If you are unprepared for an international flight it can be truly unbearable. They are long, cramped and disorienting. But hopefully the destination makes it all worth it. If there's a long flight in your future, here are a few good ways to help you get through it:
For some, it's easy to sleep on a plane. For others, it's damn near impossible. To improve your chances of getting some shut eye while traveling, here are a few things you can do. Take a red eye. You will be naturally more tired already have gone through a full day of activities. This should, in theory, help keep you as close to your regular sleep schedule as possible. You might also want to invest in a good neck pillow - I use Cabeau Evolution Memory Foam Travel Pillow. It won't be as good as the pillow on your bed, but neck pillows make sleeping upright much more comfortable. For those of us not sitting in a window seat will want something to lay our heads on.
Okay, maybe this should read “medicate correctly.” If you are in a medication regimen, whether it is just vitamins, or something a little stronger, make sure you stick to your regular schedule, taking into account your changing time zones. For me, medicate means to take a Dramamine before flying. I get very motion sickness and need to prepare myself in advance if travel. While I normally reach for the non-drowsy formula, the original kind can help give me that boost I need to successfully fall asleep. Zzzquil and other over the counter sleep aids work as well if you don't need the help to abate motion sickness.
Where you sit on a plane can make or break a trip. During a flight to Kenya by way of Amsterdam I had a middle seat in the middle section of an enormous KLM plane. It was the second leg of an already ridiculously long flight itinerary and the middle seat put me over the edge. The only thing that saved me was how groggy I already was from hours and hours of travel. While most people I know prefer a window seat, I'm much more of a fan of the aisle. I can stretch out my legs and have easy access to the bathroom, which is a must. I don't want to risk a UTI because the person on the aisle is asleep and I'm too timid to wake them up. When traveling with Mark, I like strategically booking our seats in the back rows of the plane. Often the sets of three seats that line the left and right of a plan consolidate down to two seats. This back row makes it take a few minutes longer to deplane, but it gives us easy access to the bathroom and our own aisle. We each can have the seat of our choice, him window, me aisle, and we don't have to interact with anyone else. (And if you are curious about which airline has the most legroom, check out this quick read.)
I don’t mean pull out your favorite cocktail dress, I mean dress appropriately. These long flights get cold, so maybe try avoiding sandals (even if it’s going to be super hot wherever you land) and make sure to pack a sweater and/or scarf. I have a faux leather jacket that used to be my go-to travel jacket, but I also love bringing a scarf with me. Scarfs are super compactible and can easily be draped over you like a blanket. I highly recommend leaning into the athleisure trend and just wearing comfy workout pants, t-shirt (with sports bar - because who wants to wear a bra with an underwire for 24-straight hours) and a zip up jacket.
You don't want to go on a long flight unprepared. Sure, they will likely have many movie options, but what happens if your screen doesn't work, or you're unable to sleep and hate all the movie options? Having a few good books ready to read on your Kindle, iPad or in hardback can save the day. Not sure what to read? I have a whole blog post of recommendations for books to read on a plane.
It's tempting to want to load up on orange juice, to combat the germs, or ginger ale, to calm the nerves, or a glass of wine to calm you down and get ready to fall asleep. I certainly want to do all those things while flying. But sticking to water can benefit you tremendously. Not convinced? Thrillist breaks down 11 reasons why you should think twice before drinking on a plane.
Fill out your customs paperwork immediately. If flight attendants pass out the entry paperwork for your destination early in the flight, fill it out while you are still bored and have time to kill. When you are getting ready to land after ten hours on a plane, the last thing you want to do is dig out the information on where you are staying in the country you are visiting. Have that info on hand and jot it down early to avoid the last minute hassle.
So what's your favorite way to survive those long international flights? I want to hear from you.