Summer time is travel time,
so it’s only right that I list my favorite travel “gadgets”!
I have been extremely privileged in my life to travel since I was a baby. At that time my family still used to travel with huge metal travel crates rather than suitcases, and my sister and me were allowed to sleep on the cabin floor - also smoking was still allowed, which I am glad is no longer the norm on most airlines. Traveling is one of the best, most eye opening things you can do for yourself, so it is hardly fair to complain about air travel. However, whether you travel for work or pleasure, plane flights can cause undue stress on your body: think stress from delayed flights and connections, that terrible filtered air, dehydration, and uncomfortable seats where you feel like an anchovy stuffed into a tiny tin box.
I have in the meantime perfected my travel routine, and the few “gadgets” that make a trip more pleasurable:
1. Compression socks
You know how you are stuck in your seat for endless hours, and your circulation is completely cut off? Your ankles start to swell, you are feeling uncomfortable, and every time I land I walk around with weird “cankles” for 2 days. Tada… as soon as I sit down in my seat, I throw on my compression socks. These are not only for people suffering from deep vein thrombosis (and some of you may have no idea what that is - that’s ok too :-)). The socks feel extremely snug the first time you put them on, but you will feel comfortable in no time. They help to pump your blood from your feet back up to your heart so there is no ugly water retention happening south of your waist. On top of that you will feel much more energetic when landing! It’s a full win situation. You can actually buy the best ones at the airport at Duty Free Stores, so pick up a pair the next time you are traveling.
2. Neck pillow
My biggest pet peeve is trying to fall asleep and my head keeps bobbing side to side like an Indian. Especially on long haul flights you don't want to get off the plane with a pinched nerve, running to the next chiropractor. So invest in a neck pillow - one that is sturdy and will really hold your head up. I used to only go for the blow up kind so that it would take less space in my carry on. However, after trying one with the small pellets inside, I have never gone back! Again, airports are the best place to shop for these as there will be a variety of brands on offer and you can try them out.
3. Eye mask
Although you will find these in those small on board travel pouches (if you are lucky enough to fly an airline that hands them out), you may want to invest in a slightly more comfortable one as a globe trotter. Get one that is soft and easy on the sensitive skin around your eyes. If you are used to sleeping in a dark bedroom with curtains completely closed, an eye mask is the perfect investment! Especially on long haul flights, the cabin lights will come on when snacks are being handed out in the middle of the flight. If you want to make sure you get plenty of shut eye, throw on the eye mask and look stylish.
4. Noise canceling head phones
This is definitely not a “must-have” but a “nice-to-have”, since it’s quite an investment. Bose makes noise canceling headphones that actually need to be charged to properly cancel out all outside noise. Once you put them in your ears, you are transported away from loud engine noises to your own bedroom paradise. Blissful sleep is no longer a dream!
5. Antibacterial gel (hand sanitizer) & wipes
Planes are bacteria bombs! Just think of all these people flying on the same plane every day. With the turnaround time of planes being so quick these days, there is hardly any time for the ground crew to properly clean each seat. Although I am usually not a fan of wiping off all bacteria from my skin, since there are some good ones, too, planes are definitely an exception. As soon as I sit down, I get my antibacterial wipes out and wipe down the seats, windows, seat belts, remote controls, and tables: all the things a million hands touch all the time! While my husband is deeply embarrassed by this every time, he never gets sick from plane travel anymore. Every hour I am awake, I will also use antibacterial gel on my hands.
6. Lip balm and moisturizer
As I mentioned before, the air on planes is extremely dry and keeps circulating throughout the entire flight without much filtering. You will find your skin drying out as soon as you take off. Carry an extra lip balm and hand moisturizer in your purse. Every time you use the antibacterial gel, also use the lip balm and hand moisturizer as a precaution. Before I get on the plane I like to use coconut oil to moisturize my skin on my face and body, so that is taken care of the whole flight. Alternatively, you could get a moisturizing face spray to spritz on every few hours.
7. Healthy snacks and extra water
Airplane food is definitely one of the unhealthiest things you can do to yourself. The salt content is through the roof in order to preserve the food and give it some flavor. When you just think of the millions of meals having to be served in the air every day, you can imagine how low the quality of ingredients must be. You may not be too organized to bring entire meals with you on the plane, and that is absolutely ok! Just make sure you carry some healthy snacks with you. Flying can get incredibly boring, and instead of reaching for salty, oily peanuts, you have your own healthy assortment of snacks with you: trail mix, fresh fruit, veggie sticks, healthy snack bars, the list is endless! Always carry a bit extra; that way you have healthy snacks ready at your destination as well and don’t have to go looking for them in an unknown place. On top of the snacks, bring along an extra water bottle. The cabin crew hardly comes around with water, and you will need much more than usually with the dry air and altitude. Since water bottles get taken away at the security screening, you have 2 options: bring along an empty reusable water bottle. As soon as you get on board you can ask the flight attendants to fill up the bottle for you (this is also important if you are flying to the US, where they will take any full bottles away from you after security screening and just before you enter the plane). Alternatively, buy yourself a plastic water bottle at one of the many coffee shops and food outlets after the security check.
8. Vitamin C
Not only does Vitamin C help your blood circulation (again, less chances of getting “cankles"!) and your immune system, but it keeps your blood strong. When you travel, your body is stressed and this will reflect in your blood - you can actually see your blood cells shrinking under a microscope. To keep them happy, healthy, and active, take Vitamin C tablets (1000 mg) every hour you are on the plane. You won’t feel so lethargic and tired when you get off the plane, and jet lag will be much easier to handle!
9. A good book
For a lot of people, getting on a long-distance plane means time to catch up on all the recent movies you have missed. While I love relaxing in my seat and watching something, there are only so many hours you can do this. And often enough I have had a problem with my seat and TV set, so that I wasn’t able to use it throughout the whole flight. This is when an old fashioned book comes in handy. Book shopping at the airport can actually be super fun, since you get to browse all the newest releases and bestsellers.
10. A bag organizer
The moment you need the hand sanitizer, you have to rummage through your whole bag to find it, piling the contents of your bag on your neighbor in the meantime. Be super organized and purchase a bag organizer. These come in many forms and sizes, and it is completely up to you what you would like to get. Mine is relatively small to hold all the small travel “gadgets” in individual pockets for easy access. Then I stack the bigger items around it. Trust me, it makes life so much easier!