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Dear fellow travel ladies,
Travel is one of my favorite hobbies and I try to be away from home at least once a month. For me the most exciting parts of traveling are to get to know different cultures and their food, to explore foreign cities and landscapes and to connect with people. Especially through their food, haha (yes, I mentioned that twice). I also love to capture those beautiful memories on camera and video.
However, I really dread the travel itself. I don’t like airports, I don’t like to wait and I especially don’t like being locked up for hours in a tiny space like a sardine (I wish I could fly business all the time, but I can’t, yet). So here’s to flying frequently ECO as relaxed as possible. To make this time period the most comfortable, I put together my personal travel hacks. I really hope those will help you as well!
By the way, this is me in the picture quite tired but excited (it was 2AM) waiting to board the plane on my trip from Dubai to NYC in March 2017. Check out my video of this trip here.
15 actionable tips for classy travelettes: how to survive long-haul flights – even in eco – and arrive relaxed and full of energy at your destination
- First of all, always try to get to your destination on a non-stop flight. I know, if you would opt for an additional stop, the price for your ticket might be less expensive. But: as long as you don’t save some serious money, the additional stress and the hours you will spend at your stopover location are just not worth it. Think of it like this: Your time is valuable and no matter how you spend it, you’ll never get it back. So spend a few more bucks and enjoy yourself arriving earlier at your destination to experience the city trip, hiking adventure, beach resort or whatever you’ve chosen to do.
- Second, don’t bring excessive luggage. Try to travel as light as possible. Trust me, I’ve been there: when I relocated to Dubai, I brought along A LOT of really heavy suitcases with me and it was a nightmare! So, if you don’t have to bring half your life with you, always remember: no matter what the baggage allowance is, luggage is a pain and will only drag you down. Also, you might want to buy a special piece for your wardrobe or something else, that reminds you of your trip, so better leave some space in that suitcase.
I usually travel with a backpack, where all my camera gear fits neatly (it’s a special Rollei photo backpack, I love it), one of those super light Samsonite suitcases as checked luggage and a small handbag for personal items such as wallet and passport. If I could, I’d let the backpack at home, but then, I’d miss out on all those beautiful photo opportunities…
- Every airport is different, but at least here at Dubai Airport, the airline and security staff wants to see your passport and travel documents minimum five times (no kidding) before you’re allowed to board the plane, so have your documents at hand until you pass the security check. After that only the staff at the gate and then once again at the plane entrance wants so see your documents.
- Don’t wear (too much) make-up. The air on the plane is very dry, which will affect your skin even on short flights. Your skin will get irritated anyway, so don’t stress it with additional layers of make-up. On long flights, I even remove the bit of make-up I put on my skin, before I try to sleep and do the whole beauty routine (cleaning, toner, cream). Cream is also a good idea for your hands (mine get paper dry pretty quick while flying). And don’t forget a good moisturizing lip balm (!!!).
- Staying hydrated is not only important for your skin but for your whole body. If there was no way to purchase one of those uber expensive water bottles before boarding the plane, I usually take a small (empty!) bottle with me. As soon as I’m on the plane, I ask for water. Emirates has those mini water containers and I refill them into my water bottle. Yes, it sounds cheap – still better than nothing. That way, I don’t have to wait until take-off and have something to drink until the service starts. Also, on long haul flights, the crew passes around with beverages several times and even leave them in their kitchen for self service.
I know, using the washroom frequently on a plane is not the most sexy thing – staying hydrated is so much more important though and at least you get some movement (gosh, I sound like my own grandma!). According to this article by Condé Nast Traveler, experts say you should drink 8 ounces of water per hour on long flights. For reference, one plastic cup usually holds 9 ounces.
- Fancy getting your food earlier than your fellow travelers? Nowadays, there are plenty of food option available (at least with premium airlines), which you can choose, once you check in online. All special menu requests get served before the normal service begins. I usually take the vegetarian/vegan menu (if available); most of the times, it is a really healthy option.
Beware though, if you want an upgrade (and are eligible e.g. a frequent flyer): Apparently, special meal requests rarely/never get upgraded as seen here. If you travel with a low-cost carrier, they might charge you for food. You could avoid those costs by bringing your own snacks with you. And it probably will be way healthier as well.
- Here’s an important one: Don’t drink alcohol while flying (again with the grandma voice). This topic is super unpopular. I know a lot of people, who swear, that drinking a few long drinks take you to la-la-land (or was it la-le-lu?) faster than you can spell Gin Tonic. I even had one of my closest girlfriends calling me out on BS, when I was writing that article. But I stand my ground: I know, it’s tempting to drink, especially if the airline serves welcome champagne and high quality booze, HOWEVER, trust me on this one: Don’t do it!
