Airline travel is a necessary evil when it comes to scuba diving vacations. Unless you happen to be lucky enough to live somewhere exotic, chances are pretty good, you’re bound to have to endure 6+ hours on an airplane sometime in your life to get to diving paradise.
Tips For Surviving a Long Haul Flight
Traveling to new lands is fun, but spending hours inside a metal tube at 30,000 feet with hundreds of other passengers is not. Fortunately, traveling on long flights doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. Here are 15 tips and tricks to make sure you survive your next long haul flight.
1. Take Vitamin C – There is nothing worse than arriving at your dream destination and not being able to dive because you caught a head cold on the plane. To prevent the thousands of germs flying around the airplane cabin from taking hold in your body, load up on Vitamin C for a few days before your flight and also during the long hours you’re in the air.
2. Create a Survival Kit – On a long haul flight, you’re going to need some amenities in order to keep fresh and comfortable. These might include a toothbrush and toothpaste, chapstick and eye drops. Before you leave for the airport, pack all of your essentials in a small pouch and place it at the very top of your carry on. When you get on the plane, simply take this pouch out and put it in the seat pocket in front of you. That way, all of those small items won’t be lost within your cavernous carry on and you’ll have them within arm’s reach for the entire flight.
3. Pack some entertainment – It’s a good idea to pack something in your carry-on that will occupy your mind for at least half the flight. The other half will be taken up by meals and in-flight movies. Some good entertainment options might include a book you’ve been dying to read, a few podcasts or even a bit of work.
4. Bring your own snacks – Let’s face it, airplane food is often unappetizing and unhealthy. It just makes sense to throw a bag of nuts or a granola bar in your carry on. Make sure these snacks are rich in fiber, an ingredient often lacking in the meals served by airlines. This way you’ll stay hungry and avoid traveler’s constipation at the same time.
5. Eat carefully before and during the flight – It’s best to avoid filling and greasy food before boarding a plane. You don’t want to have an upset stomach for the whole flight. In addition, science has proven that being in the air prevents our bodies from properly digesting. So it’s best to avoid overeating during the flight as well.
6. Stay hydrated – The air inside an airplane cabin is often held at a humidity level of 10-20%. This is much lower than the normal indoor humidity level of about 40%. For this reason, it’s easy to become dried out and fatigued during a long flight. In order to combat dehydration, try to drink at least 8 ounces of water for every hour you are in the air.
7. Avoid alcohol and caffeine – We know that a celebratory we’re-going-on-vacation drink can be nice, but alcohol and the caffeine found in coffee and soda will only dehydrate you in the already desert-like conditions of an airplane cabin.
8. Upgrade or choose extra legroom – Some might consider this cheating, but the easiest way to be comfortable on a long haul flight is to upgrade to business or first class. Alternatively, you can pay for economy seats with more legroom on most airlines. If you’ve got frequent flier miles, use them. Flying in luxury can make all the difference.
9. Research your plane on SeatGuru.com – Before you choose a seat, take a moment to look up your flight on SeatGuru.com. The website uses its own algorithm as well as customer reviews to tell you which is the best seat on your flight. With this go-to resource for savvy fliers, you’ll know if you’re going to have a great flight or just survive that long haul.
10. Pack surprises for your children – If you travel with children, you know how challenging it can be. Kids need space to wiggle and play. On top of moving around the plane with them often, it might help to pack a surprise bag of goodies. Don’t show them what’s in the bag until you get on the plane. After take off, they can have fun exploring the bag and using each of the items. Travel games and coloring books work well. Also, to keep those around you happy, consider bringing earplugs and chocolate to hand out to your neighbors. An upfront gesture of kindness and understanding will go a long way to ensuring your fellow passengers’ patience.
11. Don’t carry on too much – Anything you have to store under the seat in front of you will negatively impact the amount of legroom you can use. Think wisely before bringing a large purse or backpack.
12. Board well-rested – While it’s tempting to use every last minute at home or on vacation with the excuse that you’ll just sleep on the plane, it isn’t wise. Planes aren’t the most comfortable places to sleep and any shut eye you might get is likely to be frequently interrupted by cabin announcements or your fellow passengers. Rather than turn up to your destination exhausted, make sure you have had plenty of sleep the night before you fly.
13. Download soothing music – Make sure that you have some soothing music or a meditation track on your MP3 player. Switch over to it when it’s time to sleep. Not only will it help relax your mind, it will also block the plane’s ambient noise.
14. Exercise – Every hour or so, get up and move around. Whether it’s a lap around the plane or a few yoga postures in the standing area, getting a bit of exercise will help you feel less restless.
15. Layer up – You never quite know if the plane is going to be boiling hot or freezing cold, so it’s best to dress in layers that you can add or remove. At the very least, make sure you have a scarf and a pair of socks with you. If it turns out to be a hot flight, you can always use the scarf as an extra pillow.
If you are not automatically given an eye mask or ear plugs. Ask for them. Most airlines have them available free of charge but won’t give out in order to save cost. They come in handy in hotels or on Liveaboards too. – Susannah Erbe
Let me add one more, ear plugs!! The chance of a crying baby or loud passengers sitting next to you is in opposite proportion to how prepared you are. Have earplugs, no kids, no earplugs then remember #13. – Kevin Smith