Tuesday Tip: Make Long Flights Easier and More Comfortable
By Yehudit Garmaise
Traveling can be one of life's greatest pleasures, but long, cramped, and crowded airplane flights can leave us feeling frazzled.
Whether we are headed to Israel, Australia, or just the West Coast, surviving flights that never seem to end requires some forethought.
Consider the following tips and tricks to help you feel happy and comfortable as you soar through the clouds.
1. Bring a neck pillow to sleep more comfortably and longer. Neck pillows help to prevent the stabbing, painful, sharp neck pains that can jerk you awake when your head heavily drops to one side as you try to sleep sitting up. Most pillows have clips to attach to carry-on bags easily, so this essential is not one more thing to carry.
2. Try to sleep as long as possible by taking melatonin or Dramamine if you get motion sick. Other essentials to rest comfortably in the air include eye shades, earplugs, and warm layers of soft clothing to stay cozy. Don't worry if you stay up late the night before packing and getting ready because you can just sleep on the plane.
3. Germs abound in airplanes and airports, so stash in your carryon a small package of Wet Ones, a small hand sanitizer spray, a small package of face wipes, a toothbrush, a small toothpaste, and a Chapstick to combat the dry air.
4. When you are awake, keep from getting bored by listening to your favorite shiurim, podcasts, or music downloaded before the flight.
Don't forget a travel charger so you have power when needed. Remember to bring earbuds so you can listen without bothering anyone else. Bring a book, but nothing too challenging, as concentrating will likely be hard.
Bring a notebook and a pen to jot down thoughts and ideas. Traveling provides time and new perspectives with which to assess, make lists and set goals. Include markers or colored pencils if you like making sketches or designs, or bring a little work you can do at a time when you have no distractions.
5. If traveling with children, keep them busy and fed. Before leaving, fill backpacks with new, small, inexpensive toys, brand-new coloring books, crayons or markers, and lots of special snacks that can be opened without help.
6. Pack only necessary food for adults: Both children and adults should eat healthy meals before heading to the airport. Make sure to pack two simple sandwiches that are easy to eat. Peanut butter and jelly or cheese provide protein and keep relatively well over a few hours. Pasta salads and plastic forks are also good to bring. Cut up an apple or other fruit, add a granola bar, and whatever else you think you might want.
7. Sitting for long periods of time can cause both circulation problems and muscle stiffness, so try to move around whenever and however you can. Roll your neck, wrists, and ankles in circles and side to side. Get up and walk up and down the cabin a few times. If you have any stopovers, try to use the time to walk around at a brisk pace to get blood flowing and your muscles pain-free. In addition, many travelers wear compression socks to keep their circulation going. When you reach your destination, make time for some exercise, stretching, and fresh air.
8. Less is more: Strike a balance between packing what you need and not overstuffing carry-on bags. In the very small space allotted to each air traveler, I can much more easily find what I need when I only bring the essentials. Nothing is worse than digging around your belongings in front of strangers to locate your reading glasses or two Advils. Pack your carry-on carefully so you know the precise locations of everything you usually need when you fly.
9. Practice your absolute best manners and your highest degree of patience and consideration for others. Strive to make an absolute Kiddush Hashem to everyone around you, especially while traveling. Not only will every interaction likely go smoothly, but your flight crew and seatmates will appreciate your kindness and will be more likely to treat you with consideration in return.
10. Upon arrival, prevent feeling dislocated in a new location and a new time zone by taking a few silent moments to start to adjust to your new surroundings. Remind yourself to stay calm, smile, and take it all in. Resolve not to fear the unfamiliar and to stay open-minded.
11. Practice patience. Disembarking, going through customs, and retrieving baggage cannot be rushed. Welcome yourself to your new destination, and walk with dignity as new sights, sounds, and adventures await.