If there’s one thing in life I have lot’s of experience with, that is flying long haul. I sometimes feel like the woman version of Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets. OCD basically. I have perfected the art of passing security scans, lifting cabin luggage to the overhead compartments, maximizing your luggage allowance and providing myself with as much comfort as the economy class allows.
People ask me a lot how do I survive, so here’s my list of essential tips and equipment you should carry with you to survive on a long flight.
This is THE most important thing I learnt through the years. The long exposure to the dry air of the cabin has devastating effects on my hair and skin. My eyes, my nose, my throat, even my nails suffer badly. The lack of humidity also also contributes to other discomforts one can live without.
- Moisturize from the outside. Carry at least lip balm, and face lotion. Even my boyfriend The Troglodyte does! I also carry body lotion, face mist, nose spray, hand lotion and Strepsils for the throat. Get travel sizes, samples or just pour your own into small containers like these ones I buy in Muji. Avoid wearing make up and before boarding apply a thick layer of night cream on your face (I pick from high end Duty Free testers) When you start feeling the tightness, go on and apply from your stock generously.
- Moisturize from the inside. Drinking lots of water helps the skin issue and prevents the other two big ‘dementors’ of flying: water retention and constipation. I carry my own small water bottle that I refill as often as possible because they never serve enough water on flights. Yes, you read properly, you can actually pass a water bottle through security as long as it’s empty. Avoid ice water, and opt for an apple juice instead of coffee or alcohol, they dry you up even more!
If you don’t want to end up like a raisin add these to your bag and you will not regret it.
2 – WEAR COMPRESSION LEGGINGS
They should give a pack of these to every person walking into the plane, seriosyly. Without going too deep into the science, flying is not very good for your blood circulation. Women tend to be particularly sensitive to this. It used to take me days to get rid of the water retention, the discomfort and swelling of the knees, ankles and even wrists and fingers. Now I don’t even get it. I started using Dr Scholl’s compression leggings, but later I bought some exercise leggings and discovered they are so much more comfortable because they have softer parts on the knees. I have the A400 model from Skins but they get a little tight on the belly when you sit down for too long, so I’m considering the Under Armour Woman’s Fly By Legging. They have a big waist similar to yoga pants. I wear the compression leggings under comfy cotton harem pants to stay stylish.
3- STAY WARM
A big scarf that doubles as a shawl and a blanket can save your life. Sometimes I even wear it over my head since we lose a lot of heat from there. This pink one from Shanghai Tang is a perfect blend of silk and cashmere that’s soft, warm and light. I have a very similar one from a previous collection.
Try to keep your lower back, neck and feet covered. A pair of thermal socks can also help if you tend to get cold feet. I like Heattech from Uniqlo and I wear them under the ones they usually give you on the flights. They are thin but warm. When it gets really really cold and two pairs of socks plus blanket don’t do the job, the ultimate trick is to put your wrapped feet inside the plastic bag of the blanket. I think the idea came to me in a moment of absolute desperation and this trick has saved me several times from frostbite!
4- CARRY YOUR OWN SNACKS
A cereal bar, a piece of fruit or something else to eat between meals. They tend to serve one meal right after take off, and one before landing. In the 7-10 hours in between you are by yourself. There’s only light snacks and it’s like war, the good stuff tends to run out quickly. You don’t want to be cold , tired, bored and hungry on top of that so add that to your bag.
Carry enough things to keep you busy in case the movie selection is is not good, and you have a long day flight without any chance of having a long sleep. Use the time to read, meditate and enjoy the smartphone disconnection. If you are hyperactive, coming up soon, you will have my full guide of ‘in flight entertainment tips for long day flights’ for people that have ants in their pants
Until then, safe journeys!