Traveling a long distance with an older relative, even one who is as healthy as my 90 year old Dad, includes special challenges. There can be extra health risks during long flights. With a little advance planning you can make the trip easier and safer. In her article for Next Avenue Nancy Monson writes there are 12 strategies that help enhance the flying experience.
"1. Book early, so you have your choice of seats."
On our recent cross country trip we were able to book seats with extra leg room (for a $50.00 fee) this made the 6 hour trip far more comfortable. Try for an aisle seat so that it is easy to get up and move. Even if you can't get an aisle seat ,get up every hour or so, stretch, do ankles circles. And travel during the day. No matter how exhausting the flight, actually not travelling over night will help you arrive at your best.
"2. Upgrade your seat if possible"
If you have frequent flyer miles this is a great way to use them.
"3. Take precautions to prevent DVT "
Deep vein thrombosis, a dangerous blood clot, can more easily form during a long flight. It is important to know the risk factors for DVT, chief among them is age.
To prevent DVT, Monson recommends;"wearing comfortable, layered clothing with loose waistbands, as well as compression socks to improve circulation and prevent blood from pooling in the lower extremities, which can lead to a blood clot. Avoid crossing your legs while you’re seated. Drink frequently to prevent dehydration, which can thicken the blood, and get up and walk around every couple of hours to keep blood flowing back to the heart."
"4. Take short naps."
"5. Prevent colds by washing your hands frequently. "
"6. Don’t eat too much of the food served on the plane"
We brought a delicious picnic. You can bring small lunch box cold packs through TSA screening as long as they remain fully frozen. This means you can have a fresh homemade meal with excellent ingredients and avoid that awful airline food.
"7. Bring a neck pillow, eye mask and blanket if you’re traveling in economy class."
I also like to travel with a hooded sweatshirt, there are often wide temperature variations on long distance flights and having your head and neck covered makes it much more comfortable.
"8. Prep your entertainment before the trip."
There is so much you can simple bring with you on your phone, tablet or laptop. A long flight is a wonderful time to catch up on or discover new podcasts.
"9. Take an extra charger with you in case there’s no working plug at your seat"
There are many inexpensive small portable rechargeable chargers available.
"10. Buy sound-blocking earphones that don’t make your ears ache."
"11. Splurge on direct transportation home from the airport after a long, long flight — from a family member, friend, Uber/Lyft or a cab"
"12. Plan to rest for at least one to two days on your return."
I know this isn't always possible, but there are some other strategies that will help when jet lagged and having to make a quick adjustment to your current timezone. Drink lots of water. Spend time outside in the daylight, this will help your circadian rhythm adjust back to your regular schedule, Eat and sleep at the appropriate time, even if this means staying up late or going bed early, you will recover faster.
Bon Voyage !
and when when you're packing don't forgot our favorite travel tool - the Nimble Cutter.