A “How To” On Surviving Long Flights

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The problem with flying is that nothing about it seems, well, logical. The prospect of stuffing oneself into a combustible, steel contraption that launches into a groundless abyss can be quite daunting and almost absurd. But yet we do it, some of us once a year, others, every six months or so, and then there are those who can tell you what’s on the menu — or more appropriately the “snack list” if you’re flying a U.S. airline — because “16F” has become their second residence.

If you are reading this fascinating post you are most likely a traveler, or at the very least someone who aspires to travel. Unfortunately, in many cases, there is no escaping a rendezvous with the big, bad flying machine if the urge to explore far beyond the confines of the neighborhood park exists, so we might as well just embrace the turbulence, crappy food, floating snot molecules,  busted TV screens and “reclining” seats, and try to make the flight as pleasant as possible.

ABC News recently listed some flight survival tips for lengthy travel. As someone who has flown for 19 hours straight, I can tell you that there is a terrible difference between annoying, short flights and the kind of flight where you’re popping baby aspirin to ward off deep-vein thrombosis. So, as these tips can be helpful to all travelers, those planning half-way rtw ventures should pay special attention.

I won’t bore you with the common sense stuff like packing travel-size versions of necessary liquid carry-on items such as moisturizers, hand sanitizer, throat spray, and Aqua Net (yes, some people still find this a necessity), but I will remind you to place each item in a plastic bag as so not to disrupt the flow of traffic through security checks. (You don’t want to cause a back up at the conveyor belt as the security guard jolts your bag back and forth through the x-ray scanner searching for the suspicious looking bottle of nail polish.)

If you do forget to follow the Transportation Security Administration’s carry-on guidelines and end-up getting frisked, you may need some Xanax before take-off. Which leads me to another important flight survival tip: bring lots of medicine. There are a plethora of things that can irritate your body while flying great distances. Indigestion is a very common, very uncomfortable, very obnoxious (if you know what I mean) thing to have. Medically speaking, as quoted from my doctor, I.B. Kurin, “gases in the abdomen tend to expand when pressure drops” so bring something to soothe this issue for your sake, and the sake of those around you. Ciproflaxin is also good to have just in case you come in contact with any nasty bacterial infections; it will require a prescription, so think ahead.

Nowadays most of us have some sort of ADHD, due to overexposure of constant stimulation, so it is important to bring what I call “pastimers”: books, gadgets, crosswords, crochet materials, and coloring books (for the kids, that is). Walk around as much as possible and do 15-20 heel raises every hour when sitting. Snack on some healthy, non-perishable food that you packed at home throughout the flight, washing it down with lots of non-caffeinated—non alcoholic—liquid.

Lastly, go to any and all lengths to avoid sitting in the last row next to the restrooms, otherwise I can assure you that rest will not be a part of your journey. The most high tech of pillows, eye covers and noise-canceling headphones will not be able to save you from the wretched fumes and constant rumble of flushing. The article recommends using SeatGuru to figure out the “seatmap” of your flight before purchasing your tickets. And always remember it could be worse. You could not be flying at all, still stuck at the park with your dog, stepping in the same goopy gum you always manage to tread over. So suck it up, fasten your seat-belt and pop some TUMS —you’re off to see the world.

[Photo by: JorgeBrazil/Flickr]

By Maria Russo


About the Author

Maria Russo is a freelance writer who loves natural wonders, good eats, ethical travel, and boutique hotels. Her work has appeared on the Huffington Post, USA Today.com, People.com and A Luxury Travel Blog, among others.


When Maria is not writing for her all-time favorite site (that would be The Expeditioner), she spends her time blogging about foreign jaunts and delectable food experiences for her site: Memoirs of a Travel & Food Addict. She is also up to no good on Twitter (@traveladdictgrl, @expedmaria).

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