Tips to Handle a Long Flight – Part 1

tips for long distance flight

No matter how much you like flying, having to kill more than 11 hours in a small combined space with strangers, can become quite a skill. Something not a lot of us have, if any.

Even if you are lucky enough to have a very compelling neighbour with the most interesting stories to tell, you most likely cannot make small, or even big talk, the whole flight through.

Then there is also your health to consider. Being stuck in an uncomfortable seat for so long (it can even be a lazy boy and it’s still going to become uncomfortable after three hours) can take its toll from your body as well.(causing among other things, deep vein thrombosis) Since you might be paying a lot to go on this vacation or wanting to have enough ‘oomph’ to party all night when you step of the plane, you want to do your at most best to stay in top tip shape.

My advice to you:

1. Know what you are getting yourself into

Find out how long you are going to fly to your destination.  Even having a couple of hours stop-over somewhere can be just as bad as having to be stuck in an airplane for hours on end. On the other hand, one plus can be that you can stretch your legs a bit more. Find out if there is resting place at the airport of your stop-over or maybe find a quiet corner to get a quick nap. However if you are doing a direct flight with a lot of hours to kill, be prepared with a good book you always wanted to read or load a couple on your Kindle in advance. If you prefer movies there are a variety of movies they have these days at the push of a button on your very own movie screen, right in front of your seat.  If you are taking your laptop or IPad with, download a couple of movies or series to keep you long enough to get you through all the wee hours. Just remember, it might be fun to have a movie or series marathon at your house, but if you have to do it for more than 10 hours it can become incredibly exhausting.  Try to bring a variety of things to keep your brain interested throughout the whole flight.

2. Rehydrate

Imagine yourself walking through a desert for more than 15 hours. The amount of dehydration taking place in your imagination is the same as that’s happening to you in the airplane on such a long flight, due to dry air. Try to avoid alcoholic, coffee or carbonated drinks as they only add to dehydration. You can indulge as much as you want when you have you feed on solid ground. Stick with water, orange and apple juice. Airhostesses come around every now and again during the night with a beverage tray. By taking a glass of whatever they have on their tray( even if you don’t feel thirsty) as well as having juice or water with every meal will keep you going.

3. Keep moving

Deep vein thrombosis is something which most probably occurs when the blood flow is not sufficient through your veins due to bad circulation. This might happen due to clothes being too tight, sitting in the same position to long or a combination with being dehydrated. Try to keep moving throughout the flight. I make it a habit getting up every hour while I’m awake and just walking from the front of the plane to the rear. Alternating it with standing at one of the exits (where there is enough space) to do a couple of small stretching exercises like standing on your toes a couple of times or reaching for the roof. Also wiggle your feet and toes while seated every now and again. If you know your family has a problem with this kind of thing try visiting a doctor before the flight and get your hands on a compression stocking for the duration of the trip.

4. Get the best seat in the house…plane

This is of course up to your own liking. When I was younger I always wanted to sit at the window to see what’s going on and to be able to rest my head against something while sleeping. These days I prefer an aisle seat since it gives my legs a bit more stretching  space as well as making it easier to get up more regularly for stretching and bathroom breaks. These days I also ask for a bulkhead seat if possible. It has just as much space as an exit seat. However most often it is reserved for moms with babies. A little extra advice: Even if the seatbelt sign is  turned off, keep your seatbelt fastened throughout the flight. I once had a flight from Chicago to Heathrow with the worst turbulence ever. Having to wake up every now and again to fasten your seatbelt is not helping to get a proper nap.

5. Sleep tight…or not

With a bad neck like mine it’s really hard sleeping anywhere else than a bed, but I did realize I need my sleep and just cannot stay awake all night like I did during my student days. Trying to find a comfortable position in an economy class seat is as impossible as being upgraded to first class by surprise – there is just no way.  I have tried and tested almost everything and my conclusion is: try to make the little sleep you can get as restful as possible. After dinner I will take a 8th of a sleeping pill. This will make me sleep well for at least two hours, but will somehow ensure that I wake up easily and is fully awake, almost immediately. Do NOT take a full sleeping pill! Friends of mine made that mistake since they were pooped when getting on the plane and thought they would just snore the whole flight away…not knowing that the plane would turn back after an hour to make an emergency landing. Needless to say they got thrown off the plane without knowing exactly what is going on. Thus also try to go on board relatively rested.

To be continued…

Categories: Travel tips | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Tips to Handle a Long Flight – Part 1

  1. elna pieterse

    Most entertaining and humorous! I like your valuable tips. Elna

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