It is that time of year again; Spring. People are running off for their yearly vacations, college students are getting anxious and hiking over mountains, and Ex-pat teachers are traveling internationally to see their families.
I count myself into the latter of those categories, having recently completed an international trip from Dubai, United Arab Emirates to Sao Paulo, Brazil. I make 15+ hour flights 3-4 times a year. It’s not pleasant, but it doesn’t have to be miserable. In my time as a nomad, I have learned a thing or two about how to make flying a little less torturous.
I am not a great flier, but I am an effective one, so I figured I would share some of my tips for surviving long-haul flights.
1. Pack Smart
Never in the history of travel has a woman needed 18 outfits for a 3-day trip. Packing smart is a universal tip. It doesn’t matter if you are traveling for a short vacation, or moving internationally. Chances are, you are packing way too much.
Anything less than a month’s worth of travel (I could actually argue 2-3 months) can fit into a carry-on suitcase. In reality, more than a week’s worth of clothing is not needed. This might change, depending on your reasons for travel, your gender, and what activities you engage in, but anything more than a week is usually not necessary. Know what you NEED, pack two more items, and call it a day. #teamcarryon.
2. Comfort is Key
Dress comfortably! There is little worse than sitting in Economy Class (lovingly referred to as ‘Cattle Class’ by a friend of mine) and having a button from a pair of jeans cut into your stomach. Or having cute lacey underwear that itches your for fourteen hours. Think practical. I usually travel in a cotton maxi dress with flip flops, a hoodie and warm socks. Gents, I’d recommend sports pants and a comfortable tank top.
Don’t be afraid to “Freshen up on the plane”. I bring a pack of baby wipes with me whenever I travel. Halfway through the flight, I will get up, change my undergarments, brush my teeth and give myself a baby wipe clean up. This can really make a long trip much more comfortable. Small comforts. This is survival after all.
4. Choose Your Seat Wisely
I fully recommend choosing your seats ahead of time. I set an alarm 15 mins before check in opens to guarantee that I get my preferred seat. Some people prefer the window seat on a long flight for sleeping purposes, I however, find that the aisle seat is far more beneficial for avoiding swelling. You are able to get up and move around with little interference and a lap around the plane every couple of hours can make a flight a bit more bearable.
5. Airline Food is Terrible
The last survival tip I can give has to do with the food. I personally love food. I hate airline food. In the app for most airlines, you have the option of choosing your meal (for long-haul flights). I happen to have a strict diet regime, so I’ve always needed one. I prefer a fruit platter, if offered. If not, a vegan meal is a close second. The greatest benefit to having a special meal, you never miss your food, because they will wake you to serve.
6. Jet Lag Sucks
I often fly East to West, which means, jet lag. Awake at 4 am, sleeping until noon…this is often the first two days of any vacation. Despite it being almost unavoidable, a couple things you can do to prepare:
i. Sleep on the plane
ii. Fly at night
iii. Stay up late the day or two before, so your body forgets what its natural clock should be. This helps reset when you land at your destination and can help you adjust further.
7. Prepare and Relax
It’s perfectly acceptable to prepare for a long flight. Like I said, I am a terrible flier. I get nauseous, bored, claustrophobic and anxious. I prepare for this by having at least 3 non-screen activities (reading, writing and coloring), Dramamine Tablets, and I book an aisle seat, so I can get up and move around.
The reality is, nobody likes to travel. We may like to see different destinations, but the actual act of traveling is uncomfortable and often inconvenient. However, if you can pay that small price, the world opens up and becomes a lot bigger.
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