Being from Germany and living in America, I’m used to trans-continental flights. It’s almost seven hours from New York to Frankfurt. It’s just about six from New York to Los Angeles. But that’s nothing in comparison to the daunting twenty-two hours of fly time it takes to go from New York to Sydney. Travel this intense takes for special planning to get your body and mind in shape.
Here are some of my tips for surviving a journey to the other side of the world:
Start planning for jet lag at least a day or two in advance. The time difference between New York and Sydney is fourteen hours – traditional wisdom says that it takes one day for each hour of time difference to fully acclimate to a new time zone. Well who has that much time?
There is going to be some struggle with that much time zone change no matter what, but you can prep by staying up later, or going to sleep earlier, depending on whether it’s earlier or later at your destination.
If you want to sleep on the plane, try to get less than usual sleep the night before, and then take some Zquil or Melantonin tablets once you’re in your seat. It helps to stay hydrated, so make sure to drink as much water as possible and avoid alcohol on the flight.
I try to eat light the day of the flight, because a full stomach in a pressurized cabin for half a day is really unpleasant. When you’ve got a two-leg journey around the world, it’s better to wait to have a real meal at the layover city than be uncomfortably digesting 35,000 feet in the air. A protein-packed smoothie with some greens mixed in is a good idea a few hours before flying to fill up without putting your system into overdrive (bad idea: Chipotle).
Start taking Emergen-C or vitamin C tablets a couple days before flying to get your immune system in top shape. There are few things worse than arriving somewhere jet-lagged, run down and sick.
While the seasoned business traveller can plausibly fly JFK to LAX in a suit, when you’re talking about flying to the other side of the globe, you want to be as comfortable as possible, especially if you’ll be performing in-seat contortions trying to find a comfortable angle for your appendages. Wear fabrics that breath and have some stretch, at least around the waist. Tailored joggers are a dapper choice and pair well with crew neck sweaters or layered knits.
I take a leather backpack as a personal item that I can store under the seat and fill it with the in-flight essentials and docs I need at hand. I bring headphones, a magazine and a neck rest. I also recommend packing a set of face wipes that are like a refreshing mini-shower to help remove the smell of stale air from setting into your skin. You can get them from the drug store and they come pre-moisturized.
I pass the time by watching movies, playing addictive iPhone games which I immediately delete once a land, and set aside work I can do without WiFi, like photo editing. 22 hours is an intensely long amount of time to be in the air, but it does go by, one mile, one minute at a time…