After taking well over 35 flights in the past year, Mike Corey from Kick the Grind TV knows a thing or two when it comes to long-haul travel. If you have an upcoming trip that requires you to be in the air for more than 8 hours, you’ll definitely want to read his tips below.
You can love them or hate them. Long haul flights are a trial by fire blocking access to some of the most incredible places on our planet. The fascination of a faraway land tests our devotion to the travel bug with leg cramps, lack of sleep and confined spaces. Over the past few years I’ve spent more time in an airplane than a car, and have been on more 15+ hour flights than I can count. I can safely say I’ve witnessed air travel at it’s best and worst. Through red eyes and restless nights, I’ve learned some tricks to making these giant leaps more tolerable:
I have a habit of packing bags like I wrote college papers… Last minute, and in one big rush. The excuse I used was, “I’ll just board tired and catch up on sleep in the plane.” Word of Advice: That’s the first step towards a rough journey. Get lots of sleep and try approaching packing this way:
Open your bag in the corner of your room 3 days before the flight. This opens you to the packing mindset, and you will passively go over things you might need over the next few days. When those obscure items pop in your head, toss them in the bag. When it’s crunch time, you already have the items most likely to be forgotten in the bag, and the rest is cake. You’ll ease that “I’ve forgotten something” feeling as well. Speaking of obscure items. There are a few I always make sure to pack on a long haul. I’m omitting regular items here, as I’m assuming you’ve earned some air miles already.
Noise Isolating Headphones
I’ve used Noise Cancelling Headphones before, and while I did like them, I ended up selling them after about a year. I stick with the basics: Noise isolating earbuds. Basically an earplug, they are very effective at blocking sound. They are also smaller, cheaper, and one less thing I have to worry about charging. If you plan on backpacking, these are also easier to sleep in, and are great for blocking out snoring dorm mates in a hostel. For high quality / low price, my favourite brand Klipsch.
I like to take a ziplock bag or small bottle with multi vitamins, echanasia and melatonin. I use these to give my body a little boost the first few days after I first land. Before bringing supplements along, I would often get a post-flight cold which was a bit of a bummer. Now, I rarely get sick from air travel if I take them for a few days after landing.
These make time fly. A new stand-up comedy act is always on my .mp3 player before a big flight. If I’m feeling productive I’ll add a few Videography or Spanish 101 podcasts. Audiobooks are another great option, but my go-to has always been comedy to pass the time.
My travel style is quite minimal, and I’ve found great use for a nice big no-name hoodie. Uses include: Blanket, Pillow, Eye-mask, Towel, and a great way to keep a bottle safe. Slip whatever you’ve picked up overseas down a sleeve and wrap it up in a cotton cocoon to keep it from breaking.
Wrestling with Jetlag
If you’re migrating North to South like a goose, you can skip this next section. If you’re crossing oceans, time zones, and longitudes, let’s talk jet lag! Your body is an adaptation machine. Humans have colonized every continent on the planet, our body can make incredible adjustments… it just sometimes takes a while. When life remains constant, our body begins to anticipate receiving things at certain times. Waking up, eating, and sleeping, all get imprinted into our systems. Sleep disorders like jet lag occur when we suddenly and drastically deviate from our normal routine.
What’s the best way to get back on track? Sun exposure, melatonin, and a little tiny bit of suffering.
If you arrive in daylight, go outside and get some. The worst thing you can do is stay indoors and go to sleep. You need to force-feed your body what it needs to adapt. Be a weary space cadet and float through life until mid evening before crashing into your bed like a mighty oak.
Actually getting to sleep can sometimes be a challenge, and I’ve had success using Melatonin capsules. Easily accessible, and found in all drug stores, Melatonin is a hormone your brain creates naturally when sunlight stops entering your eyes. It’s job is to make you sleepy, and tell your body when it’s bed time. This full sun and melatonin regime is used medically to treat mild sleep disorders, and you fall in that category travelling across the planet.
Like bad days, public speaking, and fun parties; you create your own reality. If you decide flying long haul is “the worst” before you board, it probably will be. After some experience, I’ve found myself really enjoying them. Insert the earphones, and ask for that extra meal with a full can of pop if you’d like. Enter the bubble and bask in the fact you’re now in your own private office, with people there to bring you whatever you need. Sooner than later you’ll be at your destination, and after a day or two, back up to 100% and ready to explore a beautiful new place.
And stay tuned for more great travel tips from Mike every month right here on the Flight Centre blog!