I’ve taken a lot of International flights over the years, some of them, very long. I’ve already documented the best flight of my life when I got upgraded to business class on British Airways from London to Seattle. But, that was definitely a once in a lifetime experience. Every other time, I’ve flown in economy, which can sometimes feel like a cattle car in the 1860s. But, even still, I love air travel.
I’m posting this just as I’m about to head to YVR International airport (aka the happiest place on earth!) where I am about to board the longest nonstop flight that I’ve ever taken – 15 hours and 40 minutes! This got me to thinking about the ways in which a fresh air loving, long-walk taking, yoga practicing person manages to make this experience bearable, and dare I say it, enjoyable.
Here are my survival tips for Long-Haul Air Travel
1.Plan Your Entertainment
International travel is definitely easier because most planes these days provide a personal TV with dozens of movies, TV series, and games to get you through the sleepless hours in the middle of the night. I for one, LOVE movies and see this as the perfect opportunity to catch up on films that I missed throughout the year. But even a binge watcher like me, may need a break from 15 hours of constant streaming.
So, I also make sure to curate my iPhone music to include my go-to travel playlists and load a few e-books onto my Kobo Aura (my new must-have travel accessory). I often treat myself to a magazine as well, which pretty much only happens when I fly these days.
2.Prepare Your Snacks
Now this is going to go against all of my previous advice on How to Avoid Jet Lag but seriously, you cannot depend on airplane food. Nobody wants to be stuck in a little box in the sky with your hunger needs left in the complete control of a cost-cutting airline. I’ve been so thankful in the past for my stash of snacks on many an overnight flight when I had no idea when the next meal was being served. I also love using air travel as an excuse to dig into some of my favourite treats… it doesn’t count when you’re on vacation right?!
3.Dress for Success
When I travel domestically, I usually dress exactly the same way that I would at home. Sometimes I even kick it up a notch because I just love the 1960s era when air travel was this glamourous, special occasion where people brought out their finest fashions. But, when it comes to international travel, I dress as comfortably as humanly possible short of wearing my pajamas. Some key wardrobe staples are long scarves that can also serve as blankets and wearing LAYERS. I find that most airplanes are sweltering hot during boarding and freezing cold during mid-flight. No matter what my destination, I pack extra socks and a warm sweater. Extra clothes can also turn into make-shift pillows in a pinch.
4. Reserve Your Preferred Seat
Maybe you’re a crazy person who enjoys sitting in the middle seat of the middle row of a 3 – 4- 3 formation, but I am not. I scored a window seat for this flight, which is absolutely necessary if I’m going to get any sleep at all.
5. Drink Water
It’s so important to take care of yourself while travelling. Your body is going to be confused and your immune system is going to be put through the ringer. The best thing that you can do during a long travel day is stay hydrated with clear fluids and avoid alcohol and caffeine. That glass of wine at take-off might help you nod off quickly but it can seriously interfere with your crucial REM sleep. And I don’t think I have to tell you why coffee is a bad idea. I’m guilty of enjoying a pre-trip Americano on the regular but then I have travel super powers. For those of you who struggle with jet lag, avoid the stimulants and stick to water.
6. Take Preemptive Cold Remedies
Unfortunately, I often get sick on airplanes. All of those germs being recirculated endlessly just breaks me down, even though I like to think that I have a pretty solid immune system. My cold remedy of choice is Oil of Oregano. I pop these suckers like candy before, during, and after all air travel to prevent or lessen the potential cold symptoms. Whatever you find helpful is what I recommend… but don’t mess around. Nothing ruins a trip more than being sick.
What did I miss? How do you prepare for a long-haul flight?
Oh, the long haul flights are the best. Here are a few things I always do without fail.
1) Always make a big, tasty sandwich. Foot long minimum.
2) Always make sure to say hello to the people on either side of me. The benefits are huge. You are more likely to make more comfortable arrangements when you are amiable with the people around you. Plus, you can both get each other excited about your destination. Or in some cases, get tips about cool spots.
3) In the pre-911 days, say hi to the pilot. But I do from time to time, send a message on the napkin with the flight attendants. Past ones include, “You are doing a great job.” or “I just watched ‘Catch Me if you Can’ and I want to know if you are a real pilot.”