Kristian, Co-Founder, Abate
The industry has grown and evolved exponentially…but for me flying still maintains that air of adventure.
When your day job involves crossing continents, battling jet-lag and passing through multiple time-zones, you come to appreciate the sanctity of sleep. Flying passengers around the world, Norwegian-born pilots Kristian and Leo have acquired a few insider secrets to travelling well. Unsurprisingly, good sleep features high on their list. Having experienced the welcome comfort of soft, white hotel linens, the duo launched their own luxury line of bedding, Abate. Speaking to the pair about their travel habits, Kristian and Leo share a round-up of the world’s best hotels, travel must-haves and advice on how to get a perfect night’s sleep 10,000ft above ground.
TBE: Why do you think yhat people say that travel is the most stressful thing we can do?
K: Travelling involves a multitude of different stressors, so almost everyone will encounter something that stresses them. There are time stressors, noises, queues, cramped spaces, a lot of human interaction and the potential of jet lag. If any one of these tends to affect you it’s likely that travel, in general, will be stressful.
L: This is a very individual thing. Some may not like to share a tight space, while some are concerned about the constraints of time. For me personally, it’s the fact that I get warm quite easily. Coming from the outside dressed to cope with the cold and moving into a tight space with many people making it warm is especially a problem when travelling in the winter time up in Scandinavia. Good planning can prevent many of these stressors.
TBE: Where have been your favourite places to stay so far?
K: That depends so much on the nature of the stay. In terms of private travel, we recently stayed at Crillon le Brave in Provence. It was certainly an experience I recommend; very relaxed and low key but still stylish. This summer, we also stayed at Hotel San Michele in Capri. We had a room with the vista mare (sea view) and enjoyed views of the port of Capri and the Mediterranean.
If we’re in just for the night the general business amenities tend to be very important. You want to be able to quickly hang up your uniform, iron your shirt, arrange a wake-up call as a backup to your alarm, have a gym that isn’t too cramped and a restaurant connected to the hotel that serves fairly healthy food. The bed and the bedding are also very important for optimal sleep.
L: I like small, cosy hotels. They give me the feeling that I’m on a holiday rather than work. Recently, my wife and I travelled to Bali for our honeymoon. We stayed at Bisma Eight in Ubud. The fact that it was our honeymoon probably contributed to my impression of the hotel, but I really enjoyed the warm and low key service as well as the architecture.
Kristian, Co-Founder, Abate
Growing up in Scandinavia you sleep in some strange places as a child.
TBE: What about the strangest places that you have ever slept?
K: When I first met my girlfriend I told her that I couldn’t sleep on aeroplanes. I’ve come to regret that statement. She proved me wrong with a photograph several years ago, and the pictures have continued ever since. It’s a thing now and it’s extended to our train travels and more. Still, the strangest place has to be in a jewellery store. I had flown a night flight and should have ideally slept long into the morning, but I had been away a lot so I wanted to spend the time with my girlfriend. She wanted to go shopping, so I tagged along but fell asleep on a chair in the store.
L: Growing up in Scandinavia you sleep in some strange places as a child. Something I know that causes reactions on in the UK is the fact that it’s completely normal to leave your infant outside in their buggy to sleep even in subzero temperatures, though very well tucked in. The strangest place I have regularly slept would be above deck on a sailing boat while out on the open sea.
Leo, Co-Founder, Abate
I think it is important to listen to your body and not to force it too much.
TBE: How do you adjust your sleeping pattern to different time zones?
K: Nowadays I’m only flying shorter flights without too much need for adjustment, but when I did pilot longer flights sleep planning was very important. The two most important points are getting enough sleep and waking up as short a time as possible prior to your flight. When you have 12-14 hour flight, you shouldn’t be awake too long before it starts.
For shorter stays, I don’t bother to adjust to the new time zone but make an effort to stick to the time zone at home, even if that meant waking up at 4 am and going to bed at 6 pm. Your body takes a toll when you’re missing sleep, so maintaining the same so-called circadian rhythm ensures that you sleep through a full 8 hours. If you’re in the position to choose, new aircraft types like the Boeing 787 or the Airbus 350 have higher cabin pressures, higher air humidity and less cabin noise. These make you less tired upon arrival and help in adjusting to new time zones.
L: Changing time zones is difficult. Allow yourself time to adjust, try to embrace the feeling of jet lag and allow your schedule to be a little more relaxed. Bring your own pillow, I got that advice many years ago. It is fascinating how pillows can differ so much between different countries. Also, taking naps.
TBE: What is your go-to cure for jet lag, time differences and adjusting to a new diet and climate?
L: I think this is very individual. But, I think it is important to listen to your body and not to force it too much.
K: The hardest thing I find is eating healthy when travelling. If you’re travelling on vacation it isn’t that much of a big deal; you’re supposed to enjoy yourself. But when you travel a lot for work you need to be mindful of your choices. It has gotten easier, but I’m hoping for even better choices in the future.
Kristian, Co-Founder, Abate
I just wish hotels would also focus more on bedding quality.
TBE: And how can we sleep well during a flight?
K: Opt for a window seat so you don’t have to get up if your fellow passengers need to go to the overhead bin or the toilet. Use your jacket or a neck rest to cushion your head. If you don’t particularly like flying, wait until after the seatbelt sign is turned off to sleep. The plane is usually at about 10,000ft at this point, so the flight should be smoother.
TBE: What are the little-known secrets of air travel that only a pilot will know?
L: We could tell you, but then…
TBE: Do you have any must-have luggage items?
K: I always travel with a cashmere sweater, often from Sand or Tiger of Sweden. For me, they offer the best tradeoff between style and comfort on the go. Over the last year, I’ve taken to Aesop’s Jet Set Kit as an easy all round set for my travels. Lastly, I have to give a shout to our own brand, Abate. We make clean, high-quality bedding that ensures I’m well rested between trips. I just wish hotels would also focus more on bedding quality.
L: Again, I like to travel with my own pillow, these days of course with a pillow cover from Abate as well as a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, both of us use Bose. Traveling can be a competition between comfort and style. But a pair of comfortable pants with some stretch can address both.
Created by friends and pilots Kristan and Leo, Abate is a Norwegian bedding brand offering affordable luxury to those who understand the value of a good night’s sleep. Using ethically and sustainably produced Egyptian Cotton, Abate’s range of high-quality bedding has been inspired by the pilot’s experiences of sleeping in hotels around the world and are available for purchase here.