Why Bangor, Maine is the most patriotic town in America - We Are The Mighty
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Why Bangor, Maine is the most patriotic town in America

There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re trying to determine if any single place is the very best at something. However, when it comes to small towns supporting their troops, Bangor, Maine holds the distinction of very best. They are known for their willingness to make it to the airport and shake the hands of nearly every post-9/11 troop who’s gone from stateside to overseas, at all hours of the days, no matter what.


To be fair to every other patriotic town in America, plenty of Bangor’s ability to show it’s patriotism stems from its location. Since most military flights leaving the continental U.S. towards Europe and Southwest Asia fly through Maine, past Greenland and Iceland, and refuel somewhere in Ireland or the U.K., Bangor is usually the first and last U.S. stop most troops see before and after a deployment.

Odd how a handshake or a warm hug can make a difference to hardened war fighters. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Wood)

Where Bangor shines is within the Maine Troop Greeters. Beginning in May 2003, a small group of Bangor-area residents gathered to meet troops at the Bangor International Airport. Since then, they have greeted well over 7,600 flights and over 1.5 million troops. Rain or shine, day or night, and nearly everyday, they’re out there. With a town population that could easily fit into the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, one of the smallest NCAA football stadiums, the Maine Troop Greeters of Bangor are still over 600 strong. From older veterans to soccer moms with kids to pretty college girls, everyone in Bangor comes to see the troops.

 

It’s far more than just a “thank you for your service” from a random stranger. They provide snacks, meals, and use of their cell phones to outgoing and incoming troops. In return, many troops have given them small tokens of gratitude. Troops give them things like challenge coins, combat patches, and even uniforms out of appreciation. In response to this patriotic exchange, they’ve created a museum to honor every troop that walks through their line of handshakes and hugs.

Their museum to the troops has over 5,500 unique challenge coins, over 1,800 patches, and many photos. There are also two books: One log book that troops can write in and another dedicated to each troop who died in combat. Soldiers have written countless thank yous over the years to the people of Bangor.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53YCnVdq6uM

(Maine Troop Greeters | YouTube)

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The famed Gurkha warriors have taken Everest

For the first time in history, currently serving Gurkha soldiers have summitted the tallest peak in the world, Mount Everest.


The team reached the summit on May 16 and received congratulations from the British Army on their achievement.

The Gurkha climbing team poses during the 2015 attempt that was eventually abandoned after a massive earthquake struck the Gurkhas’ homeland and destroyed the Everest base camp. (Photo: British Ministry of Defence)

The Gurkhas had previously attempted the climb the mountain in 2015 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Gurkha Brigade, but the climb was abandoned when a massive earthquake struck the area around the mountain, triggering an avalanche that destroyed the base camp.

The 2015 team abandoned the climb and rushed to aid those affected by the quake. Gurkhas are recruited out of a small region of Nepal that sits in the same mountain range as Everest, and many of the team members had immediate family affected by the quake.

Gurkha soldiers celebrate their successful climb of Mount Everest after they reached the summit on May 15,2017. (Photo: British Ministry of Defence)

They returned in 2017 thanks to a decision by the Nepal Ministry of Tourism to honor all 2015 Everest permits for an additional two years.

The climb is a grueling challenge under even the best of conditions. The base camp sits over three miles above sea level and each camp above that is more than half a mile above the previous camp.

The summit sits 5.5 miles above sea level, where the air is so thin that most climbers rely on bottled oxygen for much of the climb.

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Terrorist groups test explosive devices concealed in laptops

U.S. media outlets say terrorist groups have been testing explosive devices that can be hidden in a laptop and that can evade some commonly used airport security screening methods.


CNN and CBS said on March 31 that U.S. intelligence officials had told them militants with al-Qaida and Islamic State have been developing innovative ways to plant explosives in electronic devices.

