We travel, all over the world, frequently. Sometimes the stress of travel is unavoidable but there are some things that can be done to minimize the plane drain. Already purchased your travel insurance, showing up to airport early, and getting text alerts from your airline? Good work.
Here are a few other travel tips to help make the long haul feel as short as possible:
1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate -- We’ve all been there, you’re rushing so hard to grab that last essential, stuff it in the right spot, and still make your flight, that you forget to hydrate. Don’t do it. Dehydration is a major issue when traveling by airplane. The problem arises from spending long periods of time in a climate-controlled environment where the relative humidity can be as low as 10-15%. That’s three times drier than the Sahara desert!
Bring a vessel, chug before you go through security, and fill up in the terminal before you board. Some airlines will give you a bottle of water, or fill up your container on board, but if they only give you that oh-so-small small plastic cup you can finish before they even walk away, don’t be shy about asking to fill it as often as you see them.
2. Kick That Cold-- It’s best to avoid flying if you have a head cold. Changes in cabin pressure upon take-off, landing, and during pressure changes while in the air, can cause debilitating pain and in some cases cause permanent damage to your inner ears and hearing. Also, research shows that if you sit within two rows of someone sick on a plane you are at a 3.6 percent increased risk of getting it, so your neighbors will certainly thank you for staying home.
However, if you must fly while congested there is a protocol you can follow to reduce the discomfort. Decongestants like Sudafed work to reduce swelling around your eustachian tubes, giving the ear more of a shot at equalizing. Best to take one of the long-acting brands that lasts 12-hour or 24-hours, an hour before takeoff. Really stuffed up? A nasal spray such as Afrin, taken 30 minutes before takeoff and then 30 minutes before descent, can help shrink swollen tissues, too.
3. Get Loose-- So plane dehydration is real and if you’re really being good you should drink only water and avoid dehydrating liquids like tea, coffee, soda, and--yes--alcohol. BUT if you find that a little nip is what makes that 12th hour in the same position a little more bearable, there’s something you should know. You may not have to pay whatever arm and a leg the airport and airline will try to charge you for it!
In fact, TSA rules state that, “Travelers may carry as many 3.4 ounce bottles of liquid (mini bottles of liquor are 1.7 ounces) that fit comfortably in one, quart sized, clear plastic, zip-top bag. Comfortable means that the bag will seal without busting at the seams. One bag is permitted per passenger.” The only caveat here is that certain airlines have strict policies about consuming your own alcohol onboard. So relax, enjoy responsibly, and don’t forget to refer back to number #1. Hydrate even more!!
4. Get Comfy-- You know those neck pillows and eye masks you pass as you jog for your flight? Consider stopping one of these days and picking them up. It’s tempting to dismiss these things as bulky and not effective enough to be worth the money. But try them once on an overnight flight and it’s guaranteed to be a game changer. You may find you’ll never be able to fly without them again. For a neck pillow, we recommend the memory foam type, like this one, they seem to work much better than the bigger, less effective, basic fill ones.
5. Carry-on Smart-- In addition to water and 3.4 ounce bottles of your choice it’s wise to pack a few adventure snacks, prescription meds, and basic toiletries into your backpack or carry-on. Planes are notoriously cold too, so always pack a light jacket or sarong and keep in mind any essential clothing you may need for your final destination. You never know, you could arrive to 3 days of unexpected snow as we did on our last audition adventure in London.
Finally, consider bringing both a tablet and analog reading materials. There are sometimes long periods of time to kill in airports and in the air. In those moments and without your own pages, you may find yourself devouring an article in the in-flight mag about online dating and will never be able to get those minutes of your life back again.
Adventure safe, wander far, and enjoy running around the world.
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