12 Steps to Enjoying Long Flights (Hint: Vegetarian Food and Belly Dance Stretches Help!)

I love flying. Really. I get so excited to get on an airplane and enjoy all the time I have to myself. Other people talk about flying like it’s not fun. Are you kidding? It’s a goddamn miracle to fly across the ocean! We’re wined and dined and entertained, and no one asks anything from us if we’re flying without kids. And then we emerge from a glorious bird-like machine into a place that would have taken years of bumpy roads and rocky ships to see without launching into the sky for half a day. Like the best backpacker beaches in Thailand, winding streets of Flamenco-filled Spain, the chaotic markets of Morocco, and dizzying gypsy camps of India.


There’s a bit of positive inner dialog that happens on wonderful flights. Gratitude practice. Blessing the pilots when turbulence comes. Here’s what I suggest:


1. Look forward to the flight and your time in the airport. Flying is a gift and a privilege. Build it up. It will be fun because you decide to make it fun. Smile as your default, especially when you encounter any delays. Stay creative and sweet and you’ll figure out how to do what you need to do.


2. Order a vegetarian meal when you reserve your tickets. You want to take care of yourself right? Vegetarian meals on airplanes can be amazing. Regardless, we are always grateful for what we are served. We opt for Asian Vegetarian or vegan so we’re less likely to get eggs or dairy. Remember to reconfirm this when checking in. You usually get served first too!


3. Put the necessary items in your carry on. Glasses, car keys, prescriptions, a clean t shirt and underwear, your wallet, your toiletry kit and phone all go in your carry on. Pack healthy snacks like brown rice balls, and freshly roasted nuts and seeds too. One time my checked luggage was lost with my glasses in it and I had to go on a road trip across the US with only my contacts. Silly me. And another time I arrived at the beach in Thailand without my bathing suit, sarong and sandals in my carry on when my bag was delayed. These things can fit in our carry ons so easily! Now I just prepare for the possibility of my luggage being delayed or lost and don’t worry.


4. Get ready to complete something meaningful to you. Download the inspirational audio book you have been meaning to read. Bring the guide book for your destination that you haven’t had the time to crack open. Bring paper to write a letter to a loved one. Always bring a pen in case you are moved to write.


5. Charge your devices diligently. Keep those batteries as full as possible. I put podcasts and audio programs on my ipod because the battery lasts longer than my iphone. And I need my iphone to work where ever I arrive. I buy a sim card in most foreign airports upon arrival so I can use wifi to run my businesses, use Uber or another local ride share app, get directions, call accommodations if needed, etc.


6. Have your own water bottle with you. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A disposable plastic one is fine. Most airports now have drinking water fountains where you can refill. Flight attendants will refill your water bottle. On long flights they’ll often have drinks set out where they prepare meals and you can go refill yourself. And chugging the remaining water in your water bottles every time you go through security keeps you nice and hydrated as well. 


7. Be ready for dry and wet things to happen. Have a hankie and lip moisturizer and extra socks in your carry on.


8. Take off your shoes. Do this as soon as you can. Let your feet expand and enjoy the carpeted floor. If your feet stink change to the clean socks you brought.


9. Sip water all the time. Just like we sip water throughout our belly dance lesson videos. It will keep your lips and skin nicer as well as your brain. Flying can easily dry you out if you are not on top of it. As they say at Burning Man, “If you’re thirsty it’s too late.” Keep sipping.


10. Make a nest. Pick something soft from your bag to use as an extra pillow. Leave something warm on your lap. Have a positive book ready for when electronic devices are not allowed at take off and touch down. Have your water bottle in the seat pocket in front of you so you remember to drink often. If you have a window seat, lean up against that window with your pillows and other soft stuff, breathe deeply, and relax into sleep.


11. Get up and stretch. Every time someone in your row wants to get up, take that opportunity to move your body, massage your muscles, and keep your body limber. I even do a few belly dance warm up stretches by the bathroom sometimes. It feels amazing.


12. Give yourself a break. Flights are really the only time I actually watch movies, and that makes it even more special to fly. I normally spend my time learning, growing our businesses, belly dancing and drumming, helping people eat delicious whole vegan food, cooking, and breathing. On flights I cut loose and spend a little unproductive time on watching an unexpected movie.


Happy and safe travels! Remember that we choose our words. Choose to love flying and your trips will be fantastic.

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