Tips and Essentials for Long Flights
April 3, 2017
A 13-hour flight from LA to Shanghai, and I actually feel pretty good at the tail end of it for once. Here’s how:
I occasionally wear compression socks during/after running races to keep swelling in my legs down, promote circulation, and speed up recovery, and they are now a permanent part of my carry-on kit for the same reasons. I put them on right before or after boarding and take them off at the hotel on arrival. My feet aren’t swollen any more at the end of flights, which is a great feeling. Compression socks also help prevent blood clots from forming in your legs, which can be a VERY serious concern on long flights. I’m partial to the Nike Elite socks, but that’s just my Nike bias.
Water, not alcohol. Lots and lots and lots of water. The free drinks on international flights are always so tempting, especially in the days of zero-amenity domestic flights, but they’re not worth the havoc they wreak on your in-flight body. Want/need a glass of wine to help wash down that barely-food airline meal? Absolutely go for it, but keeping hydrated is single best way to help your body manage the stresses of long flights and every alcoholic drink you have is just adding to the deficit. A water bottle is a carry-on essential. Bring it through the security checkpoint empty, fill it up at a water fountain in the terminal, and then keep drinking and having the flight attendants refill it for you for the duration of your flight. My no-frills half-liter Sigg bottle has been perfect for me.
Get up and move around a lot. Whether you spend your time on the flight working, sleeping, reading, or watching movies, it’s crucial to get up every couple of hours and keep moving. My ritual on this last flight was to get up between movies, walk to the bathroom, stretch, and refill my water bottle. Rinse and repeat. Every couple of hours. Aisle seats are nice if this is going to be your routine, and each time you get up do some light stretching in your legs, arms, and neck.
If you are going to be able to manage a few fitful hours of shut-eye, first, try to line up your sleep schedule with the arrival time zone. Then, protect ya neck and try to keep everything aligned with a travel pillow. My favorite, from Cabeau, is comfortable, very supportive, and compresses down into a manageable size for stuffing in your carry-on.
The hours after your flight it’s important to keep moving. If you’re able, go for a walk once you’re settled in the hotel. Then, I like to get up early the next morning and go for a run. That helps me work out some of the kinks in my body and to get my internal clock synced up to the local time quicker. Early morning gym sessions are another good option if your hotel has one; basically anything that gets you up and moving first thing in the morning.
So that’s my in-flight and post-flight routine and I’m pretty happy with the results so far. What other tips and tricks are there for taking care of your body on long flights?