Don’t leave home without it

I’ve done my share of long distance traveling.  Every time some one gasps when I tell them how long it takes to fly to Thailand, I chuckle a little bit inside.

“Well, it’s 11-12 hours with a 3-hour layover in Taiwan/Hong Kong/Japan, and then another 4-5 hours to Bangkok. OR I can fly direct for 17.5 hours.”

“OH MY GOD! / Da-yam! / Are you kidding me? / I could never do that!?!”

Then I will tell them that it’s not so bad any more.  On Thai Airways direct flight, even Economy seat has its own on demand TV and Interactive center.  (Seriously, Jet Blue? DirecTV in every seat is supposed to be a big deal? Puh-lease.)

Sure, some flights are worse than others.  But hey, if you ever plan to travel the world, get a grip on those hours of flights, people.

Like the jet lag I’m suffering the tail end of it right now.  I’m staying awake as long as I can so I don’t wake up in the middle of the night again.  But so far Melatonin has helped plenty.

That brings me to the list of things I have learned NEVER to get on a plane without ever again.  (Not counting a bottle of water here since nowadays they supply you with plenty of water. Thai Airways handed me a bottle and told me to keep it for refill during flight.)

1. Bonine

The wonder of a motion sickness pill!  Unlike Dramamine, this thing doesn’t make me drowsy and it lasts for 24 hours.  Being as sensitive to motion as I am, flying has never been my forte. I HATED flying and scared out of my head with every tiny little dip in the sky.  I also used to have to sit by a window or I get super dizzy very quickly, worse when we hit turbulence during meal service.  With Bonine, I don’t feel any drops except a significantly big ones.  Last year, on a boat touring the islands of Phuket, I was so adjusted to the motion that I misstepped a few times because I actually couldn’t feel the boat tilting.

Bonine is chewable but dang the “raspberry” flavor is nasty.  You’ll need to wash that down with some water.  It works like charm on a road trip and most boats.

2. EarPlanes

I discovered these over one trip when I still had sinus infection before getting on the plane.  Some forums suggested using the EarPlanes pressure regulator earplugs.  They really helped.  I usually have problems popping my ears on the way down that would either leave me kind of deaf for a few days or give me severe ear pain during and/or after the flight.  Since I got these, landing is quite music to my ears. 🙂

3. Sleep Mask

Boy did I wish I have the complimentary one of those you’d get in Economy Deluxe class of seats over the last trip!  My seat was aisle, one behind the front row with access to the bathroom. However, the green “bathrooms are free” light was so bright the entire trip there was no way I could escape it where I was sitting.  And of course, there is always a jack ass somewhere with the reading light on.

4. A well tested travel pillow

I made sure my friend got a good one before he got on his long flight to the East Coast.  Dude still thanks me for it.  Personally, I have a child’s travel pillow, pink and funky-shaped, for my daily bus commute.  You need to really test out your pillow at home first.  I don’t recommend the blow-up kind. Those things SUCK!  The buckwheat-filled beanbag pillow fits me better than any of that donut neck pillow or the oddly-stuffed one on the plane ever will.  It’s just a tad heavier than the foam bubbles but definitely more comfy.  A perfect companion for all the long hauls.

5. A warm hoodie

The plane could get incredibly cold and incredibly warm.  The long haul usually ends up being cold. Best to get comfy.  And have contingency plan to cover your eyes. 🙂

6. A book and/or a loaded MP3 player

Entertainment center died on us 6 hours into the 17 hour flight. I did have my netbook loaded with a few movies but the batteries were dying after one and a half of them.  So, back to a book first, then music later.  A laptop/netbook is nice but some times I really wonder if it was worth the extra weight I have to carry.

7. A passport holder

I always ended up rummaging through my stuff for my green card to go with the passport and then I didn’t remember where I put the card or had to put it back somewhere else. ETC.  I spent a few bucks and bought a vinyl one from Target to hold my passport on one side, green card and Royal Orchid Plus frequent flyer card on the other with my itinerary.  They fit into my hoodie pocket. Perfect.

8. A pen

Seriously. Everyone is looking around for a pen when the flight attendances came through with immigration form.  Duh. Carry a pen, people.

9. Melatonin pills

This is NOT for during flight but your first night in town when you cross time zone(s).  Someone told me about Melatonin “therapy” to get people back on track after traveling back to the US from Asia.  It supposed to help you adjust your internal clock to darkness better.  I took it before bed my first night in Thailand and I actually slept through the night on the first night!  Usually I’d be up at 4 or 5 a.m.  Victory! Second night was also a success. That was all melatonin I took.

On the way back, so far I’ve bounced back a lot quicker.  I took it the first night and slept for 12 hours. LOL.  Brandon dragged my butt outside of the house for some daylight therapy which you also need to get your clock back to normal.  What should’ve taken 4-5 days or for some people a whole week to get adjusted back to, I am doing it in 3 nights with melatonin AND getting out in the sun.

Now that it’s nearing midnight, I think I’m tired enough to actually sleep through the night on my own.  Cross your fingers!

Optional: Goldfish crackers or some other snacky foods

Domestic flights don’t really feed you any more so you’ll have to take your own.  And sometimes you’re just too darn lazy to go the back of the plane for a snack during a long haul international flight.  But if I fly Thai, I’ll probably won’t bring that any more.  I’ve found on board Thai Airways this time that their mid-flight snacks are much better than the crackers.  They have bananas, apples, and oranges back there with cheese and crackers leftover from another meal service.  And if you want a cup-a-noodles, the attendance will hook you up with one.  Neat, huh? 🙂

That would be my travel essentials.  How about you?  What else do you or would you bring on a long flight?

7 Comments

  1. lillian   •  

    Great tip with the earplugs.. must get some for my Son9 , his ears always hurt.. I always have a bottle of water .. usually buy one before going to the gate… Important especially if you travel with children.. We usually want water when we’re taking off or there is no fight attendent available 🙂 But travelling with kids is a post of its own !

  2. Amy @ The Q Family   •  

    Great tips! I agree about hot noodle cup. Best snack on the airplane for me! 🙂

  3. oakley   •  

    Ladies, thanks for dropping in!

    Lilian, I didn’t put water down because after having paid premium for my giant bottle of water at LAX, even before serving their beverages on Thai Airways, I was handed a bottle of water and told to keep it on hand to get refills through out the flight. LOL. I also found people coming in with empty metal/plastic bottles and hit the fountain before boarding.

    Amy, isn’t it? I actually didn’t have the cup, too much for what I needed to snack on (cheese and banana is enough for me), but standing in the back of the plane, smelling the noodles someone else was eating was very comforting. 🙂

  4. J.C.   •  

    I can’t fly without a pack of gum. I hate earplugs of any kind & my ears pop with the slightest elevation change so I’m in serious pain if I don’t have something to chew on during take-offs & landings. Plus, the germ freak in me can’t travel without antibacterial wipes or hand sanitizer (especially when traveling with a little one, but then the list of must-brings is sooo much longer then anyhow!)!

  5. Amy   •  

    I like your melatonin tip. Coming home from a trip to Thailand seems to be always be the worse for jetlag. Takes me nearly a solid week to get back to normal.

  6. Ben Shingleton   •  

    Great tips, god, the simple pen is the one I usually fall down on, fumbling around, and then asking strangers to borrow theirs.. It’s never cool.

  7. Thai Orchid   •  

    That is great. Thank you so much for sharing.

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