Ok, I lied. Lies, lies, all of the lies.
I’ve seen so many articles with titles like this one, and I’ve tried most of their recommendations, and I’m here to break some news to you: They’re all bonkers. They’re full of it.
I’ve learned the trick of wearing leggings and a loose, comfy knit dress that looks cute and feels like pajamas, with comfy shoes that easily slip on and off.
I’ve learned to drink water like there’s no tomorrow and apply moisturizer and lip balm regularly. Sometimes I’ve even done those awesome hydrating sheet face masks on planes.
I’ve learned to get an aisle seat so I can stretch out my legs, and I’ve learned to walk up and down the aisles at least once every hour or two.
I’ve learned to pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, mascara and a small bottle of face wash in my carry-on to freshen up right after landing at my layover airport. I’ve learned to make layovers something fun and exciting to look forward to, whether that’s going into the city for some quick tourism, or getting a manicure at the airport spa and finding the best airport coffee shop.
And here’s the thing: These tips can help make the first part of my flight- from the states to Europe or the Middle East- really quite bearable. I always get excited boarding that first flight, like a little kid, checking out the movie and TV shows offered on my awesome little plane TV (woohoo!) and watching the plane inch along the route on that flight map and looking out the windows at the clouds that look like fields of puffy snow. I get off the plane in Zurich or Istanbul or Dubai or wherever, sleep-deprived but feeling hydrated and not too uncomfortable and looking relatively cute in that well-planned outfit. I freshen up in the airport bathroom and make the most of my layover.
I board my next flight, the 8 to 10 hour second leg of my trip, and I’ll tell you I have never EVER managed to emerge from that second flight feeling at all more alive than a zombie. Wait, no, zombies chase people and eat their brains. That requires energy. I don’t have that kind of energy after a long haul flight. I stumble out the plane door and down the stairs and into the bus and into the terminal and into the visa line, a shadow of my twenty-hours-earlier self. I do not feel comfortable, no matter what they promised me those leggings and those walks up and down the plane aisle and all that water and that face mask would do for me. I do not look cute. I look like death.
Those upbeat listicles promising to make economy feel like first class, promising to make stepping off a twenty-hour flight feel like like stepping off a two-hour flight, look, they have some helpful hints that are worth trying out, and they may be able to make your flight to Europe pleasant and comfortable. But if you’re flying to Asia or Africa? Just face it, you will get off that last flight uncomfortable and zombie-faced, there is no way around it, it’s just a thing you have to deal with and there’s no listicle on earth that can save you. Unless maybe you fly first class which let’s be real is not usually a feasible reality for us ninety-nine percent.
Here’s the plain, honest, no-BS truth:
Traveling the world is fun. But long-haul flights are terrible.