Time Flies When You're Chasing the Sun

By Nick Simard
on August 20, 2008

Lover of words, design, creativity, apps, cake and learning new things. And puns.

In August of 2008 I was sent to Europe to blog about my experience on a Contiki bus tour. The European Discovery tour had us seeing 10 cities in 12 days. I was one of 6 paid student bloggers for the Royal Bank of Canada, and was chosen to take the tour and write about it. Here is my story.

Time: 3:35am, if I were still in Halifax
Location: Somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean

I can’t sleep. Looking around, it appears as though I’m somehow one of the few, unless they’re pretending to sleep like I did for what seems like hours on end. I left Halifax around 12:30am local time, and magically 3 hours later sunrise happened. That’s the beauty of flying to London, I suppose. Literally, the captain just said “good morning, hope you all had a good sleep”, and in addition to the sunlight beaming through the windows, there are now lights on in the cabin as breakfast is about to be served.

Time flies when you’re chasing the sun.
Photo credit: stockunlimited. 

I can’t say that I’m terribly hungry. I ate a little over two hours ago – a ham sandwich, macaroni salad, ginger ale and a glass of white wine (which I thought might help to put me to sleep). I was wrong. Despite the fact that I haven’t really dozed off, I CAN offer some pointers from observing the lucky sleepers around me, and also by imagining how I could have done things differently:

  • Bring a sleeping mask (even though mine didn't do me much good) because the little light that is in the cabin is sometimes enough to prevent you from sleeping. Not to mention, when the sun decides it will no longer remain hidden, you've got salvation from its glow.
  • Invest in a travel pillow, and ideally one that wraps around your neck and inflates (deflates). Those who've brought these (I was SO close to buying one) appear to be having the most restful sleep of their lives. Oh, how I envy their unconsciousness.
  • Take some sleeping pills, to give your body that little extra "go to sleep" kick in the butt that it needs. I'm usually fairly nocturnal, so trying to sleep around 1am seemed to be late enough, but I guess between the excitement of traveling to a far away land and the lack of sleep-comfort, I just won't be sleeping on this flight.

Since it has become apparent that sleep is simply out of the question, it looks like I’m having breakfast. Oddly enough, the fact that the sun is up kind of makes me feel like I DID get sleep, and that it’s time to start a new day. The fact remains, however, that if I were still in Halifax I would be, well, probably tossing and turning. And if I were still in Halifax, then I wouldn’t be on a plane on my way to Europe for 12 days. So I guess I’ll take what I can get at the moment – pancakes or omelets. I have to admit, the food on the flight has been very good. And the price is right — included.

Right on cue, as though she was reading my mind (or over my shoulder), the flight attendant has offered me breakfast. In addition to the omelet, I get hash browns & mushrooms, yogurt, a fruit salad, a croissant, a little bottle of water, orange juice, and bread I’m unfamiliar with. I sure can’t complain about the food, and for now it’s going to have to take the place of sleep.

One last tip that I can offer after having ventured to the washroom is that if you truly wish to get sleep on a flight (especially one where you are chasing the sun), then first class is the way to go. They get seats that lay pretty much all the way back. Little sleep-inducing pods, they are. I caught a glimpse as I awaited my turn in the lavatory, as they call it. Ah well, maybe someday I can join the rested and relaxed. For now, I think I’ll try to pass out for a few minutes, as doubtful as I am that the conditions will allow it.

Posts From This Series