I'm still waiting for the time I get to tell the story of how the airline "overbooks their flight" and says "Sorry Miss Walker, but we've overbooked. We're going to have to bump you up to fist class."
Until then, I've found a few things that make traveling with the other low-status peasants in economy class much more enjoyable. It's no sweet sleeper bed with HD TV, but it's certainly making traveling a liiiitle nicer 😉
I recently embarked on a trip from Pécs, Hungary to San Fransisco, California that took nearly 24 hours in total. The whole process went smoothly and I found there are a few things that can make 24 hours of traveling go from feeling like 24 hours of tired, smelly public places, to 24 hours of a positive, comfortable adventure.
Firstly, at the airport: Probably the most appropriate place in the world for a Ke$ha shower is the airport bathroom. So many women are taking a cleanse in the communal bath, and for good reason! When traveling for many hours a quick touch up feels necessary.
In my bathroom arsenal are the following:
- toothbrush & toothpaste
- face wash
- small towel / washcloth (so you don't have to wipe your face on a paper towel..)
- eye cream
- lip balm
I carry my super handy travel perfume case, but I don't use it on the flight. I love diving into the tax free perfume aisle. You'd be crazy not to take advantage of this selection!
Sometimes I get carried away so much so that when I get home and I like the smell of my scarf, there's no chance of remembering which of the six perfumes (or combination) it was I sprayed there. Too much of a good thing... I go a little overboard.
Most big city airports have spacious bathrooms with multiple sinks, so claiming your own little area in the corner doesn't feel awkward at all. During my layover before a long flight, I brush my teeth, wash my face, and slather on a good layer of moisturizer. Face wipes are also really nice if you want to do a quick run down to the armpit area and re-apply deodorant (although I'd recommend doing this part in the privacy of a bathroom stall 🙂 )
Once all clean and refreshed, it's fly time.
On the plane the following refreshers are always within arms reach
- throat lozenges
- chapstick / lip balm
- hand cream
- hand sanitizer
- face wipes (or face spray if you're super fancy)
On flights longer than 2 hours, I always travel without make-up. The cabin air is so drying that all your skin wants is a good moisturizer! Foundation will only begin to crease and look cakey after a few hours. Not cute. Mascara is just going to end up running down my face and giving me racoon eyes. Also not cute. So naturally, I refrain from attempting to look nice on an airplane. I'm not one of those girls who is able to sleep daintly on a plane and wake up looking just as I did when I went to sleep. Oh no. When I sleep on the plane, even if I don't fall asleep I wake up with my hair somehow ending up in a messy bun atop my head, indented creases on my cheeks from my scarf and neck pillow, swollen marks along my temples from my eye mask, red puffy eyes and a nice crusty dried up dribble of drool right down my lip. So no. I don't bother with make-up. And I'm definitely not one to get up an hour before landing and go do my make-up in the 0.5 square meter bathroom with ill lighting and my eyeliner rolling down the sink making it's way to the toilet. I'd probably end up looking like Bridget Jones after she did her make-up in a taxi if I attempted that level of acrobatic masterclass.
If I feel the need to make myself more presentable I'll put on make-up once I arrive, in the airport bathroom.
Other in-flight necessities for me no matter the duration of the flight include compression socks and wool socks. For those in the dark about compression socks: They're designed to apply compression to your lower limbs to prevent thromboembolism (a blood clot) in the deep veins, also known as a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Worst case scenario, one of these clots (or thrombi) detaches from the vessel wall and becomes an embolus, which can travel to the lung, impairing lung circulation. Frequently these emboli are metabolized in the lung and cause no harm, although if large enough, pulmonary emboli can be fatal and those with multiple risk factors should be particularly cautious! Risk factors for DVT include:
- Leiden factor V mutation (a hereditary blood clotting disorder predisposing you to DVT and pulmonary emboli. Diagnosed via blood test.)
- Other known diagnosed coagulation disorders
- Hyperlipidemia, hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol)
- Oral contraceptives
Now already everyone on the airplane has one risk factor (immobility). Immobility leads to blood pooling in your lower limbs. Blood pooling or stasis is accelerating the clot formation. To combat this increased risk and improve blood flow to your lower limbs, simple exercises can be done in the aisle, while waiting in the bathroom line, or even in your seat! You don't need to be a complete contortionist to do any of these moves; they're incredibly simple! For example the most simple and effective is calf raises. Stand up onto your toes and lower down again. Pulse as many times as you can. Not only are you improving circulation in your limbs but you're also toning your tush! Double bonus 😉
While you're standing, you can stretch your quadraceps (or 'quads' as gym buffs like to call them) by lifting your foot to your bum. Extra points if you do calf raises here too!
The last exercise I like to do is pulling my knee to my chest. This feels really good in the lower back, bum and feet. While you're here, you can do small circular movements with your ankles to bring life back to your feet.
If space allows I like to raise my arms above my head and stretch from side to side. Then go into a yoga downward dog and sun salutation flow .... just kidding 😉
These few exercises will rejuvinate and not make you feel like you're marinating in your seat. increasing your blood flow during the flight will make you feel a million times better when you arrive! I do this sequence every time I go to the bathroom ... which is about every 1-2 hours due to my next point:
Drink a TON of water!
I bring an empty water bottle from home (as appealing as the 4€ water bottles from the airport are) and fill it up once I've gone through security. Most airports offer water fountains with filtered water so you don't have to pay extravagant prices for something you can (and should) get for free. In addition to my own water stash on the plane, I make sure to always ask for water when they serve beverages. I usually ask for tea and a water (because I'm a grandma and drinking warm tea is comforting). Since air travel can be incredibly dehydrating, drinking a lot of water is the easiest way to prevent the negative side effects of dehydration (lethargy, nausea, dizzyness, dry skin...) thus helping combat symptoms of jet lag! Avoiding coffee is also a good idea because coffee acts as a diuretic, ie it eliminates water from the body... so exactly what we want to avoid! (Tea is more acceptable because it's lower in caffeine). Foods and drinks high in salt and sugar should also be avoided unless bloating is your thing. Salt retains water leading to puffiness in the legs, face and eyes. This bloating however, is often unavoidable. I always wish I could push the puff out of myself like I do to my neck pillow at the end of a flight.
Last but certainly not least (actually this is probably the most important for me, personally) is dressing comfortably. My long distance travel outfit almost always consists of some variation of the following:
- Yoga pants (ones that you're not too embarrassed to wear in public, like these ones from Athleta that look like regular pants but are actually incredibly comfortable yoga pants!)
- a soft long sleeve shirt ( like this one from Intimissimi which is made from Modal and is incredibly soft! Perfect for layering underneath a big warm chunky sweater. And the lace trim on the bottom adds a pretty, feminine detail 🙂 )
- A big, warm, comfortable sweatshirt (the wool sweater I'm wearing in the photo below is from Banana Republic and has a big chunky neck, perfect for cuddling in on a long flight)
- Compression socks and wool socks to keep your feet warm and cozy on the plane after you take off your shoes 😉
With these few simple additions to a long travel will make the otherwise stagnant flight slightly more bearable. Hope they help!
QUESTION: What do you do on a flight to make travel more comfortable?