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International flights are often long affairs and generally involve one or two layovers. During these long flights, which can reach over 16 hours when traveling from North America to China or Australia, it is important to take care of your health and safety. With preparation, you can arrive at your international destination healthy, well-rested and ready to take on a new country.
Protect Your Health
In the days before an international trip, it can be tempting to stay up late taking care of last-minute packing and other travel details. Losing sleep can weaken your immune system, which means that you will be more susceptible to the germs of other passengers on your flight. If possible, stick to your normal sleep schedule to stay healthy. To protect your immune system further, Reader’s Digest recommends, that you use doses of echinacea or vitamin C.
Prepare for Jet Lag on Night Flights
Many international flights involve flying overnight and changing one or more time zones, which can confuse your body and cause trouble with sleep schedules. To prepare your body for a change in time, arrive to your international flight ready to sleep. Bring a sleeping mask, socks and earplugs. Consider taking a mild sedative or an over-the-counter sleep aid, which will help you get to sleep in an unfamiliar environment. Even a few hours of sleep will help you stay awake upon reaching your destination and will enable you to adjust your schedule to the new time zone.
While dressing up might win you better treatment and upgrades in airports, formal clothing is not often conducive to a comfortable flight. For long international trips, consider packing a set of comfortable sweats to wear during the flight; change back into your original clothing before landing.
One of the most common problems on long-haul international flights is dehydration, which can lead to a dry throat and exhaustion. Don’t count on the small cups of water handed out by flight attendants to keep you hydrated — instead, buy one or two large bottles of water after you go through the security checkpoint and sip throughout the flight. According to the Family Doctor website, you should stay away from caffeine and alcohol, which can lead to dehydration.
On an international flight, you will likely have at least one checked bag. To ease your time in the airport and on the plane, bring only one small carry-on that will fit beneath the seat in front of you. That way, you will be able to easily access items during the flight and will not have to deal with the overhead bins before takeoff and after landing.
On flights lasting more than six hours, your legs can start to cramp and your body reacts poorly to sitting in the same position. Reader’s Digest advises that you take every convenient opportunity to get up, walk the aisles, and stretch your muscles. Do simple stretches of your calves and torso; you can also stretch your arms and twist your body while sitting. To prevent stiffness, perform calf raises, foot circles, neck rolls and heel raises occasionally during the flight.
Keep Documents Handy
Keep your passport and a pen in the bag you put beneath the seat in front of you so that when the flight attendant hands out the immigration and customs form for your destination country, you will not need to get up to dig through the overhead bins.
Courtesy of USA Today