In a perfect world, your vacation starts when the clock strikes 5:00 on your last day of work. But unless your break is of the staycation variety, there’s one major ordeal you must endure to reach a future filled with peace and piñas: the actual getting there.

The airport or train station can provide enough stress to match the busiest day at the office. Start your vacation off on the right foot by investing in a few key pieces to help you float above the masses in a cocoon of calm or at least dull the sounds of your cabin-mates.

Critical among these are something to listen to music to, such as noise-canceling headphones. The most effective types will have a comfortable cushion that molds to your ears, essentially sealing your eardrums against fussy babies and airplane chit-chat. They can be bought anywhere from department stores to major online retailers; if you do your research, good ones can be found at a price that doesn’t reduce you to tears. Look for a model whose company sells replacement ear pads to prolong the life of your pair.

Head phones

Once you’ve got your headphones on, look to in-flight entertainment or a personal lullaby, as the case may be. Most are compatible with an aircraft’s entertainment system and will provide superior sound for TV, games, and film. If your flight is of the redeye variety, check out iTunes ahead of time to download podcasts of ambient music and sleep sounds, akin to the “white-noise” machines of old. (Campfires and babbling brooks are popular among the peaceful.)

Another must to keep you comfortable is the omnipresent neck pillow; but for the best quality, buy outside the airport. Some companies offer a pillow with a little bit more, like a smartphone/iPod pocket and the inclusion of earplugs or an eye mask. The latter is a valuable asset on its own, protecting the wearer from the glare of a rising sun or overhead lights signaling the (sometimes disruptive!) morning meal service. Experts suggest picking one that’s made of pure satin for maximum comfort and minimal marks around the eyes.

Ear Phones

And if you’re traveling abroad, make sure that you pack a power adapter in your carry-on as well as your checked baggage. You can pick one of these up at airports and tech stores.

Now if only you could get your manager to approve that kind of time off.

Images by kev-shine and skinnydiver, used under Creative Commons license.

Lisa Jane is a 35 year old travel addict, who also loves to write. She has visited 48 countries and has no intention of stopping until she has visited them all.

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