Nice To Meet You. Can We Talk for 16 Hours?


It’s been a weird week so far. I’ve spent the last 48 hours in a hospital room with a child on steroids due to some asthma-on-fire. She’s fine; I’m fine; we’re all fine. In the big scheme of things, we’re fantastic. If I want to get petty, I’ll say that averaging two hours of sleep each night on a lumpy couch kind of sucks and I wouldn’t push away some serious coddling right now.

Yes, by all means… Brush my hair. Make me dinner. Rub my shoulders. Run my errands.

We are now home and showered (thank God) and I’m pounding that caffeine hard because Balmy Hospital Visit 2014 ended right before SE Asia Trip 2014 and I’ve got some hustling to do before I shower my children in kisses and pre-trip gifts (full admission – it’s whatever) and hop on fourteen planes.

Which brings me to this: I’m exaggerating when I say fourteen planes, but not by much. To get to my destination, I have to take three flights of varying lengths: two of them about five hours long, but one is a whopping sixteen hours.

I’m going to be on a plane for twenty-six hours…. and then another twenty-six hours.


[photo credit]

Now, the plane should probably be the least of my concern. I’ll be observing some heavy situations and becoming privy to some really hard circumstances – all of this I’m sort of mentally preparing for privately… sort of. To be honest I’m wavering between reading an overwhelming amount of material and then actually forcing myself to focus on trivial things because the trip will be heavy enough on its own. Does that even make sense? SUPER HEAVY TRIP COMING UP, but I’ve read too many awful stories so now I need to focus on if this particular town carries my brand of tampons or not. IDK.

Can we talk about the twenty-six hours of flight time? Particularly, any suggestions for how to remain in an enclosed space for sixteen hours without losing my mind? Petty, right? I mean it feels petty until I buckle in on my first flight and blow through an issue of Fast Company before the plane even takes off and then I start panicking. My usual MO is to get on the plane, hope to fall asleep, and try not to drool on the person next to me, but I’m not a big international traveler, so this is an entirely different game.

Should I pack snacks? Is it weird if I start doing yoga moves in the aisle? Compression socks… those are a thing, right? But are they just a thing for grandmothers or should I get some? Is it reasonable to expect that I’ll get a ton of work done on the plane? I could write twenty-six blog posts! I could knit a sweater! I have an aisle seat for mobility, but that means I lose the “sort of pillow” that the window seat provides. Should I bring a pillow? I think I have an old Nook around here somewhere.. the non backlit kind. Maybe I could read books? And take drugs for motion sickness… and drugs for sleeping…

Cool. Well. Thanks for letting me get all of this pettiness out there. If this post is completely over the top, let’s blame it on my cocktail of Diet Coke and sleep deprivation. Still waiting for someone to brush my hair and make me a milkshake.

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  • Reply Fariha June 11, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Poor you! I hope the girls are feeling better. Asthma sucks.

    I live a 16 hour plane ride from home so here are some of my best tips:

    Pack socks, moisturiser, face wash/ wipes, toothpaste, etc in your hand carry. I don’t. Know if it’s the cabin pressure or lack of movement but long airplane rides really funkily people (me).

    Try and keep a variety of reading material, snacks, lots of water and some of your own music.

    I’ve never needed compression socks except when I was pregnant but obv you must move around a bit.

    Good luck!

  • Reply Emily June 11, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    I actually just got back from Cambodia last night, so this post couldn’t be much more timely. My recommendations- yes, bring snacks. You might not be hungry when they bring you meals, and even if you are, I find that airplane food can vary from palatable to yuck. On the way over I brought some Clif bars and that was nice. Nuts and dried fruit are good, too.

    Aisle seats are good because you can get up whenever you want without having to sit there thinking, “I really have to pee, but the person next to me is asleep and I will feel so bad if I wake them up…”

    And, I wouldn’t count on getting tons of work done. I don’t know why, but when I’m on a long flight I prefer to go into veg mode. The movies on the personal TV screen become my best friend.

    Have an amazing trip!

