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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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« family weekly | Main | flying advice »

long plane flights

In yesterday's Blathering, I asked the poll question: "Have you ever had your luggage lost or temporarily misplaced while flying?"

I find the results so far pretty shocking: twice as many people answered "yes" than those than answered "no". I've never had luggage problems myself (hopefully our upcoming trip won't be an exception), but know people who did. My music partner Allison, for example, has been through this at least twice. Once with her luggage containing all her written music (she takes her music in her carry-on now) and once with her guitar. She got both back, fortunately.

Thanks for your suggestions about how to cope with long plane flights.

Here are some useful online links I've found related to this topic:

-- How to survive a long plane flight

-- Surviving long plane flights (ivillage) (thanks to Bill Sutton for this link!)

-- Travelling By Air

-- Air Travellers' Handbook: compilation of advice and info from newsgroups related to air travel. A ton of useful stuff here, including tips on how to get the cheapest fares, and how to fly with children. Also see their index of links.

-- Advice for parents about surviving a long plane flight with children

-- Family Travel Trip Planner: includes several articles about how to keep kids amused on long plane trips.

--'s section on jet lag

Advice about coping with long flights (from above resources and advice from Blatherchat) includes:

- Plan to spend about 1/3 of your flight reading. Ideas: a new book, magazine, info about your destination.

- Get noise-cancelling headphones. Not only will you be able to hear your music/DVDs better, but it will also reduce the effects of having to listen to loud plane noise for the entire trip.

- Exercise during the flight by walking around and doing basic stretches.

- Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Wear loose-fitting shoes since your feet will swell. Bring slippers or thick socks so you can take off your shoes during the flight and still keep your feet warm.

- Try to get an exit row or bulkhead seat, which have more leg room, or an aisle seat so you can get up and walk around more easily. Some sources advise window seats for those who know they're going to be sleeping a lot on the plane, since you'll be less likely to be disturbed.

- If you wear contact lenses, take them out for the flight (especially for long flights).

- If you want to avoid turbulence and engine noise as much as possible, choose a seat as far forward as possible.

- Try to nap.

- Watch the onboard movie if it's at all interesting. It will help two hours go by more quickly.

- Drink plenty of fluids. Avoid coffee and alcohol, which are dehydrating. Opt for a meal and snacks which are lower in salt. Bring your own snacks and bottled water if you can. Drink water before and after the flight.

- Other suggested things to bring on the flight: skin moisturizer, moisturizing eyedrops, saline nasal spray, damp paper towel in a zippered sandwich bag, neck pillow, eye covers.

- Bring a spritz bottle with water to spray on your face for a quick freshen-up. Some advise filtered water mixed with a few drops of aromatic oil. Suggested fragrances: lavender, or mixture of lavender and mint. However, some sources said that spraying water on your face makes your skin feel even drier, if not chapped. Go figure.

From Bill Sutton:

- Be sure to start working on your destination time as soon as it is practical to do so. I reset my watch when the plane takes off and try to operate with my sleep cycles and such based on "watch time", not body time.

- This isn't so important now that almost all airlines are non-smoking, but take a change of shirt and socks in your carry-on. Change just before you land, if you can. A quick rinse with cold water (a lot of airlines give you hot towels as well ... mmmmm) and a clean shirt can make you feel a lot better.

- If you don't need it, lift up the armrest between the two of you. It really does give you more room to move your hips and upper legs, even if you are disgustingly thin and healthy

- Absolutely, definitely get up and walk around. It not only keeps you from cramping up, it's a good chance to meet people who are also up and walking around.

- Bring a variety of things to do. Sometimes the movie is just bad (or is at the wrong time - resist the temptation to watch it if you should be sleeping ) or your eyes just get tired of reading. I don't usually do many crossword puzzles, for instance, but I keep a book of cryptics with me to do on the plane when I need a break.

- Laptops and coach seats don't get along very well on most airlines. Don't count on being able to comfortably use your laptop unless you're lucky enough to be in Business Class ...

Today's Blatherpics

- Alison and Jeff, asleep in the hammock. A split second after I took this photo, Alison woke up. To say she startles easily when asleep is an understatement. Surprised to see a camera so close to her face, she gave four loud yelps in a row and threw her arms up. Jeff woke up in the process, of course. I felt awful for scaring her, of course! But don't you think this photo's worth it? :-)

- My music partner Jodi. If you haven't already, be sure to check out her award-winning songwriting resource site, The Muse's Muse.

Feel free to suggest a daily poll question.

Today's Poll:

Are you female?

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