10 Tips for a More Comfortable Long-Haul Flight

10 Tips for a More Comfortable Long-Haul Flight

Headed out for a long-haul flight overseas soon? Whether it’s your first or your tenth time, flights over ten hours can be uncomfortable at best. 
I just returned from my sixth trip to South Africa, which is an amazing country but a long flight from the US. From the Midwest where I live, travel can include a two-hour bus ride, a flight to DC or Atlanta, and then the flight to Johannesburg. The flight to Joburg is about 15 hours from the ATL on Delta and longer from DC or NYC because of refueling stops. While the challenges of getting there are always worth it, long-haul flights are exhausting.
I thought about this quite a bit on my flight home this time, mostly because on the way over to SA, my partner and I had the luck to have an open seat in between our window and aisle seats. While it was a dream on the way over, that taste of sweetness made the flight home (which was lacking that empty middle seat) a bit more bitter… but I am always trying to find new ways to make these flights more comfortable and less stressful. So here are my top ten ways to make the long-haul flight more comfortable.

1. Water, water, water.
I think these first couple of tips might be pretty obvious but I am going to list ’em anyway! I can’t stress enough to stay hydrated. This may mean cutting out alcohol or salty foods the day of travel and/or perhaps carrying your own refillable water bottle. It may also mean using the lav more often but do not let this stop you! Planes (and hotels, etc.) are very drying and being dehydrated is not fun. So drink up!

2. Bring your own snacks.
The snacks at the airport are overpriced and you can never guarantee that you’ll find something you like to snack on during a long flight. And I don’t depend on the in-flight meals anymore because while Delta’s are usually pretty good, you just never know and what’s worse for your trip than getting hangry?? So stop at Target and get your favorite snack (not too salty and with protein and fiber to keep you energized and full) before you fly. My favorites are trail mixes but I will also bring protein bars.

3. Bring the right pillow and a seat pad. 
Perhaps you are someone who can sleep anywhere but alas, I am not so lucky. I bring a travel pillow as well as my trusty seat pad. Don’t think twice about spending a little extra on the right pillow (I don’t dig those inflatable ones, for instance) ​or about the space it may take up. In my opinion, it is worth it.

A pillow with a snappable strap can help to attach it to your carry-on during transit. The one I have even has a built-in pocket for my i-Pod. My favorite seat cushion is the Therm-A-Rest LiteSeat which you can inflate to your preference but that rolls up nice and small when not in use. Totally worth it.

4. Bring things to do.
Of course! Bring your iPod, Kindle, a paperback, etc. depending on your preference, carry-on, and destination. And bring your own earbuds or headphones because the ones the airline gives you won’t be great (or even good).

5. Saline nose spray.
File this under: planes are really dry. I actually tend to get nosebleeds on long flights. Saline spray helps with this tremendously. And a handkerchief or tissue packs are a good idea as well.

6. Layer your clothes.
Running around the airport can be a sweaty, stressful ordeal at times but in hour ten of that flight when you are trying to sleep, it can get cold and that little tissue of a blanket most airlines provide doesn’t always cut it. I tend to wear loose-fitting clothes with some give; often the ones I wear hiking which breathe well.

I go for pants with no belt (so as to not have to take it off when going through US security) and a zippered sweatshirt with a hood that can double as a back rest or blanket. Oh and for goodness’ sake, WEAR SOCKS. I don’t know how many times I see people on planes and in the security line who are barefoot. Sorry ya’ll but this is gross. That’s not water on the floor of the lav, folks. I wear wool socks to keep my pigs cozy the whole flight through.

7. Wear glasses? Bring your case.
I often wear contacts when I am away but on flights, I always wear my glasses. I am sure to bring a hard case for them now because I can take them off for when I sleep and stick the case in the seatback pocket. This way I don’t misplace them and they stay safe and clean. I also put my lip balm and earbuds in the case for easy access.

8. Stick to your schedule.
Before and during long-haul travel, I try to stick to my normal schedule as much as possible. This includes when I sleep, when I take any vitamins or medications, and when I eat. As little disruption as possible will minimize jet lag.

