THE TRAVEL ADVISOR: How to survive and thrive at the end of your flight

More often than not, the flying experience will run the gamut from pure bliss to heightened tension.

An American Airlines plane in flight (photo credit: REUTERS)
An American Airlines plane in flight
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Let’s agree that the entire process of packing your bags, dealing with airport security and beating off the sweaty hordes until you finally plop yourself in your airline seat is a lengthy and usually unpleasant experience.
More often than not, the flying experience will run the gamut from pure bliss to heightened tension.
Whether it is a relatively short trip or a 16-hour nonstop flight, it will come to an end. Landing after a long flight should feel like a moment of triumph – you’re about to begin a new adventure, or are finally home after a great trip, but most of us are more apt to feel dirty and exhausted.
Sitting in a dry, cramped plane cabin for hours isn’t exactly luxurious, but there’s a method to end every flight looking and feeling like your best self.
Here’s how.
Employ hidden comforts
For some people, comfort isn’t just wearing cozy clothes—it’s also about feeling like you look good.
Comfort and fashion aren’t mutually exclusive, which is why it’s a good idea to take advantage of subtle comforts.
I’m always amazed at the amount of flyers that leave their shoes on the entire trip. I don’t sit down on my couch at night with the same shoes I wore to my office, so why would I wear shoes throughout my flight? Whether its packable slippers or the airline socks that business class passengers are given, the first thing I do is take off my shoes and relax.
Some people prefer Crocs, probably the ugliest yet most comfortable casual show on the market.
Eat and drink wisely
You’re bound to feel jetlagged and bloated upon arrival if you indulge in unhealthy food and drink on your flight. Drink water or tea instead of soda, juice, or alcoholic beverages; alcohol will upset your sleep cycle. So grab a large bottle of water after airport security – preferably not the bottles sitting on the business class seats as you meander toward economy class. When you’re making food choices, remember that salt and sugar will dehydrate you, making jetlag worse and weakening your immune system. Nuts are a better option than the chips, cookies, or pretzels typically available. On shorter flights, avoid inflight offerings altogether and bring your own healthy snacks.
When taking a night flight, try to have a healthy dinner before heading to the airport and skip the airline’s dinner meal completely. Clients have told me in the past that carb-rich foods such as spaghetti, whole grain bread, and oatmeal make it easier to cope with jet lag. Something to do with higher levels of insulin, make it easier to transition from one sleep and eating schedule to another. Carb-rich foods help induce insulin secretion, which is why they may be helpful in preventing or minimizing jet lag. If you do choose to eat on the plane, keep in mind that warm foods are better than cold foods, since they’re easier to digest.
Brush up
Don’t forget to brush – your teeth and your hair.
Bad breath and bed head are easily avoidable if you plan ahead. Plane lavatories are covered with germs, so use a pre-pasted, disposable toothbrush that you can just toss after using. And there’s no underestimating the reviving power of floss and mouthwash. As the final touch, run a comb through your hair (unless you don’t have any hair). If you’re not ecstatic about buying all those travel-sized toiletries, try planning ahead on one of your trips and stocking up on those 99 cent items. In the US, Target stores have nearly a hundred different travel items that are perfect for short trips in small sizes that meet airline guidelines on liquids and gels.
Ever been stuck next to a person on the plane who has a powerful body odor? What if that smelly flyer is you? Here are some reasons that you might smell bad while traveling, plus tips on what to do about it: Traveling – and flying especially – can make you dehydrated. You may be walking more, or simply forgetting to drink the same amount of water that you usually sip when you’re sitting at your desk.
Dehydration is not only unhealthy; it is a major cause of bad breath. So be sure to drink plenty of water when you’re on the road. Coffee doesn’t count and caffeinated drinks also contribute to bad breath.
Wearing the same shoes every day (which is common while traveling, due to limited space), can increase foot odor. Try wearing one pair and packing another, so you can switch off and give one pair time to air out. Wearing moisture-wicking socks can also help, as can applying foot powder.
Traveling can be stressful. Unfortunately, your body can react to rough situations with sweat. Making matters even worse, stress-induced sweating is smellier than regular perspiration. When you’re anxious, your body produces sweat from the apocrine glands, which attracts more odor-causing bacteria than sweat caused by heat or workouts. Try packing a stronger deodorant for your trip, especially if you anticipate stressful situations.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to try one or two of the special local cocktails or brews while you’re traveling. But if you drink too much alcohol, you might still smell like the bar the next morning.
According to seasoned bartenders, stouts and other dark alcohols cause more of a stench than clearer spirits, like vodka.
Wash up
It’s not easy to wash your face in a plane lavatory, so instead, opt for calming facial pads or blotting papers right at your seat. Cleansing or Baby wipes can wash away that stale, post-flight feeling. For woman flyers, If you don’t want to wipe off existing makeup, try blotting papers to soak up the excess oil that makes your face feel dirty and look shiny.
Freshen up
Everything you need to smell great can fit perfectly in your carry-on, so there’s no excuse to be that odorous passenger. Dry shampoo, deodorant, and mints make up the perfect freshening kit. Your seatmates will thank you.
Change your clothes Who says your plane outfit has to be your arrival outfit? Packing a change of clothes can mean being prepared for lost baggage, accommodating a weather change, avoiding wrinkles, or just getting out of whatever you might have perspired in on a speedy quest through the terminal. For guys, simply changing into a fresh, breathable shirt can make all the difference. Loose-fitting shirts, comfortable jeans or sweatpants, flats or tennis shoes, and a hoodie are my in-flight uniform. Those shoes come off the moment I sit in my seat.
Stretch out
Folding up your tray table and repositioning your seat back shouldn’t be the only thing you do before landing. You might be surprised how many yoga stretches can be done right at your seat or in the line for the bathroom. There are plenty of discreet stretches that aren’t totally embarrassing – don’t underestimate the power of a good set of shoulder rolls or spinal twists. You can also carry small, hard tension balls to firmly and easily massage your neck and back when pesky knots pop up. Even wiser is to move around. The long mid-flight stretch on overnight flights is an excellent time to take a stroll up and down the aisle a few times. There is usually room to do some back stretches at the back of some of the cabins.
Finally, one of the keys to looking better when you depart the plane is feeling better. To that end, try to get as much sleep as possible when you fly. Arriving at your destination well rested will result in you feeling better and potentially stronger to battle jet lag on long-haul journeys. There are many remedies for combating jet lag and travelers needs to find the methods that work for them. One solution is ensuring you get some sunshine.
Being exposed to daylight tells your body to stop producing melatonin – the hormone responsible for regulating the circadian rhythm – and this will help you get into your new time zone naturally. If you land at your destination in the evening, taking melatonin tablets can help you get a better night’s sleep.
Looking better makes you feel better, which translates into more confidence and comfort as you meet those loved ones or business colleagues.
Looking back isn’t going to help you. Moving forward is the thing you have to do.
Mark Feldman is the CEO of Ziontours, Jerusalem.
For questions and comments email him at mark.