Only 3 sleeps left!
The longest legs of flights both to and from Taipei will be the longest amount of time I have ever spent on any one plane. My itinerary there and back is as follows.
On the way there
1 –> 2
Toronto to Los Angeles – flight time 5hrs 35 mins
2 –> 3
Los Angeles to Taipei – flight time 14hrs 45mins
On the way back
1 –> 2
Taipei to Seattle – flight time 10hrs 25mins
2 –> 3
Seattle to Miami – flight time 5hrs 35mins
3 –> 4
Miami to Toronto – flight time 3hrs 15 mins
I have been feeling some anxiety about the two longest flights and so have done all sorts of research about what I can do to make the flight better, lessen jet lag (Taiwan is currently 13 hours ahead of Toronto), and just generally make the experience as good as it can possibly be. My body really does not like flying, so much so that even after 4 or 5 hour flights my digestion and brain are all out of whack for up to two days. I think the longest flight I have ever been on to date was about 7 or 8 hours, but I have definitely never skipped through so many time zones. I will have to report back to you all how it goes. I have high hopes.
In the meantime I thought I would share some travel tips that I have learned on my own as well as some that are new to me and I am eager to try this time around.
1. Water. I know from personal experience that planes are major dehydrators. I used to not bring water with me and patiently wait for the beverages cart to come down the aisle, only to get a little dinky Styrofoam cup of water. My standard procedure for the past few years has been to bring an empty water bottle through security screening and then fill it up at a water fountain pre-flight. My plan this time is to either bring two empty bottles, or bring one large one and buy a large plastic one in the secure zone. The TSA guidelines state that empty bottles can be brought through, however they may be “not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns”. I personally have never had a problem bringing empty aluminum water bottles through in the past although I have read a few cases online of them being confiscated.
2. Essential toiletries. I always bring a toothbrush, toothpaste, contact solution/glasses (I find if I get on a plane in contacts I have to take them out mid flight due to the dry air), and deodorant with me. This time I am also adding baby wipes to the mix. It may not be a shower, but it may still be nice to feel a little cleaner. They are also super handy as back up for napkins, and for cleaning up any mess that may occur.
3. Oil of Oregano. This stuff can be found in any health food store and is great at all sorts of things. You can use it topically on acne or to prevent infections of any wounds or scratches, but I mostly use it when I feel like I am getting sick. A few drops under the tongue or mixed with water is a good way to get this natural antibacterial substance into your body. I have never thought to take it with me on the plane before, but since I will be stuck in a closed off and cramped environment with all sorts of people during flu season, I think it will be a good idea to have some of this a few times during the flight. A few years ago a homeopathic doctor told me he does this and swears by it any time he travels.
4. Food. First of all I always ask for the vegetarian option (keep in mind that you have to request any special meals at least 24hrs prior to flight), but this time I went full out for the vegan. I am hoping that without meat and dairy my chances of getting some sort of food poisoning will be minimal. Also, since airplane food is fairly terrible I am going to pack a bunch of my own food this time around. I did some research and it seems that I actually have quite a few options. Some tips I have read are to keep any salad dressings, spreads, or sauces in separate containers that do not exceed the 100mL limit and place them in your 1L bag with all other fluids. I read that one woman’s salad got taken away because the dressing was already on it and thus was considered a liquid that did not follow the safety guidelines, and that the same thing happened to someone else but because of hummus they had already spread on a sandwich. Sounds stupid, but better not take any chances. Also, make sure to discard any uneaten unpackaged food before going through customs at your destination as things like fruits, vegetables, and nuts are not normally allowed to be brought in from another country. Lastly, be considerate of your fellow passengers and leave that tuna fish sandwich and other smelly food at home!
5. Sleep stuff. This kind of encompasses all sorts of things. Neck pillow, eye mask, ear plugs, and comfy clothes all help. I am also bringing melatonin this time to help with resetting my sleep schedule. I also have a very hard time sleeping on planes so I am going to pick up some Valerian or something similar at a health food store to help me relax. Oh and in terms of clothing I am often very hot or very cold while flying so I find that layering works best for me so I can add a sweater or go down to a T-shirt as needed.
6. Entertainment. It seems that no matter what I bring with me on a plane I still end up feeling bored and restless. However, I do find that bringing a variety of thing to occupy myself with works best. I normally stock up on a few good magazines, a book, my iPod, a journal, and also peruse the TV for movies and TV shows. It is normally while travelling that I think picking up something like knitting might be a good idea. It seems like it would preoccupy me for a long time.
7. Candy/gum. I don’t know about you but my ears get plugged up and pop like a mofo so I always have something to chew on during take off and landing.
Lastly, a note on jet lag avoidance. I have been reading discussion boards for the past few weeks in order to get some tips on how to avoid it and it seems that everyone has their own method. Since I am arriving in Taipei early in the morning, most suggest having a short nap if any and then trying to get outside into natural light as much as possible and being fairly active the first day. Sunlight should tell my body that it is not yet time for sleep, and being active will naturally tire me out. Others suggest setting your watch to the time zone of your destination and following it on the way there. So sleep when it is night where you are going, eat meals at meal times, and stay awake during their day. Others say that this has not helped them and find that sleeping when they want and eating when they want during the long flight has not made a difference upon their arrival. Everyone suggests drinking lots of water and avoiding diuretics like alcohol and caffeine. I think that on the flight there I will try to adjust to Taiwanese time as much as I can and hope for the best.
I will have to report back after my trip and let you know if there are any additional things I can suggest.