Tips tricks and ideas for long flights -- help a brother out

friendswoodmatt

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Ok I booked my first safari and am now looking at options to fly from TX to SA and Nam. My issue is this-- I have difficulty on long flights-- once I get past 10 hours I start to go nuts -- I just want off the plane, sometimes it happens faster, but when and if it happens, its always brutal, I can keep it together but it takes the luster off the trip honestly, and it stays in the back of my mind the entire trip for the trip home- like a sword of damocles hanging over my head.
So far I haven't found a good way to sleep on a plane-- (I have not tried pharmaceuticals yet). On advice of a road warrior buddy-I have purchased a neck pillow and some noise canceling headphones for a trip in a couple of weeks to Miami for the boat show(only 3 or 4 hours), and am going to see if I can find a way to sleep on that trip. It would be great if I could sleep the miles away for at least half the trip, but honestly this seems doubtful.
What do you do to pass the time?
Any revelations on long trips you have come across?
Drinking -- honestly it dehydrates me and I feel like dung when I get where I am going-- I am willing to try it-- but getting hammered and traveling isn't a smart idea ever in my book. So looking for some ideas to while away the hours on this flight-- and yes I am looking at breaking the trip up to get there-- maybe fly to Lon-- do a day or 2 and then go on-- honestly it is so much more expensive to do it this way-- I would seriously prefer not to.
Any ideas? Anybody else have these issues or am I the weird guy?
 

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A few thoughts: No alcohol due to dehydration
Compression socks are helpful (for all ages!)
Try to minimize the airplane food intake, too much salt and fat, make a guy feel lethargic and compounds the negative.
Extra water intake. I get an aisle seat so I can hit the bathroom at will.
A good book (or two).
 

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I take my wife with me so I have somebody to pester on the long flight. Keeps me entertained, not sure how she feels about it!! seriously take an iPad with movies and series off Netflix , audiobooks on iPhone, also we watch lots of movies on the plane. I can’t sleep on a plane either. So I have to just keep my mind busy the whole trip.
 

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Hey Matt,

I know what you mean about long flights; I had my longest flight to date this summer at 3.5hrs DFW-LAX then 15 hrs from LA to Sydney after sitting on the runway for 1.5hrs with a delay.

while long flights are not fun I can certainly sympathize and here are some tips.....

1. Check for seating options to give you the most room and clarify what that seat gets you - Example: if you sit on an exit row you may not have any over head storage but you get extra leg room.

This site will let you actually see the seating for each flight by number and airline.

https://www.seatguru.com/

2. If its that long of a flight, bring your own set of PJ's to change into after the plain levels off - this may sound silly but it puts you in the mindset to relax.

3. Noise canceling head phones are good but don't forget regular ear plugs, I also like a blindfold and prefer inflatable airline neck pillows - you can adjust firmness and they take up very little space deflated.

4. Take care of your cabin crew- A great tip that was given to me by a customer service rep for Qantas........

"Pick up 1-2 of the big chocolate bars, like the 500gram super high end ones and after the plan has leveled off and the flight crew is going around making final checks before taking a break; give the chocolate bars to your flight attendant and tell them they are for the crew to enjoy."

This is the best travel tip I have ever been given and it sounded stupid until I tried it and ended up with a mid flight upgrade to business class and my own set of pajamas given to me by a Virgin Australia flight attendant.

Think about it..... The flight crew is in charge of your safety & COMFORT; now those of us who travel certainly know how often flight crews deal with frustrated angry people; so try and be one of the passengers that makes their job less hellish and they will certainly return the favor.
 

