I’ve done my share of long distance plane rides and as much as I would love to say being on a plane for 13+ hours is super exciting, it’s really only awesome if you are sitting in first class and have all the room in the world to move around (I got a taste of that once and it was fantastic!). However, we are all not so lucky and we end up in the back of plane, next to an antsy 6-year old and the toilets, and your little TV that sits on the head rest of the seat in front of you doesn’t work (this may or may not have happened to me on a return trip from London). As much as some of these things are out of your control (antsy 6-year old), there are things that you can do to ease the headache of traveling and I have FINALLY learned these, it only took me 8+ years!
Things to do:
1. Eat/Drink properly (before and during). On my first trip out to Korea (technically my 4th trip from the states to Asia), I experienced the weirdest bloating. I had always bloated up some on the longer planes rides and even on shorter ones (Changes in altitude and pressure can really mess with your body), but this event was extreme. And as I look back to what I may have done differently on this trip as opposed to others is a huge difference as to why I had this effect. It was August 2010 and I landed in Seoul Inchon Airport, I was wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and flip-flops. The night before flying and before boarding I ate a greasy meal and drank a couple of beers before I got on the plane (for some reason Airport beer is delicious, I say it tastes better because it’s more expensive). When I got on the plane I took a sleeping pill and crashed for 12 hours. No one woke me up for a meal or a drink, it was like I didn’t even exist on that flight. I woke up famished – my mouth was dry, my tummy was rumbling, my ankles we’re the size of softballs and my body looked at least 15 lbs heavier. As we are de-boarding the plane I looked down to find my ankles dripping water down my feet and my flip-flops were soaked! My lack of water and eating greasy/salty foods didn’t help my situation. So before you fly and want to try to avoid “The Bloat”, eat healthy and drink plenty of water before and during your trip; try to avoid salty and sugary foods and go for diuretics like water, cranberry juice, cabbage, asparagus, oats, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, green tea, and herbs like rosemary and mint. Whew. Learned my lesson there.
2. Give yourself enough time between flights. Sometimes you can’t avoid this when booking, but if you have a connecting flight, try to give yourself at least an hour and half to transfer in country and at least 2 hours if you are connecting through a different country and need to go through customs. Just last month I was flying back to Philadelphia from South Korea through Canada. My flight was on schedule in South Korea, but I only had an hour to get through customs, pick up my bag and retag in Vancouver for my connecting flight from Vancouver to Toronto. It took me an hour and half to stand in line, go through customs, pick up my bag, retag it, and go through security again. Needless to say I missed my flight, and the next flight caused me to miss my second connection and I ended up staying in a hotel in Toronto and leaving the next morning for Philly. Which leads me to number 3.
3. Be prepared at security. Airports have information all over the web on how to go through security painlessly (http://www.tsa.gov). Everything from…have your photo ID available with your ticket to how many ounces of liquids you can have and what they need to be in. The line is already long and tedious, don’t make it longer by not being prepared. When I stand in line patiently, I take off my coat, I take off my shoes, I make sure there is nothing in my pockets, I don’t wear shoes that I have to unlace and lace back up, and I start prepping my bag incase I have a laptop or liquids that I need to remove. When I get up to the conveyor belt, all I have to do is put everything in the bin, walk through and I’m done. When you get your stuff at the end of the conveyor belt, there are benches to the side for a reason, take your shoes, take your laptops, whatever else you put in the bin, and bring it over to the bench and get out of the way so others can get their things.
4. If you are sick…Reschedule or take lots of medicine and tissues. The flu has been going around this year pretty badly and the day before I was to leave Korea and head back to the states, I came down with a pretty bad cold. I took whatever cold medicine I had left and motrin (only a dose of each) and hopped on the 10 hour flight to Vancouver. My nose ran the entire trip and I used an entire box of tissues from the planes bathroom. Because I was blowing my nose so much and change in elevation, dryness, and coughing, I ended up getting a nose bleed and sat in the bathroom for 40 minutes trying to control it. I’ve flown with a hangover before (which isn’t fun either – but can be cured with a drink or two), but the pain of flying sick was ten times worse. Try to be healthy on your flight and it will be much more enjoyable!
I’ve decided that I may need to take a break from flying. So far on all of my travels, my luggage as only been on time and at my destination 20% of the time. Odds seem to be against me, so I am going to try my luck on a train. Stayed connected as I blog my way from Philadelphia 30th Street Station to California and back via train 🙂