No matter how much I travel I can’t get used to nerve
wrecking turbulence and the thought of plummeting to my death, but the thrill of
adventure is stronger than fear. The worst part of vacationing is usually the
airport, especially when you factor in delays or cancellations. No one likes
waiting in those long lines, having your body patted down by strangers and
not knowing if you’ll ever see your luggage again, but being trapped in an aluminum
tube for 16 hours can seem like a nightmare.
When I went to Asia I took 8 flights to various countries and
cities which added up to about 43 hours in the air. After the first 5 hours from
Toronto to Shanghai I felt confident, calm and collected. I was thinking – this
isn’t so bad, I totally got this! But after the 10th hour restlessness started
to kick in and I started thinking – I don’t got this at all...someone get me
off this thing...what the hell was I thinking ...will I ever see the ground again?...what is that weird sound?...oh
my God is that the engine?...
On the next few flights I was determined not to lose my
composure so I decided to make the journey as pleasant as possible. Below are
some helpful tips for coping with long, international flights.
Super human strength is an appealing concept but you aren't the Incredible Hulk so sleep as much as possible before the flight to
help counteract jetlag. There is no guarantee you will be able to rest on the
plane with people moving along the aisles, babies crying and clunky food carts
rolling by. Pamper yourself with a relaxing bubble bath, get a massage or go
for a run before departure – anything that helps you mentally prepare.
If you can suffer through a 16 hour flight (or even an 8
hour flight) scrunched up in economy with your neck contorted and someone
hogging the arm rest then more power to you! There is no way I
would consider going to Asia if I couldn’t lie down and get a good night sleep. First class personal pods are like having your own little room! The
food, service and comfort level is definitely better but it can cost up to $10,000 for an overseas flight. If you don’t have that kind of dough lying around use your travel miles for an upgrade. On longer flights, airlines tend to be
more generous with moving people up front so it never hurts to ask.
Hydrate as much as possible before the
flight by drinking water or beverages infused with electrolytes and immune
supplements like Vitamins C. The air on the plane is usually dryer than the
Sahara Desert (literally) so you should also drink a lot during and after the
flight even if it means using that disgusting little airplane bathroom. Trust
me, your body, brain, hair, and skin will thank you for it - dehydration can make you feel very ill.
To counteract the recycled airplane air and any germs floating around the cabin, start taking probiotics a week before your trip. You can also bring candies to prevent dry mouth or sore throat and eye drops may come in handy.
The worst thing you can do is sit idly and
stare at the head in front of you. Bring some work or a few gadgets to stimulate your mind
and distract yourself from the fact that you’re pretty much trapped. Books,
games and an iPad loaded with movies and music always seems to do the
trick. When all else fails, sleep as much as possible to help pass the time and
whatever you do, don’t focus on the clock or ten minutes will seem like an
5. Keep Your Blood Flowing
Cabin pressure can affect circulation so prevent swelling and blood clots by getting up
every couple hours to walk and stretch. Compression garments may also be a good
6. Divide One Long Flight into Two
Instead of one long, exhausting flight divide the trip into
two manageable flights. For example - if you are on your way to Dubai,
stop in London England for a day or two. If you are heading to China (like I
was) stop in Vancouver and do some sightseeing before continuing on.
When traveling first class, snacks are unlimited and food is
in abundance (it’s awesome) but in coach you may need to bring your own
sustenance. Meals can be bland, small and scarce so pack snacks, drinks and
even a few sandwiches. Please note that some countries will enforce hefty fines for bringing certain fruit and foods through immigration so finish everything onboard.
Accept the fact that you’re in it for the long-haul and
bring items that will keep you cozy. Noise cancelling headphones or ear
plugs, an eye mask to block out light, slippers, a neck pillow and
toiletries are just a few things that can help make the journey more bearable.
Remember to wear loose fitting clothes so you can move freely and ladies leave
the high heels in your carry-on, no one looks cute after 16 hours of
Traveling with friends or family helps pass the time and
gives you someone to talk to for moral support. Watch a movie together, stroll
the aisles after dinner or start a good old fashion card game (like the days
before Candy Crush), just try to have fun. You're on vacation after all.
When making reservations, choose your seat online before
checking-in at the airport. This may ensure that you aren’t stuck in the middle of two space hogging travelers determined to make your life a living hell. To cope with stomach-churning turbulence, pick a seat in the middle of the aircraft or over
the wing and bring motion sickness wrist bands or medication if necessary.