A couple of days ago,while passing the time during an unexpected delay at Newark Airport, I wrote about the value of shifting our perspective when confronted with the myriad bumps and glitches that plague the flying experience.
I promised a few tips on how to feel and look your best during and after the journey. I called these Sarah’s How To Avoid That Death Warmed Over Look Despite Only 3 Hours of Sleep, and apparently I invoked quite a bit of anticipation with that ambitious title.
At the time I was coasting on some giddiness since I had indeed only enjoyed about 3-4 hours of broken sleep on my red-eye flight the night before.
The following tips are actually a mix of yes, how to avoid looking like death warmed over – and also how to arrange things so you can minimize misery during the actual hours spent getting from here to there.
Keep in mind, the ideas are tried and true for me – some may be gold for you and others you might toss by the wayside.
I hope you glean a few sparkling tidbits here to help your through your next journey through the clouds – while packed like a sardine in an airless plane cabin.
1) Dress comfortably (but feel like you look nice)
Skip the jeans if you’re headed off on an overnight flight – unless they are stretchy and completely comfy. On the other hand, sweat pants and a baggy hoody may make you feel frumpy and old.
I remember the day when ladies dressed up in heels and business suits to travel – I’m so glad I missed that era.
I like to go for stretchy yoga-type pants or capris that are tailored enough to feel a smidgeon fashionable, along with a layered top. By layered I mean a comfortable sleeveless blouse topped with a thin cardigan.
The temperature can vary from stifling to freezing in airplane cabins so it’s good to be prepared. I bring a lightweight scarf/shawl to cover up and an extra pair of socks if I’ve worn sandals.
On the shoe front – it’s easier to wear slip-ons because of the requirement to take shoes off when going through security. They’re also easier to shuck while in-flight instead of trying to bend down to untie and remove your footwear in the tiny space you’ve been allotted.
2) Nourish yourself.
Bring healthy, tasty snacks, and find reasonably nutritious offerings when buying a meal enroute. This is not a time to skimp (financially or nutritionally), you need the energy and nourishment to keep your spirits up during the travel adventure.
Your digestion (and muffin top) will thank you if you keep it on the light side during travel day(s). Don’t go hungry, but pass on the Super Deluxe Nachos unless you want to burp your way through your flight.
Be sure you include some fresh veggies on the days you are on the move. It’s a little harder to bring these along – but you can almost always find something with some lettuce or spinach. Or at the least tuck some baby carrots into your snack bag.
And don’t count on not needing any food because your trip will be so short. I’ve found myself sitting on the tarmac for five hours, utterly grateful I’d brought a sandwich or a power bar while my fellow travelers squirmed with hunger.
It’s a little counter to the advice in #3 but find some room in your bag for a few filling and healthy snacks. I like nuts, apples, nutrition bars, even string cheese.
3) Pack Light!
Okay, this is something I’m still working on myself. But I’m getting better. At least I manage to get it all into my carry-on. Barely.
It goes without saying that when you avoid checking your luggage, you’ve eliminated the potential of a world of pain and hassle if the airline loses your bag. Plus the less you have to carry once you get there, the easier it is to enjoy the experience.
If all your belongings are with you, then if some mechanical breakdown finds you put up at a hotel for the night, you’ve got your own toothbrush and nightgown.
Of course the downside is the inability to travel with nail scissors or a Swiss army knife, and the necessity to cull down your shampoos and liquids to small containers that fit in one little Ziploc bag. And, unless you’re a minimalist, it can be tricky to figure out a small enough wardrobe that still accommodates various climate factors and all of your planned activities.
But – make it happen! You will be so glad you did.
However – don’t do what I did for this trip!
I packed my two carry-ons to the absolute brim. Not one iota of space for an additional item. Plus I had a neck pillow tied to my day pack – which, in addition to causing me to look like a total dork, got me in trouble.
Despite my best efforts to keep it centered, the darn thing swung into people’s faces as I navigated down the aisle of the plane. I cringed as one man is a business suit barked, “Madam, please!” after he got biffed.
No good. Told you I’m still working on this one.
4) Do Bring Some Essentials for Comfort, Health & Beauty.
Yes, this again somewhat contradicts what I just said, but a few key items can make a world of difference to your overall well being both in flight and afterward.
For night flying I swear by my eye mask, ear plugs – and yes, the neck pillow. I just need to get a inflatable one instead of tying that stuffed one to my pack!
It’s hard enough to contemplate sleep while crammed into that little seat, but add in the cacophony of chatter and whiny children along with an aching neck because your head is lolling and you’ll be lucky if you stay asleep for more than 5 minutes.
Resist the urge to watch the movie once or drink something you don’t really need when it’s already way past your bed time. Adjust neck pillow, insert ear plugs, pop on eye mask. It’s really amazing how the energy around you recedes and you can tune within and actually catch some shut eye.
