Taking that first air trip over six hours?

Here are tips to help you avoid being totally exhausted after the long flights taking you to your dream vacation.

There’s a trick or two involved in feeling good when you’re going west to east—


skip the alcohol–no matter how pretty

I was lucky enough to learn that on my first European adventure. So, sleep or don’t sleep on the plane, but when you land, stay upright until your usual bedtime. When I have succumbed to an upon-arrival or afternoon nap, it’s taken me days to acclimate. When I stick to the plan and keep active, limit the caffeine and alcohol and let my head hit the pillow at 10:00 p.m., I awaken the next day raring to go.

Flights to Hawaii (east to west) have been both overnighters or taken off in the early a.m. Basically, you gain time and if you again stay busy, you shouldn’t have any problems.

The more you fly, the more you observe others, applying and refining what works for you. Here you go!

1. Skip the alcohol, or have only one drink. Drinking too much alcohol will dehydrate you, drying your skin out and making you uncomfortable.

2. Be cordial to the unknown person beside you, but make it clear that you are going to read, sleep, or watch TV. Don’t start talking or you may be talking for the duration of the flight.

Plan on sleeping?

3. Plan on sleeping? Husband takes half an Ambien and he’s good to zonk. Me? I’ve tried everything, I simply can’t sleep on a plane. I read, write on my Mac (if there’s room), and junk out on movies. 

4. Note about sleeping: if you are a snorer, try a Breathe Right strip (or something like it). Your seat mates will appreciate it.

5. Ear plugs, ear buds (don’t rely on the airline headsets—they aren’t the best) or noise canceling? Take your pick, but take one.

6. Formerly, I was a fan of a crescent-shaped neck pillow full of tiny beads, but my niece got me hooked on a Trtl Pillow—what comfort! 

7. Drink a lot of water. Buy at least two bottles before you board and drink it! There will also be a cart in the rear galley with glasses of water available. Drinking a lot does a couple things: keeps you hydrated and causes you to get up and walk to the bathroom.

Speaking of getting out of your seat—do so!

8. Without disturbing your seat mates any more than you have to (don’t pull on the seat in front of you—someone is sitting there!), unhook that seat belt to walk up and down the aisles at least three or four times depending on the length of the flight. This will help your circulation and you’ll feel better. If you have any circulation issues, talk to your doctor about the pros/cons of compression stockings/socks.

Wear loose shoes.

9. Don’t take your shoes off or you may not get them back on. It’s normal to swell up a bit on a flight, so the looser the shoes (and clothing), the more comfortable you’ll be when you disembark and take that long walk to exit the airport.

Travel with disinfectant wipes.

10. I always travel with disinfectant wipes. The liquid stuff serves a good purpose, but the wipes are handy to clean off the trays and armrests. It’s bad enough I’m breathing everyone else’s air, I try to de-cootie whatever surface I can. Yes, call me Felix Unger.

11. The other small packet I take are hand-sanitizing wipes. Although the bathrooms remain surprisingly clean (thank you, flight attendants), I’m a freak about clean hands. 

Take snacks.

12. Take snacks. Gummies, we prefer Trader Joe’s Scandinavian Swimmers. Because they are chewable, they help with the cabin pressure by making our ears pop. Sometimes I’ll take Reese’s Pieces or a cut up apple—depends on if I’m feeling bad or healthy! 


13. Food. Argh, don’t carry on McDonald’s. Nothing has ever smelled so foul as Mickey D’s in a confined space! Ocean trips are the last flights where they feed you dinner and breakfast. I used to get vegetarian meals because I don’t eat meat. They have now defaulted to Indian food as the vegetarian option. Now, I love Indian food—curry, the whole bit—but serving it on a flight where you’re sitting for hours? Not such a good idea. They offer always chicken or pasta. I opt for the pasta and all is good and…

14. I always carry Tums. What a tummy saver! Whatever your antacid of choice is, don’t forget to pack it.

15. Breakfast varies by airline. It can be something pretty decent or a dried up roll with maybe a real egg on it. 

Motion queasy?

16. Motion queasy or a nervous flyer? Bonine works—even a half—and I used to rely on wrist bands.

Carry On … and other luggage to deal with.

17. We check a bag because husband overpacks for every trip. The essentials are tucked in my backpack: toothbrush/paste, eyedrops, mascara, underwear. You get the idea. The things I have to have for an overnight.


19. Make sure you each carry a copy of both. Email a copy to yourself and to a friend. You never know.

About your jewelry.

20. About your jewelry: leave the bling at home. Let me state it again: do not take your diamonds or flashy jewelry with you. You’ll attract pickpockets and other unwanted attention. 

Whether or not you’re a fan of flying, you’re reading this because your dream destinations are enough to lure you onto the planes, withstand the delays, and overcome the difficulties. I hope these ideas help alleviate some of the stress of getting where you want to go.

Bon Voyage!