How to Make Long International Flights Easier

Playing professional volleyball, all the action is overseas. I probably spend a total of three to four months a year in the states. This makes for a lot opportunities for 15-24 hour travel days…lucky me. After taking six flights from LAX to Hong Kong in five weeks last summer, I would say I have some basic guidelines on how to make it fly by.

  1. The goal is to sleep as much as possible to sync with the time zone you’re headed. Do some research on where you’re going. See how many hours ahead or behind the city is. This will give you some basic info on whether to sleep the night before your flight. For example, if your flight takes off when it is nighttime where you’re going, you should sleep as soon as it is take off.
  2. Stay hydrated. Avoid caffeine (or at least until landing). If you can stay as hydrated as possible this will make landing and getting where you’re going easier. It’ll help with headaches and jet lag. Also by avoiding caffeine, this will help you to sleep on the plane. Or if you’re like me, I have a sensitive stomach so this tends to help keep me from getting sick.
  3. With long flights, I take Ambien or Melatonin. I only take a half and try to knock out for as much as I need to…I typically wake up when the plane is landing. Not ideal for time-zone adjustment. But ideal for making travel easy oops.
  4. Bring ear plugs, an eye mask and a neck pillow. Try to get as cozy as possible to mimic that feeling of a bed. I use a scarf-like, fleece U shaped Trtl pillow. I find it helps keep my back from having a lot of pain and my neck from getting stiff.
  5. Hand Sanitizer, essential oils or panic button from trader joes, face wipes. All great for keeping your space clean and feeling a little better upon landing.
  6. If you know you won’t have to get up a ton, try to take a window seat. That way people aren’t climbing over you and you can rest your head.
  7. Preparing and bringing your own food is always the best option. You never really know what is in the airplane food and you can eat when you’re hungry. Plus if you can keep it from being super greasy, fried, or sugary that’ll help you feel better once off the plane.
    • I will usually make a batch of quinoa, veggies or bring a salad with chicken (sorry for who sits next to me)
    • they have hot water so you can bring oatmeal and peanut butter
    • chamomille tea is always great to help aid sleep
  8. I usually will bring a hard drive filled with movies, shows, books to watch or read for entertainment. You never know what the flight will provide or what kind of internet access you will have for a layover.
  9. Noise canceling headphones are LITERALLY life savers. I use the bose wireless speakers. And they’ve helped me sleep through the occasional screaming baby situation.
  10. Have a separate bag for everything you’ll need at your seat. Anything from neck pillows, ambien, headphones, or food so you don’t need to get up ten times.

extra tips: sucking on a hard candy like caramel in takeoff or descending will help keep your eyes from popping!

For athletes or anyone else, wear compression pants and sleeves for our legs or knees. This keeps the swelling affect from high altitude to a minimum. No one likes to have huge feet when they land.

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