Samb

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On my Safari, I flew Calgary to Atlanta and then direct to Johannesburg. Was in Delta One with a lie down pod. It was brutal. The only saving grace was Delta has free WiFi for messaging and I killed time texting my wife. Did not get any sleep, the cabin was very hot. I do not drink and sleep was impossible. It may be because I was just to excited to be headed to Africa after 40 years of dreaming.

on the way home I found myself on Air France in the 4 th row from the back of economy. The In-charge running economy was amazing. He treated everyone one of his 100 plus passengers in our section like they where the most important person on the airplane. Food was good and the seats where amazingly comfortable. No WiFi but I slept for a good bit of the 10 hour flight up to Paris. I then flew Delta economy back to Atlanta. Spent a couple days at my Father in-laws regaling then with tales of my exploits.

I bought a good noise canceling headset before trip, which is good advice.

The next time I go, I will probably go through Paris.

My recommendations.
1. Buy compression socks.
2. Grab the biggest bottle of water you can find just before you get to your gate. 1.5 Litre at least.
3. Have a good selection of music, on your device.
4. Enjoy that nice headset.
5. Do not work like crazy back home, right up to the day you leave; as you will be so spooled up, you will not be able to rest, even in a lie flat pod.

And get up walk around and stretch, through the flight.

The next best option is just buy a one way ticket and stay there for the rest of your life! Because you will want to after a few days.
 

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One thing that in addition to the above ideas (which are all spot on!) is for my previous three trips I have flown the ATL to JNB route. The flight leaves 8PM approximately from ATL. I stay up late being excited for the trip and double and triple checking all my luggage, and that makes it very easy for me to sleep on a plane (something I normally can't do well). The last trip I left my home at 3am to get to the connecting flight to ATL. Did not sleep at all during the trip to ATL so I had already had a 17 hour day before getting on the delta flight 200 to JNB. Worked for me three times...
The other trick last time was that I took my family of four children and my wife--two children and one adult per row of three--we had room to spread out too!!
 

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I fly at least a dozen 12-15hr flights a year. The noise canceling headphones are great as is the neck pillow. I love to read so my Kindle is always locked and loaded. Read, watch a movie, doze, read etc. I can usually get a two or three hours of naps. Drink lots of water and eat little. If you want to sleep use a very small dose of Tylenol PM. I use Ambien when I get to my hotel or home the first night to help my clock get set but don’t recommend it’s use on a plane. In general don’t stress it. Just go with the flow and dream of Africa.
 

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4. Take care of your cabin crew- A great tip that was given to me by a customer service rep for Qantas........

"Pick up 1-2 of the big chocolate bars, like the 500gram super high end ones and after the plan has leveled off and the flight crew is going around making final checks before taking a break; give the chocolate bars to your flight attendant and tell them they are for the crew to enjoy."

This is the best travel tip I have ever been given and it sounded stupid until I tried it and ended up with a mid flight upgrade to business class and my own set of pajamas given to me by a Virgin Australia flight attendant.

Think about it..... The flight crew is in charge of your safety & COMFORT; now those of us who travel certainly know how often flight crews deal with frustrated angry people; so try and be one of the passengers that makes their job less hellish and they will certainly return the favor.

Read somewhere about this idea so I buy several magazines in the airport for the flight attendants. Seems to help with what sometimes can be a thankless job.

Not always an option but for jet lag, I set my body clock a couple weeks before departure. Go to bed earlier and earlier until I'm on Africa time. Here on the east coast, that's around five p.m.
 

friendswoodmatt

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ok I just purchased come compression socks and am familiar with seat guru -- honestly I am a big guy so I will prob need to just go all in and fly business class - would prefer not to- but I am seriously concerned about the torture of not doing it.
I also considered just buying an extra ticket in economy as in-buy 3 1 for me 1 for wife and extra between us. just not sure if I can do this since no-one will be checking in on flight-- this might also cut down on any overcharges for weight of stuff if that is even a concern. It would most likely be cheaper than 2 business class tickets-- I tried to float the why dont I fly business and you fly coach balloon -- well lets just say no words were exchanged-- but the look I got told me that that was not a good idea-- lol
 

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I spent much of my military and corporate careers on long flights to odd corners of the world. I am not a doctor, but I would suggest you talk to one about using ambien (zolpidem) or one of its generic counterparts. It works extremely well to ease you into sleep without a following hangover. Two good things come from that - you arrive far more rested and you miss long stretches of that flight. It works particularly well on long overnight flights. We would have it prescribed and time the taking to kill at least one of the acclimation days on the far end. The general rule is one day for every two hours in time change. And typically going east is much harder than going west.