  • Reply Jennie June 11, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    A (fit and healthy) friend of mine once took a sleeping pill for a long flight and never got up to move around, resulting in a blood clot in her leg and a hospital stay so my advice is to get up fairly regularly and i say “why not” to doing yoga moves – especially if you are waiting for the bathroom :)

  • Reply Amber Schumann June 11, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Occasionally I get air sick, and it wasn’t until my flight home from Germany (to San Francisco) that I realized the severity of my air-sick-ability. 14 hours stuck on a plane, nauseated and barfing (thank you to the flight attendant that decided to live on the edge and let me sit in her attendant seat the majority of the flight so that I could claim the bathroom as MINE–apparently it’s illegal for anyone other than an attendant to sit in their seat).

    Solutions that I’ve discovered to actually work:
    Dremamine (bonus–it KNOCKS YOU OUT, so you can pass some hours sleeping)
    Sea bands (acupressure–I was never a believer until I tried).

    Usually those flights have on-demand tv, so what better opportunity to get hooked onto a new tv series!

    Make-up removing wipes (or any kind of refreshing wipes) changed my life. Something about a fresh face every couple hours seemed to turn down the been-stuck-in-one-place-for-too-long crazies in my head.

    Stretching at the end of one of the aisles–totally norm. Just make sure your butt isn’t in someone’s face.

  • Reply Sara June 11, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Those U-shaped neck pillows are totally dorky, but they totally work. I never take long flights without them. You could also watch the most of the Scandal series and get pretty deep in to The West Wing. Just sayin’.

  • Reply Sara June 11, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    I have compression socks for like the real vein issues. I never wear them— you know because I’m in my mid-twenties and, well you know— so you can borrow them. :)

  • Reply Shannon June 11, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    I am totally pumped to hear about this trip! If you start panicking on the plane, just remember that we are excited to hear what you are going to share. And popping a few pills never hurt anyone either! Sending all my love and strength from ND for your journey! You can do it seeeesta!

  • Reply Mo June 11, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Those neck pillows are awesome – but a tip for you: Buy an INFLATABLE ONE! Otherwise you’re lugging a neck pillow around and when you’re not using it and it’s taking up valuable personal space. The inflatable ones are nice and sturdy when they’re blown up, but fold up to almost nothing when they’re empty and you’re done sleeping.

    Also, a blindfold is pretty nice to have. It’s lights out even if all the windows are up and/or everyone around you is reading or watching their tvs.

    • Reply Catherine June 13, 2014 at 12:02 am

      I was just going to say the same thing re: the inflatable neck pillow. Worth their weight in gold! Which isn’t much. But, whatever, we all know what I mean…. :)

  • Reply caree June 11, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    I’ll second a few of the previous suggestions: some good wipes for taking a quick ‘cat bath’ while on the plane or on layovers, whenever you feel funky; compression socks (never tried myself but heard they work great, you don’t want swollen ankles from all that sitting); and Dramamine or whatever knocks you out.

    The long flight is an overnight flight right? Sleeping/meals takes up some of those hours. When I flew to NZ on Air Zealand, there were personal tvs with remotes, with access to movies, tv, games, music, etc. Find as many 3 hr movies as you can (Benjamin Button, etc). Also- I found booking your seat either at the exit row (room to stretch legs, do yoga, etc) OR right in front of a bulkhead, like where the bathrooms are located. That way NO ONE is directly behind you (kicking your seat, using your seat to hoist themselves out of their seat, proximity to bathrooms, etc).

  • Reply Wendy June 11, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    I did Chicago to Tokyo (16 hrs) then Tokyo to Jakarta (7hrs) about 9 years ago. Here’s my advice.

    Bring for the plane ride:
    Reading material
    Benadryl (copious amounts)
    Water bottle

    The food on international flights can vary greatly. Best to have some of your own favorite snacks. Benadryl will knock you out for a couple hours at a time if needed and can help with some of the air-sickness if you get that way. Water bottle – refill it and drink up a lot. It will help keep you hydrated on the dry, dry airplane plus if you drink enough, it will force you to get up and move enough to prevent said blood-clots just because you have to pee. Yoga while waiting for the potty sounds like a great idea…just remember to mind your manners with who you’re bending over in front of ;). Socks/sandals/sweatshirt – airplane temperatures and comfort can vary greatly within the same flight. I always feel cold when flying and like to have a sweatshirt/fleece jacket to put on just in case.

    The in-flight movies kept me pretty occupied but so did a couple of good books. Easy, fun reading is what I would recommend since you’re going on an emotional rollercoaster type trip.

