I’m not saying I’m an expert at this whole flying thing but I dare say after 23 years of regular travel both domestic and internationally I have finally figured out what works best for me.
My journey to Buenos Aires was an unnecessarily long one. I booked a flight to BA that went via Santiago (expected) but then the kicker was going through Lima, Peru (which just doesn’t make sense). Its kind of like going Sydney to Brisbane via Adelaide.
So as I write this I have been travelling for 33 hours and about to board my last leg to BA (Oh the things you will do for a cheap fare) that will add another 6 hours on. Yet, surprisingly I’m feeling relatively unscathed and optimistic.
I’ve collated my top tips on how to make your journey as healthy and balanced as possible. The stress of travel coupled with high altitudes, cabin pressure and temperature changes can really throw your body out and if you don’t treat it right throughout the journey you can knock yourself around for the start of your holi-yay!
Tip 1: The window seat vs Bathroom dilemma
Everyone knows you have to drink plenty of water when you travel but yet the dilemmas run through your head of having a window seat and not wanting to get up and wake the person next to you 10 times or being uncomfortable in an aisle seat. You have a few options here either 1. Sit with your mate and then at least you’re only annoying them 2. Be a dick and wake up old mate next to you or you can do as I do and opt for number 3. On long haul flights (over 8 hours) I’ve sacrificed the window seat for an aisle seat so I can get up insane amounts of times with no troubles.
In Sydney I buy two bottles of water just after security, I drink one while I’m still in the airport then refill throughout the terminal. I go through maybe 2.5 litres from before boarding to getting off and, if you decide to have a couple of glasses of vino (like I do) then you get to drink more! On that note.
Tip 2: Don’t get (too) drunk
If you drink before or while you’re on the plane my advice is in very moderate amounts. I normally have two glasses of red wine, one before boarding and one with the first meal. It puts me to sleep pretty nicely BUT for every one drink = one 700ml bottle of water. The dehydrating effects of alcohol are amplified on a plane and nobody wants to wake up feeling a little bit seedy on a plane.
Tip 3: It’s an aisle not a catwalk, take your make-up off
As soon as we have taken off and that seat belt sign comes off so does my make up. I always carry gentle make-up wipes to remove any dirt and impurities. Your face doesn’t need anything on it that will potentially dry it out for a long flight. I apply my night-time moisturiser which is super heavy and paw paw to my lips. My skin dries out when I fly (as I’m guessing most people’s do), cabin pressure and constant aircon pumping through aren’t great for the skin so plan accordingly (I use Aesop Primrose Hydrating Cream).
Tip 4: Avoiding the swole
Not normally something I would advise against but avoiding swelling (especially ankles and feet) is critical to not only prevent serious medical conditions like DVT but also to save yourself the discomfort and embarrassment of cankles (when your calves and ankles become one). I will not travel long-haul without my trusty compression knee-high socks . I may look like a bit of a dork (especially when I put on my flip-flops on to go to the bathroom) but since I bought them, cankles be gone!
I know the airlines give you some brief advice about doing stretches when you’re seated, rolling your ankles etc. but nothing beats a bit of a walk and stretch out. I don’t advise doing a full yoga flow but some basic calves, quads, hip flexor, back and neck stretches go a long way. The emergency exit area in the middle of the plane with the bathrooms are generally a great place for this kind of activity (you never know the cute talent you may see along the way, or in my case an obscene amount of middle-aged Chilean women and one guy who didn’t get the memo that we weren’t doing a ‘where’s wally’ dress-up theme).
Tip 5: Be careful of that food baby
Probably the most important tip. If your body can be a little funny with gluten or dairy, a plane/airport is not the place to be testing fate with this one. Even though I’m vegetarian and have been getting special meals since I was 12 I advise everyone to do this. Not only do you get your meal about 20 minutes before everyone but the airlines have really started to step up their game.
I’ve been feeling my way through the extensive list of different types of vegetarian and I have so far not been disappointed. My latest experiment had me with Asian/Indian Vegetarian special meal request purely in hope that the meal would revert away from the dairy and gluten fest that is a typical western vegetarian meal. This choice was probably one of my better ones; I was given gf and df snacks and bread, my meal was rice based and I even received soy milk for my coffee/tea and lactose-free butter, good job Qantas.
The snacks were primarily natural and some even raw treats. I still remain mindful though of my carbohydrate intake and steer away from fruit and desserts. My reasoning? Your body is not using any energy to be sedentary for an extended period. The body does not need to overload on carbs to function and an increased calorie intake is super unnecessary for this journey unless you plan on hitting up a quick 10km run in between terminals. Your body also doesn’t have the ability to digest carbohydrate rich food like it would if you were mobile. By reducing carbs on a plane you will also reduce fluid retention and help to reduce bloating.
Tip 6: When you get off the plane move, move, MOVE!
Your body has been cramped up and in a ball for an obscene amount of hours so don’t opt for a seat in the terminal during transit or the escalators if stairs are nearby. Take every opportunity you get to stretch out those muscles and joints. All I need is a small floor space and I put on a 25 minute yoga stretching video (this is the one I use; Yoga Stretching).
Tip 7: Movies are great but jetlag is a bitch
Last tip. Do your research and figure out when you arrive to determine if you’re better off to stay awake or sleep on the plane. There isn’t any reason to stay up and watch movies all trip if you arrive at 8am to your destination and have a full day ahead of you. Fight the jetlag from the very beginning. If you’re expected to sleep for the journey and not great on planes then wake up earlier on your flight day or do a training session (no heavy weights or much to do with legs) to tire yourself out a little. I personally avoid chemical assistance; I used to take valium every flight but ended up knocking myself out only to wake up feeling groggy and dehydrated.
Be kind to your body when you’re travelling, make sure you treat it better than you would in your everyday life.