Hello loves! I’m writing to you from the Copenhagen airport. It is 10:18 in the morning my time; 3:18 in the morning at home. That means I left for the Minneapolis airport 47 hours and 38 minutes ago, and I’m still not at my final destination.
Here’s the whole story: I booked a flight path from Minneapolis –> Istanbul for less than $300 one-way, with 4 flights over 38 hours, including a 20-hour layover in Copenhagen, Denmark; my flight path was to be Minneapolis –> Providence (RI) –> Dublin –> Copenhagen –> Istanbul. However, I got an email two weeks ago that my overnight flight was scheduled on a MAX 8, or the same kind of plane that has crashed twice in the last six months, grounding them internationally. I had 24 hours to figure something out through Kiwi, the website through which I booked my flights.
I had two options: one was around 150 euros to change, and it would keep my flight time about the same, only I would be flying Minneapolis –> New York –> Dublin –> Copenhagen –> Istanbul. The free option was to increase my travel time to 51 hours and 20 minutes, with a grand total of 6 flights. My flight path was Minneapolis (with a 5:30 am departure time) –> Chicago (2.5 hour layover) –> Detroit (30 min layover) –> Newburgh, New York (7 hour layover) –> Dublin (3.5 hour layover) –> Copenhagen (20 hour layover) –> Istanbul.
The 20-hour layover has actually been desirable, because I got to (1) see Copenhagen, a city I’ve never been to; and (2) catch up to the time zone change. The other layovers, though? The numerous times up and down into the sky? The hours spent in the airport? A little less fun.
While this is absolutely the longest start-to-finish flight path I’ve ever experienced, I’m not a stranger to long-haul travel. I once took a bus for 36 hours. I’ve slept overnight in trains. I’ve been on a 14-hour flight.
Those days are long, but they’re worth it–after all, when you get there, you get to explore an entirely new city! To help you survive, I’ve compiled some of my top tips for long-haul travel.
- Wash your face. I purchased 3 sheet masks to use either on-flight or at the airport. This helps me *feel* refreshed and more awake, even if the rest of my body is screaming otherwise.
- Brush your teeth. Not sure how much explaining this one needs, but this also helps me feel refreshed, the same way washing my face does.
- Change your clothes. I don’t do this only for comfort, but I usually start out traveling in jeans. I do that because jeans take up a LOT of space, and I feel like I look the part more, which wakes me up a little (there’s studies that support this). Partway through my journey, particularly for the overnight flights, I’ll change into yoga pants, maybe change my shirt, or throw on a scarf. Do something to trick your brain into thinking you’re at a hotel room, changing into your pajamas.
- Change your hair. If it’s up, take it down. If it’s down, put it up. Put on a hat. I do this for the same reason I do all of the aforementioned things, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s something I don’t really think about.
- Splurge on something healthy. The salads and fruit are always waaaay more expensive than everything else, which is frustrating! Why would I go for the $12 fruit salad when I could have the $4 bag of chips? And while I usually go for the latter if for no reason than to save money, I think the health benefits of the former on long travel are important. Your body is going through enough, with the unrestful sleep on airport floors, the international germs that are in the air, and the heavy lifting with your bags–give it the fuel it needs, and your body will absolutely thank you later.
- Stay hydrated. This one kind of goes without saying, but it’s definitely something I have to consciously remind myself of. I don’t feel very thirsty when I’m flying because everything is so dry, but you’ll experience more headaches, more fatigue, and more muscle aches without hydration. Water is so important for the body!
- Do the things you’ve been putting off to pass the time. Is there an email you keep meaning to send but haven’t? Need to organize the photos in your phone? Call someone you don’t really want to talk to? There’s literally no better time to do that than when you’re sitting in an airport with nothing else to do. If I’m on a particularly long layover, I like to sit at a bar with juice and check things off my to-do list. It makes me feel a little lighter, knowing that I’m doing tasks I’ve been annoyed by for a while.
- Stay away from caffeine and alcohol. I struggle with a bit of flight anxiety, and I’ve read that it’s recommended to avoid caffeine and alcohol while traveling, because they mess with your body’s natural functions. You’re tired? Feel it! Sleep a little here and there if you can. You’ll save money in the process. Your body will also thank you later: studies show that even a small amount of alcohol disrupts sleep.
- Listen. At this bar, I’m hearing… four different languages around me? I’m not even sure which language is which. I know German, Dutch, English, French, and Spanish are some of the most popular languages in Western Europe, but at almost any international airport, it’s exciting to see the different kinds of people walk by, hear the languages they’re speaking, watch what they’re eating, and see how they interact. There are so many people in this world, and now is a great chance to explore!
I’m excited that I’ll be in Istanbul, Turkey in 4 short hours, and I’ll arrive well-rested (as well-rested as one can when adjusting to the time difference), alert, and excited!
What are your tips for long-haul travel? What works for you?
until next time, xoxo