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.

Skip the alcohol, no matter how pretty it is.

Skip the alcohol, no matter how pretty it is.

  • Skip the alcohol, or have only one drink. Drinking too much alcohol will dehydrate you.
  • Be cordial to your unknown seat partner, 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?

  • Husband takes half an Ambien and he’s good to zonk. Me? I’ve tried everything, but I simply can’t sleep on a plane. I read, write on my Mac (if there’s room), and junk out on movies.
  • Note about sleeping: if you are a snorer, try a Breathe Right strip (or something like it)–out of regard for your seatmates.
  • Ear plugs, earbuds (don’t rely on the airline headsets—they aren’t the best) or noise canceling? Take your pick, but take one.
  • I like a crescent-shaped neck pillow full of tiny beads, but test what works for you. We have two and one is not filled very full and is uncomfortable. Mostly it stays at home in the closet.
  • Drink a lot of water.
  • Buy at least two bottles before you get on the plane and drink it! There will be a cart in the back with glasses of water. Drinking a lot keeps you hydrated and makes you get up and walk to the bathroom.

Speaking of getting out of your seat—do so!

  • 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!), get up and walk up the aisles at least three or four times depending on the length of the flight.
  • This helps 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.

  • Try not to remove your shoes or you may not get them back on. It’s normal to swell up a bit on a flight, so the looser the shoe, the more comfortable you’ll be when you start walking again.

Travel with disinfectant wipes.

  • Wipe off the trays and armrests. It’s bad enough to breathe everyone else’s air, try to de-cootie whatever surfaces you can. Yes, call me Felix Unger.
  • Also take a packet of hand-sanitizing wipes, not the liquid stuff. Although the bathrooms remain surprisingly clean (thank you, flight attendants), I’m a freak about clean hands.

Take snacks.

  • Gummies appeal to us. 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!


  • Please don’t carry on McDonald’s. Nothing has ever smelled so foul as Mickey D’s in a confined space! Be mindful of other passengers.
  • Ocean flights are the last flights where they feed you dinner and breakfast. I used to get vegetarian meals but, airlines have defaulted to Indian food. 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. standard offering: chicken or pasta–I eat around the noodles.
  • Breakfast varies by airline. It can be something pretty decent or a dried up roll with maybe a real egg on it.

Carry Tums (or your personal choice).

  • What a tummy saver!

Motion queasy?

  • Bonine works well or you can rely on wristbands.

Carry On … and other luggage to deal with.

  • Traveling with husband, we check a bag because he overpacks for every trip.
  • On these trips, I use a small PacSafe backpack. It is non-slashable and has locks on the zippers. I carry the essentials: eyedrops, mascara, toothbrush/paste … you get the idea.
  • When sister and I travel, we tuck everything in backpacks: toothbrush/paste, eyedrops, mascara, underwear. Okay, we take a small suitcase with us for the things that follow us home.


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

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. Better to skip it.

Flying west to east?

  • I have to stay upright until my normal bedtime. I do this and I’m on the proper clock the next morning.
  • Be as active as you can the moment you land, eat light, drink light (alcohol, that is—keep up with your water intake), and sleep well.

Flying east to west?

  • I’ve gone to Hawaii multiple times, sometimes arriving around 6:00 p.m. and others after 9:00 p.m. Either way, it seems to work best to have a light dinner, a seaside stroll and then lights out.

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!