Given I’m in the process of packing my life into a suitcase + preparing for another long haul flight for the 10th time in 10 years I thought I’d share some insights that I’ve picked up on how to manage + minimise the effects of long-haul flying. Having lived in different continents over the years + hailing from New Zealand I’ve had to become accustomed to long-haul travel + I’ve learnt a few tricks along the way. Unfortunately some of us don’t get the pleasure of flying business class or better… therefore flying cattle class can be hard work! My most recent travel was in May/June this year which involved quite possibly the most difficult route in the world from Nairobi, Kenya to Kauai, Hawaii. Four flights each way + some mind boggling hours later we successfully circumnavigated the earth (don’t mention the carbon emissions!) So how do you survive, what tips + tricks can I share + how can you embrace long-haul flights in the future? Being organised goes a long way to making your travels that much more enjoyable.
Before you fly;
- Fly with the same airline- goes without saying really but despite the potential increase in cost it’s definitely worth the extra dollars when you arrive at X Airport at god only knows what time for the airline to know exactly where you need to go + how much time you have- especially if it’s a tight turn around. Having an easy transit can relieve a lot of stress!
- Choose seats- when checking in online most long-haul flights allow you to choose your seats (sadly these days airlines don’t offer up exit row seats etc. unless you are a) lucky, b) a preferential customer or c) willing to pay extra). So get in early + depending if you like aisle or window (aisle is supposedly better from a solar radiation perspective which interferes with your circadian rhythm amongst other things) you can choose back or front of the plane, upper or lower (according to the plane) 2, 3, 4 configuration etc. check out Seat Guru for full details of your flight/plane.
- Pre-order food- if you’re going to eat airline food, most long-haul flights (although sometimes at a cost) offer a range of meal options from Halal, vegan, Kosher & raw to gluten-free, dairy-free + low-sugar. It’s best not to eat airline food at all so if possible take your own, eat on the ground (sometimes not ideal either) or don’t eat at all! But if you’re in a situation where it’s simply not possible to prepare food for 4 flights then pre-ordering is the way to go. You not only get your choice but you also get your food first.
- Green juice- before you fly (+ during/after) drink a green juice + start hydrating before it’s too late. A green juice will provide you with lots of antioxidants to counter all the radiation absorbed whilst flying + carrying a drink bottle with you to refill on board or in transit will ensure you keep your fluids up! Just make sure it’s empty when you go through security or you’ll have a bit to drink if you want to keep your bottle.
On the go;
- Yoga- in transit or if you’re not up for that some stretches will suffice. Getting blood flowing from holding a downward dog can do wonders for your circulation + post flight (c)ankles. I take things one step further + travel with a foam roller to get out any knots + generally limber up. Who cares what other travellers think- secretly they’ll be jealous. Besides doing some quick poses + enjoying a light meditation at the end can help you be iN TUNE with your body + how you’re feeling half way across the world.
- Meditate- when flying you often have time on your hands- before boarding, before take off + landing, when the entertainment system hasn’t started up/closed down/when the annoying flight announcements are in progress + when transiting etc. Tune out from all that’s going on around you + allow yourself the chance to quieten your mind. It’s also an opportunity to be iN TUNE with your feelings in particular your sleep deprived body. Meditating in fact can help you sleep better or replace sleep as you place your body in a restorative state.
- Disconnect- airlines these days offer wi-fi + the opportunity to watch live news etc. whilst in the air. Resist the temptation to tune in + give yourself some time out from emails, texts, social media- everyday life! Take time to catch up with your flying companion (if you have one) write new goals, read a book, catch up on movies etc.
- Listen to your body- once you land it’s going to take a while for your body to adjust to the new time zone, environment + detox from all the solar radiation, dehydration, sleep deprivation + insufficient nutrients from food. So take it easy + listen to the signals your body is giving you whilst balancing your need to adjust to your new location. If you travel across timezones your body is going to be hungry at all sorts of weird hours so that amongst other things (regular bowel motions) are going to make you feel off.
- Dose up on vitamins- once you arrive get out + soak up as much vitamin D as you can (weather dependent obviously) this will not only make you feel better getting some fresh air but will also help you adjust your body to a new circadian rhythm. Vitamin C is another great thing to dose up on before, during + after flying. Planes are notorious places for bugs + the last thing you want before your holiday has even started is to get sick! If travel/holidays for you are anything like they are for me, they come at stressful times when your body is not in optimal health. Therefore upping your vitamin C intake can assist with starving off any sickness.
- Have fun- be a kid again + reignite the fun of flying! Watch the city/airport you’re leaving behind fade away as you float through clouds into the sunset (if you’re lucky + take off on time you can witness a double sunset!) Enjoy the experience from packing to arriving, making sure you’re organised + present so you can take it all in as memories in your mind, not just your phone.