Kira Daley, Shanghai, China

So my study abroad trip to China is over! When I boarded my flight leaving Vancouver back in May, it felt like such a long period of time stretched out before me. By the time the last week rolled around, the days just flipped past. And finally, all I had left to do was say my tearful goodbyes and hop on my 10-hour flight home to Vancouver! I don’t know about you, but this is my least favourite part of any trip. On the way there, you’re filled with excitement and anticipation, and you spend the flight daydreaming and reading about your destination. On the way home, it just feels like a long cramped trip in a steel tube in the sky, hurtling back toward reality. This time though, I planned carefully in an effort to make the flight back as comfortable and enjoyable for myself.

Here are my tips for stepping off a long intercontinental flight feeling rested and fresh!

  1. Wear soft comfy clothes. Jeans, things with zippers and buttons will all just make you feel constricted and bothered after sitting for awhile.
  2. Drink water. This helps keep you hydrated on flights when the air is notoriously dry and also promotes my third point…
  3. Get up often and walk around. If you’ve been drinking water every chance you get, you’ll need to get up to use the washroom so you don’t even need to remind yourself to get up and use your legs, you’ll be getting up anyway. Moving around helps reduce blood and fluid pooling in your legs from sitting motionless in your seat for 10+ hours!
  4. Pack a basic plane-ride kit in a small bag that you can keep with you in your seat. Include basic toiletries (brushing your teeth makes you feel like a new person!), wet wipes (you can refresh yourself by wiping your face and hands), earbuds for your favourite tunes and movies, a book and your journal. This way you don’t have to access your carry-on luggage during the flight. You have everything you need to keep yourself comfy and entertained at your fingertips.
  5. This one is very important. To start yourself on the road to a beating jet lag, pay attention to what time it will be at your destination when you land. I left Shanghai at midnight and landed in Vancouver at 8 p.m. on the same date. Time travel is neat, but it can mess you up! I noticed a lot of people going to sleep right after take-off, but knowing that I needed to be able to sleep soon after landing, I powered through and watched the entire Hobbit trilogy, The Martian and Up. I slept for only two hours of the whole 10-hour flight which meant when I landed I was able to go to sleep that night when I got home. It didn’t eliminate my jet lag altogether but it saved me from that first sleepless night and confusing late sleep-in the next day.
  6. Pack yourself a fresh outfit in your carry-on. When I landed in Vancouver, I changed in the washroom at the airport and felt like a new person! My friends picked me up at the airport and we went out for dinner; they could not believe that I had just landed from a 10-hour flight. They say half of feeling good is looking good (if we really want to skim the surface of things here…) and I definitely felt good after I landed instead of looking like a tired, sweaty bedraggled person in sweatpants.

I have to say, this was by far the most success I’ve had implementing this strategy for a comfy flight and a fresh arrival. Try them and let me know what you think!

Kira Daley, Langara College. Winner of the 2016 Stories from Abroad: British Columbia Study Abroad Scholarship. 

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