    Also, be prepared, landings in SE Asia can be rough. Not to scare you but they come into the runways fast due to the hot humid temperatures so landings there are typically more bumpy/scary than say in New England. Supposedly there’s some science behind this but I don’t really understand it and just remember being jostled a bunch every time we landed somewhere while we were over there. My husband explained it but it was honestly in one ear out the other. I don’t care to know why…just wanted to be safely on the ground after travelling for so long.

    Last side note here – I would recommend packing some regular toilet paper in a ziplock baggie (IE a flattened roll or two). They don’t always have western toilets with said accommodations over there. I was even in an airport that didn’t sport western toilets at one point. We did a jaunt from one island to another so it was not an international airport. We were on a mission trip and stayed at an orphanage and did some touristy stuff while there too. We had a variety of accommodations on our visit and the toilet paper along with a bottle of Imodium were my two big life savers while there. Bottled water and bottled Coke, no ice when you’re out and about to drink and you’ll be good to go!

  • Reply Laura McClellan June 11, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Ooof. I would love to go somewhere like, Australia, but I would dread the long flight so hard. I have a thing about being trapped in an airplane, even though I’ve done it a million times, and knowing that I would be in there for 16 hours…I’d be the same as you. I would most def have to avoid thinking about that and just focus on one hour at a time. Ha. Plus, ativan. :) Good luck! I’m sure you’ll do great! And yes, snacks. ALWAYS snacks.

  • Reply amanda June 11, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Definitely wear the compression socks, it can’t hurt!! I wish I had worn some on a 12 hour flight to Israel…

  • Reply Stephanie June 11, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    My husband travels overseas a ton for work and invested in some hella expensive noise-canceling headphones and loves them. We also travel to Europe to visit his family a lot so I’ve done my share of long flights too. I ditto the eye mask, face cleaning wipes, sweatshirt and slip-on shoes. Drink tons of water and definitely move around. I’ve never used compressions socks but just bring your knees up to your chest from time to time and walk around to keep your blood from pooling in your legs. Also, and you probably know this, but try to start getting on your destination’s time in the plane – it will definitely help with jet lag. Also, gum. Maybe EmergenC or Airborne or something along those lines. Have fun and glad to hear everything’s ok with your sweet thing.

  • Reply monica June 11, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Wishing you all the best on this incredible trip and I’m looking forward to reading about your experiences. I like traveling with essential oils. I too get extremely motion sick. I’ve found a bit of relief in inhaling peppermint oil (just be careful to not get it in your eye!). I put it on my wrists my temples and even under my nose. Or I just hold the bottle and smell it like a weirdo. It helps. Thinking of you! – M

  • Reply nina June 11, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Pack so many snacks. A wide variety of sweet, salty, healthy, and junk. I was on a 16 hour flight once and when I wasn’t eating a snack I was planning which snack I would eat next. It really helped pass the time but this only works if you’re obsessed with food.

  • Reply Brittney June 11, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Glad everyone is feeling better! Compression socks are totally a thing. I flew to Prague 6 months pregnant and they were a lifesaver. If you have time go to a medical supply store to buy them. They are much more legit (and compression-y) than the ones you can buy at target or walgreens.

  • Reply Andrea V June 11, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Ha, this reminded me of our family just days before our latest long haul. My eldest swallowed a coin and had to go in for surgery to have it removed which totally messed up my very detailed list of things to do. I won’t mention the fact that I had procrastinated the week before by writing said detailed list rather than doing the things on it!

    As a fellow mother to three I would absolutely LOVE to fly 26 hours somewhere, all by myself…the books! The sleep! The movies! Seriously, I love flying long distance on my own, so much easier than toting my three kids all the way to Canada from Pakistan.

    But, carry-on. Pack at least one change of clothes, plus a couple pairs of underwear and an extra shirt. An empty water bottle to fill up once you’re past security. Deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste. Plus tons of contact lens solution. I basically travel on the assumption that my luggage is going to get lost. I would bring a couple things to nibble on, but wouldn’t go overboard, often if you go to back they’ll give you something to eat.

    At least that’s what I do!

  • Reply Andrea V June 11, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Oh. And definitely pack the tampons…they can be pretty hard to come by in a lot of Asia.

    And unless you’ve tried the anti-sickness drugs prior to the flight I wouldn’t start them. Turns out Benedryl does NOT make me drowsy. Quite the opposite in fact. My eldest is the same. Let’s just say that flight was not a fun one.