Assuming you are in tourist, bring an I pad and a good set of noise reduction headphones. Download two or three movies and the books you want to read and you will have a great personal entertainment system (don't put the charger in your checked bag!). I don't know how I existed before getting one. Consider the extra dollars for whatever is the tourist plus seating. International business is the way to go if affordable. Those few inches in premium economy coupled with an aisle position can make all the difference. International business can actually be a really comfortable experience - nothing like sleeping after dinner laying flat with a real pillow. It is a far better ride than domestic first class.
 

barbells.and.arrows

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  • Try the pharmaceuticals. I went to our primary care physician, and he prescribed us generic xanax. My husband is a sleep talker/walker, so he was afraid sleeping pills might have an adverse reaction. However, I in all my infinite female wisdom, thought "Oh hell one of these cute little pills the doc gave me, and a few jack and cokes and I'll sleep like I've never slept before." I stayed awake the entire flight. My husband slept like a baby the whole flight with his pharmaceuticals (prescribed meds/melatonin) and a beer. SIDE NOTE: If your doc prescribes you sleeping aids/anxiety medicine, see if he will give you enough for the entirety of your trip and a few days after you are home. I never took it when I was in camp, but I would have a few stiff whiskey/cokes and go to bed. I would be WIDE awake at 3AM, and this went on throughout our entire 10 days in Africa.
  • Take a kindle, noise cancelling headphones, something to keep you entertained. Once I realized I was going to be awake (& tipsy) I paid for the WiFi, and spent a lot of the flight messaging my friends/family back home. The movies on the flight aren't terrible. They are fairly new.
  • Take bottles of water on the plane (don't try this coming back they'll make you toss them in Jo'Berg before you board your flight, or they did our flight). I drank a lot of alcohol on the flight(s), but I also drank a ton of water, and took some EmergenC packs, because no one wants to go to Africa only to be sick.
  • Do not watch the stupid flight map thing. There is a point where you are over the ocean off the coast of Africa, and it looks like you aren't moving for probably 3-4 hours.
Mostly it's a mental game. Just be prepared and treat it like a day you are at home and don't want to move off the couch. Know the end result will be SO worth it. Get to know the folks sitting around you. Try to sleep, but if it doesn't show up get up and walk around. I spent a lot of time up walking (or stumbling depending on who you ask), or standing in the back. Being a girl, I took face creams and what not because the plane air is so damn dry, so I at least felt like I was pampering myself through the mental anguish of it all. Take a phone/ipad charger. More of a tip for your wife probably, but they make "feet hammocks" for flights might be worth buying if she's shorter. I just put my feet on my backpack. Take extra blankets or something to sit on, because those seats do not have enough padding. I had my laptop, so I edited/organized photos on the flight home.
Good purchase to try to find for your wife (ebay probably will have it): Lululemon On the Fly Comfort Pack. It's a blanket that folds into a pillow. I'm constantly cold and this thing is a lifesaver on flights.
 
