How to survive a long International Flight
You did it! You’ve just booked your first international trip and you are stoked!! But deep down, you wonder how you are going to survive long international flights. You’ve always dreamed of seeing _____ (insert your dream destination) and you now have to become acquainted with the fact that you will be traveling a long distance.
How long you say? Depending on where you plan to land, you can count on at least 8 hours of flight time. That’s a long time to sit in a flying tin can, but fear not, I will give you some tips on how to get through the experience without losing your marbles.
First, take care of some housekeeping issues before your trip
If you are not currently signed up for the Global Entry program, I would advise you to do so. It will save you a significant headache when traveling period, but especially internationally. It will allow you to smoothly transition from customs to your gate during your departure and from Customs to your destination upon arrival.
For a long flight, it’s worth paying a little extra to secure a seat that offers you extra legroom. Did I mention that it’s a long flight? Once you have ascertained which flight you will be booking, you should immediately go to Seat Guru to check out where is the best seat is that you can afford on your flight.
Key in your flight details and a seating chart will appear with information on which seats are winners (that recline or are on exit rows) and which seats are duds (with non-reclining seats and close to restrooms – note: this may be a bonus if you have an active bladder). This will allow you to select the best seat for your budget. Tip: If you have long legs, you will prefer aisle seating.
Limit alcoholic beverages right before and during the long flight
Too much alcohol will cause the body to become dehydrated which will interrupt sleep. However, if you can’t do without and you’ve overindulged at the airport bar, be sure to carry a portable water bottle to fill after you’ve passed through TSA. Drinking lots of water will offset the effects of alcohol.
Don’t sleep before your flight!
Typically, International flights usually occur at night (aka ‘red-eye flight’), so by the time you arrive at your destination, it will be early morning (their local time). If you don’t take advantage of your long flight by taking a nap or a straight up, REM nice nocturnal siesta, you are going to be in for a world of hurt!
I’ve noticed some people reading, talking, watching movies, etc. during the transport. But I can tell you, sitting for eight-plus hours is taxing on the body. Use this time wisely and get some sleep. I know some people who use sleep aids like melatonin or Ambien to help if they are just too wound up to let it happen naturally. I’m not one to judge. Do you.
What to take on a long International flight? Be sure to bring snacks to stave off hunger
Usually, you will be fed dinner and breakfast early the next morning during an overnight flight. However, it never hurts to have something to nibble on in between meals. If you like granola, raisins or prepackaged faves, bring them along in your purse or carry-on to keep your strength up. You’re going to need it.
get up and walk around occasionally
Undoubtedly, nature will call at some point during the flight. Use that opportunity to walk around the cabin, stretch (but do be careful not to injure your neighbor) those joints to prevent contracting DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis).
DVT is when you develop a blood clot in your leg (usually) and if left untreated can travel to your lungs and blocks the oxygen that leads to the heart which causes heart failure and can be fatal. Wearing compression socks or hosiery helps to increase circulation and are recommended on long international flights.
So, you can’t sleep. How do you occupy your time on a long flight?
I understand. If this is your first overseas trip, you will understandably be excited. So, make sure that you bring an mp3 player with noise canceling headphones (to block out ambient noise – trust me – it can get noisy), books or a Kindle loaded with your favorite reads, a tablet to play games or watch movies on or keep you busy in other ways. Whatever it takes to keep you busy, is what you should focus on. Then, try to get some sleep! Maybe a hearty meal will send you off to slumberland.
Be ready to hit the ground running as soon as you arrive
Otherwise, you are going to have to deal with the wrath of JET LAG!! This means that your body’s clock is off because it has to adjust to a different time zone. Daylight and mental stimulation will usually help you to conquer jet lag.
Resist the urge to go straight to your hotel room (assuming that you have made arrangements for early check-in) and crash, instead stay up as long as you can, see the sites and make an early night of it. Your body will be ready to operate on local time by then.
By employing these simple tips, you will learn how to survive long international flights well rested and will be eager to dive into the culture.
Experienced travelers: what tips would you add to this list? I would love to hear about them in the comments!
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