Alternative to ear plugs: if you have an mp3 player and ear phones, some soothing music can lull you right into a decently pleasant slumber. I like to play some inspiring meditation music or chanting. You’ll know what works for you. It could be the sweet silence that good ear plugs bring.
If all your belongings aren’t with you as carry on, be sure you bring a toothbrush and toothpaste on board – so you can visit the lavatory and refresh in the “morning” (or whatever crazy hour you land), and feel like you’ve joined the land of the living
5) Stay Hydrated. It means a little inconvenience due to more visits to the tiny closet of a rest room in flight, but a well hydrated body makes a huge difference in how you look and feel. This one tip is essential for avoiding the ‘death warmed over’ look.
Drink as much water as possible (attendants on domestic flights in the U.S. will usually fill up your bottle). Go for the water instead of soft drinks or alcohol, your body will thank you (and in the case of the booze, so will your wallet.)
I like to ‘spike’ my water bottle. I sprinkle in some Vitamin C powder. A packet of Emergen-C is even better as it will replenish electrolytes.
I don’t even like to think about what I might be inhaling as the air in the cabin is recycled again and again. I also bring some echinacea tincture in my purse and swallow a few dropperfulls while in fight. That along with the extra C goes a long way toward fending off those alien germs.
Even though I make sure to drink water, my eyes and skin still get a little dried up. That’s why I’ve taken to carrying some natural eye drops and a small jar of face cream. I like the homeopathic eye drops made by Similisan – the single serving little packets make it a super lightweight addition to your purse.
Along with the face cream, you might want to tuck just a dab of makeup into your bag. Along with the tooth brushing in the ‘morning,’ hydrate your face with some cream and spiff up the makeup (keep it minimal!) for a refreshed look and feeling when you exit the plane.
Late breaking tip from Rosie: before applying your cream refresh your face with some natural face wipes, such as the Burts Bees facial cleansing towlettes pictured. Fresh hydrated face, clean teeth – suddenly you’re a new woman!
6) Move Your Body Whenever Possible.
Although it’s impossible to completely avoid that stiff, cramped feeling if your flight is longer than an hour, the more you move the better you’ll feel – which will translate into your facial expression and posture!
Make the most of all the required walking. Consider the hike from one end of the airport to the other your workout for the day (and if you’re lugging your carry-on baggage, it’s weight bearing even!)
Use some of your time waiting around the airport to do some standing stretches – who cares how weird you look! I’ve decided to just go with the batty old lady persona and stretch away, I figure it will can give others a reason to smile. (Okay, I’m still not always comfortable with this – it depends on the airport and my mood – but I’m guessing as I advance further into the menopausal years my courage to just be myself will grow.)
Once you are in the air, get up and walk around in the aisles as often as you can – particularly on longer flights. This is why I try to get an aisle seat (along with the fact that I have a bladder the size of a pea). Moving even a little gets the blood circulating which can prevent (or alleviate the severity of) those aches and pains.
7) Focus on Gratitude.
Cultivate your mental health too. What a privilege it is to have the opportunity to visit loved ones who live far away – without having to set aside our own lives for extended periods of time.
Think about where you are going (or have just been), who you get to see, and how lucky you are to have the opportunity to do so.
Maybe you’re traveling for work or something other than a vacation – take a moment to consider your good fortune to have a career that provides the personal growth opportunity offered by travel.
No matter what your reason for getting on that plane, there’s something in there you can find a shred of gratitude about. Look for it.
8. Shrug off the inconvenience.
This one’s a little more difficult, especially if the journey involves unplanned naps in hard plastic airport seats, and/or missing events you were looking forward to.
However, life is made up of all these little moments. I wrote a bit more on this in the last post. If you can find something – no matter how small – to enjoy even in the midst of travel bummers, you’re several steps ahead. My favorite way to find this is to people watch – and make up stories about the odd-looking humans one inevitably encounters in airports, and other travel hubs.
9) Make Some New Friends.
This final tip came from my friend Mindi via Facebook as I sat at the airport scrolling through my phone. A good reminder to pocket the phone and pay attention to my surroundings!
Make an effort to talk to some strangers. Share a smile or a story.
This can be a hard one for me because I’m naturally shy (despite my extroverted nature once I’m comfortable with a person or group), but the more I practice this the better I get.
I may not walk away with a hard and fast friend, but often I get a new perspective on the world or an important lesson or nugget of knowledge.
Exchanging some friendly words with your seatmate or the people standing next to you in line makes the time pass faster and more pleasantly.
Although most of the above is specific to air travel, you can apply many of these ideas to shorter (or lengthy!) journeys by train or bus. Stay hydrated, stay smiling, and give yourself a big thumbs up for partaking in the adventure!
And now it’s your turn! We got some great comments last time that deepened this whole conversation on how to enjoy the journey as well as the destination. Please share below any tips you use to stay looking and feeling good while on an extended journey.