Top Tips and Travel Size Toiletries for Surviving a Long Haul Flight.
Chasing the sun in the winter means travelling further from home. If you’ve ever spent longer than a couple of hours on a plane then you will no doubt have felt the fatigue that is peculiar to flying. But use our top tips and travel size toiletries for surviving a long haul flight and you’ll arrive at your destination feeling ready to take on the world.
- Probably MOST IMPORTANT - Don’t get on the plane totally exhausted hoping you’ll sleep through it all. You probably won’t. Rest well before hand, if you’re excited or anxious and sleep is evasive, try herbal remedies (Kalms or Nytol) and essential oils (like lavender and geranium) to aid your relaxation - avoid too much alcohol, as you’ll end up feeling worse.
- Layers, Layers, Layers (and perhaps slippers!). Aeroplanes can get cold, also tiredness makes you cold. Dress in lightweight, loose, comfy layers and take a light scarf to help keep you snug. There may well be blankets on the plane, but you should check with the airline to be sure, as you’ll probably be glad of one. Wear really comfy shoes. If you’ve got your heavy boots on to save weight, consider taking your slippers, or a pair of slipper socks. Feet swell on planes.
Use Seat Guru to find the best seats on the plane, and try to book one of those when checking in for your flight - or at least try to avoid the worst ones! If you have the option of putting luggage in the hold, do it, carry as little on the flight as is practical, (unless you can afford to upgrade), you’re going to want every inch of space you can get & having stuff under the seat or in the seat pocket eats into valuable legroom. Pack just what your will need on the plane and in the airport - here's our list of travel size toiletries for keeping you feeling as fresh and comfortable as possible.
- Take stuff to do, but not just work. Unless you’re one of the blessed few (like my dad) who can sleep anywhere, you’re going to need something to pass the time whilst on the flight. Some work is fine, but don’t plan on getting lots don, as you’re going ot get tired. Bring a really good book, and if you have a tablet or smartphone, think about downloading a film or two, or some episodes of your favourite show - don’t forget to make sure all your devices are charged!. Find out about the onboard entertainment, it might be worth watching, but don’t rely on it, and don’t rely on aeroplane headphones, take your own, they’ll be better quality and more comfortable.
- HYDRATION! - this is really, REALLY important. Whenever you’re travelling, it’s easy to get dehydrated, as your usual routine goes out of the window. Don’t rely on those little mini cans of pop that the flight attendants deliver to keep you going. Take a refillable bottle with you - they’ll be happy to fill it with water on the plane for you. Drink plenty in the airport, try to minimise caffeine and alcohol, as both have a diuretic effect (they cause you to pee), making you lose water & generally feel kinda rough - and will make jetlag worse. If you can, get a couple of sports drink with electrolytes - for ease of carrying, you can get powder sachets to add to water - not all of them are awful. Drink one every 6 hours or so.
- Don’t stop moving (unless you’re asleep!). Whilst you’re in the air it’s important to keep your circulation going - DVT becomes more likely the longer the flight. Move your feet and legs every 15 minutes or so - pick your foot off the floor and rotate your ankle one way then the other; then point your toes for a count of 5 and pull your toes back towards you for a count of 5. Bend and straighten your leg (as much as possible) 5 times; then sit with your foot flat on the floor and lift your knee towards your chest 5 times. Repeat all with the other leg. You should get out of your seat and walk up and down the aisle at least every couple of hours, the flight attendants won’t mind, though try to be considerate of your seat neighbours, they won’t appreciate you climbing over them if they are trying to sleep!
- Take your own food . I don’t know about you, but I think most plane food is pretty awful (though I’ve only ever flown economy). I always take my own food with me. I try to be considerate of others on the flight, and not take anything that smells strongly. I like a mix of unsalted/unsweetened nuts and dried fruit for munching on. I also usually take a sandwich or a salad in a disposable box, and sometimes a fruit salad. Cereal bars are a good choice too, though too many carbs isn’t a plan, as they can cause bloating, and make you uncomfortable. I try to avoid crisps - salt only adds to the dehydration, and I leave chocolate alone too, as the sugar and caffeine aren’t brilliant choices if you’ve got to sit in a large tin can for several hours.
- Prepare yourself for sleep. Sounds simple, but if you do your best to follow your usual bedtime routine before you try to sleep, you will probably find it a bit easier to drop off - in the same way that a bedtime routine works for babies and young children. Use your face wipes to clean your face and neck, removing the daily grime and any makeup, brush your teeth and moisturise your face, neck and hands (to beat the drying effect of aeroplane air). Adjust your clothing (add or remove layers) - you might want to take your shoes off, for added comfort - take a pair of slipper socks to help keep you cosy. Many frequent fliers swear by an eye mask and earplugs to shut out the other passengers. You might also want a travel pillow, to make you more comfortable - check out last week’s blog on the best travel pillows. You could also try listening to some soothing music on your headphones.
- Whether or not you managed to get some shut-eye, about an hour and a half before landing, you should work through your morning routine - it’ll help you mentally shift to your new timezone & may lessen jetlag. Use your face wipes, brush your teeth, shave, moisturise, apply deodorant, brush and dry-shampoo your hair if you feel like it (use the bathroom if you’re spraying stuff, your seat neighbours won’t thank you for spraying them too). Drink some water and have something to eat - even if you don’t feel like much, a handful of nuts and dried fruit will give you an energy boost, without weighing you down (dried fruit is very good for - how to put this delicately… keeping you ‘regular’!) . Now is the time to have caffeine if you want it.
- Stretch! When you land, walk at a leisurely pace to baggage claim, then whilst you’re waiting for your luggage, use your time to do some simple stretches - you’ve been cooped up for hours, it will boost your circulation, making you feel more alert and less achey.
BackStand with your hips shoulder width apart and bend forward as though going to touch your toes. Hang your hands, shoulders, head and neck loosely like that for a count of 5, then slowly straighten up.
Shoulders/armsRoll your shoulders forwards 5 times, then backwards 5 times. Put one arm straight out in front of you, then stretch it across your body. Hold it in place with the opposite arm (above or below the elbow, not on) for a count of 5. Move the arm that is stretched across your body, stretch it straight up, then bend your elbow and put your hand behind your head and neck. Use your opposite hand to gently grasp your elbow and pull it to increase the stretch. Repeat with the other arm.
Neckdrop your chin to your chest, then slowly roll your head right and left 5 times then all the way round in each direction, once.
LegsTake your left leg one pace forward, bend your left knee and move your weight over it. Keep you right leg straight with your right heel flat on the floor, hold for a count of 5. Repeat with your right leg.
Legs together, bend your knees slightly and move your left foot forward until your left leg is straight. Bend forward at the hips and lean on your bent right leg to stretch out your calf. Hold for a count of 5, then lift the toes of your left foot off the floor to stretch your hamstring and the back of your knee. Swap legs and repeat.
Next find something to hold onto, and standing on one leg, pull your opposite foot up towards your bum, keeping your knees together. This stretches your quadriceps at the front of your leg.
Pelvis/groinSit on the floor (or wherever you’re comfortable) put your feet together, and pull them into your body, as close as is comfortable keeping them on the floor. When your knees are bent, relax your legs and let your knees fall outwards, keeping your feet together. You can use your elbows or hands to gently push your knees a little closer to the floor. Hold for a count of 5
ButtocksFinally, lie down on the floor (you might want to save this one until you get to your destination), slide your left foot along the floor towards your bum, until leg is comfortably bent. Place your right ankle on your left knee, and grasp your left thigh, just below. Lift your left foot off the floor and pull your left leg gently towards your body. Hold for a count of 5. Switch legs and repeat.
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