Having to fly 11 hours back to my hometown is not ideal, but it’s the price my husband and I currently pay for living in Europe. The more travel I’ve done, the smarter I’ve gotten about preparing to be as comfortable as possible on a long flight, as well as not feeling gross when I land. Last week, as I put on my travel slippers in the freezing cold airplane, I gave myself a little pat on the back, realizing that I’ve conquered the long flight blues (as much as humanly possible). I thought that as summer approaches and travel commences, my tricks of the trade might be helpful to you all. So, off we go to learn how to enjoy healthy long-haul flying!
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
I think the best thing you can do before, during, and after a long flight is to hydrate. Water does a body good and everything about traveling dehydrates you. Drink as much water as possible, and fill up your bottle before getting on the plane (but after security) so you can have water at the ready when you need it on your flight.
Wear shoes that are easy to get on and off.
I used to always wear my tennis shoes on the plane, but they aren’t very easy to get on and off, which made going to the bathroom even more of a hassle. Now I wear my Toms slip-ons or flip flops, so I can drink as much water as I please because bathroom breaks aren’t as dreaded.
Bring socks, travel slippers, and a scarf.
People definitely look at me while I’m putting my polka-dotted travel slippers on, but I know it’s with eyes full of envy. Planes are ridiculously cold, especially on long flights, so keeping your feet warm is key….and since you don’t want to have your shoes on for 10+ hours, you need something to cover them up. Thick socks work great as well. A scarf is key if you are normally cold like me, and if you get extra cold, don’t be afraid to ask for a second blanket. They have plenty and have always accommodated me.
Do your normal nightly routine.
When you are taking a red eye, I highly suggest bringing your tooth brush, toothpaste, and face wash so you can partake in your normal nightly routine. It helps get yourself mentally prepared to go to sleep, even though you don’t have a comfy bed waiting for you.
Put on the eye mask.
I’m sure you’ve got an eye mask lying around somewhere, and I suggest you don’t forget to wear it. They always seem to turn on the lights before you are ready to wake up, so it’s best to have a shield so you can get as much shut eye as possible.
Bring a journal.
I don’t know about you, but I get some of the best brainstorming done on airplanes. I think because I can’t use my phone and I’m required to sit still for a while, I let my mind wander. I’ve done some great work on airplanes, so I’m always prepared with a pen and paper, and usually also my laptop.
Eat only when you are hungry and bring snacks.
Airplane food is not great, so why do we feel the need to take everything they offer us? Probably because it’s already paid for and we worry we are going to starve, but those are silly reasons. I suggest bringing some healthy snacks so you never have to worry about going hungry, and also realize that the food probably costs less than $10 combined, so who cares if you miss out. They serve so much food on my flight from Zurich to San Francisco, and without doing anything but sitting, I’m usually not hungry by the time the next snack comes around. So, I’ve just started to politely decline, and if I do get hungry before the next meal, I have a snack waiting for me. I also only eat what I want from the meal…why would I eat a dried out bread roll, when I could have Swiss chocolate at the end of the flight?
Backpacks are a must.
I see so many people rolling these mini suitcases around for their long flight and it just doesn’t make sense to me. I carry a backpack (sizes vary) with all my airplane essentials and my small purse. The rest I check in my suitcase. If you are flying that far, you most likely have to check a bag, so why not check all of it if you can? Your wait at the destination airport will be the same no matter what, and you most likely have to stand in the customs line before grabbing your bag from the belt anyways. When you have a backback, you are free to roam around the airport as you wish, which brings me to my next point…
Be active before a flight.
It’s good to move your body before you have to sit for so long. If you don’t have time to do a proper workout before your flight, then just be sure to walk throughout the whole airport. I usually have walked 5000 steps before I get to my gate! Take the stairs at every opportunity for some good cardio, which will be easy when you just have a backpack on. Plus, the stairs are way less crowded than the escalators.
Stretch during a flight.
Your body is bound to get stiff, so take a few minutes to stretch it out! There is usually a space in the back of the plane behind the bathroom where you can stand in the corner and do a few stretches. I usually hold onto one knee at a time and bring it into my chest, do a forward fold, and clasp my hands and stretch them in the air. A few simple stretches goes a long way to prevent post-flight stiffness.
All tips aside, no matter whether your flight goes well or not, the fun travel always seems to make it worth it.