Military Police Company conduct security at entrance to Main Command Post, Rafha Airport, Northern Province, Saudi Arabia, Feb. 8, 1991. (XVIII Airborne Corps History Office photograph by SSG LaDona S. Kirkland)

The news organizations said the new intelligence suggested that the terror groups have obtained sophisticated airport security equipment to test how to conceal the explosives in order to board a plane.

They said the intelligence played a significant role in the Trump administration’s recent decision to prohibit travelers flying out of 10 airports in eight countries in the Middle East and Africa from carrying laptops and other electronic equipment onboard in the cabin area.

Earlier in March, the U.S. government banned laptops and other large electronic devices, including iPads and cameras, from the passenger cabin on flights to the United States from 10 airports in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Britain also took similar measures.

Passengers on those flights must place electronic devices larger than cellphones in their checked luggage.

In a statement to media outlets, the Department of Homeland Security said, “As a matter of policy, we do not publicly discuss specific intelligence information. However, evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in electronics.”

CNN said the intelligence that contributed to the ban on electronic devices was specific, credible and reliable, according to three officials who used the same words to describe it. One official called the intelligence “hair-raising.”

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21 things sailors who’ve served in Yokosuka will understand

The sailors assigned to the commands around Yokosuka, Japan know about high optempo. The units assigned to Forward Deployed Naval Forces Japan are either on deployment or working up for deployment.


But with limited liberty time, the sailors of Yokosuka (and Atsugi) also learn how to play hard.

Here are 21 things every sailor who’s ever been stationed there knows all too well:

Related: 7 lies sailors tell their parent while deployed

1. Your weekend begins with a Liberty plan and a designated buddy

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher S. Johnson

(The liberty plan may not apply to those before 2002 or after 2014. Lucky you.)

2. But in reality, you have alternate plans

3. Instead, you pregame with a Chu-Hi or three

Image: Kirin

4. And head for the Honch

Off to the Honch, Yokosuka, Japan. Image: Shissem

5. But you only stay for a while because you don’t get along with the regulars: a.k.a. ‘shore patrol’

Instagram, zacharyattackery

6. And, trust us on this one, you won’t stand a chance if you start your Captain’s Mast like this:

YouTube, Paul Coleman

7. Dinner options always brings out the toughest debates

Image: Rocket News 24

(By the way, Sukiya is way better.)

8. You opt for taco, rice, and cheese because there’s no way to come to an agreement

 

Photo Credit: Okinawa Hai!

9. Or maybe you settle on ramen (because it’s crazy delicious)

Pinterest, Honest Cooking

10. After dinner, it’s off to Roppongi

Giphy

11. You learn to stay away from “buy me drink” bars

Giphy

12. You learn that trains stop running at midnight . . .

YouTube, kennooo93

… the hard way.

12. But if you happen to miss the last train the real debauchery begins

Giphy

13. Really, what’s a sailor to do without transportation? 

Instagram, AgehaTokyo

15. Somehow you always manage to save just enough cash to get you back to base

Flickr, BriYYZ

16. You know you missed your stop when signs are no longer in English

Flickr, François Rejeté

17. Luckily, the Japanese people are very friendly

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18. MWR (Morale Welfare and Recreation) trips are great for holding on to your money, exploring Japan and staying out of trouble. You could visit Kyoto …

Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺), Kyoto, Kyoto prefecture, Japan. Image: Wikimedia

19. … climb Mount Fuji …

Image: US Navy

20. … or take an epic snowboarding trip to Nagano

Image: Orvelin Valle, We Are The Mighty

21. And you know how to make the best of a liberty incident

VAW-115 barracks party. (Photo: Orvelin Valle, We Are The Mighty)

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This is how the Patriot Guard escorted a fallen Marine home

What started out as a way to support the families of fallen military and law enforcement personnel reached a new high in honoring the fallen.


According to Tribunist.org, the Patriot Guard Riders, a group of motorcyclists, learned that Staff Sergeant Jonathan Turner, a Marine who died of combat-related injuries in August, 2015, would be shipped to his mother in Georgia via FedEx. Turner served 17 years in the Marine Corps and made seven combat deployments during the War on Terror.

