I love to travel. It’s my passion…oh how I wish it was a cheap passion, but it’s not. It requires a lot of patience, money saving and off-season travel (seriously so much cheaper), but the memories that are made are priceless.
The thought that goes into packing, the moment when you finally land after a long time in the sky, listening to different accents and languages, wandering around a new city, eating the local cuisine….I love it all. My obsession with traveling began in college when I studied abroad in Spain and England. Since then, I’ve been racking up the passport stamps and hope to completely fill the pages soon!
One of the downsides to traveling is the time on the airplane, especially if it’s a 5+ hour flight. It is 2014, why isn’t teleportation available yet?! Kidding. Since I always look for the cheapest price out there when I book airline tickets, that usually means my seat will be toward the back of the plane and in the middle of a row….not fun. I just can’t justify paying extra for a first or business class seat (although if I were upgraded for free, I’d totally take it) when I could use that money to tour a neat museum or monument, buy a unique souvenir or eat at a nice restaurant with my husband or travel buddies. The key is to just survive the flight and keep your eye on the prize….your destination!
Here is a list of things that have made overseas/long flights more enjoyable/comfortable for me:
1. Neck pillow. This is sort of a no-brainer, but it seriously makes a difference. I used to just rely on the little pillows the airline provides, but I realized those are better for lower back support while a neck pillow is much more comfortable as a head rest. On a recent flight to Ukraine, I used a cheapo one from 1999 that I found in my parents’ garage, but here is a good one. Source.
2. Comfortable clothes. I honestly don’t know how people can sit on a plane for hours in jeans. I would go insane! I always wear something comfortable but cute, so I don’t look like a complete bum. I like to wear leggings with a tunic or long top when I travel (oh who are we kidding, I wear this all the time). If I’m going somewhere hot, a maxi dress is a great choice.
3. A toiletry bag full of travel sized items. Or you can put small amounts of your normal stuff in smaller, plastic containers, but I think it’s easier to just throw travel sized items in my little toiletry bag. Most stores carry travel sized items (Target, Ingles, Wal-Mart etc.) I always ensure that I have face wash, facial moisturizer, toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, lip balm, travel sized hairbrush, hair ties, body/hand lotion, makeup, contact solution, extra contacts, glasses case, mouthwash. After I typed that I realized that it makes me sound a little high maintenance, but it works for me. I like to beeline to the nearest bathroom when I land so I can brush my teeth, wash my face and moisturize it, put in my contacts (sometimes), and MAYBE put on some makeup so I don’t look too scary. Just make sure everything is sealed tightly and put into plastic bags in case something leaks.
4. Kindle, books, magazines. I like to bring books and magazines that I already own/bought before getting to the airport since these things are ridiculously expensive in the little gift shops at the gates. I also make sure I’ve already downloaded books to my Kindle that I may want to read so I don’t have to worry about it on travel day. Also remember to save stuff for the flight back home!
5. WATER. This one is very important. I used to think it was a hassle to keep getting up to go to the bathroom, but it is way more important to stay hydrated while traveling for hours and hours. I barely drank any water when I went to Spain in 2009, so I got really sick and dizzy during the last two hours of the flight. I also had a headache that wouldn’t go away for days due to the dehydration. If I sip water throughout the entire flight and for hours before the flight even takes off, I tend to feel so much better. It helps with jet lag too, trust me.
6. Healthy snacks. Don’t stuff yourself full of simple carbs like pretzels, crackers or chips. They will not keep you full or satisfied. Nuts, hummus/veggie snack packs, apple with a single serve nut butter pack, Larabars, or protein bars are snacks that are both healthy and satisfying that you can eat between meals (if your flight serves them). You can usually find these snacks at the gate…just make sure you don’t buy anything with a strong smell that may make your fellow travelers angry.
7. Music. I like to download a few new songs and save them just for the flight.
8. Passport holder. My father in-law gave me a simple passport holder so it was easy to grab. It also has a strap so that I can literally wear it against my body. I don’t like digging through my purse (my purse is always like a black hole) for my passport and walking around while holding it in my hand makes me nervous. I have nightmares about dropping it and then it getting sucked down an escalator or the gap between an elevator and the floor… does that make sense? A passport holder ensures that it is always put back in the correct place and that it is safe and secure…oh and easy to find!
9. Eye mask. This is crucial for an all-day flight. It’s misssssserable when the sun is shining so brightly through the windows and you have 7 hours to try to sleep in that condition. An eye mask solves the problem.
10. Emergen-C packets. I swear by these. They are filled with nutrition that you may not get from airplane food and will give you a much needed boost of vitamins if you start to feel icky. Raspberry is my favorite.
There is my list! Am I forgetting anything? Happy travels!