Ready for Takeoff
Are any of my readers world travelers? If so, have you found yourself falling into a routine as you prepare for your international flights? I know I have! If you have, please comment on what you've found that helps make the travel, especially over 20 hours, easier. Here's what I've found has helped me.
A day or two before I start my 30-40 hour travel fun from USA to SA or vice versa, I go through several routine items. Mostly, I've found its easiest to make sure my body is highly hydrated before I even step foot at the airport, every bit of me: hair, skin, eyes, internal body, everything. I've also discovered that even the littlest irritation, like a hang nail, will drive you insane if you're trapped in an airplane/airport for several hours. So to make the whole travel experience easier, here are some of the things I do to prepare for take off:
Day Before (at least) * Shower with Dove hair products and Dove (or similar oil based) soap to moisturize * Coconut Curls, or similar hair mask/conditioner on my hair for at least a few hours on the day before I leave. I also try to keep my hair pulled back in a tight braid or bun while the moisturizer sets. * Shave, seems silly but it can irritate you like none other when you're stuck in the same clothes for two or more days * Body oil every inch (except face and neck) to moisturize. I've found this new essential oil based one in the US at Bath and Body works that I love. But previously I just used baby oil or coconut oil. In any case, the airplanes are notorious for causing dryness havoc to your skin. So any help before you get there is great! * Full dental routine - making sure my teeth, gums, and throat are happy. This seems basic but I've seen it make a big difference between dry, painful throat on the flight and a happy, peaceful flight. * Eye care - for me this means a fresh pair of contacts before I leave and a bottle of eye drops in my liquids bag. The plane ride, and sleeping on the plane, causes some havoc on disposable contacts. And if they're already old and dirty it's just a bad day all around. * Foot and hands care - very important. I trim the nails, push the cuticules back, cut any hanging surprises, and coat in lotion. For my feet I also start focusing on some healthy essential oils a few days beforehand to help build the immune system. My favorite is On Guard by Doterra (mostly cause my Mom give it to me for free). * Drink lots of water!!!! The moisturizing has to happen on the inside too in order to carry you through the travel days ahead. And you can't start at the airport. At least the day before I switch to water or unsweet tea only and drink it often. The idea is to make your digestive system happy as well as your other systems in preparation for the battlefield you're about to lead your body into. * Eat Vegetables!!! Finding veggies and fruits in some airports is like finding the golden seat on the plane with extra leg room and no seat buddies. It's hard work! So to help with this I try to prepare my body with lots of vitamins ahead of time. I also have found some snacks you can take with you that help you with this, or even some pills. And I'll add that British Airlines (my current airline of choice) does a good job of offering eatable and nutritious food on the plane to help as well. But you can't rely on that so go in prepared! Eat what you can at least a day or two before you fly! * Follow your body's cues. A few days before I start the trek I start letting my body be my guide. If I'm hungry, I eat something. If I'm thirsty, I drink something. If I'm tired, I sleep (even if it's just a quick nap). The reasoning behind this for me is that for the next couple of days, time will have no relevance on my life. I won't be able to follow any type of schedule because of the various time changes and "time travel" I'll experience going from one side of the world (literally) to the other. The only way to stay sane and somewhat functioning is to let my body direct my needs. This, I've found, is contrary to what other blogs will advice to avoid jet lag. But honestly it's what seems to help me the most to fight off the worst of jet lag when I land, as well as surviving the trips themselves with most of my sanity. * Charge ALL the devices needed to entertain myself for the next couple of days. For me this is my US phone, my SA phone, an ipod, a kindle, and my laptop (honestly the laptop rarely gets used but I travel with it for safe keeping) * DOWNLOAD! Don't rely on wifi for entertainment items like shows, movies, or music. Downloads are important! Especially outside of the US I've found that free wifi is like Willy-Wonka's golden ticket. Rare and hard to find. I have been known to save up some money to pay for wifi on long layovers, like in Johannesburg. But having things already downloaded on the devices has saved me many a flights of bad movie choices! * Pack my carry-on bag with a change of clothes (the comfier the better), snacks, devices and charger cables, headphones, batteries for my book light, soft socks to walk around the plane in (as much as I love going barefoot I can't stand walking on that crusty, dirty carpet in the planes), a coloring book and pens, my Bible, a magazine or two, a travel pillow, and a jacket (that doubles as a blanket on the cold flights). And a little "bending of the rules" trick I've learned along the way... if your carry-on is destined to be taken from you because it's "too large" like mine is, put your heaviest items in there. They'll check it on the plane for you and you don't have to carry it, but it won't weigh down your checked items. I've recently been gifted with a smaller carry-on so I don't use this trick anymore. But it was a life saver when traveling with books/curriculum, or roller skates from Santa in recent travels! LOL!
Day of Travel: * Shower again and normal beauty routine - I try to make sure there's nothing left on my body that will bug me. I also try to spot any open wounds, even paper cuts, to cover with band-aids before I head to the germ pot we call airports. Call me paranoid on this one, but I do the same thing heading into townships or working with children. That's why I was gifted with so many band-aids this Christmas, LOL! I don't know for sure that it makes a difference but it makes me feel better and it's one less thing to worry about while traveling. * Hair in a braid - for me this is the easiest. It stays for hours, especially with the help of hair spray, and it doesn't need fixing or repairs when I sleep with it this way. I typically will stop before my last fight in the bathroom to change into clean clothes and fresh up. This is when the braid comes out and the hair can be happy and free again. Until then, it stays tightly twisted in a braid. * Eat well!! Don't eat too much but eat things that will make you feel good, like veggies, protein, fruits, etc. Like mentioned, food access isn't guaranteed during travel, especially internationally. So eat what you can while you can to make it easier. You won't starve to death or get malnutrition by traveling a few days. But it does make it more comfortable to travel if you've already got nutrients in your body beforehand. * Get to the airport early and take your time. Get through check-in, security, etc in peace. You'll want to keep your peace with you as long as possible so why not start the whole journey in a peaceful, calm attitude? For me this is important because it also gives me time to read my Bible before I have to board the plane, keeping my mind and heart focused on the source of my peace. It also gives me time to deal with the emotions of saying goodbye, no matter which country I'm leaving. This is hard to do when you're worried about the to-do list of travel. And I've learned that by traveling alone, as I do, God tends to use my travel times as golden opportunities to meet people He cares about, connect with them, pray with them, speak love to them, etc. So getting there early is important for me because it's not just a few days of travel, it's also a few days of concentrated ministry.
I know there are other aspects of travel prep that I walk through without really recognizing them. But for now, that's all I've got. If you've got any travel tips or helpful advice from your life experiences, please feel free to comment for others to learn from your wisdom.