Patriot Guard Riders. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Turner’s mother was unable to make it to California, so the Marine Corps made the funeral arrangements. However, the plan to ship Staff Sergeant Turner’s remains to Georgia would hit a snag.

Instead, the Patriot Guard Riders stepped in to caravan Turner’s remains to Georgia. The group, which started as a way to provide a barrier between a group protesting military funerals and grieving families, has since expanded to fill out the ranks for homeless veterans who died and welcomes home troops returning from overseas.

“We did this primarily because his mother was unable to attend the services, and he had been cremated and we didn’t want him to go home in a Fed Ex box,” David Noble, the Vice President of Members for the group, told Tribunist.org. Riders from nine states took part in the cross-country trek.

Below, see the video of Patriot Guard members handing over Staff Sgt. Turner’s remains.

Articles

Why the food in Guam is as funky and awesome as anywhere on the mainland

In a U.S. territory half a world removed from the continental United States, what does it mean to be American? To find out, Meals Ready To Eat host August Dannehl shipped off to the far reaches of Pacific Micronesia, to Guam.


A sea of American flags in the heart of the Pacific. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Guam is a tiny island with a full dance card of seemingly competing cultural histories. Its indigenous people, the Chamorro, called it home for 4000 years, but after the island was “discovered” by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, it experienced several centuries of European colonization, capture, and rule that heaped Spanish, Catholic, American, and Japanese cultural influence atop the foundations of its identity.

But where other territories with similar fraught histories stumble through the modern era in crisis and without a firm sense of collective “self,” Guamanians wove themselves into the fabric of democratic and multicultural America. They celebrate their 21st century hybridity with exuberance, with fervent patriotism and military service, and with a food culture so funky and delicious, people travel from all over the globe to get in on it.

Imagine this, but in a taco. With crab. And star fruit. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Why choose? (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

In Guam, you find patriotism in its purest form, animated by gratitude for life. Guamanians have earned a deep understanding of how precarious human existence can be, whether it’s an island in the middle of the ocean or an oasis in the heart of the desert or a small, blue planet in the void of space.

Guamanians don’t just feel gratitude, they act on its behalf. As a people, they serve in the U.S. military at a higher rate than any of the 50 states.

When the Americans came and liberated us, they became family. That patriotism from our ancestors or those even living today, it continues on. And that’s an honor to be part of a nation that gives freedom, to be part of something greater than this tiny island…that’s what makes us American. —Sgt. Joleen Castro, U.S. Air Force

Their service reflects their dedication to the American ideal, yes, but it’s also an expression of inafa’maolek, or interdependence, the core value of the Chamorro people. Guamanians, at the deepest level of their tradition, celebrate collective prosperity, unity and togetherness. They celebrate the good.

Unsurprisingly, they throw incredible parties. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Watch more Meals Ready To Eat:

Army food will make you feel the feels

This whiskey is a WWII victory, distilled

This is what happens when you run your kitchen like a platoon

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If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’

Ilha da Queimada Grande is an island off the coast of Brazil that is more commonly known as “Snake Island.” The British navy forbids visitors due to the extremely venomous snakes that live there. With 1-5 snakes per square meter, the island has the highest concentration of venomous snakes in the world.


In this photo: about 1500-2000 snakes and a single lighthouse. Photo: flickr/Prefeitura Municipal Itanhaé

The golden lancehead is a pitviper species that lives only on the island. Its venom is up to five times more potent than normal pitvipers living in mainland Brazil.

The snakes are described as moving landmines, but they actually spend most of their time in trees, hunting the migratory birds that are their primary food source. Researchers believe that the island was once connected to the mainland, but rising seas cut it off. The snakes then evolved their organ-liquefying venom so that their strikes would kill the birds before the birds flew away.

