighttime flight across the Atlantic, so I can definitely tell you that the technology works. As soon as I put on the headphones and paired them with my phone, the cabin noise was muffled down to a whisper. Even during the flight, the constant drone of the engines was only about 15% audible. Several times Denise tried to talk to me and had to repeat herself, because I simply could not hear her the first time around.

After testing the headphones for several months now I am still impressed by the sound quality, noise cancellation and fit, which is why I wanted to share my thoughts.
How does noise-canceling work?
How Does Noise-canceling Work?
Noise-canceling technology tries to reduce the surrounding ambient noise to a minimum. Behind small openings on the outer side of the headphones, the QC 35 contains small microphones, which record the frequencies of the environment. The speakers inside send a compensation signal in the direction of the ear. The ambient frequency and the compensation signal resemble each other and can almost completely eradicate ambient noise, which is no longer perceived as a disturbance by the brain. The noise-canceling function is clearly the highlight of these headphones. It tunes out the constant drone of an airplane and most noise around you, with the exception of high, shrill voices and sounds.

First Impression
I loved the Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones immediately after unpacking. The main components are made of plastic, reinforced with stainless steel elements and covered with Alcantara, a manmade, suede-like material. The headphones feel high quality and provide great wearing comfort. They are so-called over-ear headphones that surround the ear completely, which I had to get used to a little bit. My former headphones were in-ear headphone plugs, that also helped to suppress . surrounding noise, but never had a noise-cancellation feature. To my surprise, these new Bose headphones are designed in such a way that they do not cause headaches from pressing on your head too much or "hot" ears from wearing them too long.
Bose QuietComfort 35 Product Review | Travel Case Included
What’s in the Box?
In addition to the headphones, a travel case, an aircraft adapter, a micro USB cable for charging, as well as an audio cable are included. Here as well, a high quality of production is seen in all parts.

Technical Things to Know
The QC 35 are Bose’s first noise canceling headphones, which can also be connected wirelessly. This is possible via Bluetooth as well as via NFC (Near-field communication). Wirelessly, you can easily switch between two permanently connected devices, which is great when you listen to music on the laptop and then take a call on the smartphone. The music playback will pause until you hang up the call, then continue afterwards. Up to six connections can be stored and, to better organize all your connections, Bose provides an app for iOS and Android.

The built-in Li-Ion battery holds 20 hours in cordless operation according to Bose. Tied to a cable, the battery lasts for 40 hours - all while providing noise canceling.

The sound quality of the QuietComfort 35 headphones is at least as good as the noise reduction. The sound characteristics come with powerful bass, which was never overpowering. I caught myself several times hearing many small subtleties on my favorite albums, which my in-ear headphones never picked up. Bose has also incorporated a sound correction that slightly increases the bass and treble at low volume to create a more balanced listening experience. Even when the noise canceling is switched off, the headphones display excellent sound quality.

Control Panel
The three buttons on the back of the right headphone are for controlling the volume and interact with the connected devices. They are mounted in a good position and can be operated intuitively. The built-in microphones offer a very good voice reproduction during telephone calls. All the people I’ve called with the headphones could understand me perfectly well.

What's Not to Like?
With all the praise for these headphones, there are very few critiques that come to mind. One of them being that the battery of the QC 35 is permanently installed and can not be replaced by the customer. If I want to use the headphones for many years, I doubt that the battery will last for as many hours as it did when first bought. The second point of criticism has to do with the battery again. While charging the headphones, the noise-cancelling technology is switched off.

And lastly, these headphones are pricey and not something that most of us just grab at a store and take home. If you want to test them out and hear the difference for yourself, check out an electronics store around you and look for the Bose display in the headphone section.

At the high price level, I expect perfection from headphones. The noted criticisms are minor, and can be easily overlooked, since the overall product is perfect. I am sure you will enjoy a pair of Bose QuietComfort 35, especially when traveling. They will make you feel like you have the whole plane to yourself and hopefully give you many hours of sleep on your flight.

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How I Sleep on a Plane and Conquer my Jet Lag

My 'Sleeping On a Plane' Essentials, Tips and Resources for Conquering Jet Lag on the International Flight

I love traveling, walking through airports, seeing people arrive and depart. I’m as excited as a little kid for Christmas every time, and I plan weeks in advance. In my first years of trans-atlantic flying I never had a plan for sleeping on the plane or conquering jet lag. I sure hoped I could sleep for a while, but after waking up and looking at my watch, only 30 minutes had passed and I was wide awake for the rest of the flight.

When you travel to Germany from the United States you arrive in the morning of the next day, and you are six hours ahead of your inner clock. With no sleep on the plane I feel sluggish and have a hard time remaining awake when I see my family and friends for the first time in months, if not a year. Here are a few tips and products that keep me sane and rested when I travel to Germany.

