Featured Image: @malw.ii
The longest flight I have ever endured was 14-hours from Chicago to Tokyo, and after a brief layover, I had another 7-hour flight from Tokyo to Bangkok. So for all my Math majors out there, that’s 21 hours total. Trips are extremely exciting, and if you have a big trip coming up, I’m sure you just can’t sit still. However, if you have a long haul flight, you are forced to sit like a Sardine in the sky for hours upon hours, elbowing strangers, replaying the same games over and over again as time seems to just stand still. I’ve. been. there.
Long-Haul Flights Suck. There is no way around it. But if you have the travel bug and want to explore more of this wonderful world, it’s a necessary evil (at least until teleportation; is anyone working on this?! Can we speed it up?!).
There are ways to make a long flight a tad more pleasant and to help you avoid jet lag.
First and foremost, the most important thing when flying is…….
Download the Skyscanner app and set up alerts to any city in the world. I have about 30 different alerts set up at a time and whenever a price drops I get notified. Thanks to Skyscanner I booked a roundtrip ticket from Miami to London (no layovers) for less than $350, when the regular price was over $600!!
Comfort… Dress and Pack Appropriately
Listen, I get it. You love fashion and expressing yourself. You don’t want anyone to see you and think you just rolled out of bed. But during flights longer than 3 hours, you need to forget fashion and get comfy. Comfort is above everything else when it comes to long-haul flights. Even if it means you look a little silly. There are a couple of things you need to always have in your carry-on in order to get through the flight.
When I travel, my essential are:
- Comfortable pair of tennis shoes
- A large and cozy sweatshirt
- A Neck Pillow
- Eye Mask
- Water Bottle
- Noise-Canceling Headphones
- Travel Charger (in case the plane doesn’t have outlets)
- Tablet or iPad
- Kindle with books preloaded (you can also download the Kindle app on an iPad or tablet)
Pick The Right Flight and Airline
If you’re traveling, say, New York to Rome, taking a red-eye flight will be much (much!) more enjoyable than a 6-am flight. During red-eyes, you’re sleepy after a long day, the cabin is nice and dark, and everyone is trying to get some sleep so it’s quiet. Daytime flights are different, some passengers might have their windows up with bright lights or there might be conversations taking place, all of which can make falling asleep harder.
Also, there is a big difference between the comfort levels of different airlines. Download the skyscanner app and compare prices, times and comfort. Long flights aren’t a place you want to be extremely frugal. If the price difference is over $100, then yes, tough it out and get the cheaper option. But if the difference between one airline that sucks and one that’s comfortable and accommodating is $20, spoil yourself! I promise you, when you’re in that tiny seat with someone constantly kneeing your chair because you’re cramped in there, you’ll wish you spent those $20 for the extra legroom.
Avoid Alcohol (+ Stay Hydrated)
I know it might be tempting to get a drink and relax into the long flight, but don’t! The effects of alcohol on a plane are twice what they would be on the ground. That’s because you get so dehydrated on an aircraft flying above 40,000 feet. You will most likely get a hangover and feel the effects of the alcohol much quicker.
The absolute best thing you can do for your body on a plane is to drink plenty of water. Don’t rely on the stewardess for this and bring your own water bottle to refill. Aim for at least 1 liter for every 4 hours. You’ll feel much better (and less jetlagged) if you stay hydrated and avoid alcohol midflight. The reason you dehydrate so rapidly on airplanes is that the humidity is so low up there, you lose your fluids quickly. The humidity is as low as the 10%, for comparison, it’s similar to the air in the Shara Dessert!
Set Your Watch To The Destinations Time
This little hack can really save you some serious jetlag. Before the plane takes off, change your watch and the time on your phone to whatever timezone you are traveling to. Then, try to stay awake during ‘daytime’ and sleep at ‘night’ to try and sync up with your destination.
Try To Sleep
Sleeping on a plane is uncomfortable, but if it’s nighttime in your destination you should try and get some sleep. The best way to sleep is to get as comfortable as you can, check tip #1 for what to wear and carry (neck pillows are mandatory!). I have found that if I can sleep for at least half the flight, I am much less grouchy than if I couldn’t get any zzz’s. I normally try to get on planes a little tired to guarantee I can get some sleep on board.
If you absolutely can’t fall asleep on a plane, consider getting some over-the-counter medication like zzzquil nighttime sleep aid. Just make sure you try them before you fly as these sleep aids can have varying effects among different people. And don’t take it if you have a layover in a foreign country as you’ll want to be alert and aware of everything around you and these sleep aids can last hours.
Bring Your Own Entertainment
Long haul flights tend to have tv’s and plenty of free (and paid) entertainment options, however, you shouldn’t rely solely on them. Make sure you have your favorite books in your Kindle ready, movies on your laptop preloaded, podcasts, journals, bad magazines, and even coloring books can help you pass the time. No amount of plane entertainment will keep you occupied for 12+ hours.
Always be prepared and have a charger and USB cables. If you travel a lot, a mobile battery pack is practically mandatory as sometimes (and this has happened to me!) the charger on your seat isn’t working properly or the airline doesn’t have outlets.
If you’re sitting in one spot for hours, you’re bound to not feel so great, get sweaty and smelly at some point. Simply having your toothbrush on hand and freshening up with a ‘towel’ bath can make a world of a difference when you’re on board. I am instantly in a better mood when I feel fresh and clean. A couple of things you’ll want on hand are deodorant, toothbrush & toothpaste, wipes, moisturizer, and dry shampoo.
Pack Your Food and Snacks (And Consider Fasting)
Maintaining a similar diet to how you are at home will help fight off jetlag and grogginess. The food airlines give you tends to be very high in sodium and doesn’t sit well, which is why sometimes you land and feel bloated and constipated. Not exactly how you want to feel on your first three days of any trip.
It’s also been said that fasting during a flight is a great way to beat jetlag. Due to the fact you’re at a high altitude and moving so quickly, your digestion isn’t working properly on a plane. This can cause grogginess, jetlag, and bloating among other things. Eat before and after the plane ride and try to eat during regular hours at your destination. So if it’s 6 A.M. in London, have breakfast.. even if your actual time is 8 P.M. in New York, make sense?
How do you prepare for long-haul flights?! Share your best tips and tricks in the comments below!