Want some good news? It’s up to you to make your flight more comfortable and healthy. With these tips you’ll make your long-haul flights as comfortable as possible, as well as smooth out the effects of the much-feared jet lag.
Although international travel can be glamorous and exciting (I always like to look on the bright side), it can also be inconvenient, tedious and produce jet lag on intercontinental flights.
Flying for long hours in cramped quarters (if you are not one of those fortunate enough to travel in first class) can cause back pain, swelling, and other discomforts.
You have already bought your inexpensive flight tickets, packed your suitcase efficiently, booked your travel insurance and finally it’ s time to travel and cope with the long flight. No worries, with these recommendations, you will manage the flight in the most pleasant and healthy way possible.
Your flight more comfortable and healthy
1 – Before flying, choose your seat
Since you are in for a long flight ahead of you, the hours you spend on it will be a lot easier the more it suits your preferences. So, the first step is to select your favorite seat, so as soon as the check-in opens, go for it.
That said, if you like standing up often, choose an aisle seat so, you can go to the bathroom or just stand up whenever you want disturbing no one.
Or maybe you are one of those who fall asleep as soon as the flight takes off (so jealous!) and in this case the best option is the window seat, with the bonus that you can rest your pillow on it.
If you need more space, the seats in the “emergency exit” or in the first rows are ideal, but you will have to pay for them.
On the other hand, if you are anxious about flying or tend to get dizzy, select seats located at the front of the plane, as turbulence is less intense.
2 – During the flight, wear comfortable clothing and footwear
It seems obvious, but I assure you it makes all the difference. It’s great to wear a cute look with high heels, but for this occasion … we’ll do without them.
I mean the heels, not the cool outfit… For a comfortable trip, your clothes should be loose-fitting and cover your legs (because of germs and the cold of the air conditioning).
Likewise, dress in layers. Usually, the temperature on the plane is freezing, but sometimes it’ s also warm enough, therefore you can regulate your body temperature.
It also is a good idea to have a scarf on hand to avoid, in the worst-case scenario, arriving at the destination with a hoarse voice.
As for shoes, the same applies. It is better if they are wide-fitting, although it is essential that you do not squeeze. The reason is that by sitting still for so long, the body swells.
Moreover, this is a good time to use compression stockings, as they help to improve circulation in the legs.
They work by gently squeezing them so that the blood circulates upwards. In this way, they prevent swelling of the legs and avoid forming the dangerous blood clots.
3 – Be hydrated, both inside and out
Aiming for a comfortable and healthy flight, it is crucial to stay hydrated during the flight to prevent dehydration and dry skin. You can accomplish this by drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol and coffee (as much as possible).
The best way to make sure you always have water at hand and avoid getting up repeatedly and asking the crew members again and again is to bring your own reusable water bottle.
4 – Eat light meals
One thing I like about the meals offered on the plane -I am referring to economy class- is that they are a culinary insight into what lies ahead of you in the country you are visiting.
However, it is better to opt for lighter dishes to avoid feeling heavy, since you will not be able to move much for hours. This will make digestion easier and you will sleep better.
On the other hand, foods high in salt and fat can cause stomach discomfort, and you should avoid this as much as possible.
5 – Watch out for air conditioning
Air conditioning at very low temperatures during flights can be extremely harmful, especially because it can make your throat sore and you may end up hoarse.
Wearing a scarf and having some warm clothes on hand are two ways to avoid this. For me, the blanket provided by the airline is often not enough.
6 – Bring your entertainment
Sure, the airplanes themselves usually offer entertainment in the form of individual screens loaded with music, games and movies.
However, you may be unfortunate enough to have a monitor that doesn’t work and the airline can’t do anything to fix it, or you just don’t feel like watching the movies and series in the airline’s catalog.
So, the best thing to do is to be prepared and bring your own movies or series, music, books and games. All this previously downloaded on your devices (tablet, ebook, mobile) and with the battery fully charged, since the number of USB ports on the plane is often limited.
