For my spring break trip this year, I’m gearing up to fly for many hours from Boston to London and Dublin and back again. But this isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve studied abroad in Europe, gone to the Middle East and traveled across the country multiple times. Here are my tips for how to take care of yourself and make a lengthy trip not feel so, well, long. Whether you’re flying to a foreign country, or taking a cross country road trip, these tips can help you stay occupied, healthy and to be real, sane.
1. When traveling for many hours, pack a sleep aid.
Obviously, sleeping in a car or on a plane is not the same as sleeping in a bed. Some people have the luxury of easily falling asleep anywhere. I’m not one of those people. Even if you’re a good sleeper, I encourage you to pack a sleep aid of your choice. There’s nothing worse than laying awake knowing you’ll be exhausted when you finally get to your destination.
2. Bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated and save money.
I can’t express how much I regret it every time I forget my reusable water bottle, especially during flights. Those little cups of water they hand out are not enough. You’ll end up thirsty or even dehydrated. Then you end up spending a fortune on water bottles at the airport. Avoid all of that by bringing along your water bottle and filling it up at a water fountain once you get through security. Plus, reusable water bottles are good for the environment! Practice phasing out plastic water bottles in all different parts of your life — even when you’re going somewhere new.
3. Download more entertainment than you think you’ll need.
When I travel, I’m more of a physical books and magazines kind of gal. If that’s not your style, or you’re trying to pack lightly, make sure to download a lot of TV shows or movies to your phone. Don’t rely on the plane having a screen with entertainment. You’ll certainly be sorry if you bank on it and have nothing to occupy you.
If you don’t usually listen to podcasts, give audio a try! I like to download new games to play on my phone while I listen to podcasts. If you prefer music to accompany you on your journey, download playlists or put music on your phone. My wanderlust playlist includes upbeat music as well as some classic songs about travel.
4. If you’re on a long flight, get up and walk around.
Even if you don’t need to go to the bathroom, take some time to get up and take a walk down the aisle. Stretch if you can without disturbing your fellow passengers. If you’re on a long car ride, pull over the car every once in awhile to stretch your legs. It’ll make you feel so much better as you continue your journey, and you want to make sure to avoid blood clots!
5. Bring snacks!
For a lot of the same base reasons as the water bottle, this will keep you from getting hungry during travel and spending extra money to eat. That’s money you could be using on your trip! My #1 recommendation for travel snacks is granola bars. They’re small, easy to pack and can tide you over if you get hungry in-between meals.
However, if you pack a granola bar with nuts, make sure to ask fellow travelers around you if they’re allergic to nuts before you eat it. It’s courteous and contentious, and will make sure you don’t accidentally cause an allergic reaction.
Travel is just the act of getting you to the fun destination, but it’s worth it to take steps to make it manageable.
A couple hours before you head out, ask yourself what you think you might want a few hours from now. I like to make to-do lists of what to pack, and then double check it to make sure I don’t forget. Consider your basic travel needs: sleep, nourishment, hydration and entertainment! The more you plan ahead, the less painful your trip will be. Safe travels!