6 Easy Tricks That Will Help You Survive a Long-Haul Flight
We have all been there: you get off the plane after an exhausting 12 hour flight; you are tired and annoyed; your stomach hurts and your feet are swollen; all you want to do is get to your hotel, order rooms service and doze off in front of open TV; however, you cannot waste those precious hours of business meetings or sightseeing. Would you like your next flying experience be less depleting and more enjoyable? Try out the following strategies and you will arrive at your destination refreshed and ready for whatever you have planned.
- Know Thy Food
Some airlines have stopped providing their passengers with meals. The others still do, but you should not eat something just because it had already been paid for, so the best idea is to always bring your own lunch and snacks. Then, if served with good quality food – enjoy the airline meal; if not – you are all set with your own choice of healthy products.
Abdominal discomfort is common when flying, since the gas in our guts tends to expand the higher up in the air we get, so don’t let your intestines work harder on digesting large, fatty meals, gas producing foods (cauliflower, cabbage) or carbonated drinks. Opt for small, healthy meals of fruits, veggies, lean proteins and nuts instead.
- Drink. Not that!
The air inside the planes is much drier than the one we are used to, so we are prone to dehydration when on board. That can mean anything from headaches and dizziness to a weaker immune system that will make you susceptible to infections. Be sure to drink a lot of water, but avoid carbonated drinks for the reasons mentioned in the previous section. By the way, alcohol enhances dehydration, so refrain from drinking, even if that gin-and-tonic is complimentary. Plus, you really don’t want to get drunk abroad and end up behaving in an embarrassing fashion.
To make sure you always have plenty of water, carry on an empty plastic bottle and fill it up upon passing the security checkpoint. Alternatively ask the flight attendants to fill your bottle with tap water or some juice before the take-off; that way you won’t have to wait for yet another glass to be served to you, especially when the crew is busy serving meals to all the passengers.
- Stay Comfortable
Some people suffer from ear pain as the aircraft descends; the pain can be severe and even lead to a temporary hearing loss. Here’s what you can do:
- Wake up an hour before the plain is supposed to land. The tubes controlling the air pressure in your middle ear are fully open when you are awake. Plus, you will be able to follow the other tips listed here.
- Chew a gum, suck on a sweet or swallow to help open the ear tubes.
- Use special ear plugs that slow the movement of air into and out of the outer ear, giving your inner ear more time to adjust to the changes in air pressure. There are many brands available; you can see some of them here.
If you suffer from motion sickness, try getting a window seat over the wings. Some suggest consuming powdered ginger root to prevent nausea, vomiting and cold sweat. In addition, you can ask your physician to proscribe an antiemetic drug prior to your flight.
Consider purchasing a pair of regular noise preventing ear plugs; this will allow you to catch a nap more easily. Please note that many pressure-reducing ear plugs are also good for noise reduction.
If flights make you jittery and uncomfortable, or if you have trouble relaxing in a noisy environment, try white noise applications such as SimplyNoise or relaxation apps such as Calm (both available for iOS and Android).
- Don’t Just Sit There
We have all heard of Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT), those dangerous blood clots that can develop in the legs and endanger our health if then dislodged. Many researches currently believe the condition might be caused by long periods of seated immobility, so do your best to get up once in a while and walk around or try some in flight exercises. Remembering that drinking a lot of water is helpful, since you will have to get up and move to get to the lavatory. You can also try wearing special compression stockings that make the blood move up your leg. These can also help prevent leg swelling, especially in overweight travelers.
- Bring Your Own Entertainment
Let’s face it: in-flight entertainment is not always top notch, and if you travel often, you are prone to getting that déjà vu feeling when glancing at the small screen in front of you one more time. Once again, it is time to take matters into your own hands and bring your entertainment along. When at the airport buy some new books or magazines. Alternatively, if you have access to the Internet, use the time spent queuing to download your favorite music or the last episode of Game of Thrones. If you are into more intellectually stimulating pastime, try learning a new language or training your brain with apps such as Lumosity (iOS and Android, free).
- Finally, Be Nice
Okay, being nice to the world when sited in a cramped middle seat surrounded by two armrest hoarders is not easy, but you should still try. First of all, this will make you feel better and arrive to your destination more relaxed. Secondly, it will probably pay off, since most people repay kindness with kindness. Remember that flight attendants are doing a pretty demanding job, both physically and emotionally, and will appreciate your courteous and patient behavior as well. Hey, they might even spoil you with some champagne and desserts from business class.