If you do a lot of international business traveling, long flights are just something that you’re going to have to live with if you want to get through your travels. You can get through your travels without having to feel like you’re going to completely lose it, but in my experience, it’s not easy.
I’ve flown to Australia before, and breathing the same air for a period of time that’s that long is really the kind of thing that makes you feel like you’re going to lose it. You keep getting the urge to open the window on the airplane in order to let in the fresh air, even though that’s obviously not going to work, just because you can’t stand all of everyone else’s carbon dioxide.
The first thing that you should notice about traveling over long distances is that sleeping pills are your friend. I don’t usually use sleeping pills, but when it comes to really long flights, I’m okay with drugs deciding when I can sleep and when it’s time for me to just try to grin and bear it.
There’s also the fact that finding anything to do with my hands doesn’t always work for me. I do what you’re supposed to do: I bring something to read or something to write with if necessary. However, really that just draws attention to the fact that I’m trying to distract myself from the fact that I’m on a plane and I’ve been breathing the same air for a while. I still bring a book, something to write with, and everything else. However, that’s still not going to get me through everything.
Sometimes, I honestly just give into the boredom. I accept that I’m on a plane, staring into space, and I’m surrounded by a lot of people in a really tight area. There are moments where I think that just acknowledging that is the only way to go.
Striking up a conversation with the person sitting next to you can work sometimes. I do try to do that. Of course, sometimes the person is too nervous to talk. Lots of people are afraid of flying. I actually used to be completely afraid of flying, and I took a while to really lose that. Now I know that all you really have to fear on a plane is the boredom, and you can’t be bored to death.
My advice to people who aren’t afraid of flying and who are not going to spend the whole flight sitting there in terror is this: alternate between different activities. Spend some time talking to the person sitting next to you, if applicable, and if the person wants the conversation. Spend some time reading or writing if you can. Spend some time staring into space if you get tired of trying to distract yourself.
I also like to remind myself of the fact that technically, flying is really cool. Flying is something that people have dreamed about for centuries. Now we can do it! It’s kind of exciting, even though we’re the ones who have to get nauseous when it happens. Leonardo da Vinci wouldn’t have cared about nausea, the boredom, or the fact that he’d been breathing the same air for twenty-four hours, and you can try to avoid doing the same thing.
I also try to enjoy the fact that I have a few hours of freedom before a potentially stressful business meeting where I have to be ‘on’ all the time, and that I can at least hear myself think and enjoy the company of my own thoughts for a little while when I’m actually on the plane. I try to just enjoy that, and that’s where I can really just relax on the plane.