9. Don’t overindulge.
This goes hand-in-hand with #8. It’s easy to indulge in more food and drink or to sacrifice sleep when on holiday. This can lead to illness, stomach woes, or worse. Again, stick to your regular schedule as much as you can and bring some Tums or similar so you can enjoy the local cuisine while at your destination.

10. Consider springing for the upgraded seat.
Now, I am not talking about first class (but if you can afford it, go for it!), I am just referring to the trend of airlines offering special seats in economy for an additional fee. Delta has their Comfort Economy Plus, for instance, that offers a few inches of extra legroom which I find totally worth it. You might find a good return an extra $50 or even $200 investment if it provides a bit more comfort.

BONUS FOR THE LADIES…

Ladies, ever get that not-so-fresh feeling?? Ha, don’t lie! We all do, especially on a long flight, so do yourselves a favor and bring some feminine wipes to use during and after your flight. ‘Nuff said. (Maybe this is a good tip for the gents as well…??)

I hope this list is helpful! What are your tips to make long flights more bearable?? Share them in the comments below or Tweet us!

Visit a Stop on the Underground Railroad at Milton House

I’m a big fan of being a tourist in your own backyard. There are so many not-so-hidden treasures in Wisconsin that I have yet to discover. So a couple of weeks ago, my partner and I decided to do some exploring! Our first stop was Milton House Museum in Milton, Wisconsin.

Milton is about a 45 minute drive southeast from Madison. It is a small yet charming town that boasts Milton House as its main attraction. Milton House is one of 41 National Historic Landmarks in the state of Wisconsin and is recognized as a stop on the Underground Railroad (UGRR). In fact, it is the only UGRR stop in Wisconsin that you can tour. More on that later…
​Opened in 1844 by the founder of Milton, Joseph Goodrich (1800-1867), the Milton House originally operated as a stagecoach inn as well as being the residence for the Goodrich family. One of the unique features of the Milton House is its hexagon shape. In addition, it is regarded as the oldest standing poured grout (lime mixed with coarse gravel and sand) building in the United States. Originally the building included the “Goodrich Blocks” which housed stores on the street level with living quarters above. The Goodrich Blocks had to be removed due to damage but the Goodrich Wing was added by the Milton Historical Society in 2006 on the original footprint of the Goodrich Blocks. Part of the original log cabin built in 1838 by Goodrich and his traveling companions still stands.
The Milton House provides tours beginning every half-hour and we didn’t have to wait long for ours to begin even over Labor Day weekend. There was just my partner and I so we were excited to have the tour and our fantastic guide, Tabitha, all to ourselves! The tour lasts about 45 minutes to an hour and takes you through the Milton House Inn, to the second floor, down into the basement, and into the cabin. You learn about the history of Milton and the Goodrich family as well as their involvement in the UGRR and abolitionist movement. The place is filled with artifacts from the time period and Tabitha was so knowledgable and excited to share them with us! In each room you are given an explanation of what life was like at that time and stories about the Goodriches. You are also allowed time to look at the items and read the captions on your own, which is good because there is so much to take in.
​While the tour of the house and grounds are interesting in and of themselves, the main attraction of the site is the Underground Railroad tunnel. Goodrich grew up as an active member in the Seventh Day Baptist Church, which made clear its anti-slavery stances in several resolutions. Goodrich’s involvement in the Church continued throughout his life and was a great influence on his abolitionist activities. It is believed that fugitive slaves would enter the log cabin and go down through a trap door into the tunnel that led to the basement of the inn. Once in the basement, the Goodrich family would provide them with food and safety until they were ready to move on. The tunnel is believed to have been constructed in 1845 when the house was completed and was originally only large enough for a person to crawl or duck through. It was enlarged and reinforced in 1954 to accommodate visitors to the museum. It was really amazing to walk through this tunnel and imagine the feelings and fears that people felt on their way to the relative safety of the inn basement.

