The longest flight the boy and I have ever taken was 16 hours from DC to Johannesburg on South African Airways. And let me tell you, if the boredom from being on a flight that long doesn’t kill you, being in a metal tube filled with germs just might.
There is nothing worse than coming back from a relaxing vacation with the coronavirus.
Flying in the air cramped with a few hundred strangers, breathing recycled air mixed with germs and bacteria, eating processed food isn’t exactly the healthiest of activities. Add to that, flying through multiple time zones and sitting in an uncomfortable seat (for those of us not living that business class lifestyle) will leave you feeling exhausted and dehydrated when you get to your destination.
So here are some tips I’ve learned throughout the years that have helped me and the boy stay relatively healthy during our travels and arrive to our destination in moderate spirits.
Flying is stressful. I’ll just say it. And you may not be able to get some meaningful sleep on the plane so making sure you are well rested the night before your flight will help you cope with the stress of TSA lines, passport control, and the drama of finding an outlet to charge your phone.
Getting an adequate amount of rest can help your immune system fight off all the germs you’re about to walk into and help improve your mood.
If your flight is early in the morning, try packing as soon as you’re able to. I am the queen of a last minute packing situation. I often lie to myself and say I will have the time/energy/patience to pack the night before I leave. But often I find myself in the middle of a pile of clothes at 2am singing to 90s R&B.
If you happened to score an afternoon or evening flight, try to take it easy during the day. Engage in some relaxing activities or get some exercise, if you’re into that sort of thing.
One of the things I love about long haul international flights is the day drinking. However, drinking heavily at 30,000 feet can cause some issues to your system. You can become severely dehydrated, the altitude can make you feel (and seem) drunker than you are. And if you’re an angry drunk this can cause some issues. Nobody wants to be the person to cause the plane to randomly land in Wyoming or be handcuffed in the back of the plane with the Air Police.
While I enjoy drinking wine during my flights, I make sure that I drink lots of water. Given that the plane is typically a dry environment, coupled with the diuretic effects of alcohol, this increases the chances for dehydration moreso than if you were on the ground.
Be one hydrated mofo
Even if you aren’t drinking alcohol on the plane, you should be drinking lots of water. I bring my reusable water bottle and fill it before getting on the plane and make sure I bug the flight attendants for more water throughout the flight.
NOTE: Please please PUHLEEZE do not full your water bottle in the airplane’s bathroom tap. Don’t go getting E-coli on account of poor judgement.
How much water you drink is up to you. But you should at least be drinking enough to have you going to the restroom every few hours.
Which leads me to my next tip…
Get to steppin’
Now, I am of the age where I have to worry about ailments such as blood clots that have me researching the best compression socks for circulation. I also make it a point to get an aisle seat so that I can get up and walk every couple of hours. Drinking a lot of water helps with this.
I also do gentle stretches while at my seat and make sure that I don’t cross my legs for long periods of time. Some airlines have exercises you can do at your seat to increase circulation, just check the in-flight magazine or entertainment system to check them out.
You may also want to invest in some compression stockings to further reduce your chance of developing deep-vein thrombosis and blood clots. They are relatively inexpensive and they have some cute styles these days.
Hand sanitizer is your friend
I shouldn’t have to tell you the importance of washing your hands and whatnot. But the truth is that there are some nasty people in this world and not everyone washes their hands after leaving the bathroom. I sat near the bathroom on a recent flight and I can’t tell you how many times I DIDN’T hear the sink after someone flushed. Just gross.
Hand sanitizer not only helps keep your hands clean, but if you have the spray kind it works to sanitize the surfaces you and your kids will be touching for the next few hours. Just spray a little around and wipe with a napkin or wait for it to dry and you’re good to go!
I use Dr. Bronner’s Organic Hand Sanitizer (I also use the castile soap and their biodegradable cleaning solution). It’s 2 ounces and small enough to meet TSA regulations. Plus the lavender scent can help calm your nerves thinking about all the germs you’re sitting in.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to spray down the window and window shade!
Use that little vent
While that overhead vent can be a little annoying and hard to get the air flow just right, it can help to circulate fresh-ish air into your general region. Doing this can help deflect some of the germs making it’s way around the cabin of the plane.
If you can’t tolerate having the air on your face, you can also wear a disposable surgical mask. While these are very common in Asia, more people are wearing them on planes to avoid getting sick and you should be able find some pretty cool ones on Amazon.
Comfort over everything
While I know many people want to be stylish in the airport and not look like you just rolled out of bed, I like to be comfortable when taking long haul journeys. I tend to wear comfortable clothing and avoid wearing restrictive or tight clothing. I also wear layers because the temperatures on the plane can go from cold to hot in an instant.
If you have to dress fancy, bring a pair of tights and a hoodie to change into during the flight while you sleep and change back into your clothes before you land.
Honorable mention: Moisturize your situation
As I mentioned before, planes can be very dry. I keep my face moisturized with rosewater and witch hazel (thank you Trader Joes!) and make sure I keep my homemade facial moisturizer that is a mix coconut oil, jojoba oil, and almond oil in my carry on or purse. Also, Lush’s Lemon Fluffer cuticle cream. I use it as a concentrated hand cream that really helps me get through long flights after washing my hands.
Saline nasal spray also helps keep me from snoring due to dry nasal passages. Nobody wants to hear the symphony of chain saws during an overnight flight.
In addition to drinking copious amounts of water, it is important to moisturize your skin so that you don’t arrive at your destination looking like an extra from The Walking Dead.
Disclaimer: Know that some of the links listed above are affiliate links. And if you click on them to make a purchase, I do receive a small commission. But know that anything I have I have mentioned above, I personally have tried and absolutely vouch for.