My partner is a Good Traveller. It’s a label that deserves capitalisation because even though many people love holidays, few enjoy the whole actually-getting-there business. But Brian loves travelling. And he worships flying. From zooming take-off through to rocky turbulence and the hours and hours of free time, he adores it all. He even likes the food (I know?!) It all gives him a sort of giddy, child-like excitement.
Meanwhile, I’m a Reluctant Traveller. Not only do I get travel anxiety, but unless I’m driving, I also get motion sickness. And since I’ve yet to nail down how exactly to fly an aircraft, that means that the eight plus hours it takes us to journey overseas on a long-haul flight is usually spent in tummy-lurching, brain-blurring turmoil.
But a few years ago I researched, experimented and explored ways to transform the horror of a long-haul flight into something less resembling the depths of Tartarus (i.e. hell). And the good news is that with a bit of planning and an I-can-do-this attitude, you too can stay healthy – and happy! – on a long-haul flight. Here’s how.
How to stay healthy (and happy!) on a long-haul flight
Load up on five-star entertainment
The best part of flying – for me – is being able to dive into all of the books, TV shows and magazines that I haven’t had a chance to enjoy yet. I never work on flights (although I sometimes write, if inspiration strikes) solely because I want to savour the experience so anything I can do to infuse some fun and enjoyment into the trip, I do it.
Happy + Well Tip: Build your own ‘five-star entertainment’ library of books, TV shows, movies, music and magazines that you love. The more, the better, because you never know what you’ll be in the mood for. Luckily, you should be able to fit it all on one of your devices (I use my iPad) so it won’t take up too much space
Have an arrival plan
There’s nothing worse than being an-hour away from your destination and feeling caught up in worries of all the things you have to do when you land. But by taking control early on, you can significantly decrease the stress of arrival so you’re cool, calm and ready to enjoy your upcoming adventure.
Happy + Well Tip: Create an itinerary and load it onto your phone. Include where you’re going (the address and phone number of your hotel/host) and how you’re going to get there. Make sure you add extra time for toilet and refreshment breaks too so you don’t feel rushed.
Choose your seat wisely
You’d think that it’s all much-of-a-muchness (especially if you fly economy, like me) but where you sit is actually incredibly important if you’re on a long-haul flight. Me, I like to pay a little bit more to get the up-front, extra legroom, exit-row seats. Not only does this position me up the front of the aircraft – and in the perfect position to scope out the flight attendant’s faces during turbulence to see whether I should panic or not) but it gets me away from a lot of the noise of economy class so I feel like I’m in my own special area.
Happy + Well Tip: Have a think about what’s important to you (easy access to the toilets? Extra legroom? Window seats? Exit row?) and then choose your seating based on your needs. Book it in early so you can be sure to lock down your preferred seat. Oh and don’t forget to sanitise your seat when you arrive!
Go slow and meditate
Ever felt like time both speeds up (Rush-rush-rush I’m gonna be late! Rush-rush-rush) and slows down (are we there yet?) when you travel? This choppy, adrenalin-soaked state can wreak havoc on your immune system and increase the risk of illness and anxiety while you’re travelling. It’s for this reason that I recommend deliberately and consciously going slowly (moving slowly, eating slowly etc.) while travelling.
Happy + Well Tip: When and where possible, try to take time out for a five-minute meditation to relax your parasympathetic nervous system.
We often drink less water than normal when we travel. Combined with the low humidity of airplane cabins, this can be a recipe for hydration disaster. But by staying hydrated you can ward off sickness and any bugs flying around while keeping your body – and mind – happy + well.
Happy + Well Tip: Bring a water bottle with you onto the flight and as soon as you sit down, ask your flight attendant to fill it up for you. Whenever possible, get it refilled.
Bring your health apothecary
All of your health and wellness rituals don’t have to fall by the wayside just because you’re travelling … why not include them as part of your adventure? I always bring a small satchel of health-nourishing goodies with me when I travel.
Happy + Well Tip: Build your own health apothecary and pack it in a small carry-on bag (being sure to stick to carry-on rules). Make sure you include hand sanitiser, hand wipes and a cozy blankie or shawl.
I know, I know: it can be tempting to curl up under your blanket, slip on your eye mask and disappear for eight hours (or until your flight lands). But staying still for long periods of time – particularly while flying – isn’t good for your health.
Happy + Well Tip: Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to get up and stretch every hour while you’re flying.
Rest as much as possible
Irrespective of what timezone I’m travelling to, I always make sure I get as much rest as possible. Flying automatically puts your body under a lot of stress but you can support it as much as possible by making an effort to rest and sleep. You might not be able to sleep the entire trip, and that’s okay, at least you’ll get some.
Happy + Well Tip: Invest in a good eyemask and use a guided meditation to help you slip into a happy slumber.
How do you stay happy + well when you travel? Share your tips and tricks by dropping a comment below.
Like this article? Don’t forget to download our free Adventure Edition of Happiness + Wellbeing Magazine!
Cass also owns and runs Wild Spirit Co., a creative copywriting (which is just fancy word for ‘writing’) agency devoted to helping soulful small businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups communicate their brand with confidence. You can hire her for website copywriting, eBook copywriting and editing, sales page copywriting, article writing, blogging, editing, proofreading and more. Visit her site at http://www.wildspirit.co
A quintessential daydreamer with a penchant for cloud-watching, reading, yoga, hula-hooping and crisp, mountain air (or really, nature of any kind, but mountain air sounded way cooler), she can usually be found with a book in one hand and a journal in the other. The pen, of course, will be tucked behind her ear at some stage and quickly forgotten as she floats through the rest of her day.