Traveling long distances for work can be stressful - even under the best of circumstances. Here's a guide to help you survive your next long-haul work trip.
Whenever you have a long-haul flight ahead of you, whether it’s international or simply across the country, the first thing to pack is patience. Airline travel has made it easy to schedule face-to-face meetings with important clients all over the world, but it can also cause massive headaches and stress if you’re not careful. Follow these tips to make sure your hours in the air are as comfortable and smooth as possible.
Know Your Route
A key to reducing the stress that goes hand-in-hand with long security lines, flight delays, and baggage claim lines is to familiarize yourself with your itinerary. Well before your flight, determine the method you plan to use to get to the airport, and make sure you leave a good time cushion for traffic delays. If your flight involves a layover, know the duration and whether you have to collect your checked baggage for customs checks on international flights. If your time between planes seems impossibly short, ask an airline associate to seat you closer to the door so you can make a quicker exit for catching your connecting flight.
There’s no logic in wearing a tie or high heels when you’re boarding a long-haul flight. If you wear a blazer or jacket, lay it neatly over your carry-on in the overhead storage. Otherwise, wear loose, comfortable clothing so you can try to relax. Pack a pair of compression socks to keep your feet warm and reduce inflammation that comes from sitting for a long period. Finally, invest in a neck pillow so you don’t hobble off the plane with a stiff neck.
Eat and Drink Right
Flying causes substantial dehydration, so be sure to drink plenty of water before and during your flight. Purchase a large bottle after you get through security, and take it with you on the plane. If you’re having a meal on board, be sure to alert the airline in advance of any food allergies or preferences. In some cases, if you order a special meal, you get it well before everyone else. Otherwise, pack healthy snacks to enjoy during the flight so you won’t feel the need to eat junk food. Finally, avoid alcohol. It may relax you, but it will also dehydrate you and make you feel worse when your flight is over.
Sitting in one place for too long can make muscles ache, so make sure you move every hour or so, if possible. Walk around the plane so the blood can flow through your legs. While you’re up, stretch your hamstrings by straightening one leg at a time, then lean forward with a flat back. Twist your torso gently to one side, holding for a few breaths, then returning to center for a breath or two before twisting to the other side. In your seat, you can stretch your neck gently, and interlace your fingers and reach high toward the ceiling to stretch your shoulders. Arch and round your spine a few times and breathe.
Do not rely on the in-air movie to entertain you. Take advantage of the time you have in the air to get some work done. Pack your fully charged laptop and focus on work you need to do or any remaining details for your trip. If you prefer to relax, pack an e-reader or a few magazines you can leave behind. You may be surprised how quickly the time passes when you stay busy.
Get Some Sleep
If you’re changing time zones or taking a “red eye,” you definitely want to get some sleep on your flight. Try to pick a window seat near the middle of the plane. This reduces any turbulence you may feel and provides a place to lean while you sleep. Be sure to pack an eye mask and ear plugs (even better — sound-canceling headphones) in your carry-on luggage. If necessary, take some Valerian root or Melatonin to help you sleep.
Long-haul flights don’t have to be difficult if you prepare yourself and pack everything you need. If you have your own suggestions for making long airline travel easier, share them on our Facebook page for others to read through.