How to Deal With Long Journeys

Waiting area at the airport
When you're traveling, long flights or bus rides are sometimes inevitable. More than once I've traveled for over 20 hours with only short layovers or breaks in between which in my opinion is mostly just plain boring - especially if you're traveling on your own.

However, long journeys can be not only physically challenging but also emotionally exhausting. After all, in a relatively short time you're moving from a (most of the times) familiar place to a foreign location with a different culture, language and even climate. It takes time and energy to adapt to a new environment.

I believe that in order to make adaptation to new place quicker and possible easier, the journey itself should be as comfortable as possible (within limitations such as budget, geography, etc.). Personally, I try a combination or selection of the following tips for making longer journeys easier to handle.

Stuff to bring along
  1. BOOK: an interesting book helps to pass time
  2. MAGAZINE/NEWSPAPER: even if you don't normally read them, make use of the free newspapers  and magazines offered by many airlines. They can help to tide over a sleepless period
  3. SMARTPHONE/MP3: bring your own music. It helps to relax and sleep or to wake you up before arrival
  4. SNACKS: this is especially important if you're on a bus or plane without all inclusive meal service
  5. WATER: this is crucial. Dehydration increases travel related afflictions such as jet lag or thrombosis. Therefore, always bring your own bottle of water with you - even if you can get extra on the plane.
  6. BLANKET/PILLOW: you're allowed to bring a blanket and a pillow for your own comfort. A neck pillow can help ease the strain on your neck when you have to sleep in your seat (if you can afford business class, it's a whole different story).

Before or after the flight/bus ride
  1. DRESS COMFORTABLY: a long journey isn't the place to show off the latest fashion (unless you're a supermodel on the way to a photo shoot). Comfort is king when it comes to traveling. Stretch pants, comfy shoes, t-shirt, hoodie, or basically whatever doesn't restrict your movement or blood flow. Imagine sleeping with extra-tight jeans...
  2. USE LAYOVERS: make use of layovers or stops to walk around. I know, it's tempting to to just sit down and eat something while waiting for your connection. However, in my experience it's great to move those stiff legs and stretch my back before entering another vehicle.
  3. ARRIVE JUST IN TIME: depending on your travel type you might want to arrive at the airport early to avoid stress. Personally, I try to make travel times as short as possible which includes keeping the time between check-in and take-off short. 
  4. BE SMART AT AIRPORT SECURITY: if you've seen the movie "Up in the Air" with George Clooney you know the protagonists travel rules. Now, some of them are a bit extreme but the ones regarding security check I found quite helpful. Amongst them: don't get in line after families with infants or after the elderly. (If you travel a lot you'll learn to spot experienced travelers and can get in line after them.) This will take time off your travel time as well. 
  5. AISLE SEAT: request an aisle seat. It's a lot easier to get up and move around from there! Only exception: scenic bus ride where you'll actually see something from the window other than blue sky and clouds...

During the flight/bus ride
  1. DRINK: make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and juice
  2. SLEEP: if you can, sleep. It will not only make time go by faster but also will help you arrive at your destination much fresher.
  3. MOVE: regular trips to the bathroom help to stretch out your body. Plus, washing your face or brushing your teeth will make you feel refreshed - even if just a little.
  4. FUN: read, watch a movie, listen to some music - whatever keeps you happy and busy.
  5. TALK: I found that a great way to start off a journey, especially if you're traveling on your own, is to shortly introduce yourself to your neighbor(s). After all, you're going to spend quite a few hours next to each other. Now, keep in mind that you are talking to a stranger so it might be best not to be too open hearted or share personal information. I usually stick to first name, origin and destination(s) for information about myself. If the conversation evolves into something more you can take it from there. Also, be mindful that not everyone enjoys talking to a stranger while traveling. If your neighbor isn't interested don't force them into talking!

What are your best tips for long journeys? Please share!


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