This thing can strike and kill a bird before it can take off. Photo: Otavio Marques (Instituto Butantan)

A lighthouse on the island used to be manned, but was automated in the 1920s. Local legend says the change was made after a family that tended the lighthouse in 1909 awoke to a snake crawling in through the window. The family attempted to flee but was attacked by snakes in tree branches and didn’t make it.

Brazilian sailors and a Vice journalist begin their ascent from the shore to the island lighthouse during a maintenance mission. Photo: Youtube/VICE

For the few people who are allowed onto the island, the navy orders that a doctor be present in case an anti-venom needs to be administered. A researcher interviewed by Vice said it’s still highly probable that the victim will die.

Despite the navy’s attempts to keep people away, smugglers visit the island and steal the snakes which then make their way to buyers around the world. Other bio-pirates (actual term) bribe researchers and navy sailors to get snakes for them. The going rate for the snakes in 2014 was thought to be between $10,000 and $30,000 each.

Researchers are allowed to remove the snakes legally in order to investigate potential applications for the venom. Certain compounds in it have shown promise as drugs for heart disease, blood clots, and cancer.

YouTube, Vice

hauntedbattlefields

This is why Gettysburg is the spookiest battlefield in America

Long after around 7,800 soldiers died in the three day battle of Gettysburg, tourists and ghosts hunters claim to encounter the fallen.


The remote village offers over ten different ghost tours that run year round for guests to get a glimpse of the supernatural at several prominent sites from the battlefield. People report the sunken gut feelings along with hearing faint echos of the battle that occurred.

Related video:

www.youtube.com

The site of the infamous downhill bayonet charge at Little Round Top is a common location for sightings of energy balls (or will-o’-wisps) spiraling around the forests. Captured on photo, many believe it to be enough proof that they need.

(Image via Ghost Village)

Another hot spot for spirits in Gettysburg is Sach’s Bridge. The 100-foot expanse not too far from the battlefield is frequently covered in fog.

A group of paranormal investigators went to the bridge to try and get photos or EVP recordings. While there, the fog came back in. They say that they saw lights, heard the sounds, and claim shadowy figures rushed past them.

(Image via Trip Advisor)

And then there’s the graveyard.

Visiting the graveyard at night is can be unsettling. The fog returns and ghost hunters say that the ghosts want them to leave. The wind ‘pushes’ the visitors away from the grave stones.

(Screengrab via YouTube)

Now, there is a perfectly logical reason for all of these. The will-o’wisps of Gettysburg could be floating dust and pollen, since most sightings of “orbs” come during the spring time. There’s nothing supernatural about fog appearing before sunrise and lingering throughout the day. And even in the final picture, snow melting from the gravestone first isn’t unique.

Skeptics can poke holes in nearly everything about the paranormal activities in Gettysburg as being hyped by the locals to keep tourism up. Still, nothing takes away the gut feeling of being on the hallowed grounds of the most pivotal battle in American history.

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16 celebs who grew up as military brats

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles about military dependents that WATM will be presenting in concert with April’s Month of the Military Child


1. Amy Adams was born in Italy while her Army father was stationed at Caserma Ederle. He moved the family around for eight years before settling in Colorado.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiOEbQu9DYc

2. Julianne Moore was also raised in an Army home (and was born on Fort Bragg).

3. LeVar Burton was born into an Army family at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. He would grow up to be the chief engineer of the USS Enterprise under Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

4. Luke Skywalker (actor Mark Hamill) was from a Navy family and even graduated from high school on Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan. Strangely, Luke fights best on the Dune Sea. There must be a SeaBee in the family somewhere.

5. Robert Duvall was born into a Navy family. His father started at the Naval Academy at 16, made Captain at 39, and retired a rear admiral. His family is descended from the family of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Duvall served in the Army during the Korean War, but “barely qualified on the M-1 rifle in basic.” Still plays a badass Air Cav Commander, though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkH5Ak4wAnY

6. Author and Church of Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard was born into a Navy family. Much of Hubbard’s travel throughout the Pacific is due to his father’s Navy career. He later served as a Naval officer himself, although his record has major discrepancies.