7 – Move around and stretch
During long flights, you should do some exercise and stretching to improve blood circulation. For this reason, most airlines include a card with some exercises they recommend.
Some workout ideas that you can do:
On the seat:
Wiggling the toes, flexing and extending the legs, rotating the ankles, stretching the neck.
When you’re standing:
Besides taking a walk on the plane from time to time, you can contract your arms and legs to activate circulation.
Stand on tiptoe, raising your heel and stay in that position for 3 seconds. Rest your heel and repeat several times.
Remember, these exercises are only to loosen the body and stimulate the muscles to promote blood circulation. It is not about physical activity, sweating or anything like that.
8 – Look after your personal hygiene
Maintaining a good level of personal hygiene will help you feel more at ease on the plane. For example, carry a toiletry kit that includes a toothbrush, toothpaste, wet wipes and hand gel.
A moisturizing kit is also vital, since the humidity on the plane is lower than normal, between 10-20%, and the skin suffers as a result.
A face moisturizer, lip balm, eye drops, and even a hand cream will allow you to be more comfortable and also will not take up almost any space, since you can carry everything in travel or single-dose format.
9 – Bring a sleeping kit
Sleeping on the plane might not be a simple thing to do, even if you’re tired and bored and you’re in the mood for it.
If you are not one of those lucky individuals who sleep anywhere, you may find it tough to fall asleep with so many people around you, limited seat space and seat position (neither of which helps).
For this reason, it is useful to have at hand a sleeping travel kit containing a cervical pillow to avoid a bad neck posture or a dislocated neck when you bump your head, an eye mask to keep your eyes more relaxed; and finally some earplugs to isolate you from the environmental noise.
10 – Avoid very short stopovers
Intercontinental flights usually have one or two stopovers, and therefore it becomes necessary to allow enough time between connections. In this way, you will be able to disembark calmly without being aware of the clock and avoid the inconvenience of not arriving on time.
For example, in the worst-case scenario, it may happen that the first flight is delayed and you miss the next one.
You should also consider the extra time you will need if you have to go through a security check at the transit airport.
Therefore, be sure you have enough time to get off the plane, go through the checkpoints and reach the next boarding gate with peace of mind, which benefits your well-being.
11 – Reduce jet lag effects
As the time difference increases, jet lag becomes more noticeable. And jet lag is precisely this, the discomfort caused by the imbalance between your internal body clock and external circumstances.
Here, it results from crossing several time zones faster than your body can adapt. The consequences are sleep problems, fatigue and difficulty concentrating.
It usually lasts two to five days or sometimes longer. The truth is that there is not much you can do to counteract time zone changes.
What works best is to adjust to local time as soon as possible.
Let’s say you arrive at your destination at 9 a.m. and it’s 2 a.m. for you. Keep yourself active by doing all the activities you have scheduled for the day and then go to bed at night (or as late as possible).
Some actions you can take to smooth out jet lag effects
You can adjust your body clock one week before your trip in this way:
If you are traveling east, go to bed and get up one hour earlier each night. With westbound travel one hour later.
Also, before the flight, it is highly recommended to follow a healthy diet, do some exercise and do not drink alcohol as it can cause drowsiness.
When you arrive at your destination, try to expose yourself to the sun as often as possible, as sunlight boosts the melatonin production (the hormone responsible for regulating sleep) and improves your biological clock.
During the first day, avoid overeating. It is better to follow a light diet in order to relieve your digestive system.
As you adjust your schedule, try to control your sleep time. Sleeping less than 7 or 8 hours a night will make it more difficult for your body to readjust to the new time zone.
Your flight more comfortable and healthy, final thoughts
As you have noticed, you have several options to make your long-distance flight more comfortable and reduce the effects of jet lag.
In short, taking care of yourself on the plane during the flight is not the only thing you can do for your well-being; what you do in the days leading up to the trip and during the first few days at your destination is also very significant.
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