17 hour flight? No big deal! 3 tips for surviving long-haul flights

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Plenty of people hate flying. We want to get to our destination, but there's a way to enjoy the journey as well. 

I tend to take a big trip at least once a year -- and that requires me to be on a plane for an extended amount of time. I've flown to Abu Dhabi (non-stop), Kuala Lumpur, and Johannesburg, among other locations. Long-hauls can be tough, but I think I have created a system that works. Below are a few tips to survive your next long flight, and how to arrive at your final destination not looking so jet-lagged. 

Dress comfortably. Wear loose clothing and layers
I can't stress this enough. I don't care about looking cute on long-hauls. I'm in Adidas track pants, a hoodie, and flip-flops. I wear compression socks to minimize the risk of deep-vein thrombosis, which can be fatal. Because space is at a premium, especially when flying economy, I try to be as comfortable as possible.

Planes can be really warm or freezing cold. Rarely have I been on a long flight that was room temperature. I wear layers that can be put on or taken off easily. I usually wear a loose, long-sleeve shirt and a hoodie to maximize comfort.

Don't tire yourself out before a long flight
I know people who try to tire themselves before long-flights believing that they can just sleep during the flight. It might work for them, but I haven't had much luck. Every time I arrive to a flight dead tired, I get maybe an hour or so of sleep during the flight. That means my jet lag is brutal when I arrive at my destination. 

Two days before I depart, I try to sync my body to the time of my destination. Example: Johannesburg is seven hours ahead of D.C., so if it's 10:00p JNB time I try to be in bed by 3:00p D.C. time. It's weird, but it's worked for me!

Hydrate and eat healthy foods
Planes are notorious for serving foods high in sodium. I always pick my meal when I book the flight to ensure that I get a low-sodium meal. Plane food isn't usually great, but low-sodium meals usually come with fruit. 

It can be easy to make a pit-stop at the airport shop and buy $30 worth of junk food. I shy away from salty and overly sweet foods when flying. There's nothing worse than feeling uneasy or ill on a flight when there's no way to get off. I opt for salt-free pretzels and lots of water. Water is your friend!