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Skip the jetlag and get right down to enjoying your holidays

Quick notes:

• Hydration is key

• Invest in good travel accessories

• Prepare your body

• Choose flights wisely

Looking after yourself on long haul flights doesn’t start when you depart

Just as you would prepare for your actual trip, it’s key to prepare for the long haul flight that gets you there. With long flights come big time differences, and that usually means a bit of jetlag. It’s not an option for everyone, but if you can, try to adjust your sleep schedule gradually the week before you leave. Even if you can lessen the change by just a couple of hours, your body will thank you for it on the other end.

If you are unable to change your schedule (totally reasonable — people have jobs to do), you can control your melatonin and light levels during your travel time to help with your sleep schedule. Melatonin and light work hand-in-hand so if it’s bedtime at your destination, try to get some shut-eye on the plane by taking a melatonin supplement and throwing on an eye mask. When it’s time to wake up, expose yourself to daylight and your melatonin levels will naturally decrease.

Piqsels – CC

Investing in travel accessories is investing in yourself

We are all too ready to spend what we need to have the perfect holiday, but many would flinch at a $30 travel pillow. Not everybody can afford a lay-flat seat in the premium cabins but you can invest in the travel accessories you need to have the best flight experience possible. The space is cramped, and sleeping upright is hard, so a great travel pillow is key. Make sure to think about how you are comfortable sleeping, and choose from the plethora of styles of available accordingly.

Other important accessories that should be in your hand luggage at all times are earplugs (or even better — noise-canceling headphones) and the aforementioned eye mask. In addition to regulating your light and noise exposure, if you can’t hear them, and they can’t see whether you’re asleep or awake, chances are your seatmate will bug you a lot less!

Bring supplies and keep them handy

It’s easy to laugh at the little old couples who bring their favorite cocoa on holiday with them just in case, but there are things that are very useful to have with you at all times. This is why you should always pack a cabin bag with essentials when you’re traveling. 10+ hours with no access to a shower can start to feel really grimy, not to mention any potential lost luggage situation that could occur.

Think about the things you really can’t live without, and things you need to stay fresh: clean underwear, wet wipes, a hairbrush, cosmetics, medication. If you’re extra cautious and can pack well, bring enough to tide you over for a day at your destination too — that means considering the weather there and packing accordingly.

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Skip the free booze and stick with the hydration station

I know, I know, free drinks are great! What’s not so great is how it impacts your body in the air. Not only will you feel more drunk more quickly, but it will also dehydrate you. With less than 20% humidity in most airplane cabins, you’ll already dehydrate really easy in the air, so drinking alcohol will only exacerbate that. Instead, stick with lemon water or tea, and bring a refillable water bottle. Those little plastic cups are barely a mouthful — not to mention wasteful.

In addition to the dehydration happening inside your body, you’ll want to keep hydrating the outside. This is where your cabin bag comes in handy: moisturizer, eye drops, nasal spray, and chapstick will all help you to feel less bedraggled by the end of your flight. If you can keep them accessible and keep using them en route, do! Just remember to stick to the in-flight liquid limits.

Dress for comfort, not the catwalk

We’ve all heard how ‘flying used to be an occasion’. Well, that was in a time when flying was always luxurious, and the journey was as much of an event as the destination. Nowadays, that’s not always the case. Being squished into an economy seat on a long haul flight gets uncomfortable enough without stiff, tight clothing.

Wear soft, loose clothing, and super comfy footwear to ensure your wardrobe choices don’t hinder your ability to get some rest. Layering can be helpful with unpredictable temperatures in airports and on the long haul flight itself, and serve to create cool looks so that you don’t completely forsake fashion for function.

“Wear soft, loose clothing, and super comfy footwear to ensure your wardrobe choices don’t hinder your ability to get some rest.”

Most seasoned flyers would agree that rogue bare feet about the plane cabin are a big faux-pas, so if you’re striving for the ultimate comfort pack some slipper socks. That way you can release your tootsies without grossing out any fellow travelers.

Make the most of any perks

The airlines and flights you choose can have a huge impact on your long haul flight experience, so dig a little. Look into what benefits you get during a layover, what planes they fly on, the times you take off and land, any perks you may get from your credit card or frequent flyer membership.

Some airlines provide lounge access, showers, hotels, and meals if you have a long layover. Others will have you waiting in the terminal. Some newer models of planes have improved air quality, to help with that pesky dehydration. the legroom, entertainment options, food, and baggage allowances on flights all vary. So when you’re choosing your flight — even if you don’t want to cough up for an upgraded seat or cabin — pay attention to the details for a fair comparison and to make your journey bearable.

A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:

• Flight attendants’ five best tips to make your next flight more enjoyable | Living 101

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