long haul must-haves
'Tis the season to be jolly... and also the season for some seriously long flights. I did the math and I will have a 18+ hour travel day coming in just a few short days. I'm so excited to see my family and friends after months away (like, you guys seriously have no idea), but long-haul travel can take it right out of me. As my parents and sister can attest, I often get irritable, anxious and impatient when cooped up in an airplane or airport for more than a few hours. Let's be honest: airplanes are simply technologically advanced Greyhound buses launched into the sky at an alarming speed. The crew may be friendly, the passengers can all be on their absolute best behavior, and it can still suck. Our bodies are not used to being at that altitude, no matter how good the pressurization system is, so it's crucial to prepare for your flight in order to be as comfortable as possible. Here are a few things I bring in order to stay sane while careening through international airspace.
1. Noise-Cancelling Headphones
This should go without saying. Invest in an excellent pair of headphones or earbuds (my personal favorites are Bose or Beats by Dre) and let the noise of the aircraft melt away. You'll feel a whole new level of chill. Do a little research to find which ones work the best for you. I know some people love earbuds, but hate the over-the-ear bulk of a larger headphone. Go to a store and try a few pairs on before you invest, as this can get pricey, but the right pair is 100% worth it.
2. Water Bottle
Don't fly dehydrated. Nobody wins in that situation, and the airline's provision of roughly 4 oz. of liquid at a time is honestly not enough to keep an adult hydrated throughout their long flight. They do their best, but it would be impossible to keep up with. Here's my recommendation: bring an empty reusable water bottle with you through security and fill it up once you're close to your gate. That way you're ready to fly without dehydration headaches and are kind to the environment as well. This is one of those bulkier items in your carry on that you should never compromise on.
3. Lip Balm
Anyone who's ever had extremely chapped lips will know they are nearly impossible to ignore. Now imagine this 10000 times worse because you're in dry airplane air. Slather it on throughout the flight and it will make it that much more bearable. Side note: dry lips are also a sign of dehydration, so drink up to address the problem from both ends.
4. Giant Socks or Slippers
Nobody likes having their shoes on for so long, but friends, the airplane floor is one of the most disgusting places and nobody-- NOBODY-- should ever go barefoot on a plane. Bring your coziest, knobbiest pair of socks or a pair of slippers to change into so you have another option than your pair of leather boots that were too heavy to check into your luggage.
5. Nivea Creme
I have no idea why I didn't discover this sooner. Nivea creme has completely replaced so many items in my routine. I use it as a hand cream, face cream, face mask, and my skin has never looked better. If you've been around here for a while, you'll know I have adult acne, but I'm also prone to super dry skin. This has been the cross I've had to bear, but since I have switched to the little blue tin, I have noticed a definite change in my skin. I slather this on right after takeoff so my skin doesn't start to crack. If you haven't tried this, please do yourself a favor and pick up a tin at the drugstore. I keep a huge tub at my apartment and refill the smaller 1 oz. tin before each trip.
6. Toothbrush and Paste
This seems like a no-brainer, but seriously, guys. Nothing is worse than having a fuzzy mouth when you and. I typically brush my teeth right before boarding and then once again about an hour before landing. It's the simplest way to feel fresh before you get to baggage claim.
7. Blanket Scarf
It's a blanket. It's a scarf. You'll look great and feel cozy. Adding layers like this to your look is a surefire way to feel a little more fashionable, but also have a little more control over your personal body temperature. This weird thing happens to me on planes where I'm literally sweating bullets while we're on the tarmac but then I'll be freezing by the time we reach our cruising altitude, so adding this simple layer over a T-shirt or a thin sweater is the easiest way for me to not experience that awful clammy sweat feeling for the next seven hours.
8. Weighted Eye Mask
This is one of those things that I wasn't sure I was going to like, but ended up loving. I used this on the flight from Minnesota to Prague and I got the best sleep I've ever had on an airplane. The eye mask I have has a gel pack insert that makes it so soothing and fights puffy eyes that can happen on planes. It blocks out all light, so it doesn't matter if the person in front of me wants to read their novel for the whole redeye flight.
9. Meditation/White Noise App
While you may not be able to ignore the toddler kicking the back of your seat for two hours straight, you can approach it with a little more zen. I love the Calm app for meditation and also the RelaxMelodies app for customizable white noise. Pro tip: sleep for a few nights before your flight with the white noise app on or use sleep meditations before bed. This way you've established a routine so when you go through the same routine on the plane, you'll sleep like a baby and the jet lag won't affect you as badly. The good news is that these are free resources that are accessible for both iPhone and Android users.
10. Baby Wipes or Hand Sanitizer
We've all experienced the horror of not finding soap in a bathroom. This is especially disgusting on an airplane when you have 250 people with all their germs and don't have another option when it comes to washing up. I tend to prefer a baby wipe since it's not as drying on the skin and can also be used to clean your tray table before you eat or rest on it. We're all about products that pull double duty here-- save that space for the fun stuff!
You may want to pick a few of these things up for yourself-- but you likely have most of these things around your home already, so put together a little pouch of your must-haves for your next flight. Is there anything on your list that I missed? I'd love to hear about your own long-haul flight survival pack!