How to Survive a Long-Haul Flight

This week I’m flying back to the states for a little over two weeks to visit my family and do some research for my dissertation. It got me to thinking that over the past few years I’ve actually done a surprising amount of flying. Ever since I was a small child I’ve loved travelling on airplanes– last week I listened to a podcast that described it in a way that captures this a bit, saying that it’s incredibly cool that you can get into a giant metal tube, and be across the globe in twelve hours. Yes, the process of getting to that point can be long and frustrating, but once I’m actually en-route the ‘speeding through the air’ bit almost always outweighs the ‘I’m far too close to this stranger’ bit.

Below are some of my ‘survival’ tips for making your next trip as easy as possible. Planning ahead is always key, but my tendency to over-prepare means that I’ve definitely carried more than I needed over the years. Below will be a streamlined list of some things I’ve found make the biggest impact when travelling. A while ago I wrote a post about packing a carry-on bag for shorter flights, but this list will is aimed at longer flights, like overnights or transatlantic.

The one thing I always carry with me on flights, no matter what, is actually something you don’t have to carry at all– a big scarf. It’s usually one that will take up a bit of space in my bag, so wearing it means the added benefit of more space for other things, besides this though, it makes regulating my temperature much easier, especially since I am almost always cold. Thrown over my outfit it gives the illusion of presentability, but can also be used as a blanket or rolled into a makeshift pillow as needed.

The Non-negotiables: 

These are the things I absolutely need to make it through a long flight feeling like my best self, and ready to enjoy my time wherever I’m headed.

  1. Water. Yes, this is an obvious one, but also the one thing you can do that will have the greatest impact. The air inside of airplanes is super dry  (humidity adds a lot of extra weight) so it’s incredibly easy to become dehydrated. As a rule of thumb I try to have at least one full glass of water before getting on the plane, and one per hour for every hour I’m in the air. Of course, if I manage to fall asleep this doesn’t always happen.
  2. Snacks. For me snacks are key in most scenarios (I’m a bit of a grazer), but when I travel I like to make sure I have some that are especially nutrient dense, and preferably fruits or veggies. Bringing some yummy snacks with you (cut fruit or veggies, trail mix, etc.) will make it easier to avoid the usually disappointing array of snacks there, and have the added benefit of helping me resist my super strong sweet tooth.
  3. Skincare routine. I like to bring a pack of face cleansing wipes and do a quick, paired-down version of my nighttime & morning routines including a heavy moisturiser (like Lush’s Cosmetic Lad), and some eye cream. Not only does it help keep my skin hydrated and happy, but also helps me mentally prepare to go to sleep.
  4. Toothbrush/Toothpaste. Since  I treat an overnight flight a bit like any other night, washing my face and, of course, brushing my teeth are a must. Plus, there’s something about brushing my teeth that always puts me in a better mood!
  5. Charger/back up battery. This is one I always felt a bit unnecessary until I found myself stranded in JFK with 5% battery and the looming prospect of having to sleep in the airport (spoiler: I did). Getting in touch with my family and rearranging my flight was super-stressful, and having a charger on-hand would have made life significantly easier.

The Optionals:

In this section are things that may not be totally necessary, but certainly make the trip  more comfortable. If I have space I will usually bring all of these, especially number one as they take up such a small amount of space.

  1. Eye mask and earplugs. Yes, this is technically in the optional section, but I love having at least me eye mask and some headphones. The vast range of movies on a long flight can be very appealing, but so is setting myself up for minimal jet lag, and trying to get a jump on the ‘correct’ time zone definitely helps. Sometimes this means not sleeping on a flight, but I like to be prepared just in case.
  2. A good book. One of the things I most like about travelling is that the ‘in between’ time of being in the air is the best excuse to do something I enjoy, but sometimes feel guilty spending time on. Working on airplanes is pretty impossible for me, so it’s the perfect time to do some reading for fun.
  3. Makeup for landing. This one is definitely optional, but always nice. Using a cleansing wipe to ‘wash’ my face when I land, and doing the bare minimum of makeup (usually a bb cream, concealer, and sometimes a swipe of lipstick) makes me feel more like myself, and also means I’m ready to dive into the rest of the day.

Some of these are pretty intuitive, but there have definitely been times where I’ve been in a hurry to leave (especially for morning flights!), and I’ve forgotten one of them, only to realise how definitely necessary it is. To set myself up for success I try to take care of packing my carry on bag the night before to minimise the odds of  forgetting anything, and do one quick check in the morning.

