Wednesday, May 23, 2018

10 Tips for Surviving a Long Flight

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.

1. Rest Before Departure
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.

2. Upgrade Your Seat
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.

3. Prepare Your Body
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.

4. Keep Busy
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 hour.

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 investment.

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.

7. Bring Food
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. 

8. Get Comfortable
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 confinement.

9. Misery Loves Company
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.

10. Book Early
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.

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