7. Author of the novel Push Ramona Lofton (best known by her pen name Sapphire) was raised in an Army household.

8. The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels (born Michael Shawn Hickenbottom) was raised in Arizona, England, and San Antonio, following his father’s Air Force career. He was a linebacker on Randolph Air Force Base’s high school football team.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nANf5C-cbTk

9. Annie Leibovitz took her first photos when living with her father, an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, while he was stationed in the Philippines. She moved frequently with him.

10. Comedian Patton Oswalt was born to Larry Oswalt, a career Marine Corps officer – and was named for General George S. Patton.

11. Stephen Stills’ military childhood in places like Florida, Louisiana, Costa Rica, Panama, and El Salvador was an influence on his musical style. Crosby, Nash, and Young had equally interesting childhoods, though outside of the military.

12. Bruce Willis’ dad was a soldier who married a German woman while stationed there. Two years later, he moved the Willis family back to New Jersey.

13. James Woods’ father was an Army intelligence officer.

14. Tiger Woods was born to Lieutenant Colonel Earl Woods, an Army officer and Vietnam veteran.

15. Former MLB player Johnny Damon was born at Fort Riley, Kansas to Army Staff Sergeant Jimmy Damon.

16. Legendary Doors frontman Jim Morrison‘s dad was a Navy admiral, the youngest to attain flag rank at the time.

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This Japanese Dish Exists Only Because Of The US Military

As an overseas hub for U.S. military bases, Okinawa, Japan is known among troops for its beautiful coastline, hot and humid weather, and a unique fusion food simply referred to as TRC.

“Tacos had already been introduced to Okinawa by the Americans, but it was more like a snack – not very filling for Americans. And it was something you couldn’t find at a restaurant,” Parlor Senri restaurant’s Sayuri Shimabukuro Shimabukuro told Stripes Okinawa. “Matsuzo decided to substitute the taco shell with rice, which is relatively faster to cook and also filling. Parlor Senri’s customers were 100 percent Americans, and in order for the wait staff to explain the dish, he named it taco rice.”

TRC, or “Taco, Rice, and Cheese,” — a Mexican-Japanese fusion dish that exists only because of the U.S. military presence on the island — is most simply put, a giant taco salad with rice instead of the taco shell. First introduced on the island in 1984, it’s now a staple among U.S. service-members stationed there.

The dish is so popular among troops that most shops that serve it are literally walking distance from the base gates. There’s even a Facebook page dedicated to it.

There’s considerable debate among shop owners as to who came up with TRC first. According to Stripes Okinawa, multiple shops in Kin (the town outside Camp Hansen) claim it was their idea. But while we’re trying to figure out who cooked it first, you can always make it yourself at home.

SEE ALSO: 5 Signs You’ve Been In The Barracks Too Long

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These 7 recruiting ads from around the world just might get you to sign up (again)

The military recruiting playbook in the U.S. is pretty standard. The commercials show off the coolest gear while epic music plays. Maybe a Medal of Honor recipient makes an appearance.


Around the world, nations like Canada and Russia take a similar tack while Ukraine and others go with a quieter ad that focuses on the individual soldiers.

1. The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command

The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command keep it simple when making their commercial in 2013. It’s just a few simple, repeating music notes and a highlight reel of cool stuff they do, from rappelling out of planes to violently ending hostage standoffs.

2. The Swedish Military

Sweden wants you to know that their military may not dominate feature a lot of awesome special effects, but they have some great careers where you get to make a difference. It’s shockingly honest. Wanna bet Swedish soldiers still complain about their recruiters lying to them?

3. The Ukrainian Armed Forces

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7mj8KGRgKI

Ukraine is recruiting soldiers while fighting a much larger and more powerful military. Their commercial reminds Ukrainians that troops come from all backgrounds but come together to defend their people from violence.