 

72 Hours in Venice

Venice has been on my ‘to visit’ list for ages. I remember my grandmother telling stories about the city– she went with my grandfather and some of their friends– and wanting to see the places she described. Growing up my family went to Italy nearly every year, typically to Southern Italy, but never made it up north to Venice.

Last summer when Cameron and I were trying to see as many of our friends as possible before the move, we went to dinner with a friend of ours who mentioned she would be in Venice this spring. Her dad is an architect and would be there for the architecture biennale, and did we want to meet her there and maybe visit the biennale as well? Needless to say the answer was a definitive yes! The promise of seeing a good friend, visiting a gorgeous city, and getting to see the architecture biennale was a no-brainer. Our friend has numerous family members in town, and we were lucky enough to tag along with them to the Biennale, and to dinner. Her family lived there for a long time, so directed us to some very cool places, which really made the trip feel even more special, as they are incredibly nice and have some amazing stories.

Fast forward a few months and it’s finally here! We had a bit of a difficult time getting there after we missed our first flight because of London traffic, but managed to reschedule and made it there the next day. The whole thing was doubly stressful and we booked just a few weeks out and almost every flight was totally full. We also got really lucky and found a hotel in a great location fairly last minute for a surprisingly reasonable rate given the Biennale was opening this past weekend. We stayed at the Hotel Tivoli— a pretty nice, yet inexpensive place in Dorsoduro for our first two nights, and moved to the Hotel Rialto, which was right next to the Rialto bridge, for our third.

We managed to pack an impressive amount of sightseeing into our short few days, and had so much fun. On Thursday we went to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, followed by a lunch recommendation to Cantina Do Mori. It’s a smaller wine bar, but has amazing food, and dates all the way back to 1462– it’s down a quiet alley, and is a lovely break from the regular crowds in some of the more popular spots. In the afternoon we pent some time going through St. Mark’s before grabbing an Aperol spritz in the Piazza San Marco and doing some wandering through the city. Our friend invited us to the party for the American pavilion in the evening, which meant returning to the Guggenheim. It was much more crowded than the morning, but was a lot of fun.

Friday we spent the first part of the day looking at some of the different pavilions of the Biennale. There was definitely a strong theme of housing refugees and migrants, with Germany presenting a particularly through and interesting example. The US example was really interesting as well– it was more traditional in presentation, but proposed some decidedly thought provoking strategies to rebuild and repurpose parts of the city. One of my absolute favourite’s though, was the Swiss pavilion. It was a gorgeous,  organic structure a bit like a cloud, and a bit like a cave. After removing our shoes we could climb inside and explore the interior– it felt both incredibly futuristic, and like some sort of prehistoric cave.

We spent the afternoon at the Galleria dell’Accademia, which I was particularly excited about. One of the first paintings I remember learning about from my first Art History survey class is The Tempest by Giorgione, and seeing it in person was fantastic. It’s currently in a temporary exhibit on Aldo Manuzio and the modern book, which I think was a bit of a tenuous connection, but was well worth the search. The temporary exhibit was really interesting, featuring some gorgeous books with amazing illustrations, and lovely text design. I could have spent a full day there, but we had plans to meet our friend and her family at Bar Arsenale, so had to leave to meet them and head to dinner

Our flight out on Saturday was in the late afternoon, so we had some time to do a bit more exploring. We stayed up far too late Friday night wandering around the city, which was absolutely gorgeous in the evening empty of people and full of light, but managed to get up early enough on Saturday morning to grab a coffee before heading to one last place on my list I was really excited about. The Basilica Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari is known for it’s amazing Assumption altarpiece by Titian, as well as Canova’s and Titian’s tombs, and generally incredible artwork. I’m so glad we made it here, even if we woke up a bit early.

Before heading out, our last stop was at a small cicchetti place to meet our friend and her family, Cantine del Vino Gia Schiavi, in Dorsoduro, which had some incredible food. We’d walked by it a few times, and when we first arrived there was a tour group, so we decided to walk around for a few minutes and come back. It was definitely a great last place to stop before leaving, and if you find yourself there, definitely worth seeking out.

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Overall it was an absolutely fantastic trip! Not only is the city of Venice gorgeous, but seeing an old friend made the whole thing one hundred times better! Here’s to hoping our next adventure is just as, if not even more fun!