Surviving Air Travel

It's easy to relax on an airplane when you're heading for the beach and the flight is five hours. But recently, my air travel time to Asia was about 35 hours. That's a 12 hour flight + 1.5 hour layover + 7 hour flight + 11.5 hour layover + 2.5 hour flight. To be honest, I was miserable. Legs cramped and tingly, stomach half-full of airplane food, trying to force my body to beat the jetlag that was to come. But I made it and it certainly could have been more painful. So here's a few tips to help yourself relax and enjoy survive the long flights.

  • Bring melatonin and a sleep mask and possibly earplugs. You're going to need it. I put the clock of my final destination on my iPhone so that I could try to adjust my sleep schedule prior to arrival. This meant taking melatonin (a natural sleep hormone) at times, pulling my sleep mask over my eyes and trying for some shut-eye.
  • Walk around at least every two hours. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a condition you risk getting while on long flights. The best way to prevent these blood clots is moving around. So walk up and down the plane, if possible. If not, do mini leg-raises and roll your ankles in your seat.
  • Drink tons of water. This goes with the above tip. If you have to get up to use the restroom often, you don't have to worry about DVT. Plus all the extra water helps you deal with the altitude and time zone change.
  • Look for empty seats after takeoff; especially for an overnight flight. Since I had flown on most full flights before, I didn't know to do this when I was traveling to Asia. However, walking through the plane I realized that many people had claimed two seats, or the whole middle aisle to themselves. Elevating your feet will help you to sleep.
  • Treat yourself! I bought a 30 minute shower for almost $30 during my long layover. That's an expensive shower--but after a night sleeping on a plane and a night in the airport to come, I don't know if I would have survived if not for that. Do something to improve your comfort level--rent a sleeping pod, buy candy, take fuzzy socks for the plane, anything that will help you to not be absolutely miserable.

So good luck on those crazy long flights! Just close your eyes and picture your final destination.