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I love flying. Do you? (If you have flight anxiety, check out this post for ways to overcome that.)
I love the high energy of anticipation in airports, how quickly one can cross a country or an ocean and the sense of adventure that comes with rising into the air.
However, those treks from coast to coast across the US or reaching those international destinations might require hours of sitting on an airplane. To make these trips more enjoyable and less stressful, try these 10 tips for long flights.
10 Tips for Long Flights
Long flights of 6 or more hours can not only cause physical fatigue, they may create mental stress and increase the risk for dehydration, upset your digestive system and interfere with sleep patterns.
I accept that exploring a new destination in a faraway place comes with a price, beyond the cost of the airline ticket. There are ways to ease the effects however. Try these 10 tips for long flights so that you arrive ready for your adventure.
One of the most common effects from long flights is dehydration. While flying it’s very easy to become dehydrated due to the airplane cabin’s low humidity levels.
As a result, you feel thirsty and your mucous membranes in the nose, throat and sinuses dry out. A headache frequently accompanies dehydration along with dry lips and skin.
To counter dehydration, drink LOTS of water. Most people won’t. Why? They might have to use the restroom more. This is actually a bonus though, as getting up and moving frequently is another important tip.
Those little cups of water offered during the flight are not enough. Carry your own water canister and refill it frequently. Note: you must take an empty cannister through security however once through that checkpoint, you can fill your cannister and carry it onto the plane.
If you run out of water, ask the flight attendant for a refill.
Sleep as Much as Possible
Especially on red eye flights, that travel to international destinations at night, sleeping helps you arrive feeling more fresh and ready to go.
Many people, including me, find it difficult to sleep while airborne.
Bring an eye mask and earplugs to help shut out light and noise. Get comfortable with a neck pillow and blanket. Or play a movie you’ve seen many times, turn the volume down low and sleep through it.
Whenever you stir, drink water, walk to the restroom and then get comfy and try sleeping again.
Choose an Aisle Seat
If you get to choose your seat, pick the aisle seat. That location makes it easier to get up to stretch, go to the restroom and occasionally stretch your legs out. Just don’t leave your legs out in the aisle to prevent tripping another passenger or a flight attendant.
Bring a Book to Read
If sleeping is out of the question for you, bring a book you’ve been meaning to read. For fun, try a genre you wouldn’t normally consider. You can pick up paperback books at the airport or purchase one from your favorite shop and when finished with it, give it to someone at your return airport or leave it in a the restroom or on a table in a cafe for another passenger to pick up.
Avoid Sugar, Alcohol and Caffeine
Avoiding products with sugar helps to prevent a sugar rush and the tiredness that follows and for some, like me, sugar can cause restless legs.
And alcohol and caffeine contribute to dehydration. Drink water instead of wine or soda.
Bonus tip: flying creates digestive distress, also known as gassiness. To prevent discomfort and perhaps embarrassment, also avoid carbonated drinks, veggies like broccoli, red meat, apples and other high fiber foods, beans and fried foods.
If you can’t sleep and reading isn’t your thing, try watching a movie or series, listening to music, playing games or chatting with your seatmate, if that person is awake too and wants to engage.
My personal favorite activity while on long flights is movie watching. I enjoy browsing through the large selection of on flight films and catching up on movies I’ve missed. I like carrying my own earbuds with me but they are available on request.
Walk and Stretch Frequently
It’s important to keep muscles limber by taking frequent walking and stretching breaks. Use your trips to the restroom as an opportunity to stretch out cramped leg muscles and also improve circulation and help prevent swelling in lower legs and ankles.
Wear Comfy Clothes
During long flights, wear the comfiest clothes possible. Doing so creates less restriction and improves circulation. This isn’t the time for tight jeans. Opt for loose fitting pants, layered shirts, light jacket and sneakers. The only exception might be if you are taking boots along on the trip, then wear those to save space in your carryon or luggage.
I like layering because it’s generally very cool in the cabin and I can add the lightweight jacket over two shirts or use it as a blanket.
Try Compression Socks
If your legs or feet tend to swell during long flights, try compression socks. I tried these for the first time last December, flying to Edinburgh, and I loved them. My legs and feet didn’t swell and they were less restless. In fact, I wore them every day while walking in Edinburgh and they seemed to invigorate my legs.
Remove Shoes during Flight
Carry an extra pair of thick, woolen socks and put them on during the flight.
On my last international flight, I removed my boots after we reached cruising altitude and pulled on a pair of thick woolen socks over my compression socks. It raised my coziness level considerably.
And bonus, when I wear those socks now I’m instantly transported back to that overnight flight and the thrill of adventure.
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