One of the blessings for many baby boomers these days is the time to travel, and the means to travel far. Canadians Carrie and Jack Janssen carry it to an extreme: for half the year they have a seasonal business in cottage country but for the other half, they are international nomads. So when they give us advice about traveling in comfort, we take it seriously. That’s what they write about in this Boomer’s Guide to Long-Haul Flights.
The thought of going to a far-off, exotic land is exhilarating. However, the thought of a lengthy flight to get there isn’t. It’s not just the monetary cost, but the cost of sitting in the same spot for hours on end.
Some travelers make it look so easy! I always wondered how they could step off the plane looking fresh. After years of flying I’ve come to some conclusions.
For example, I love food. But big meals and little movement do not make a good combination. I try to stay away from heavy foods that are sugary, fatty, processed, and high in carbs that could upset my stomach while in transit.
I love rest, too. Which is why, I can’t imagine a long flight without some sleep. So I plan my sleep schedule around the in-flight services. Seat choice is a major consideration too. We use SeatGuru to determine our preferred seating options and book these before someone else does.
Then there’s the matter of what to take with you on-board. The essentials I pack in my carry-on include a warm pair of socks, a sleep mask, a neck pillow, and quality ear plugs. Its also nice to have lip balm, chewing gum or mints, travel size hand sanitizer, lotion, and mouth wash, all of which help you feel still a little bit human. These days we also carry sanitizing clothes to wipe down all surfaces including the sticky remote control.
Something else that helps: dressing in layers with a sweater and light blanket for sleep, which prevents me from waking up feeling chilled.
Another key consideration is hydration. Because I love going to a new destination, I tend to get a little excited. The logical reaction is, let’s celebrate! But before indulging in alcohol, consider the consequences. Booze disrupts sleep patterns as the body tries to process the sugars and alcohol. Then there are the ensuing trips to the washroom– followed by dehydration the next morning. The thought of a hangover is just not worth it, especially since it can compound the effects of jet lag.
We have tried a flight formulated drink called 1above, but I can’t say if it is any more effective than plain old water.
Then there’s the problem of being restless. If you are like me, you’ll want to be entertained. A good book, magazine, or movie will do the trick. Noise-reducing headphones are great for listening to music or movies and cancelling out any unwelcome noise.
The one thing I always keep in mind is how harmful it is to be sedentary for long periods of time. To prevent blood clots and stiffness, I try to stand whenever possible. And when the seat-belt sign is on, I like neck rolls, chin tilts, shoulder shrugs, wrist and ankle rotations, and stretching.
Probably the most important lesson I’ve learned though is, not everything is within our control. Do your best to be a good in-flight neighbor, do what you can to make yourself comfortable, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Happy flying!