  • Reply MC June 11, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    I went to Thailand last November from DC, and have also done Europe and South America. I agree with all of the suggestions, so the below things are the more random/specific items I have consistently found that make a big difference in how I feel during/after the flight:

    WATER. It is the number one thing that makes a noticeable difference to me. Skip sugary drinks and go light on the junk food or you are gonna add a sugar high into jet lag and…I don’t even wanna know what happens then :). Grab the biggest bottle in the airport and go through it completely. If you can get another one at the next airport, do it. Skip airplane water, the tanks are not the cleanest.

    FACE STUFF. For darkness, bring a mask, and for being clean, bring face wipes/ small bottle of moisturizer. Sadly, you will feel greasy no matter how strategically you dress. They’ll dim the lights for you to have a “night” feeling but it will not be totally dark, so you want the mask. The face wipes/lotion will help you feel more awake and refreshed before you land. Basically all of these things are tricking your body to feel like it’s bedtime, and to help you sleep/wake up.

    EYE STUFF. If you wear contacts, keep that and your glasses in your purse, and use the glasses on the flight or take out the contacts before sleeping. Too much air pressure=dryness=crappy eye feelings. No good!

    COFFEE. This one is weird, and I learned it when I landed in Hong Kong with the WORST jet lag. I felt like I was walking underwater, and it resulted in some really awesome emails to my parents and friends at home, where it was 9AM and a work day. Meanwhile, I had just seen two sunsets but technically traveled one day…anyway, I grabbed coffee at the airport and drank really slowly. My head cleared up and I felt awake again. I think this might be only if you are a coffee junkie like me, but I drank half, then got on my last 5 hour plane feeling normal. So if you’re a coffee drinker and land and are desperate, just get a small cup and go slow with it.

    MEDS. Try melatonin for a natural sleep pill if you don’t want to go the AdvilPM route. Also, you may want to pack pills to help you go/help you NOT go, if you know what I mean :) Aside from visiting a place that may be iffy on your stomach, just general long distance travel can mess up your regularity, even if you drink water and eat cleanly. Expect your stomach to just be off for a little bit, and prepare accordingly, and you will feel normal in no time.

    I think that’s it! Enjoy your trip and make sure to write a lot while you are there, so you can remember it all. I’m very interested to read about what you learn.

  • Reply MC June 11, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    Oh, one more thing. Snacks are a good idea because aside from being, well, SNACKS, sometimes airplane food can be heavy. And if you are traveling for so long, you might not want every warm meal you are served to be heavy. Heck, you might not even want it to be warm. If you are a cereal or granola bar person in the morning, and you are given hot breakfast food that’s kinda heavy, it can get weird. Bring the granola bar, you know?

    God, I’m weird. I think I am trying to tell you overall to just attempt to keep yourself in normal conditions, despite going through abnormal happenings (launching oneself into the air for sixteen hours=not your everyday occurrence).

  • Reply Anna June 11, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Mmmmk, here goes. I actually take a very small dose of Valium to fly. It’s very low so I don’t feel any terrible side effects but high enough that it allows to me to let go of the death grip I have of my seat and fall asleep. That is one suggestion I have for such a long flight. The second is, get those compression socks you mentioned. Runners use them all the time and I reeeeally should have on my trip to Guatemala. I was doing a lot of overnight bus riding and flying and ended up with a serious case of edema in my feet. I am sure there are those who are more predisposed to swelling than others, but I would bring them just in case. Walking around for hours on swollen feet is super distracting and uncomfortable. And, 100% YES, bring snacks. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.

  • Reply Vanessa Wittmer June 11, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    I did LAX to Australia (15 hours) and later NY to Seoul (16 hours). so. not. fun!

    Do leg stretches in your seat often… Even just really dramatically tapping your feet helps., and pulling one knee at a time to your chest. Try to sleep, and try not to look at your watch every 15 minutes! Take advantage of movies, shows, and music that will (probably) be on the TV built into your seat.

    Also, keep track of how many times you gets meals and snacks and drinks. I’d think, okay, I’ve already had breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, now they should serve me dinner and ill be there! haha. But definitely bring your own stuff too! And pack your own tampons! Most countries (besides the US) don’t have tampons with applicators.. Maybe its just me, but thats not gonna work.

    ALSO! For what you’re going to SE Asia for… I know it seems impossible, but don’t give up hope! Take every advantage you can of speaking worth and value over those girls lives! Praying for you.

