I’m not travel expert but I have had my share of long layovers and in most recent times, long flights. It took me two days to travel home at the beginning of summer, with the longest flight being 15 hours which is second place for the longest single flight I’ve ever flown of 18 hours. Once you’ve done those bad boys, 4-hour flights feel like a dream. Anyway, here are some tips to make those long flights a little more bearable.
- 3-5 days before your scheduled flight, start taking your vitamins or add vitamin C to your regimen if you already do take them. Flying takes a toll on your body and you’re breathing in recycled air from other germy people for hours. It would totally suck to reach your destination and end up with a cold or some other bug.
- Fly first-class. Or business class. They’ll treat you like royalty. I’ve only ever experienced first class on really short trips so I can imagine how they must feel on the long flights.
- But maybe first class tickets are not in your league…they’re hardly ever in mine (YET). If you’re tall, pay for the extra leg room or sit in an emergency row seat. Being comfortable helps.
- Speaking of being comfortable, dress comfortable. I no longer travel long flights in jeans…maxi dresses are my go-to for travel. Don’t have to worry about belts, it’s long enough to keep my legs slightly warm and they’re easy to deal with when it’s time to use the restroom. I always keep a scarf that doubles as a throw and a jacket because it does get cold and not all airlines give out blankets and pillows to everyone.
- Keep your carry-on well stocked. Chargers, headphones, wipes, snacks, notebook, novel, toothbrush, contacts solution, more snacks. 18 hours is a looonnng time. It’s okay to throw some of those just in case items in your carry on. Download your movies, books, podcasts before you get to the airport. I remember my 6 hour flight to Bolivia. The plane was an older model so there weren’t tv/entertainment screens at each seat like I had previously experienced.
- Yes, you will get your designated 2 free meals on the flight, and you’ll be able to get as many beverages as you can handle, but again, it’s a long flight and airline food are pricey. You might as well stock up before you board. Nuts, adult lunchables, airport fruits, chicken in the bag from Bamboo…whatever within reason. To me, eating and drinking lots of tea or warm water also helps with the gas.
- Stay hydrated. Nothing seems to dry out your skin more than flying and long flights will leave your face feeling parched. As often as the flight attendants come around offering drinks, take one. Don’t feel abashed because you don’t want to have to get up and use the bathroom (another point). Keep your body hydrated.
- Get up every 2-3 hours and stretch. I prefer aisle seats on long flights for this reason. Flying for long hours and not getting up can result in deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body. Deep vein clots usually occur in the lower leg or thigh and can lead to serious complications if the clot travels around your body like to your lungs (pulmonary embolism). This can be avoided by getting up and stretching, doing certain leg exercises while in-flight and/or wearing compression socks which I sometimes wear when I travel. I find that getting up and stretching while on a bathroom break helps and frequent leg massages while sitting. When I have an aisle seat, I also swing my legs out into the aisle for a seated stretch.
- Don’t track the time. If you focus on the time, you’re going to drive yourself crazy about it and it’ll feel long. Enjoy the in-flight entertainment. Buy some wifi time and update your facebook status so everyone knows you’re traveling. I get to watch movies I didn’t get a chance to see in theaters when I fly. SLEEP!! I know some people are fearful of sleeping when they fly but look…say a prayer and leave it to Jesus. Your worrying and fretting won’t stop the plane from crashing nor will it help it to land.
Whether you’re traveling solo, with a partner or friend or with kids, a part of making the experience less painful is the preparation.