I am a full-time traveling registered nurse, fitness enthusiast, and nutrition expert. Every morning I wake up intending to bring awareness of the importance of health and spiritual wellness, especially to the traveling community. At Messy Bun Traveler, we promote travel that allows the traveler to either kick-start, maintain, or enhance a healthy lifestyle. So whether you're someone who travels for business, travels for pleasure, or new to travel and looking for health advice while on the road, this blog is for you!
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I seem to have a dark cloud over me every time I go on long-distance flights.
I say this because every single time I step foot on a plane I always manage to sit behind a screaming baby, in front of a seat kicker, or next to an armrest hogger (yeah, you know who you are).
After several long international flights and running into the same annoying problems, I’ve picked up a couple of flying tips and hacks that help make my long flights go a little more smoothly.
So, if you’re like me, and the idea of spending hours on a plane makes your skin crawl, don’t worry – I’m sharing my long flight tips to help make your next flight more bearable.
First off, unless you absolutely CAN NOT sleep on a plane, it’s best to book a red-eye flight.
There are a couple of reasons for this. One, when you’re flying overnight it’s much easier to fall asleep because you’re keeping to your body’s natural circadian rhythm. Two, when you’re sleeping, time tends to move along faster as opposed to when you’re wide awake and bored out of your mind.
For me, as I’m sure it is for a lot of you- it’s hard to sleep sitting up. But if I’m tired enough after being awake and productive all day, it usually can happen quite easily.
Brush your teeth, wash the makeup off your face, and take your contacts out. Keeping to your ritual will help you fall asleep faster as you’re tricking your brain into thinking you’re heading to bed.
Personally, I like the window seat because I have something to lean on during long flights and I don’t have to worry about having to get up every time somebody in my row needs to use the bathroom (on the other hand, I tend to hold my pee in my bladder for as long as I can so I don’t disturb the people sitting next to me).
If you like the ability to stretch out your legs into the aisle, and you like to get up and move about the cabin without disturbing your neighbors- you may be more of an aisle seat person.
These days, a lot of airline carriers have seat chargers for your devices. BUT in the slight off chance you’re flying on an older plane, it’s best to make sure everything is charged and ready to go. This includes cell phones, tablets, laptops, or any gaming devices.
Depending on the length of the flight, it might be a good idea to bring a portable charging device as well.
For goodness’ sake, leave the seven-inch stiletto heels for the nightclub. That is the LAST kind of shoe you should be wearing on a plane!
I love wearing my sneakers because not only are they comfortable, but they keep my feet warm too.
Some people prefer wearing flip-flops or comfortable sandals, and that’s perfectly fine too. Just wear something comfortable.
Because airlines tend to be on the colder side, it’s best to dress in warmer clothing and layers so you can dress up or down depending on your body temperature.
I’ve always noticed that the first hour or so of the flight is uncomfortably hot. Perhaps because that’s when everyone is up getting to their seats. Or perhaps it’s because the plane’s air conditioning is just barely getting turned on.
After that plane takes off, however; the plane tends to get chilly. So make sure you bring that extra layer or two.
I once forgot to bring my jacket on a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Boston. The entire flight I was so miserably cold. The entire flight I was curled up in the fetal position and was sticking my hands down my pants for warmth.
Don’t make my mistake. You’ll just look silly.
Sitting for long periods of time is not good for your health. Make sure to get up, walk around, and stretch every couple of hours to help prevent muscle aches and pains, swelling in your legs, and the very dangerous health condition of deep vein thrombosis (blood clots that can form in your legs from long periods of sitting).
Certain individuals such as older adults, pregnant women, and people with cardiovascular issues may want to consider wearing compression stockings while taking a long flight to help prevent painful swelling and spider veins.
Help manage your jetlag by adjusting your mobile device or watch to your new time zone. It helps to trick your subconscious mind into thinking that is, in fact, the correct time for you- helping to keep your circadian rhythm in balance.
I know it’s super fun to consume free booze while on international flights, but keep in mind that excessive amounts of alcohol dehydrates you as well as messes up your sleeping schedule.
It’s best to stick to water to stay hydrated.
As previously mentioned, the cabin air is extremely drying to your skin and it’s very easy to get chapped lips if you’re not constantly applying Chapstick. My personal favorite is Vaseline Advanced Lip Therapy Balm.
Keeping your legs crossed while sitting for long periods of time is never a good idea for several reasons.
One reason is that you’re restricting blood flow to your lower extremities- increasing your risk of DVTs (blood clots in your legs).
Also, crossing your legs is not good for your lumbar spine because with the little extra twist at the torso you’re adding additional stress to your lower back.
It’s always a good idea to pack a good neck pillow, especially if you plan on getting some shut-eye. The last thing you want is to wake up with a painful kink in your neck.
There are plenty of different supplements out there, both natural sleep aids and over-the-counter sleeping pills that you can take for flights, you just need to find which work best for you.
These include diphenhydramine, melatonin, NyQuil, or even CDB oil.
No more having to listen to crying babies or your loud, chatty neighbors.
If you absolutely cannot sleep, a good book always comes in handy. It helps pass the time away by distracting your mind. A good book can take you on an epic adventure through its pages!
Don’t be at the mercy of the plane’s mealtime schedule. Make sure you bring a good amount of your own healthy snacks and your own water bottle to continually hydrate throughout the flight.
The dry cabin air will quickly dehydrate you, so making sure you stay hydrated is one of the most important things you can do.
It can be daunting to think of spending hours on a plane, stuck in a cramped space. But don’t worry – there are plenty of things you can do to make the experience more enjoyable. From watching movies to treating yourself to a DIY spa treatment, here are some tips for keeping busy during your next long flight.
This is where booking a red-eye flight comes in handy! You’ll stick to your body’s natural circadian rhythm and feel more inclined to just sleep on your flight.
Being stuck on a plane isn’t so bad with the increase in entertainment offerings. It’s the best time to finally watch the films you’ve been meaning to see but didn’t have the time for!
I’ve become a huge fan of audiobooks and podcasts. There are so many topics out there to choose from!
You can use the time on your long flight to plan out your trip itinerary! What activities you’re going to do when you land, how you’re going to get to the hotel, etc.
A seemingly endless puzzle book like Sudoku (my personal favorite), Crosswords, Word Searches, etc. won’t keep you from getting bored if it’s the only in-flight activity you have planned, but it can take up a good chunk of time. The problem-solving element helps to keep your brain active!
A great way to take up time on your long flight is to go through your vacation photos and pick the ones you like! Next, you can edit them, schedule to post them on social media, and then delete the photos you don’t need. This will help save up some space in your cell phone, too!
Keeping a travel journal or diary is one of the most fulfilling habits. While it’s easy to say we will always remember these moments, with time it’s not guaranteed. By journaling your travels, you are keeping alive even the smallest memories that were important to you at that moment in time.
DIY facials, spa treatments, and hydrating skincare routines are a perfect, and fun way, to keep yourself busy on a long flight.
Learn the basics of the language of where you’re traveling to or continue your language-learning journey while you’re stuck on your long flight!
You can use some of this extra free time to focus on much-needed work!
So, there you have it! Our top tips for surviving long flights. By following this advice, you’ll be well on your way to having an enjoyable and relaxing journey. Remember to pack your essentials, like a neck pillow, headphones, and books or magazines, and make sure to take advantage of the in-flight entertainment and amenities.
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