  • Reply amanda June 11, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Check what free amenities the airports have too—for example, if you are flying through seoul they have a free shower area and they are very, very nice (super private and clean and big). I always end up with at least one long layover and that kind of stuff is also super helpful.

  • Reply alexandra June 11, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    You have smart readers so … ditto.

  • Reply Kaitlyn June 11, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    I’m Australian, so the length of flights that you’re talking about are totally normal for us to get to anywhere besides SE Asia! It’s funny to look at it from your perspective, where you’re used to everything being much closer. I’ve only done a couple of long-haul flights. but most of my tips have already been mentioned in the comments above. LOTS of water, face wipes and toiletries to freshen up at your layovers, feel free to walk around lots on the plane (yay aisle seats!), bring your preferred tampons/sunscreen etc. I would also recommend not wearing contacts at all on the plane and bringing refreshing eyedrops for dry eyes. In the past, I have found that my eyes get dry very quickly and that’s with the precaution of always wearing glasses instead of contacts on planes. Other than that, I have always found that the hours sort of drift into one another after a while, with the exception of the last hour which always drags on… and on. Sit back and take it easy on yourself, your trip will be intense as it is.

  • Reply Meaghan June 11, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    I recently had a 16 hour flight to Africa. Good luck!
    I’m usually a voracious reader on flights, but they dimmed the cabin lights for almost the whole flight and I didn’t want the bright light on for the sake of my neighbors. The on-demand TV was the best.
    I flew back with a slight cold and had a really rough flight. Descending with plugged ears is terribly painful!!! I had barotrauma in my ears and couldn’t hear well for a week or so. My doctor recommended always packing an oral decongestant and a decongestant nose spray to use before flying if I have any sort of stuffy nose.
    I wore compression socks – they felt nice and just looked like black hose.

  • Reply Julia June 11, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    I live in Argentina and travel eventually to The States and Europe. Any trip to the northern hemisphere from here is at least 10 hours long. I love the feeling of flying but I get really anxious in enclosed environments full of people, so I tend to panic on the plane… some things I’ve found that worked for me are: Listening to music (Jazz does wonders to my nerves), writing what I’m feeling as I would in a journal, focusing on an activity (for example an ipad game such as Pitfall, crossword or Sudoku), learning the basics of a language (I like Pimsleur method). Most people are sort of uneasy in a plane, so talking to someone else is great, it might help the 2 of you. I can help you with things that don’t help (or at least for me): checking the time, watching the map in the viewer that shows how little the plane has moved (I don’t know why they have that there… is crazy nerving), doing nothing and waiting for turbulence or something to happen; watching how the other passengers are peacefully sleeping (or seem like) and you can’t. Just my 2 cents. Enjoy your trip, we usually are prepare for the worst, but then nothing happens and we’re just left with our fears.

  • Reply Erica June 11, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    International travel is great, except the actual TRAVEL part of it! :) I’ve flown so many excruciatingly long flights, and, honestly, t’s never fun. :) But it’s worth it when you get there! That said, a few tips…

    -Dramamine! The DROWSY kind! It will work for at least one good nap stretch, and also help if you have motion sickness.
    -Bring a neck pillow or a scarf you can roll up to use as a “pillow.” Most international planes have little “wings” on the headrests of the seats, so even in an aisle seat you’ll have something to lean against.
    -Get up and walk around every so often. Those planes that they use for international flights are HUGE, and roomier than the domestic ones, at least as far as airplanes go. :) There is room to just pace the aisle a bit every once in a while.
    -International flights usually have good TV/movies playing- watch them! And download some favorites on your ipad, too, to bring with you.
    -Someone else said facial wipes, and I totally second that! And add a toothbrush, while you’re at it! “Freshening up” a little every so often will make you feel so much better.

    Safe and smooth travels! I can’t wait to read all about it!!

