Tips for Long-Haul Flights

Photo by  Nathaniel C. Used through a Creative Commons license.
Photo by Nathaniel C. Used through a Creative Commons license.

As I plan for an upcoming trip to South Africa, I’m paying attention not just to the itinerary, but what I’ll be doing on the flight. It’s a long one: flying from Washington, D.C., to Johannesburg takes 16 to 17 hours, and since I don’t live anywhere near D.C., I’ll have connecting flights, too.

I have some experience with long flights thanks to previous travels to Kenya and Tanzania, but thought I’d peruse the web for more ideas on making the flight fun and comfortable. I found helpful articles in National Geographic Traveler and The New York Times that gave me additional pointers. Some of the things I’m planning to do:

  • Wear comfortable clothes.
  • Bring an ergonomic seat cushion and inflatable back support. These are essential for me since I have back problems, but can increase comfort even for those who don’t.
  • Walk the aisles often to give my legs a stretch.
  • Bring an e-reader loaded with genre books that make fun reading even when I’m half-asleep. (And don’t forget the portable charger, just in case the plane isn’t equipped with USB charging stations.)
  • Watch all the blockbusters I didn’t catch when they were in the theaters.
  • Drink plenty of water.

I am one of those people who have a terrible time falling asleep while sitting up. Some people swear by having a glass of wine, while others prefer melatonin or Benadryl to make them sleepy. (Always check with a doctor before trying a new medicine.) After trial and error, I’ve found a trick that rarely fails to put me to sleep when flying: download the audio narration of a challenging book, like Virgil’s Aeneid or Dante’s Inferno, and listen to it via noise-cancelling earphones when I start to get drowsy. I end up concentrating so hard on trying to understand the narrative that I forget I’m sitting in an airplane, and before I know it, I’m asleep.

For additional tips, check out these articles:

And wherever you’re headed, have a great flight!

This post was written by Kathryn, Ujuzi’s communications assistant.


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