A new era of long-distance flying was launched last year when
By taking a few steps, however, it is possible to arrive at your destination in relatively good shape, ready to go.
The one absolutely required carry-on is a sense of humor. Be ready for some glitches. Should you miss a connection on a long trip, for example, a good attitude will help you get over it.
Frequent long-distances fliers devise their own survival strategies. Newton resident Jean Dibner, who traveled thousands of miles a year as a high-tech executive, thought of her trips as ''little retreats." She said she often did ''some of my most powerful thinking on long trips because time is suspended and you are out of your normal life." By sitting away from her colleagues to avoid shop talk on long trips, she could ''have big thoughts" without interruption.
Eric Bird, director of information technology for Massachusetts College of Art, breaks his long trips to Asia and Australia into two-hour chunks, devoting one to eating, one to a movie, another to reading, and several to sleeping.
Rebecca Hamilton, a law student from Sydney, changes into pajamas, and takes a sleeping pill on her trips back and forth between home and Cambridge. When she wakes up, she said, she washes, puts on fresh clothes, and feels refreshed.
Here are a few things you can try to maximize your chances for a successful long plane ride. Bon long voyage!
Ask your doctor to prescribe a sleeping aid, because sleep helps ease jet lag. Dr. Pamela Shinde, internist at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, prescribes Ambien, which seems to have few side effects. However, Shinde said, ''Ambien will allow you to sleep on the plane, but to help your circadian rhythms adjust to time zone changes, melatonin might be a better choice."
Consider buying special travel socks that stimulate circulation through gradual compression. They're about $30 at online travel stores. Wear them as a precaution against deep vein thrombosis. Sitting in an airplane for a long time can produce blood clots in a deep vein that, when dislodged, can travel through the bloodstream to vital organs, causing injury or even death. To combat this danger, airlines have begun to demonstrate in-flight exercises on their monitors to encourage passengers to move around or exercise in their seats.
According to Dr. Frank LoGerfo, professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and chief of the division of vascular surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, exercise empties the veins in your legs and returns blood to your heart, keeping the blood from being pooled in the large veins of your legs. He said even though studies have not conclusively demonstrated that long flights increase deep vein thrombosis, ''you can't go wrong with exercise."
Choose your travel clothes with comfort in mind. Loose-fitting layers are best.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, before you go and on the plane. Carry your own bottle of water for convenience. Kathy Cortelyou, a physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning instructor in Boston, said dehydration causes blood to become ''sticky" and more likely to clot.
Also, Cortelyou said, ''It's important to do neck stretches and shoulder rolls to increase blood flow and circulation in addition to the exercises the airlines suggest.
''Deep-breathing exercises, breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, should be done hourly, even if only for 30 seconds."
Before your trip, stock up on good reading material. Consider buying an eye mask and ear plugs or head phones to block out light and noise and let you sleep. A few teeth wipes can freshen your mouth and breath if you can't get to the rest room to brush your teeth. Also, bring your own food, at least some snacks, in case the meal service is slow, delayed, or nonexistent.
On the flight, check the inflight magazine, or the airplane monitor, for diagrams of easy exercises that you can do in your seat. If possible, walk around the plane a bit every hour that you are awake.
Eat lightly, and eat at times that are meal times at your destination. Make every effort to sleep, as it is the best defense against jet lag. Avoid caffeine or alcohol. Alcohol upsets your sleep patterns; caffeine keeps you awake.
Once you arrive, stay awake until it's bedtime where you are. Eat lightly the first day, and spend some time out in the sun. Do not keep reminding yourself of the time in the city you came from.
Judy Kugel is a freelance writer in Cambridge.