“He was an uncompromising friend and advocate of the cause of temperance, and of human rights. The poor and oppressed were received by him as a legacy of the Lord…” –​Written of Goodrich after his death in 1867 in “The Wisconsin State Journal”

We enjoyed the tunnel the most but also appreciated all of the antiques that Tabitha showed us, from toys to household appliances to Civil War memorabilia. We really left with an appreciation for the Goodriches and the role they played in Wisconsin abolitionist history. Overall, this was a wonderful tour and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in Wisconsin or Underground Railroad history.

Some tips:

  • Arrive a few minutes early to ensure you get a tour at the time you prefer.
  • Allow one hour for the tour and some additional time to take photos of the grounds.
  • Photos are not allowed inside the museum except in the entry.
  • There are some stairs leading to the second floor as well as those leading into the basement.
  • Admission fee was $8 per adult.
  • A gift shop is on the grounds.
  • Don’t touch any of the artifacts but ask plenty of questions!
To make a day of it, visit the Milton House in the morning and then:

Have you been to any sites on the Underground Railroad? Do you like visiting historical sites? Comment below with your favorites!

8 Things to Do When You Can’t Travel!

Wish you were traveling but stuck at home? Not all of us are able to make travel our full-time jobs. If you are like me, you’d always rather be traveling, but need to do the 9-to-5 gig to pay the bills. So what to do with the time between trips? Read on for some suggestions!

1. Why, plan your next trip, of course!
Wanderlusters always have a few trips in the hopper, am I right?? So, get to planning! Make a spreadsheet, go to the library for the latest travel guides, and get to the GlobalETA Library to start researching where to go next and what you can’t miss while there! For me, the planning of the trip is almost as fun as the trip itself. Almost.
​2. Record and/or organize the memories from your last trip!
Take a ton of photos on your trips? Well, there’s usually some organization that needs to happen when you return so you can find those photos and share them with others. So download those pics, rename them, put them in folders, share them on social media. Perhaps you scrapbook or blog, well, get to it! Write those stories and share those photos so that you can re-live those memories for years to come.
3. Make that money!
No matter how frugal of a traveler you are, it always takes a bit of money to take that next trip. So whether you have a regular gig like me, freelance, or temp it, get that money! Come up with creative and intentional ways to pay down the bills from that last trip and save up for the next. Have a garage sale, pick up an extra part-time job, or start to monetize your blog – the time goes a lot faster when you keep busy and are working toward a tangible goal.
​4. Explore your own backyard!
Most of us take for granted the amazing, often hidden, gems in our own hometowns. But what seems ordinary may be extraordinary upon further investigation! So get out there and try that new restaurant, take in a local game, take that day trip to the museum or historical site to which you’ve never been, or go on a hike in a local park or nature reserve. Take your camera and you will be amazed that you don’t need to go far to feel faraway.
5. Take a class!
Nowadays if you want to take classes, there are a ton of options and you don’t have to spend a lot to do so. Perhaps the local community college is offering a photography class or you find a great audiobook or online program to learn a new language. Local sporting goods stores, libraries, or non-profit orgs often offer classes for free or for a small membership fee. So don’t just watch the clock waiting for the time to pass, find something you can learn about that will make your future travels more fulfilling!
6. Get active!
Hand-in-hand with exploring the area in which you live or taking a class is getting active. Perhaps you already have a gym membership but if not, get outside and try something new like kayaking, yoga, or rock climbing. Granted, some of these things will cost money to get started but if you just want to dip your toes in, you can usually find affordable rental options instead of dropping a wad of cash on something new that you’re not even sure you will dig. This is especially fun with a friend, partner, or pet, so grab your bestie and jump in!
7. Watch travel shows or films!
Weather or funds not cooperating for you to go exploring? There are whole channels devoted to travel and exploration, so you can certainly distract yourself from not traveling or learn about a new place by watching a fun show or new documentary. From adventure tales, to endurance sports, to classic Richard Attenborough nature documentaries, there are innumerable ways to get your travel even if you are stuck at home. Check our our list for some rainy-day movie ideas.
​8. Read travel books and blogs!
I’m a librarian, so of course I am going to encourage you to read! But even when you can’t get to a new place yourself, a great travel book or blog can make you feel like you are there. Whether it’s a new bestseller, an old standby, an audiobook you listen to on the morning commute, or your favorite traveler sharing photos and tips, travel books and blogs can inspire and delight. Need some ideas? Talk to your local librarian and check out our travel book lists! We also have a massive list of the best travel blogs out there, so take a look!
​These are just a few ideas to pass the time when you are unable to travel and find yourself wanderlusting hard. What have I missed? What do you do between trips to make the time go faster? Give us your ideas in the comments below!

