I realized I’d been in Australia too long when I dismissed the flight to Hawaii as “just 10 hours.” Before my 14-hour jaunt to Sydney, the longest flight I’d taken was nine hours to Europe from California. Now those cross-country and cross-Atlantic flights just seem like warm-ups for the real thing.
I’ve done about four to 10 long-haul flights a year since I was 16 (my carbon footprint is obnoxiously large, unfortunately), and I’ve got my anti-jet-lag, anti-dehydration, stay-in-as-good-a-mood-as-possible flying plan down to a science.
A glass of wine and Tylenol PM: I’m sure it’s not doctor-approved, but add in my iTunes sleep playlist and an eye mask, and I can sleep for six to eight hours at a time.
Request a special meal: If possible, I’ll request a vegetarian meal. There’s the added perk of being served first, and I’ll take a nice veggie lasagna dish over weird ground beef or dried-out chicken any day.
Bring an empty water bottle: I fill my Klean Kanteen up before heading to the airport and make sure to finish it before I head through security (in the States, it’s impossible to get liquids through the security checkpoint). Then I fill it up again in one of the food court stops in the terminal: just ask if they can hook you up with some free water. Staying hydrated…
Check what type of aircraft you’ll be on: There’s nothing as disappointing as assuming you’ll be watching movie after movie on your flight, only to board and realize that the aircraft doesn’t have individual entertainment screens. You’ll know whether to load up on movies and books, or whether to take your chances on the not-on-DVD-yet entertainment collection.
Walk and stretch: Take advantage of each time you get up to use the toilet to get your blood flowing and muscles moving. Walk to the back of the aircraft, touch your toes, stretch out your arms.
Get on schedule: To avoid jet lag, confirm what time of day you’ll be arriving in your destination. If you’ll be landing in the morning, try to get as much sleep as possible so that you don’t waste a day being jetlagged. If you’re arriving in the evening, stay up and keep busy so that you’ll be ready to get on a normal sleep schedule as soon as you get there.
And once you arrive, don’t account any time for being jet-lagged. Having social engagements as soon as I’m out of the airport forces me to be on-point—no random afternoon naps that mean I won’t be able to sleep that night.
What are your tips for surviving—and thriving on— long-haul flights?