If you don’t happen to know someone with a private jet or have a generous friend who plies you with first class plane tickets, here are some handy hints to make long haul travel a little more bearable.
Planes normally cruise at between 30-38,000 feet (9,000-11,500 meters) but are pressurised to the equivalent of 6-8,000 feet (1,800-2,400 meters). So, that affects our bodies in various ways – here are a few practical and realistic tips on how to combat this to make your flight as enjoyable and as comfortable as possible.
This is true for both body and skin. By all means have an alcoholic drink on the plane, but understand that one drink is much more potent at altitude. Counter this by having at least one glass of water for every alcoholic drink. Fruit juice, herbal teas, and especially water, are the best things to drink.
Ideally, bring some moisturiser and lip balm with you – I know lots of people, men especially, can’t be bothered – but it is worth it! Lots of stores do travel size everything now, so check out the Boots or other pharmacies at the airport. Companies like Evian do a lovely water misting spray that comes in travel size too (ie under 100ml). A quick spray of this on your face refreshes you and is a good idea to use throughout the flight and especially before arrival. Otherwise, go and splash your face in the bathroom.
Consider What You’re Eating
Airlines love to ply you with salty snacks like peanuts and pretzels, these just add to dehydration and increased salt intake can make you feel bloated. If you’re super organised, bring your own salt-free versions – but realistically you’re in a huge rush and not that organised, so just be aware of what you’re eating and that salty snacks are served with alcohol to make you drink more!
Many airlines let you select your meal type in advance, which often includes a lighter option. Others offer lighter options in flight, so at least you have the choice.
Clothing and Footwear
Long haul flights especially can make you feel bloated and uncomfortable, so best to avoid those brand new skin-tight jeans. Wear clothing that is comfortable, breathable and lets you move. Obviously, your choice is dictated by what you are doing at your destination, and the temperature. Several layers of light, crumple proof clothing would be the ideal scenario. Breathable microfibre is good, as is comfortable denim, as these don’t crease. Leggings and tunics work too, as do wrap dresses. Unless you’re going for the creased look, avoid linen and pale coloured cotton. If this is all too much, try to select bottoms that are not too tight and don’t crease too badly, tops that you can pull on and off easily and maybe a scarf, wrap or shawl as it can get quite chilly.
If you need to wear a suit – take the jacket off when you get on the plane and either ask the airline staff to hang it up, or lay it on top of your carry-on in the overhead bin.
As for shoes, remember that your feet can swell up on a plane, so a well worn in pair of shoes that aren’t too tight and have some give, lace-ups or trainers too. It’s relaxing to kick your shoes off, provided you can get them back on again. A pair of socks is a good idea, and then you can wander around the plane comfortably, without getting dirty feet.
If you can, try to move around a little, even if it only moving your feet, doing some shoulder raises or going to the loo a few times. Try not to stay in the same position too long. It helps if you have an aisle seat, then you can move around at your leisure; you may be disturbed by your fellow passengers, but at least you’re in control. It’s also easier to stretch your legs.
Get Some Shut-Eye
If you are able to, get some sleep. This is a good way to relax, catch up on some rest and pass the time. If you have noise cancelling earphones, they are brilliant, or at least a pair of those squashy foam earplugs to block out the racket from the screaming child in 23B. An eye mask can also help. You can buy inflatable, or squishy neck cushions – these are usually light and can make a lot of difference to your comfort. Or roll up that scarf and use that to rest your head on. Listen to some soothing music on your iPod or phone.
If you have trouble sleeping and don’t have a friendly pharmacist to give you some sleeping pills, you can get some herbal sleep aids over the counter – even at the airport, so worth asking. Otherwise, try running through some version of your evening routine, like reading a book, cleansing your face, brushing your teeth, removing your contact lenses etc. Facial wipes and/or make-up removal wipes are perfect for this. They don’t eat into your liquid allowance, they take up no room, are versatile and can also be used to freshen you up once you’ve woken up; then you throw them out.
Just Before You Land
To get you freshened up again ready for the next part of your journey, the facial wipes come in handy. Brushing your teeth and a spritz with the Evian mist will help you to feel more awake. Or you can use some hand sanitiser; its cold freshness will help perk you up.
If space allows and depending on how long you’ve been travelling, you could try and shave, as it will immediately make you feel more awake. Ladies, re-apply some basic make-up if it makes you feel more human. And splash on a little fragrance or deodorant to make you feel fresher.
Essential Kit To Bring With You
- Plastic zip seal bag to put your liquids in
- Noise cancelling headphones or ear plugs
- Eye mask
- Large scarf or shawl
- Neck cushion
- Socks if you’re not already wearing some
- iPod/music/Kindle/reading material
- Moisturising cream – if you bring facial moisturiser, you can use it all over your body. Steamcream, which comes in a metal tin, is perfect for the job. An all over cream, that smells great and is within the liquid limit
- Lip balm
- Fragrance or deodorant – next time you are in a department store, ask for some samples
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Facial wipes
- Make-up essentials – mascara and lipstick. Some brands now do travel sized mascara, eg Benefit
- Shaving kit – regular disposable razors are allowed on planes
- Facial mist, such as Evian (handy for travel in hot places too).