Intercontinental flights to Africa are known to be some of the longest in the world.
Delta’s Atlanta-to-Johannesburg non-stop is over 14 hours, while flights from New York or London to southern and eastern Africa often involve connections and layovers in cities like Frankfurt and Zurich and total flight time of 20 hours plus.
With all that time in the air, you need to manage your health and comfort wisely. Here are a few tips to make your flight to Africa as comfortable as possible.
First things first: make sure you are hydrated.
Cabin pressure in aircraft simulates an elevation of around 8,000 feet, which contributes to dehydration.
Make sure to buy a large bottle of water before you get on the plane (or request it frequently onboard) and drink it constantly throughout the flight. Also try to avoid alcohol before, during and after the flight. Sports drinks with electrolytes, like Gatorade, can also help.
Your skin can also dry out quickly while flying, so apply some lotion halfway through your flight.
If you really need something to help you sleep on a plane, consider Ambien or melatonin instead of using alcohol.
You also need to stretch and keep the blood in your legs flowing, so make sure to get up several times during the flight and do some stretches and calf raises.
Other things that will help are getting an aisle seat, taking an aspirin before flying (for better blood flow), and using compression stockings.
And if you want to block out all possible distractions, definitely invest in noise cancelling headphones, a personal neck pillow, earplugs (not the cheap ones), and a sleep mask.
This will mitigate the effect of screaming kids and people constantly opening and closing the windows, among other annoyances.
Finally, if you can, consider upgrading to first class.
While you may scoff at paying extra for a better seat on a two-hour flight, for a flight that’s eight or more hours, it’s money well spent.