In short: You’ll feel like shit really fast. Long version: Your metabolism reacts different to alcohol while flying and most of the times, you’ll feel pretty crappy, even after just one drink. Why is that? Due to the low cabin pressure your blood oxygen levels are lower as well, and your body cannot cope with the same amount of alcohol, it could on earth. You will feel drunk much faster than usual. The dry air additionally supports a faster dehydration of your body. So in conclusion: If you want to treat your body like it deserves to be treated (like the one of a goddess, clearly), don’t drink alcohol while flying.
- Wear comfortable clothes. I often see people wearing an outfit as if they’re about to visit some fashion show. While you should not look like a homeless person (that’s not what comfy means), try to wear your most comfortable pants and not the tightest pair of jeans you have (thrombosis alert! Google it, if you don’t know what it is!). There are even nice looking sweat pants out there (no, I am not talking about the plushy Juicy Couture trash!).
Use some stylish sneakers and not the latest pair of high heels you got. This is a nice example. I personally love to wear tank tops and will always take a sweater with me and an extra pair of thick socks, because it gets super cold on the plane, also your destination might be really cold. The onion look works definitely best for me when traveling. And don’t use any belts or any metal jewelry, you will only have to get rid of it at the security check. Keep it simple and classy.
- If you have long hair, braid it. That way, your hair is tidied up, braids always look stylish and they will last forever (well, at least until you reach your final destination). You can see, how I braid my hair usually while traveling in the picture above (two dutch braids). Don’t know how to braid? I will put up a mini series of braiding tutorials very soon and link to it here.
- If you’re on the plane for many hours, you might want to bring some additional clothes (e.g. another t-shirt or tank top), a toothbrush, sanitizer and your most needed toiletries e.g. deodorant and towelettes. Again, premium airlines will most likely provide you with a toiletry bag; in case they don’t, you’re sorted.
I’m anyway always happy to use my own toothbrush rather than the cheap one provided by the airline. Before I ‘go to bed’, I do my beauty routine as explained above. And once my destination is only an hour and a half away, I lock myself into the washroom one last time, try to improvise a mini shower, make a mess and clean it up – and change into fresh clothes.
- Economy class is ok if you’re only flying somewhere close, but on long haul flights, it’s terrible. Most airlines will provide you with a cushion and a blanket, nevertheless take one of those neck cushions with you, if you have one. If you don’t, get one of those squeezy ones.
Yes, they look horribly touristy, on a long flight though, they will save you, even if you’re able to lie down. Also, once you check in online, check the seats availability. Very often, there are empty rows in the back of the plane. Choose a seat in one of those and reconfirm, if they’re really empty when you’re at the gate. If you’re lucky, you will get to stretch out and sleep for a few hours. Another bonus point of sitting in the back: There are usually no toddlers crying half of the flight.
- Now to the best invention ever when traveling: Noise cancelling headphones! You will start noticing how loud it is on board when you have them switched on. There are studies saying that this noise is super stressful for our bodies and minds especially if tolerated over a long period of time. I got myself the BOSE QC25 Black Edition and I love them (not only for traveling)! I have them now for more than two years, took good care of them and they’re still as new.
Their latest model is Bluetooth enabled, but on board you still need the cable. Those are over-ear headphones and come inside a handy carry case with an airline adapter, so you can connect directly with the on-board entertainment system. I’m still impressed how the outside noise fades away, when I turn them on.
- Move it: It is really important to get up and walk every once in a while. Also standing and stretching is good for our bodies. To be seated in such a small space over a long period of time might increase the likelihood of suffering of thrombosis. So get up every once in a while and walk the aisle up and down, even if only to the crew kitchen to grab a snack and water/juice.
- Most airlines nowadays offer great on-board entertainment. Being home in Dubai now, I often fly Emirates and their movie selection is really good. If for whatever reason, it is not possible for you to enjoy on-board entertainment, you could download an audiobook on your smartphone. Lately, I became a huge fan of audible and I love listening to historic novels.
- Last but not least: Try to beat the jet lag! This works best, if you adapt to the new timezone already while traveling. Change your watch to the local time of your destination and try sleeping on board when it is night time there. A lot of airlines also serve their food according to the destination time zone, which is incredibly helpful.
Once you arrive, try to stick to this routine. I know traveling is very exhausting no matter which class you fly and it might seem very tempting to take a quick nap when you arrive at your accommodation. Please wait until evening, or even better, night time to sleep and you’ll be ready for all adventures the next day!
I hope you enjoyed reading this post! Do you have any travel tips, that I didn’t cover? Or maybe you have a travel story you’d like to share with me? Let me know in the comments section below.