Flight board

If you’re headed to a faraway land many time zones apart from home, it pays to prep wisely to make the most of your hours leading up to, during and following the flight. I’ve done a few long-hauls over the past couple of years, namely to/from Japan and China, and though both were thankfully nonstop flights, I always try to arrive as alert and refreshed as possible.

RYU Apparel-14

Get Your Body Moving

The day before flying, get in a gym session, power walk or jog, followed by a good stretch. I’m not yet convinced that setting your body’s sleep cycle on the new timezone while still at home helps or not, but one thing’s for sure: get in enough sleep! It’s tiring enough waiting around in airports, queuing to board, then sitting for 10+ hours in a confined space.

Select Your Seats As Early As Possible

Check in right at the 24-hour prior-to-boarding mark to grab the best seats you can afford (we use SeatGuru for seats to avoid). Obviously window (sleep, less movement from your row mates) and aisle (stretch your legs, easier access to water) each have their advantages.

KLM World Business Class-8

Dress Comfortably

Aim to dress intelligently, avoiding uncomfortable waistbands, tight shirts and new clothes that haven’t yet been broken in. And wear layers! Cabin temperatures literally vary per section it seems and fluctuate over the course of the flight. Pack a pashima or stylish jacket in your carry-on if you’re worried about arriving looking too casual.

In Restaurant bereitgestelltes Trinkwasser mit Zitrone in Karaffen sowie Trinkgläser
[Photo by Marco Verch on Flickr]

Drink Lots of Water

The difference between stumbling off the plane feeling sluggish and dehydrated to leaving the flight ready for the next leg of the journey often boils down to hydration.

When you’re dehydrated, mood, energy levels and cognitive function all tank. Added to this misery is dried-out, patchy skin, headaches and irritability. Keep getting up for that glass of water and resist the temptation to get more alcohol into your system. I regularly stick to one glass of wine or beer on the flight — with a meal.

Logitech TYPE+

Have a Back-Up Entertainment Plan

Not every airline has the latest and greatest on-board entertainment. Load your laptop or tablet with fave playlists, TV shows, movies and e-books just in case. Paperbacks and magazines are a nice switch and give your eyes a much-needed screen break.

Foodee snack box 2-2

Pack a Few Healthy Snacks

Unless you’re in business or first class, on-board meals may fall short on taste and nutrition. Bring a ziplock or small reusable container with dried fruit, carob chips, nuts (provided there aren’t any folks in your cabin with allergies), crackers or a couple of protein bars. In case you wind up not nibbling en route, you’ll always have a snack on the ground. It could be awhile before your final destination!

Zojoji Temple

Filter Out the Noise and Light

Always bring an eye mask and either a pair of heavy-duty earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones to help you drift off when tired (and avoid having to stare at bright screens from those seated near you).

Tokyo Park Hotel-2

Pack a Small Hygiene Kit

Brushed teeth, a clean face and a soothing layer of moisturizer are just a few things to help you feel fresh during the flight. Pack a small makeup bag or airline amenity kit with a pocket comb, travel-size deodorant, facial wipes, facial moisturizer plus a toothbrush and toothpaste.

Top image by Gabriel White on Flickr.

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