I’ve flown quite a bit… most recently to India and Israel. Those are no short trips, either! Flying to India (from Tennessee) usually involves 4 airports, 3 flights, 10.5 time zones, and just under 30 hours of travel time from start to finish. Those trips make me really appreciate in-country flights!
From the traveling I’ve done, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks that help out on those overseas flights. Obviously, you will probably end up talking to someone sitting near you for a while, but you can only talk for so much of an 8+ hour flight. So here is what I do to keep my sanity on those lengthy flights:
1. Happy Snacks. Never underestimate the power of a little snack on a long trip. Sure, they feed you some on the planes, but the food doesn’t always smell good (or taste good!), or you’re stuck in an airport for 5 hours… or let’s face it, you can feel your blood sugar dropping and your mood right along with it. I find if I am starting to feel crabby for no reason whatsoever, a Happy Snack fixes that quickly. This is also great when you are in a foreign country and just need something familiar in your tummy. Some of my favorite things to take in my Happy Snack stash include:
(Hint: Target has some really great fruit leathers and trail mix – lots of great flavors and variety. That’s where I go to get mine… like this bag of trail mix.)
2. On the topic of food, you cannot underestimate the power of gum and mints. Your seat buddy will thank you for this! To also help fight horrible halitosis, you may want to consider bringing some of those little Wisps to brush your teeth with. They comply with the TSA’s rules for what can be carried on, and take up very little space. A small bottle of mouth wash is also a good idea. I know that when my mouth feels clean, overall I feel much cleaner.
3. A book, puzzles, and journal. I always bring a good book I can get lost in. I also like doing crosswords, word searches, and the like… so I always have one of those books on hand. They definitely help to alleviate some of the boredom and keep my mind busy. I keep a journal for each trip I go on; the airplane is a good place to write down any thoughts I’m having pre-trip, or catch up on any journaling I got behind on post-trip. These items are especially handy when your in-flight TV isn’t working… and especially when you are the only person whose in-flight TV isn’t working.
4. MP3 Player. A week before you leave, make sure to load it up with all of your current favorites. It can help to pass the hours, plus, if you have a screaming child nearby it will help drown out the sound so that you can catch a few zzz’s. A pair of noise-cancelling headphones is important to achieve this bliss.
5. Walk the aisles. If you have long legs like I do, it is hard to stretch out in the seats. So I find that pacing the aisles or standing at the back of the cabin can really help. When I was in college and we flew to Turkey for an interim course, a friend and I literally did laps around the plane. We walked up one aisle, through the flight attendants area, and down the other aisle. We went around and around for probably 20 minutes. We were also somewhat stir crazy since this was before the personal in-flight tvs.
6. Make friends with the flight attendants. On my last flight home from India, I literally was about to scream if I had to sit for one more minute. I wanted to flop out into the aisle, flailing and wailing. But since this would have probably gotten me in trouble with the flight attendants, not to mention the embarrassment factor, I restrained myself. Since everyone around me was sleeping, I decided that it was time to get up and move. So I wandered up to the front of my cabin where the flight attendants were hanging out. I struck up a conversation with two of them which went something like this:
Me: Is it ok if I stand here for a bit?
FA: Sure. Where are you flying to?
Me: Well, I just flew from India to London. Now I’m flying from London to Chicago. Then I have another flight to Tennessee.
FA (with huge eyes): Oh, honey! You stand here as long as you need to!!!
I spent the next hour hanging out near one of the emergency exit doors, talking to different flight attendants, and drinking as much juice and water as I wanted. It was great!
7. Sleep. Now this is something that I really struggle with on flights. I have a hard time getting comfy enough to even doze a little bit. But I have found that a neck pillow and a sleep mask make a huge difference! Plus putting my MP3 player on some relaxing music and sometimes I can manage a little snooze. If you are one that can sleep in mid-air though, I highly recommend napping as much as possible since it definitely helps to pass the time!
8. In-flight entertainment is also a big help to pass the time. Especially now that many planes have individual tvs where you can choose what movies or shows you would like to watch. But since I have had some bad experiences with the tvs not working correctly, it is a good idea not to rely solely on this to get you from Point A to Point B with your sanity in tact.
What are your tips to surviving long flights? What else do you do to help make the journey enjoyable?