Taking a long distance flight these days can be quite a gamble, fraught with long airport terminal waits, security checks, and missing baggage.
Since all these are beyond our control, we must take steps to mitigate any discomfort when we experience such misfortunes while traveling. Your first line of defense could be inside your carry-on bag, if you pack it well.
There are four things you must consider to ensure you arrive at your destination relatively unscathed: your comfort, personal hygiene, travel documents and funds, and preparing for any contingency.
Comfort while traveling
Have you ever wondered why you feel exhausted at the end of a long flight when all you did was just sit there, watch a lot of movies and eat? Crossing several time zones can put your circadian rhythm out of whack resulting in jetlag.
The key is to make sure that you are already synced with the time zone of your final destination when you arrive. For example, if you will be arriving at your destination in the morning, make sure that you have at least a few hours of sleep before your plane lands so that you will have enough energy to go through the day and be ready to go to sleep at usual time when night falls.
If you take along a travel pillow, eye mask, ear plugs or noise-cancelling earphones, compression socks, and a shawl or light jacket, you’ll be on your way to a very comfortable journey.
Even if airlines provide a pillow and a blanket, bringing an extra pillow can make your journey a bit more comfortable, and if the plane gets too cold, your shawl or light jacket can provide extra insulation.
Getting a pair of flight compression socks will make your journey more comfortable and prevent your legs from swelling during the flight.
Bringing along an eye mask and ear plugs will ensure that you can go to sleep even if the plane lights are on or if there are people talking.
A long flight always involves food and drink. After a while you will need to freshen up. There is always mouthwash and cologne in the lavatory, but if you do not want to smell like everyone else, bring your own toiletries on board. In a small toiletry bag, pack a small toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash and wash cloth, moisturizer, deodorant, and a small bottle of your favorite cologne or perfume (and makeup for the women). Bringing a small pack of sanitizing wet tissues will be most useful as well.
If you like chewing gum, bring a pack as well so you can freshen your breath after each meal. If you don’t like gum, bring breath mints.
Keeping yourself hydrated during the long flight will be the key to avoiding jetlag. Bring along a water bottle and ask the flight attendant to refill it for you throughout the flight. Avoid drinking lots of coffee, sodas, and alcoholic beverages during the flight.
Don’t forget to bring all your medication with you in your carry-on luggage, most especially your maintenance medicines. I highly recommend that you bring melatonin in your packet as well, so in case you can’t sleep when you need to, you will have something on hand to help you fall asleep without becoming groggy at the end of your flight.
Secure your travel documents and money
Make sure that all your original travel documents—passport, airline tickets, hotel vouchers or booking confirmations, travel insurance policy, etc., as well as your money and credit cards are in a secure place in your carry-on luggage. Keep photocopies of all your travel documents as a backup in your check-in luggage.
Prepare for any contingency
These days, because of air traffic congestion, no airline is exempt from flight delays or cancellations. So savvy travelers must be ready for any contingency. Even if you’re taking only one direct flight, have a change of clothes or at the very least clean undies in your carry-on bag for any unforeseen event.
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE September 2016 issue.
Words by Presy Alba