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Red Leg

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  • Try the pharmaceuticals. I went to our primary care physician, and he prescribed us generic xanax. My husband is a sleep talker/walker, so he was afraid sleeping pills might have an adverse reaction. However, I in all my infinite female wisdom, thought "Oh hell one of these cute little pills the doc gave me, and a few jack and cokes and I'll sleep like I've never slept before." I stayed awake the entire flight. My husband slept like a baby the whole flight with his pharmaceuticals (prescribed meds/melatonin) and a beer. SIDE NOTE: If your doc prescribes you sleeping aids/anxiety medicine, see if he will give you enough for the entirety of your trip and a few days after you are home. I never took it when I was in camp, but I would have a few stiff whiskey/cokes and go to bed. I would be WIDE awake at 3AM, and this went on throughout our entire 10 days in Africa.
  • Take a kindle, noise cancelling headphones, something to keep you entertained. Once I realized I was going to be awake (& tipsy) I paid for the WiFi, and spent a lot of the flight messaging my friends/family back home.
  • Take bottles of water on the plane (don't try this coming back they'll make you toss them in Jo'Berg before you board your flight, or they did our flight). I drank a lot of alcohol on the flight(s), but I also drank a ton of water, and took some EmergenC packs, because no one wants to go to Africa only to be sick.
  • Do not watch the stupid flight map thing. There is a point where you are over the ocean off the coast of Africa, and it looks like you aren't moving for probably 3-4 hours.
Mostly it's a mental game. Just be prepared and treat it like a day you are at home and don't want to move off the couch. Know the end result will be SO worth it. Get to know the folks sitting around you. Try to sleep, but if it doesn't show up get up and walk around. I spent a lot of time up walking (or stumbling depending on who you ask), or standing in the back. Being a girl, I took face creams and what not because the plane air is so damn dry, so I at least felt like I was pampering myself through the mental anguish of it all.
Xanax?!? Plus Jack and cokes! Not sure it would help anyone sleep but at least one wouldn't give a damn.
 

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Agree on the recommendation to go to your doctor and get a prescription for Xanax for your anxiety. Don't wait for that 10 hours to expire before you start going nuts. Depending on time of your overseas departure, take it an hour or so before you want to try to go to sleep. Ambien is also a good idea for sleeping on long flights. Your body clock is going to have to adjust when you get to SA.
 

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I will prob need to just go all in and fly business class

absolutely 100% worth the money added bonus your firearm(s) and other checked baggage are marked Priority.
Add a couple of Ambien and next thing I know they wake me up for breakfast about an hour before we land in Joberg
 

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Business class or window seat and sleep.....
 

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When I went to SA on SAA I watched a couple of other passengers doing laps around the plane. On our way back I didn't do laps but I got up and walked around quite a bit and with it being a overnight flight most of the crew were sleeping with only one person per galley to help if needed. They had water and snacks that were there for you to pick up. One nice thing is that they had quite a few movies that I hadn't seen so I watched a few of them since all I could do was to take cat naps.

Also on our way back there were a lot of center section rows of seats that were not used. One of my friends and his wife moved to one of these rows and she was able to almost stretch out with the armrest stowed to get some sleep.

You just need to figure out what works best for yourself and go for it.
 

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I must be a strange one or I'm still in military mode (20 years later) because I put my mind to the fact that I'm here on this plane for the duration and roll with the flow. I usually fly from Reno on a redeye to JFK arriving about 0800 and leaving on SAA around 1100 to JNB. I actually sleep rather well on the redeye and read, doze, watch movies, walk on the 15 hours to JNB. Same coming home from SA. Leave JNB early evening and get into JFK around 0800. I don't get jet lag either way. It hits me the next day after coming home. My last trip was kind of a bummer, though. I got into JFK in the morning and my flight home didn't leave until 1800. Made for a long day sitting in the airport. Here again I walk, read, people watch (that's always fun). I find long flights are sort of a mind game. Get in the right mind set and everything falls into place. Don't sweat the petty stuff---everything is petty stuff. Think about the end result.
 

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4. Take care of your cabin crew- A great tip that was given to me by a customer service rep for Qantas........

"Pick up 1-2 of the big chocolate bars, like the 500gram super high end ones and after the plan has leveled off and the flight crew is going around making final checks before taking a break; give the chocolate bars to your flight attendant and tell them they are for the crew to enjoy."

My daughter is a flight attendant and I ran the chocolate idea past her. She thought it was brilliant gangster-level ingenuity, especially on brutally long flights. I told her that I'm going to give it a try.
 

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