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My 'Sleeping On a Plane' Essentials, Tips and Resources for Conquering Jet Lag on the International Flight

My 'Sleeping On a Plane' Essentials

In order to get about 3 to 4 hours of sleep on the plane, I use Melatonin to help me fall asleep and Zzzquil to keep me asleep. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by our body when it gets dark in the evenings. Taking a Melatonin pill signals your body that it is indeed bedtime. Zzzquil contains the antihistamine Diphenhydramine (also found in the allergy medication Benadryl) and helps you relax and sleep better. I take one dose of each with the airplane dinner service, which makes me sleepy 30 to 45 minutes later and I dose off. If you want to try either of these two pills, I highly recommend to try them at home before your flight. Do not take Melatonin or Diphenhydramine for the first time on a long haul flight, not knowing how your body will react to it and talk to your doctor about possible side effects.

On a side note: You can only buy Melatonin in the United States, not in Germany. Germany requires you to be over 55 years old to have a prescription filled for Melatonin (sold as Circadin in Germany).

Melatonin and Diphenhydramine will make you fall asleep and keep you asleep, as long as there are no loud sounds or movement around you. To avoid waking up during my much needed nap time, I use in-ear headphones and play one of my favorite podcasts, audiobooks or calm music on repeat. The in-ear headphones seal off the ears and the podcast or music drown out enough airplane noise for me to relax and sleep. For more money, you can also invest in noise-canceling headphones, which will cancel out monotonous sounds like airplane noise completely. For less money get some foam ear plugs.

Your Home Until Germany; How I sleep on a plane and conquer my jet lag

Two more items that help me sleep on a plane are a sleep mask and a travel pillow. Both are rather inexpensive and light, making it easy to add to your carry-on luggage. The sleep mask seals off any light from hitting my eyes and the travel pillow keeps my head from falling. Each transatlantic flight does provide you with a pillow (and a blanket), but the pillow is too small for me and does not give my head any stability while I doze off.

Making the Hours Fly By With a Great Book, click for Denise's favorites

Entertainment For Making the Hours Fly By

Make sure to also bring a magazine (or several…) or a book on board with you. Here's a bunch of books Denise and I have read and loved. If reading will not make you tired, it will at least kill some time on the long flight. For more entertainment, have your favorite electronic device handy. Download movies, podcasts or audiobooks before your flight and make sure your device is charged. Twice I’ve had a seat where the in-flight entertainment was broken. It does happen, and when you’re over the Atlantic Ocean there’s not much the flight attendants can do for you except apologize and if you’re lucky a small voucher. I was fortunate to have Denise beside me and we could share her screen, plus I brought my own things to do.

Become a Camel

In order to stay hydrated on the plane, we buy a bottle of water after the security check and stick to water only during dinner service on board. Dehydration is not recommended if you want to avoid a jet lag, and while a glass of wine might send you off to never-never land in no time, it does dehydrate and result in restless sleep. Keep your alcohol and also caffeine intake to a minimum before and during the flight. There is enough great beer and wine in Germany to enjoy during your vacation.

What Goes In...

Don’t be fooled into thinking you can make a 8-9 hour flight without using the airplane’s bathroom facilities. You might be tempted to avoid drinking water as much as possible in order to avoid going. Don’t do it. While on short, 2-3 hour flights across country perhaps only one or two elderly citizens will get up mid-flight to use the bathroom, on an international flight EVERYONE at one point will get up to use the bathroom several times. It’s not a big deal at all. Plus, there’s three times the amount of bathrooms than the typical one or two that’s on flights for a few hours. Drink up, and don’t worry. Everyone has to go sometime...

Keep Comfortable

And my final thought for sleeping on a plane: wear layers of clothes. By wearing layers, you can avoid being too cold or hot. I wear a t-shirt and a zippered sweatshirt over it, a comfortable jeans and my favorite shoes, that I can slip off easily during the flight and put back on quickly if I have to use the restroom. Denise always brings a scarf, which comes in handy as a blanket, pillow or to keep her neck warm. She also packs thick winter socks that she layers over her regular socks.

Your First Day in Germany

Now that you finally landed in Germany, a quick nap looks very enticing. I have taken one-hour naps after a transatlantic flight, but they do not do me any good. Try to live on local time right away, have a quick shower and get some fresh air walking around the town for a bit. Being out in the sunshine helps your body convert to the new time. Both give me a little bit more energy and make me forget how little sleep I got on the airplane last night. Set your watch to the local time, too and do not think about what time it is “back home”. Start living on German time and end your day with a light dinner. No one sleeps well with an aching stomach.

My final tip for adjusting to local time: I do go to bed an hour or two before my usual bedtime on the first day only. After a good night's sleep I awake very rested and go to bed at my usual bedtime the following nights without a problem. A dark room is key here and if your room does not have black-out shades, use your sleep mask from the plane.

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Show more posts about traveling in Germany

Thank you For Reading! Denise & Sebastian | Photo by Irene Fiedler