Whether flying halfway around the world or making the trek from JFK to LAX, flying for periods over four hours can wreak havoc on our bodies. From jet lag to the infamous dry skin, long flights tend to stick with us, even after dropping us off at our final destination. But, not to fear. We talked with several beauty and travel experts about how to prepare for a long flight. They shared how to reach our final destination as refreshed as when we boarded the plane. Here, we’ll go through the logistics of what to pack and steps to take while on the plane. Plus, how to reset our bodies to acclimate for both the time lost and the time differences.
What should you pack for a long flight?
Known iconically as ‘traveler’s dry eye,’ the dry air that’s blasted through the airplane vents can cause uncomfortable eye irritation, leading to red and itchy eyes. This is because the humidity is often almost half of what our bodies are used to. By bringing eye drops, you’re adding back the moisture into your eye to avoid dry eye. Additionally, try to close the air vents and wear an eye mask when you’re napping or sleeping.
Extra Change of Clothes
Yes, this includes underwear. Just like you get out of bed and change out of your pajamas, when you’re acclimating your body from ‘rest’ time to wakefulness, it’s important to feel refreshed and get out of the clothes that you just spent the last four-plus hours in, either sleeping or binge-watching movies. Some travelers also like to bring comfy, large wraps or scarves that can double as a blanket during longer flights.
Face and Eye Cream, or Hydration Masks
Just like the dry air can be irritating on our eyes, it can also harm our skin, in particular, the sensitive skin on our faces. Pack a boosting hydrating face cream or even a sheet mask. In doing so, we’re allowing our skin to lock in and receive extra moisture. This way our faces don’t look blotchy and begin to peel by the time that the plane lands. Lou Martelli from Belmondo Beauty, recommends Bio Cellulose sheet masks. They pack a hydration-punch and act as a second skin throughout your flight. (So you don’t have to worry about the product moving around or creating a mess).
According to Constante Quirino, who works with Ayr Skin Care, “Hands are the first place that sun damage can appear on the skin (even on planes!). And they are often neglected during many skin care regimens. We should make sure to keep our hands constantly moisturized (especially on planes).” Do this by packing along a hand cream with ingredients like argan oil, shea, cocoa, or mango butter, or neroli oil to help nourish the skin.
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Some airlines may have this for you in your welcome kit, but most do not. So it’s important to bring a set with you, just in case. To avoid having an icky taste while going through customs (and, of course, cavity prevention), it’s important to brush your teeth at least once on a long distance flight.
Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of Future Health Now Encyclopedia, recommends “Compression socks and/or pants [that] will also help with improved blood circulation in your legs and feet.” Additionally, she suggests using the compression socks/pants during the flight and sleeping in them for one or two nights after the flight to secure blood flow and circulation.
To be used in addition to facial moisturizing cream or serum, a water mist is a great addition to pack into your carry-on. It’s a must-have for Beauty Expert Janice Petit de Mange. The dry, over-circulated air on planes, as well as in airports and hotels, leaves our faces and skin drained of moisture. Hydrating the skin’s surface needs to be done from the outside (due to the lack of hydration in the air), so pack a water mist.
Tips for During the Flight
According to Diane Elizabeth, beauty expert and founder of Skin Care Ox, it’s very important to drink lots of water! “There is no better remedy for dehydration than good old-fashioned water. Not only does our skin get dehydrated by the in-flight climate, but our bodily systems are dehydrated, as well. Not to mention, sitting for extended periods of time slows your circulation and makes it harder for your tissues to get the nutrients that it needs. To keep your skin and body feeling refreshed, be sure to drink at least eight ounces of water every hour while on a flight. Don’t worry about taking multiple trips to the bathroom. Use it as an excuse to stretch your legs and get your blood pumping!” And speaking of which…
Move around and stretch.
Whether it’s getting out of your chair to head to the restroom or practicing some yoga and moderate stretching in your seat, it’s important to get your body moving and increase circulation to your legs and other limbs. Sitting in place for too long over a period of time can create stiffness and in more severe cases, cause blood clots.
Ask for an extra cup of ice.
When the stewardess asks you what you would like to drink, ask for an additional cup of ice. This cup will be for your face or eye cream. When the cream you place on your face is cool, it activates your body’s cells and combats puffiness. This is necessary after a long flight.
Avoid the temptation of salty snacks and alcohol.
You know what will also combat puffy eyes? Laying off both the salt and alcohol. These two items, while notably advertised as staples in the in-flight experience, are actually disastrous to our bodies when we’re thousands of feet in the air. The dry air already adds to our layer of dehydration. Additionally, both the salt and alcohol work against us to strip our bodies of all the water that our cells have left. Instead, try eating a healthy plant-based meal before your flight. It may also be wise to avoid eating a big and heavy meal before a flight, as digestion may impact our sleep patterns. Taking a probiotic is also be a good idea. It aids in digestion to help create a relaxing trip without tummy problems.
Reset your mental clock.
One of the toughest, yet most important aspects of long-distance flying, is getting your body adjusted to your new time zone. Whether you’re coming back home or exploring a new city for a couple days, it’s silly to waste time and energy re-acclimating your sleep schedule. One way to prep for your body’s new mental clock adjustment is to set yourself in the upcoming time zone before you even land. Do this by sleeping in routine with the area you’re traveling to. For example, if you’re landing at 10 p.m. on your upcoming destination, try staying awake for your flight. Or, if you land at 8 a.m., try spending the flight resting and getting a good night’s sleep. For some, sleeping on planes is a difficult task. We’ve provided a few examples of different factors that can contribute to you catching those Z’s during your flight.
Avoid it completely (if you can). By having a fresh slate and not having an outside stimulus keep you up, your body will be more susceptible to falling asleep.
Bring needed sleep aids.
It’s ok to need a little help! Some travelers recommend melatonin pills or bringing calming tea (like peppermint) with them on a long flight. Additionally, Shannon Eggleton, who works with Aeroscena, says that aromatherapy or essential oils that are intended for situations such as travel can help with jet lag, restfulness, or even help fight flying anxiety.