Whilst flicking through the inflight magazine on our latest flight from Australia, I saw a “top tips” feature from frequent flyers. They were all business-oriented tips (roll, rather than fold, shirts to avoid creases, and the likes) but I was surprised at how different they were to what my top tips would be. I love lists and I love giving advice, so I just had to write mine down to share with you (in no particular order):
- Bring snacks which have a high water content, such as grapes, melon cubes (with a toothpick!), carrot sticks, cucumber slices, and celery sticks. You don’t want to be downing water the entire time or getting up for the bathroom even 20 minutes, so sneak water into your food wherever you can. Most of the time we want to munch out of boredom, but salty and sweet snacks will only make you thirsty, not to mention the higher calorie content and lack of vitamins and minerals.
- Bring soaked nuts to snack on too – all that fruit and veg will, believe it or not, get tiresome. I eat for textures more than taste a lot of the time, and it’s only so long before I start to crave something fatty. Almonds are great as they are alkaline so will help settle stomach acid, and if you soak them you’re not only making them easier to digest but also boosting your water intake. Bonus!
- Bring a tube of electrolytes. Even if you don’t have any for sport, a tube normally only sets you back £6 for 12-20 tablets for a yield of 6-10 litres. You don’t want to survive on one water bottle for a 14-hour flight, nor rely on cabin crew service, so give the water you have a little something extra. I’ve also resolved to ask for a glass of water every time I’m offered a drink and am awake, and to drink a glass of water every time I get up to use the toilet or stretch my legs.
- Wear clothing that doesn’t require a belt to get through security faster and so you don’t have anything cutting into you during the flight.
- Bring moisturiser and eye drops – it’s worth the extra hassle at security to avoid dry hands, stinging eyes, chapped lips, and a tight face from all the air conditioning. Coconut oil would work well here too.
- Invest in a pair of compression socks or compression tights. Not necessarily the most comfortable item of clothing, I find they don’t stop my legs getting fidgety but they help them feel much better each time I get up to stretch my legs and by the time I’ve gotten off the plane either between flights or at the end of my journey, I feel almost as good as new. I use the same 2xu tights as I use post-training, and I like wearing tights as my legs can get cold on a flight, but Ben prefers his calf-guards.
- Stretch your hamstrings and chest. Most of us have overly tight hamstrings and chests anyway, but especially when you’re sitting down for several hours. Stretch your right hamstring by stepping forward slightly with the right leg, bending your left leg and pushing your bum back, keeping your weight on your left leg and both feet on the floor. Stretch your chest by clasping hands behind your back or by holding on to something (a door frame works well) at shoulder height with your arm straight and slowly turning your torso away from it. I also like to rotate my torso, bend my torso left and right, dangle my hands down to the floor with my legs straight, stretch my shoulders and triceps, stretch my glutes… Just get moving any which way.
- Wiggle your toes, circle your ankles, point your toes and flex them up towards your shins – they have plenty of examples and diagrams in inflight magazines. Do it whilst watching a movie and whenever you walk around. If there’s a spare blanket or cushion around, I like to put it on the floor under my feet so I can scrunch it up with my toes and release. All of this gets the blood flowing.
- Don’t bring chocolate. This was a hard one for me as I almost always want chocolate on a flight, but I have had to learn my lesson that I always drop a crumb of it on myself and end up with melted chocolate stained into my clothes. It’s not a big deal, but it just contributes to feeling crap after a flight. Consider a cocoa-flavoured fruit-and-nut bar (like a Nakd or Trek bar, or similar) to help satisfy that craving but provide some nutritional value.
- On that note, wear dark clothing to camouflage stains and creases. In the aforementioned inflight magazine, one person noted that this also avoids reflecting in the entertainment screen. Clever!
- Don’t drink any tea, coffee, caffeinated soft drinks (Coca-Cola, Sprite), or alcohol. Sorry for being a drag – believe me I question my own advice every time the hot drink cart comes around – but they will dehydrate you, make you need to go to the toilet more, and keep you awake. Look forward to your caffeinated beverage of choice when you get off the flight, honestly it’ll pay off.
- Invest in a grip ball or stress ball, to help promote blood flow or, if your sport requires a strong grip, to capitalise on the time to work your grip strength.
- Wear layers, many layers. This might sound obvious and most people I know do it already, but you never know how hot or cold a cabin will be. I normally wear a vest top, a thin long-sleeved top, and a thin hoodie – a light scarf is a good idea too as necks can get quite chilly when exposed.
- Ladies, you may want to consider wearing a sports bra – the pull-over compression kind rather than the multi-strapped kind. Twisted bra straps? Underwires digging in? Strap adjustors cutting into shoulder blades? No thanks. I like my SportJock sports bra, which I ironically find useless for exercise, because it’s soft with a thick band and doesn’t cut in anywhere.
- Wear or bring a watch and set it to your destination time when you take off, so you can try and time your sleeping as appropriately as possible.
- Request a special meal even if you don’t have additional dietary requirements. The food is always better – does anyone ever get any enjoyment out of aeroplane meat? – and you know your preferred option won’t run out. There are normally heaps of different options available these days including fruit platter, raw, and various vegetarian and religious diets. I would highly recommend a fruit platter for at least part of your trip!
- Wear comfortable shoes with decent padding, like trainers or even Crocs, because you do a lot more walking in airports than you realise (and if you don’t, then you should!), and if you have heavy hand luggage (I always have my laptop and lots of water in my backpack) that’s a lot of weight going through your poor feet.
- I think it probably goes without saying that a toothbrush is a great idea, but I’m going to say it anyway. If like me you’re constantly snacking (on fruit and sugary things, no less), your mouth can wind up feeling pretty nasty – not to mention sleeping with your mouth open in recycled air conditioning. I stopped bothering with brushing my teeth inflight until my latest flight, but it made me feel so much better when I did.
That’s pretty much all that springs to mind at the moment, but let me know if you have any other flight or travelling tips – or if you use any of these!