  • Reply Tara e June 12, 2014 at 12:29 am

    I traveled to Hong Kong and a few other cities in Asia several years ago. Amazing trip! I know your trip isn’t for funsies like mine was, but I can’t wait to read your stories when you get back. I pretty much second everything said above.
    -toiletries!! It’s nice to feel a little bit freshened up even if it’s with wipes. We were in the middle of our trip when the whole ban on liquids started so the 16 hour flight home was brutal without Chapstick, toothpaste, face wash etc!
    -I doubt you will work that much. Zone out on some on demand tv! Read a fun book or two. Sleep!
    – try and get on their time zone as much as you can before the trip. Dramamine knocks me out and cures any air sickness.
    – I always bring a scarf/pashmina for a blanket, an extra outfit, extra socks, slip on shoes/small slippers, and any other toiletry items I’d be lost without in case my bag doesn’t make it.
    – LOTS of snack food!! The food over there is not what you are accustomed to. And you can’t just pop into a gas station for a granola bar. I was thankful my in-laws packed extra snacks for the trip!! Plus plane food isn’t always great so it’s nice to have your own stuff!

    Can’t wait to read all about it! Prayers, hugs, happy thoughts to you and your fellow travelers :)

  • Reply Sam June 12, 2014 at 1:03 am

    Ooooh! You are going to love SE Asia so much! Circumstances may make the trip an emotional roller coaster but it’s a beautiful place and the people are incredible!!! Plane Advice (I just did similar flights last summer doing mission work in a couple places): Depending on the airline and if you’re trying to keep carryons small, I would say that snacks are not necessarily needed for the flight. I flew Cathay Pacific, and not only were their ‘meals’ good, but if I got hungry or thirsty I just walked back to one of the galleys and they had snacks (cookies, fruit, crackers, etc) sitting out for you to grab at your leisure. That being said, if you’re puddle jumping around SE Asia, I would check with what different airlines provide. We flew with Air Asia to go between countries and everything (including water) cost $$. So, if you, like me, need water or snacks on a flight, pack them.

    If you’re worried about blood clots (say, if you have a personal or family history of them), it doesn’t hurt to take some aspirin. If you start it a day or two ahead of time, it can reduce your clotting risk. You don’t want to be my friend JJ, who, at 22, came back from China with blood clots in her lungs and had to be hospitalized for a week because she was coughing up blood. (Sorry. That might be blunt. My medical filter doesn’t exist anymore). I also, for the sake of not getting blood clots, not getting sore, and not going insane, always get up and walk around every few hours. (There’s also usually free alcohol on flights if you want to go that roads ;). )

    Entertainment-wise I always pack a bunch of stuff I think I’ll use (last summer’s trip included) and end up maybe reading one book, then binge watching movies (there’s usually a good selection of old/new and different genres) or TV shows the rest of the way. (Those walking breaks I take between movies….) You could, feasibly, get some decent work done on the plane, but it’s up to your judgement as to whether you’ll actually want to do any.

    I can sleep just about anywhere, so that’s not much of a concern here, but my mother has the unfortunate combination of not being able to sleep well and getting motion sick. She love love loves those goofy neck pillows for sleeping on planes (I can’t say I’m not a fan either) and she also likes meclizine (which you can get prescribed from a doc) for motion sickness and it also, conveniently, will put you out like a light (it’s an antihistamine technically).

    Just throwing it out there too, but you may want to bring some imodium and dulcolax (or other such medications) and some gatorade powder (you can get the low sugar stuff in individual packets). As much as all of the folks I was with were really careful about water and food and such or how strong their stomachs normally are, every single one of us needed at least one of these things at some point. I spent two weeks trying to strike a good balance between taking enough imodium, but not too much. I failed. Miserably. It was very uncomfortable. I also recommend some serious bug spray like DEET (both because bites suck and are itchy, and because malaria is prevalent and the less you get bitten, the less risk you’ll have of contracting it. You can still get it, even if you’re on the prophylaxis meds. Some regions also have Dengue Fever which is also insect borne.) We also found long skirts/sundresses as very good clothing to do every day stuff in because they’re cool, and keep you covered from the sun and are very comfy. We trekked all over temples and jungles and all these knocked over temple ruins in ours and loved it. I also liked wearing scrub pants to keep the sun off my legs.

    TLDR: Bringing snacks is a personal preference, but if you’re trying to conserve space they aren’t necessary. If you’re worried about clots, aspirin and walking every couple hours. Compression stockings work too, but I tend to find them very uncomfortable. There is an endless supply of inflight TV/Movies for you entertainment pleasure if you want to forgo bringing a bunch of other stuff. For sleeping, neck pillows rock (someone above recommended melatonin, and that’s also good, you can also use it to fight jet lag). Meclizine is boss for motion sickness and sleeping. Things to soothe and upset tummy and lots of bug spray are on my highly recommended list. Covering up with lightweight material (like long cotton skirts/dresses) may keep you cooler than wearing shorts because it keeps the sun off (and exposes less skin for bug bites).

