July 13, 2024



Lhasa Airport - My Trusty Aircraft -Tibet Airlines
Lhasa Airport – My Trusty Aircraft -Tibet Airlines

Air travel can be a challenge.  In the past, air travel was a bit more of a refined experience. Alas, those days are gone.  Long distance flights can be especially difficult.  How do you survive?  How can you make that fourteen hour flight as tolerable as possible?  I recently wrote an article sharing my opinion about the Best Way to survive long haul flights ( click here ).

The short answer – the best way to minimize the “trauma” of long distance flights is to – wait for it – FLY FIRST CLASS!


Meanwhile, back on the planet earth, most of us are traveling “coach” or “economy” or whatever euphemism the airline is serving up as the name for that area in the rear of the plane where resources such as legroom, food, service, and fresh air are in short supply. For those who travel in coach, the old boy scout mantra “be prepared” certainly applies.  Here are some tips for surviving that long distance flight in “coach.” Keep in mind there are a variety of products available for the traveler and I encourage you to explore various options to find what best meets your needs. ( I’ve included several direct links to items I have used and found helpful.)

Hydrate –  You can minimize jet lag and improve your chances of adjusting quickly to your destination by staying hydrated.  Bring an empty reusable water bottle with you and fill it up once you pass through security screening.  Hydrate with water.  Avoid caffeine as well as alcohol. Yes, hydrating during flights means more trips to the restroom.  But it’s good to get up and walk around anyway.  Sitting for fourteen hours is an invitation for deep vein thrombosis.

Blog waterbottle

This Nalgene bottle is a great traveler. BPA-free and with a large mouth opening

Snacks – Bring along some of your favorite muchies. Protein bars or health snacks travel well.  Something healthy would be wise.  Also include some hard candies.  They help cope with a dry throat and possible discomfort from all that very dry cabin air.  Remember – approach airline food with caution.  Eat healthy.

iPad, tablet, laptop, smartphone –  Pre-load your favorite electronic device prior to your flight.  It’s a good place to keep copies of important documents such as passports, visas, airline e-tickets, itineraries, etc. which can come in handy in emergencies. (Just don’t let it out of your sight!)  You can also preload maps and information for your destination. For your flight, load up on your favorite tunes for listening as well as some reading material – travel guides for your destination, a few novels you have been waiting to read. Also consider loading up a few movies.  Properly prepared, you will have lots of options and won’t be held hostage to whatever the airline thinks you should be watching.  (You might consider checking the website for your airline prior to departure.  They frequently will list the inflight movies available for your journey.)

zagg air

Pair your iPad with an illuminated keyboard by Zagg, a great keyboard I recently reviewed (click here).

Eye Shade – True, eye shades look a little odd.  But the days of stylish air travel are long past.  An eye shade gives you a nice dark environment, blocking out the flickering lights of movies, etc.,  so you can at least have a reasonable attempt at sleep.

blog eye shade

This eye shade comes with a pair of ear plugs (but you might want several additional pairs of ear plugs for your entire trip)

Ear Plugs – These go along with the eye shades.  Air travel is hectic.  It’s wise to maintain your own personal sense of calm.  Peace and quiet help provide help you relax and sleep or nap if you want.

Noise Canceling Ear Phones – These really help block out extraneous cabin sounds making it more enjoyable to listen to your music or watch your movies.  And when it’s time for your sleep, use them in addition to your earplugs.

blog ear phones

There are so many different styles of head phones available and the price range is crazy.  This is an item which is a very personal choice.  I went with the Sennheiser which for me was a good balance between cost, size, and  effectiveness. (Click the Amazon icon at the top of the page and search for Sennheiser PXC 250)



Airplane Socks – Removing your shoes during a long flight definitely adds a bit of comfort.  But walking around an aircraft in your stocking feet is not the most hygienic activity.  Pack a pair extra of socks you can put on when your have your shoes off.  You can use them again later in your travels if you visit churches or temples where you are required to remove your shoes.  At that point, of course, they become Temple Socks. (You might consider storing them in a plastic baggie after they have been worn )

Set Your Watch – As soon as you board your aircraft, set your watch to the local time for your destination.  This will help you start to adjust your eating and sleeping cycle in advance of your arrival.  Some advocate actually starting this process one or two days prior to your departure.  While this makes sense, it’s sometimes not real practical.

Sleep – There are different opinions about sleeping during your long haul flight.  Some say don’t sleep at all in flight.  Others say sleep as much as you can.  My own preference is to attempt to sleep in flight according to the local time of my destination.  That’s a nice idea but not always easy to accomplish.  Ear plugs and eye shades help. Sleep aides can also help.

Medications –  Again, a personal issue.  Be sure to consult with your own physician.  For me, I take an aspirin.  Helps with any minor aches and pains which might interfere with sleep and also diminishes the potential for deep vein thrombosis. I also take a sleep aide.  Some advocate melatonin but it doesn’t seem to really help me.  I use an Ambien to help with getting around six hours of sleep.  I try to time this to fit in with my sleep / wake schedule for my destination.

Move or Exercise – You’ve probably heard of deep vein thrombosis.  Basically it is a blood clot which can form in the veins within large muscles.  It can be caused by prolonged periods of immobility such as on long distance flights.  It is even sometimes referred to as “economy class syndrome” referring to the cramped seating space in the coach cabin of aircraft.  Regardless of where you sit, inactivity is the culprit.  The answer is to move.  Take an occasional walk around the cabin or do isometrics at your seat.  Wearing compression socks can also be of help.

Dress Comfortably – Wear loose fitting, comfortable clothing  Dressing in layers is helpful so you can adjust your attire according to cabin temperature.


Survive Your Flight …….. And Enjoy The Journey!

Dr.B, The Photo Trekker

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