4. The Russian Navy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWK03XePbXk

The Russian Navy commercial is pretty high-speed, but features a few unexpected scenes like when the naval gun turns towards the camera at 1:50 with the barrel covered. Of course, the glimpses of sailors working out shirtless around the 2:00 mark were expected.

A Russian Army commercial from the same time is also good.

5. Finland Defence Forces

Sure, you can have a normal job instead, but Finland wants their potential recruits to know that they could have a range target as a resume, an armored vehicle for their drive to work, and have their trade secrets protected by thick steel doors. It’s a quiet but poignant ad.

6. Australian Army

The Australian Army commercial feels more like the opening to a new TV show than a military recruitment ad. It features photogenic troops in parades and hangars while zero people fire a weapon. It also mentions the surprisingly small number of troops they field, less than 45,000.

7. Japanese Army

The Japanese Army walks a fine line. Japan became a relatively un-military country after World War II (by design) but is expanding military programs in response to Chinese expansion and terrorist threats. Their recruiting ads reflect this fine line, using innocuous graphics and pink backgrounds right after showing troops on the march.

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6 travel hacks every military family should know

Travel — it either makes your heart do a little pitter-patter or fills you top to bottom with dread. Traveling does not have to be stressful, and using a few time-tested hacks is guaranteed to make your life easier.


Before you go

Scan a copy of your passport, driver’s license and any trip itineraries or reservations that you have and save them to your phone outside of e-mail. Depending on location, service might be spotty and you never know when you may need to access your records offline.

Packing hacks

Vacation can be exciting, but packing is the pits. To maximize suitcase space:

  • Roll thin clothing (t-shirts and dresses) and fold heavier clothing pieces (jeans and sweaters) and utilize packing cubes to organize
  • Stuff socks into shoes
  • Insert a rolled-up belt into a shirt collar to maintain the collar’s shape
  • Prevent fragile makeup from cracking by inserting a cotton ball in the compact
  • Cover shoes in a hotel shower cap to avoid having dirty soles touch the rest of your suitcase

Utilize what you have

Did you forget your phone charger at home? Plug your phone into a hotel television. Don’t panic if you have left your wall plug-in at home. Most televisions now have USB connectors on the back or side panel. Take a peek and use your connection cord to seamlessly charge your phone.

Leave the camping lantern on the counter? Not a problem. Strap a headlamp to a water bottle to create an instant illuminated “lantern.”

Google’s offline tools

Heading out of the country or simply beyond service? Be sure to download Google Maps to use offline. While connected to WiFi, download the city or territory maps you might need for the duration of travel and access them later — no connection required.

Like Google Maps, Google Translate is usually needed when there’s no WiFi available. Convenient, huh? Before you go, download the Translate app, and choose ‘Offline Translation’ in Settings. Here, you will be able to download different languages.

Pack a clothespin … or two!

A vacation seems like a weird place for a clothespin, but this handy accessory is ideal for keeping headphone cords from getting tangled, propping up a toothbrush in the bathroom, clipping hotel curtains closed for rooms that will not get dark enough or hanging up laundry to dry.

There’s an app for that

It seems like there is an app these days for everything, and traveling is no different. The following cell phone apps are handy for travel purposes for everything from airport navigation to Wifi passwords.

Foursquare is a collection of city guides, but it’s notoriously great for tipping off visitors to connection spots by suppling local Wifi passwords.

Stuck in an airport without easy access to a USO? LoungeBuddy takes all the guesswork out of where travelers can relax by providing comprehensive guides to airport lounges around the world.

Headed on a long-haul journey with multiple connections? Download FlightAware to track flights online, see a live map of flight routes and be alerted to cancellations, delays and gate changes.

Timeshifter is working to banish jet lag for good. Using extensive research studies on sleep and circadian rhythms, the app helps in-flight travelers determine when to nap, seek light, eat and more based on gender, age and typical sleep patterns.

Whether you are planning a trip or daydreaming about your next destination, tuck these travel hacks away for the next big adventure to save yourself time, your sanity…or both.