Tag Archives: airtravel

6 Habits I Rely On When I Travel

Remind me to never again take 3 flights in a 24-hour period. The last time I did this was in 2011 returning to South Africa from a trip to the US.

Sacramento – Minnesota – Atlanta – Johannesburg.

By the time I got on the Delta flight to Johannesburg I was tired and sick. I took some pain meds, told the flight attendants to please keep my food warm (vegetarian special meal) because I needed to sleep awhile.

This was probably the best sleep I’ve had on a plane, thanks to the meds. I don’t make a habit of this though. The only muti I take is echinacea for the blurgies.  I’d rather sleep it off when I arrive at my destination. I find that melatonin helps me deal with jet lag and flight exhaustion although I forgot to bring it this time around.

Anyway, the Delta flight attendants were so kind! When I woke up, dinner service had been over a long time since. I walked to the galley to ask for dinner and in a few minutes, the tray of food was placed in front of me.

Johannesburg – Frankfurt – Barcelona – Lisbon.

That was yesterday.  Not wanting a repeat of the 2011 trip, I made sure that I ate regularly, kept hydrated, and made a deliberate effort to remain relaxed. Oh yes, and I took some Gaba (gamma-aminobutyric acid is a neurotransmitter) which helps relieve the anxiety I feel when I travel.

Like all flights I didn’t sleep well – perhaps 2 or 3 hours of fitful sleep.

These are the habits I’ve adopted to make long-haul flights bearable:

  1. I always select my seats at the time of booking so that I am either on the aisle or have extra legroom. This is important to me and I will pay extra for this.
  2. I like to start taking Gaba 2 days before traveling. It helps deal with the anxiety I feel when I travel.
  3. I eat all the time, in small bits. I carry nuts and dried fruit with me. When I arrive on the other side I seem to crave fruit, so if I’m in transit I go in search of fruit and yogurt.
  4. On the flight I quaff copious amounts of orange juice and water – I find that in the dry environment of the plane, the tartness of the orange juice is something my body asks for.
  5. Take liberal amounts of echinacea (this is in my little 100ml plastic bag of liquids allowed through security.
  6. Keep melatonin handy – for after the flight, to get my sleep cycles operating normally again.

It may seem that I rely a lot on nutraceutical supplements – yes I do – and it’s better than relying on sleeping tablets or such like.

What are your habits when you travel?


The Flying Sardine

The Airbus A380 is a magnificent machine. It is huge and as it lumbered down the runway I admit to wondering if it would take off and fly. With effortless ease the front wheels lifted and then the back wheels and before I knew it it was airborne.

The landing was equally effortless the wheels gently touching the tarmac and slowing down noiselessly. It is a feat of engineering and design.

What is not lekker about this aircraft is what people have done to it. By people I mean the airlines. I am talking about configuring the aircraft to cram as many people as possible into the downstairs area, commonly known as economy class.

The seats were not comfortable with not much leg room for my 5ft frame – I can only imagine how someone taller than me felt. When the seat in front of me was reclined the screen came closer to my face resulting in eye strain. I eventually gave up on the superb entertainment choices the airline offered.


When you cram this many people into a thin sheath things like toilets become important. Aircraft toilets are notorious just for being notorious. On this aircraft sections are smaller with 2 toilets serving each. So there are more toilets and they are pretty much the same as in all other aircraft. The not so pretty part is that they are over-subscribed.

I have never seen a plane loo used so much by so many people. This caused logistical issues – toilet paper and hand soap running out and keeping it clean and dry. No matter how much people flush the loo, if a piece of toilet paper gets stuck to the side wall out of reach of the water sprays no amount of flushing is going to get it unstuck. It just isn’t. I had never before seen a piece of toilet paper stuck on a plane loo until last night. I was not going to be the one to remove it (it was there before I went in). I flushed the toilet and it remained, stuck to the side.


I imagine that the A380 is great for airlines because they can cram more people and make more money. For the economy class passenger, in this aircraft configuration, it is no better than traveling on a much smaller plane.

I’ve travelled economy on many airlines and some get it just right – that sweet spot between comfortable seats with just enough leg room. Not so the airline I used this weekend. I trust this airline, its fleet is modern, the ground and flight crew and service is superb, they were on time every time, but it was a hell of a cramped ride. I felt like the proverbial sardine!