Words by Aisling Ettarh
June 8th, 2017
For many of us, an upcoming summer holiday can make us giddy with excitement, eagerly counting down the days until we can finally set our out-of-office email reply. We’re secretly smug, delighted by the fact that we’ll be soaking up the sun while the rest of the office sit through a budget meeting. And when that first day of leave finally arrives, we’ll whiz straight to the airport, ready for some hard earned R+R. But before that can begin, we have to actually reach that long-ago booked beach resort. And let’s not kid ourselves, travel can be stressful – nothing ruins the start of a holiday more than a frazzled flight experience. So to help you make it through this summer’s getaway plans, we’re sharing our Travel Survival Guide, to ensure you arrive truly relaxed, and ready to…do absolutely nothing.
First step: get yourself a pouch, or wash bag (yes, this is an excuse to buy another bag. You’re welcome.), that is small enough to slip into your carry-on. This is what I like to call, the Plane Pack. When you board, take it out of your carry-on, and have it in the seat pocket. That way, everything you might need during your flight is within reach, and not shoved into some overhead bin. This pack will be your secret weapon for emerging at the next time zone like a travel pro.
I tend to follow the rule that any flight over three hours calls for a snooze. Between waking up for an early departure, and having to spend a few hours in one space, flights great for catching up on ZZZs (and beating the boredom that can creep in during long haul). But falling asleep on a plane is easier said than done: it’s a loud room, full of other people, kids, air fans, call bells, and other passenger’s too-loud headphones. Unless that’s how you keep your bedroom (interesting choice), it’s not going to be an environment that lends itself to easily dozing off. To help combat those extra distractions, your pack should have an eye mask, and either earplugs or noise cancelling headphones. An inflatable neck pillow can also help, but I prefer to bring a cotton scarf. It can be rolled up to support the neck but also doubles as a protective layer against chilly air conditioning. Also, that familiar scent of your own laundry detergent or perfume can help you relax.
Fact: the air in planes is very drying. You may find your skin suffering after a few hours in an arid atmosphere. And since you’re on holiday, why should the relaxation wait until you land? Use time in the sky as the perfect opportunity to treat your skin. It’s a great chance to use sample size or mini versions of products. Leave-on masks will soothe thirsty skin, while eye masks can easily be slipped on under your sleep mask while you take a nap. You’ll wake up refreshed and glowing – my favourite type of multi-tasking. And don’t forget to stay hydrated. I always travel with an empty water bottle. Empty, so it can come through security with me. Then, find the nearest water fountain (airports are full of them), and fill up. Drink at least a litre before you board, and then bring another on with you. Take any water you’re offered, and drink up. Use your lips as a guide – if they’re dry, you’re already dehydrated. Swipe on some lip balm, and keep on sipping. Your body will thank you, and you’ll discover you’re less groggy when you land, and without that niggling headache you always thought was because of turbulence.
Oh, and as if dehydration wasn’t enough to worry about, we also need to think about sun safety. When flying, your exposure to the sun’s rays is so much higher – you are literally in the sky. If I’m in a window seat, as soon as take off is done, I close the window blind. Wear SPF (you should have it with you for a sun holiday anyway), and keep the window blind down while you can – after you’ve gotten your snap of the clouds for Instagram, of course.
Sometimes it’s not as simple as drinking water and slapping on some moisturiser. Our bodies can get upset by changes in routine, or nerves, especially if flying isn’t your favourite thing in the world. If you find yourself feeling bloated on flights, avoid carbohydrates. This can be tricky since airplane food seems to consist of lots of bread rolls, crackers and mini pretzels. Instead, try stick to the veggies, fruit and cheese served, or pack your own snacks, including ginger, which helps with digestion. Peppermint tea can also help upset stomachs, and chamomile is great to aid relaxation. Bring your own teabag, and just ask for hot water from the drinks service.
Another nifty tool for unwinding is a meditation app. A short guided audio can help you centre your thoughts on your breathing, and letting go of any tension you may be holding. Also helpful for built up tension is a mini massager. Roll over the neck and shoulders to relieve stiffness from sitting in an uncomfortable seat, and also along lower legs and thighs, to help blood circulation.
Travel once with a pack, and you’ll ask yourself how you ever flew without one. And the more you fly, you can add in extra things you think you might like to have with you once you’re airborne. Really, it’s the perfect excuse to book another holiday.
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