Quietude for the Literary Traveler at Gladstone’s Library

Travel is a busy affair. We rush to catch planes and trains. We march at a fast pace through a new city hoping to see as much as possible before our visit expires. We consume new experiences and food. Always with forward motion.

I had just spent two weeks doing just that. First Belfast, then Edinburgh, and then a hike along Hadrian’s Wall. Pressing on to London with the sightseeing, a Harry Potter geek-out and an East End walking tour. I’m not complaining, mind you. It was a great trip. But after all of that rushing around, I needed some down time. And I got just that at the Gladstone’s Library in Wales.

Gladstone and His Library
William Gladstone was a long time Member of Parliament and Prime Minister of the UK during the mid to late 1800’s. He had a vast and varied appetite for reading, accumulating over 32,000 books in his lifetime. He had a strong belief in the power of religion which shaped his participation in politics, his advocacy for emerging democracies and his support for human rights.

Gladstone’s library is the UK’s only Prime Ministerial library and one of the world’s few residential libraries that isn’t appended to a university. The library houses Gladstone’s collection along with 250,000 other printed works. They have a writers-in-residence program, conference facilities, host a book fair and offer regular multi-day courses on literary and language topics. The Victorian building houses the library collection in the the west wing and the east wing is home to 26 rooms which are available for accommodation.
Sleeping in the Library
I’m a book nerd, recovering bookseller and a literary tourist. So when I first heard about the library, I was beside myself. A residential library? Where do I sign up? The UK trip that I had been talking about doing for years suddenly got prioritized because now I could append my own library slumber party onto the itinerary.
My fellow residents were the bookish usual suspects whom you would expect to find at a residential library. A corporate group on retreat. A woman working on a project for her ministry. A volunteer cleric (and fellow Camino Pilgrim) who was providing religious and gardening services. And a professor from the University of Texas who had just finished up a seminal work on how zombies in our pop culture represent the collective trauma of a post 9-11 apocalypse. But, of course. ​
We were each there for our own reasons but we were bound together by the library. My own purpose at the library was to have no purpose other than to be at the library. After two weeks of running around the UK, I just wanted to sit still. And so I did. ​
Shhhhhh…
What astonished me about the library was its peaceful quietude. You expect libraries to be quiet places but this one offers absolute….total…silence.
While in the library, I would hear the occasional scrape of a chair, or the rustle of papers. But I could go for several hours and hear nothing but the rush of my own pulse.
That silence combined with the physical beauty of the library and the comforting presence of the books served to put me in a most tranquil state of mind. While in the library, I read the book “How to Be Bored” by Eva Hoffman. The author advocates for unplugged idleness, creative pursuits and contemplative concentration as means to stay balanced. She also espouses reading as a way to help the mind stretch and roam. The message of the book and the quietude of the library served as good reminders to me that we should all take moments to slow down and do a check-in with our interior state.  A temporary retreat from the hustle with time for contemplation will act as a restorative for the creative juices.
“Books are a delightful society. If you go into a room filled with books, even without taking them down from their shelves, they seem to speak to you, to welcome you.” – William Gladstone
I came away from the library reminded to slow down. I came away wanting to seek more comfort in the solitude of books. And now I’m determined to spend more time in libraries. ​

Have you been to Gladstone’s or another library that you loved? Where can you find peace, serenity, or inspiration while traveling? Please leave us comments or questions below!
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