Prep For a Long Haul Flight
Just like with anything in life, preparing your attitude ahead of time is key to success. Why not look at the time you are going to spend on a long-haul flight as a glorious day of rest, a true holiday? Especially if you've chosen to upgrade to first or business class. No phone calls, no text messages, no social media, no responsibilities. You just get to sit and relax - sleep, read that great book you’ve been wanting to read, binge watch movies guilt-free.
You’re going to be stuck on a plane for a long time, you might as well turn it into something you can enjoy.
So now let’s talk about how you can actually do that….
Prepare to be Comfortable
Wear comfortable clothes. Maybe not your pajamas, because let’s face it, most of us feel most comfortable when we feel “presentable” in public. But, do try to avoid clothes that are too tight, that bunch or ride up in funny ways, are made of materials that irritate your skin or are otherwise bothersome.
Everyone has different things they find comfortable, but consider soft, breathable fabrics like cotton or linen and design features like elastic waist bands.
Wear multiple thin layers so that you can add or remove clothing to help regulate your temperature in transit.
Comfortable shoes are also a must. Wear shoes that you already know you can walk all day in without your feet screaming to be set free! Slip-on shoes that you can take off easily are a great idea too - for ease through security as well as comfort once you’re on the plane.
Don’t carry on too much stuff. Even though you technically can stow a bag under your seat that doesn’t mean you want to. Think about how much leg room that extra large bag might eat up before you decide to carry it on.
Prepare to be Healthy
Pack plenty of food. You know what you like to eat and how much/often you need to eat. I recommend packing a little more than you think you will need in case of travel delays.
Nutritionists advise smaller meals with a good balance of protein, complex carbohydrates and plant-based foods to stay happy and healthy on long haul flights and to avoid jet leg.
For business and first class travelers most airlines provide you a menu of complimentary gourmet food, and in some cases, it's made to order - VERY different from the food served in economy.
You can alert your flight attendant of food allergies and sensitivities and they will accommodate you.
When you eat can be just as important, or even more important than what you eat. Eating sends important cues to your body to help regulate your circadian rhythm. Careful planning of when you eat before, during and after a long-haul flight can help you sleep better and avoid jet lag.
Stay hydrated. Air travel is dehydrating. That coffee you drink to stay awake is dehydrating. That wine you drink to relax is dehydrating. Dehydration exacerbates jet-lag, so in order to stay healthy you need to counteract all this with plenty of water. Make sure your water bottle never runs dry and sip on during your entire flight.
Pro Tip: peanuts and peanut butter are a great source of protein for many people, however if there is someone on your flight with a peanut allergy you may be asked not to bring these out - and why put someone at risk? I recommend choosing snacks without peanuts in them (don’t forget check your granola and energy bars too and choose flavors sans peanuts).
Prepare to be Entertained
Pack something to watch. Most flights will have in-flight movies, but your choices will be limited. You might want to bring your own tablet, or laptop loaded with a few movies that you know you will enjoy.
Pack something to read. Here again is where a tablet, or even your phone or laptop, shines! Make sure you have downloaded some books to read. I recommend more than one book, just in case you get bored of one, or finish it!
Pack something to listen to. If popping in your noise-cancelling headphones and zoning out to your favorite music is your thing, make sure you have all your favorite tunes loaded on your device. Maybe even some new songs to keep things interesting.
Podcasts are another great option for audio entertainment. There is a podcast for every single interest out there. You can be entertained, or educated or both. And bonus - podcasts take up less space and use less battery than movies - so load ‘em up!
Pro Tip: Your device can also help relieve anxiety and help you get to sleep. Try downloading a meditation app (like Headspace or Calm). This article provides more info on the benefits of meditating while traveling, and some how-to tips.
Prepare to be Rested
In order to rest, most people need to be able to block out light and noise. A good eye mask and a pair of noise-cancelling headphones or simple ear plugs are a must. Most airlines provide these sorts of amenities on overnight and long flights, but why chance it. Especially if you are picky about the style, I recommend packing your own.
You also might want to bring your own travel pillow. Travel pillows have come a long way since the only option U-shaped inflatable neck pillow. From luxury down jackets that convert to neck pillows to scarves that hold your head up while you sleep, there is an option for everyone.
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