    I hope you have an AMAZING trip and if you have any questions about Cambodia/Indonesia/Malaysia, feel free to email me about anything at all.

    • Reply Sam June 12, 2014 at 1:04 am

      Dear lord, I realize now that that is a NOVEL. Feel free to skip straight to the TLDR or ignore this completely.

  • Reply Lauren @ Faith and Macaroni June 12, 2014 at 1:32 am

    May reiterate what others have written, so I’ll keep it short: I get squirrely on long flights, so I like to pack a variety of things- puzzles, books, magazines (which I then leave in the plane or pass off to another person), even a coloring book. Fingers crossed they have lots of movies or even the personal tv screens. I don’t sleep well on moving objects (car, plane, or train), but a small neck pillow would make closing my eyes even more restful. Highly recommend Benedryl to catch some sleep. Test it out if you’ve never used it for sleep. I tried melatonin once and was wired the whole night. Definitely bring lots of little snacks. For me long flights need variety and tv that I can zone out to. Oh, and my little sis (a runner) loves her some compression socks.

  • Reply Alexis June 12, 2014 at 7:27 am

    Pantyliners. Wear one at the start of the trip, and remove halfway through. Feels like changing into clean underwear, without having to actually maneuver an underwear change in an airplane bathroom. Bring a couple extras to get “fresh” underwear a few times.

    I also prefer to wear a maxi dress on 9+ hour flights, because I think waistbands feel like a straight-jacket after too long.

    Walking around, and/or hanging out in the back galley is totally acceptable. Bonus: flight attendants usually have an open selection of extra snacks in the back. Hello, mini-Snickers. I once enjoyed some ice cream while lunging around the aisles on a long flight, and nobody batted an eyelash. :)

  • Reply Valerie June 12, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Once you board your long flight…set yourself to whatever time zone you’re headed to. I did this for my overseas flight and was ready to hit the ground running when I arrived. My friend, on the other hand…jet lag like nobody’s business, which if you’re traveling with someone with jet lag and you don’t have it, annoying.

  • Reply Amy June 12, 2014 at 11:03 am

    For writing: laptop or tablet, offline post editor like Qumana.
    For reading: tablet or e-reader, magazines for plane restlessness.
    For peace: noise-cancelling headphones. Do it.
    For sickness: Bonine or Dramamine, SeaBands, mint gum, ginger hard candies.
    For comfort: clean socks (I like to take my shoes off on the plane to sit wearing clean socks), inflatable pillow with soft cover, light layers with a hoodie (plane’s temperature changes through the flight), sunglasses (block out light and movement for a nap).
    For hunger: your own snacks (never underestimate the power of familiar flavors).
    For thirst: empty water bottle (empty through security, then fill up at drinking water fountain), flavor packs or True Lemon.

  • Reply Rebecca June 12, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Totally agree with basically all the comments. My additional two cents–load up some movies or some shows. Seriously. I flew to Australia with my husband and having movies you’re interested in watching, or some shows, makes a huge difference. You might be able to get through a book if it’s REALLY good, but figure you’ll get a bit bored of it. The eyes will get tired. You might get work done probably knock out a blog post or two, but again, you’ll get bored of it in a bit. Give yourself variety. I’d also recommend bringing a bandanna (you never know–wipe off sweat, cover mouth, wear over head, etc) and I recommend an anti-itch cream in case you do get a bite, and probably basic things like band-aids. Bring a good pair of closed toe shoes–sandals can get gross, and you might end up in places where you don’t want your feet open to the environment.

    Also, bring snacks! A VARIETY of snacks. You will want them if you’re hungry on the plane, or if you are far out from food, or if you don’t want local food. Bring them. And bring yourself little candy treats. It’s good for handing out to children and a good pick me up for yourself.

  • Reply Wendy June 12, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Yes on compression socks. Check out your nearest running store from some.

    Here’s a post from a friend that includes some great tips framed in a different perspective.

    Note that a few months after that post she placed first at the World 100k Championship.

  • Reply Angela June 12, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    French people buy the CRAP out of compression socks for flights! Totally get some. There are also some “sexy” ones for like, flight stewardesses but I don’t know where one finds those.

