Photo Credit: Jewish Press

They don’t call those fly-through-the-night flights “red eyes” for nothing. I found that out the hard way a few months back on a trip home from Las Vegas that took off shortly after midnight and, despite having my dreadful middle seat swapped for a more comfortable window spot at the last minute, I still couldn’t manage to fall asleep. Twisting and turning miserably for five hours, all I could think about was how I was going to survive an upcoming trip to visit my daughter in Israel. By the time we landed I was bleary eyed, cranky and in major need of an industrial sized coffee – a pretty serious statement considering that I really, really dislike just about all things caffeinated.

I spent the next few weeks googling for items to make a long trip more manageable. Thankfully, I came across more than a few which transformed my long round trip into a far more pleasant experience than my sleepless night flight.


If you are like me, your “personal item” inevitably gets stuffed with a whole assortment of last minute things and you find yourself staggering through the terminal with an overly heavy bag that leaves your shoulder with telltale black and blue marks. Hoping to head that particular issue off at the pass, I hooked the Travelon Bag Bungee onto my rolling carry-on, the adjustable elastic harness giving me the ability to piggy back my shoulder bag onto the valise’s telescoping handle. As I rolled my bags together through Newark Airport, all I could think was “wow, this is heaven!” I can pretty much guarantee the Bag Bungee will be joining me on every flight I take from here on in.

It goes without saying that I refuse to pay overweight fees so an accurate portable scale is a must.   The night before we left to Israel, my husband and I tried our old analog handheld scale and my new Tarriss Jetsetter Portable Digital Luggage Scale giving us two different weights for the same bag. The Tarriss scale, with its easy to read LCD display was on the money, matching up with the same weight we got at the airline check in desk. Bonus points to Tarriss for including an auto shutoff switch so you don’t have to worry about running down the lithium battery if the scale gets accidentally turned on.

Packing a sheitel for a long haul flight always poses a serious dilemma, one that I spent many hours pondering. I could have gently folded my sheitel into a shoebox, but I was blown away by Dini Wigs’ more elegant solution: a collapsible Styrofoam-topped wig head that fits neatly into an accompanying travel case. The concept is simple: secure your sheitel on the head, adding whatever rollers or clips you normally use, and then press the buttons in the elongated neck to collapse it down for travel, swirling the hair around the base to keep it relatively neat. Not only will your sheitel be ready to wear when you get where you’re going, you won’t have to worry about using lamps or soda bottles as temporary heads. While this case does take up about a third of the space in an average rolling carryon, I would still resist the urge to put it in your checked luggage because suitcases do get lost on occasion and not having your sheitel can put a real damper on your trip.

While I am not a germophobe by any stretch of the imagination, those airlines blankets you find on your seat always make me nervous; I try not to wonder who used them before me and when they last saw the inside of a washing machine. PediPocket, a plush microfiber blanket with a 20 inch deep pocket to keep your toes neatly tucked in, solved that particular problem for me. Available in regular, extra long and kids’ sizes, PediPocket is larger than most travel blankets, but it is so deliciously warm you will definitely want to make room for it in your bag. Best of all, when you come home, PediPocket’s gorgeous good looks and fabulous color choices will have you putting it to good use any time you need an extra touch of warmth in your life.

It goes without saying that economy airline seats leave a lot to be desired, which makes bringing along a few extras a really good idea for a long flight. Aircomfy, a self-inflating lumbar pillow that works equally well in your car or at your desk was extremely easy to use, a small side air valve giving you the ability to adjust the air levels to get your seat to that Goldilocks level of “just right.”

With an innovative design modeled after the letter “J,” JPillow has two arms that wrap around the side of your head while a third offers neck support, sparing you that rude awakening when your head lolls abruptly forward or to the side in your sleep. It’s totally bizarre shape may land you some quizzical stares from your fellow travelers, but you will be too busy in slumberland to even notice. Both Aircomfy and JPillow have machine washable covers and squish down to about half their size when compacted, with handy clips giving you the ability to attach them to the outside of your bag for those moments when you don’t have an inch of space left in your carry-on.

Last but not least, I was thrilled to finally lock my suitcase properly with a Tarriss TSA Cable Lock, a solid combination lock that can still be easily opened by the TSA, with a little indicator that changes from green to red to let you know that someone has gone through your bag. Sadly, somewhere along the way on my flight, my lock mysteriously disappeared, no doubt the victim of an overzealous baggage inspector who neglected to replace it. Thankfully, Tarriss packages its locks in a two pack so I still have one left for my next adventure.

Hmm…and as for when that next trip might be? To tell you the truth, right about now, I am finding myself channeling my inner Dorothy, clicking my heels together three times and repeating again and again “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”

But at least when the next trip comes, I’ll be ready for it!


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Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who writes for numerous websites, newspapers, magazines and private clients. She can be contacted at [email protected].