I’ve been a traveler most of my life, and will be for the rest of my life. But that DOES NOT MEAN the long-haul international flights get any easier! They are by far the worst necessary evil of international travel. But overtime I’ve developed a handful of tips + tricks that have made the flights more tolerable.
Before your next long-haul international flight, give these tips + tricks a try!
- Watch what you eat 24 hours before your flight, and avoid foods that make you congested or bloated.
- I travel with lots of snacks from home! That way I’m not tempted (or forced) to buy food at the airport or on the plane that would cause my stomach to get upset.
- Arrive at the airport early, and if you can, avoid carrying a ton of luggage on you. Rushing through an airport with heavy luggage makes for a stressful experience before your flight. I like to arrive early, have calm check-in and security experiences, and sometimes have a coffee or glass of wine (depending on point #6 below.)
- My skin gets really dry on planes, so I always travel with moisturizer (in a container size you can bring on the plane!) + lip balm.
- Related to tip #4 — hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Most airports now have water stations you can use to refill a water bottle from home. DO THAT!
- Create a flight schedule for yourself based on what will set your body up to transition to the local time when you land. For example, if you arrive at 6AM local time, you’ll want to be ready to stay up for the entire day, so make sure you sleep as much as you can just before you land. Alternatively, if you land at 11PM local time, make sure you’ll be ready to fall asleep when you arrive and try to sleep at the beginning of your flight.
- When I’m trying to fall asleep I read books and play solitaire on my phone. Both of these activities make my eyes tired (vs. watching a movie, which stimulates me and keeps me awake!)
- Bring earplugs, noise-canceling headphones and an eye mask. Anything you can do to make falling asleep come easier to you — do that!
- Stretch as often as you can — before the flight, while you’re waiting for the restroom, etc.
- Wear comfortable clothes, bring socks (if you don’t already have socks on) + make sure you have a pillow, puffy jacket or blanket to use as a pillow.
I also asked Lora and Caroline, new Living Big Trip Hosts, for their go-to long-haul international flight tips —- here’s what they had to say!
“Whenever I travel on a long-haul flight I take a book – a real page-turner – like John Grisham. I can’t bear to watch that many movies and I find a book to be very engaging. I also swear by noise-canceling head-phones and when I’m not reading I like to close my eyes and listen to guided-imagery to help me relax. I rarely sleep on a flight, but thankfully on a recent long-haul from Johannesburng to NYC (15:45 Hrs) I was able to get nearly a full-night’s sleep (Claire, my 9-year old daughter slept 10 hours). I think the key is figuring out how to keep yourself the right temperature using layers – I almost always travel with my comfortable down jacket, scarf and neck pillow. I also experimented with a “sleepy time” essential oil blend (applied to the feet) and perhaps that was the missing ingredient and how the nearly 16 hour flight felt more bearable than our final 5 hour flight home from NYC!”
- Be sure to drink lots of water before, during, and after the flight. It helps with bloating, and it is easy to loose track of time and become dehydrated while flying.
- I always choose the vegetarian option (you can reserve this when you book the ticket). It’s hands down, always a tastier option…and you also are served before everyone else, so the likelihood of running out of what you want is lower.
- Get up and stretch! I set my fitbit to remind me (you could also just use your phone and/or watch) to move every two hours. I wait until the line for the bathroom is the longest, so I have to wait/stand in the aisle. Also, if you ask, most flight attendants will let you use the space at the back of the plane to stretch/get some yoga moves in. There are also several exercises you can do in your seat (rolling shoulders, etc.).
- Set goals! I always try to have a plan going in…whether that is to watch 3 new movies on my in-flight screen, grade a stack of papers, read a book, whatever. Having a variety of things to do also helps!
- The best way I have found to get over jetlag is to exercise immediately upon arrival at my destination — no matter the time of day!