  • Reply Audrey June 12, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    In order of importance: Snacks. Books. Headphones for movies. Hoodie or blanket scarf. Big thing of water. Sleeping pill. Socks. Eye mask. Face moisturizer. Make up (for when you land, not worth it before).

    You can take baby aspirin a day before and day of flight to prevent clots from sitting for so long. My mother made me do that when I traveled to SE Asia at 25 years old. Maybe she’s just a worrier though?

    Have an amazing trip! Flights will be so worth.

  • Reply Sarah June 12, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    I travel extensively, and I’ve done many crazy long haul, non-stop flights (NYC – Tokyo, NYC-Delhi, NYC-Israel, NYC-Rio de Janeiro, etc.). At this point, I honestly consider 7 hour flights short. So, basically I have a system for traveling now.

    Here are the must haves:
    1. Earplugs
    2. Inflatable neck pillow (a MUST!!!!) (!!!) (!!)
    3. Cozy socks (though not necessarily compression?) bc those long hauls get FREEZING.
    4. Due to temperature, cozy fleece or other warm attire
    5. Contacts stuff, face wash/wipes, moisturizer
    6. Sleeping pills. They might only knock you out for a few of those hours, though.

    Those are the musts. They typically have snacks in the back (I never bring more than a granola bar or piece of fruit) + lots of movies on the plane (though a friend recently told me there were none on her non-stop to Tokyo!), but I bring a book.

  • Reply Catherine June 13, 2014 at 12:28 am

    I have been on many a long haul flight and I am sure I am repeating others here but maybe more suggestions of the same things will help deciding?

    My must haves:
    1. Inflatable neck pillow (x1000%).
    2. Water (it gets very, very dry).
    3. Socks (I know it sounds dorky but if you can get the ones with a sole so you feel comfortable getting up and walking in them – all the better).
    4. Freshening wipes (facial, ‘personal hygiene’, wet ones for your hands etc.).
    5. Large pashmina type scarf you can use as a light blanket (they will have blankets on the plane as well).
    6. Noise cancelling headphones (you can get special plug adaptors to fit airplane plugs especially but the regular one will also work – you may not hear sound in both ears though – happened to me once).
    7. Eye mask – they really are helpful in getting some rest.
    8. Reader if you have one although you will probably end up watching a lot of movies/tv shows (those long haul flights always have personal tv’s in my experience).
    9. Snacks (definitely!).
    10. Emergency toiletries supplies in case your luggage gets lost – I usually pack a change of clothes in my carry on as well but don’t worry if you don’t have the room.
    11. A list of what is in your luggage. Helps to keep you on track packing between destinations and to come home as well. Plus helpful for insurance claims if your luggage is lost.

    Other advice. Get up and move around regularly. You will feel much better for it. Dress very comfortably! After so many hours very few people care how they look and they just want to be comfortable. Comfort trumps all. Wear shoes that can handle a little bit of swelling. It is painful to have to squeeze well fitting shoes back on to get off the plane. Sneakers are good as you can loosen the laces but anything that has a bit of room/give would be fine. Don’t drink alcohol – it is drying and the altitude will make it affect you more. You might get a little bit of work done but don’t count on too much. I agree with someone else – do a variety of things and change it up to relieve the boredom. I have done that 16 hour flight across the Pacific multiple times (without any drugs either – no judgement meant there – I totally would if I felt the need) and it is usually a night flight so you should sleep a reasonable amount. My kids and I slept for 8 hours on that flight last time! Last piece of advice. It really isn’t that bad going West but be prepared for it to be less comfortable on the way back. You will probably sleep less and the jet lag seems to be worse coming back this way. Good luck!!

  • Reply Sarah June 13, 2014 at 12:47 am

    Forgot something on my list of long-haul must haves: chap stick!! Unless you have lipstick stay lush through all that cabin pressure dryness for 16 hrs. Mine always crack and hurt.

  • Reply Jenn June 13, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    I flew to Africa in 2012, which was also a 16 hour flight. Brutal. Coloring helped me pass the time. No lie. I printed off pages of mandala (http://bit.ly/1omwnb1) and took some really nice markers with me. Coloring is soothing to me because it’s a repetitive motion, and the shape of mandala are meant to center your thoughts. It really helped!

    Godspeed, Roo. You give me hope in humanity.

    • Reply Julia June 14, 2014 at 12:01 am

      I really like this suggestion

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