Surviving lots of travel

June 2017

I travel a lot for work. Wave is a distributed company, and we have week-long company retreats once every two months, often in Africa. On top of that, I’ve spent a lot of time working on the ground in Ethiopia. I actually flew enough last year to qualify for frequent flyer status on United, though only barely and not at a level with particularly good perks.

Getting to see the world is super awesome, but it’s even more awesome because I’ve found a lot of ways to make traveling as easy for myself as possible. Here’s some of the key stuff I do:

Sleep on the plane

For long-distance travel, I used to avoid redeye flights because I’d always sleep badly and be exhausted the next day. But then I realized that if I spent the whole day on the plane, I’d sleep badly because of jetlag and be exhausted the next day anyway–so I’d lose two days, compared to one for a redeye.

In fact, I can usually get over jetlag completely by taking a redeye and sleeping for all of it. In January 2017 I changed timezones by eight hours every week and barely suffered from jetlag at all. (Part of this is definitely because I’m young, of course, but timing my flights so I always arrived in the morning after lots of sleep made a huge difference.)

I’m fortunate that moving vehicles put me to sleep really easily, but here are some things I do to make it even easier:

Be robust to everything

Lots of minor things go wrong when I’m traveling, so a lot of the things I take with me are geared towards making small mishaps as recoverable as possible. If you’re traveling mostly in the developed world, you probably don’t need to be as hardcore about this, but it may still be useful:

Minimize stress/rushing/hassle

If I were into junk psychology, I would tell you that making your return flight relaxing is important because of the peak/end rule. That doesn’t replicate, but I do feel like the few most stressful parts of my trips–packing and flights–have an outsized impact on how I remember them. So here are a few ways to make that easier:


  1. I’m excited about potentially getting custom-molded headphones for even more noise isolation and comfort, but haven’t had time to get fitted for them yet. 

  2. I haven’t explored the space of fancy neck pillows very thoroughly, so there may be even better ones out there. I used to have a Trtl, which gave slightly more neck support and was easier to pack, but broke after about four uses. 

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