As the summer travel season has begun, my friends are already talking about their forthcoming trips to and from Asia. For most of us, this invariably means one thing:
Surviving a very long flight.
Since I’m from the US, I’ve had to endure countless plane trips that lasted anywhere from 11 to 14 hours. And over the years, I’ve encountered a lot of secrets for surviving these trips:
- I always fly with Gatorade or a similar sports drink like it to stay hydrated onboard and ward off the jetlag (thank you for that advice, Susan Blumberg-Kason!). You can even buy it powdered to pack ahead before your trip. For example, powdered Gatorade is available in the US. In China, I often buy powdered Aptonia sports drink from the Tmall store for Decathlon, which also works great.
- Also in that vein, I travel with a few empty bottles, which I can fill with water after clearing security and then bring on the plane, to ensure that I drink plenty of fluids and lessen the effects of jetlag.
- I usually have a pair of disposable slippers (often accumulated from hotel stays in China) to use during the flight for extra comfort when those feet swell during the journey. (Additional tip — last time my husband flew Air China, they passed these out to everyone in economy, so just booking with the right airline can save you the trouble of packing them.)
- There’s always a stash of ginger candies in my purse to manage nausea or motion sickness. When I’m in the US, I like buying Ginger Candies from the Ginger People.
- I never forget moisturizer and lip balm, absolutely essential for combatting the dryness in flight.
But I’ve also discovered some additional must-haves for long-haul flights after living in China (and also, in part, thanks to my Chinese husband) — things that, to me, can be magical and life-saving. Here are 3 of my personal favorites:
#1: Feng You Jing Essential Balm Oil (风油精)
Headaches. Nausea. Stuffed nose. Scratchy throat. Any of these could turn a long-haul flight into an extended nightmare. Everyone has their remedies for managing them, but for me, you can’t beat Feng You Jing essential balm oil, known in Chinese as fēngyóujīng (风油精).
Dab it on your forehead to ease headaches. Add a few drops on your temples and under your nose to relieve nausea. Apply a little on your nostrils to help clear your stuffy nose. And yes, if you’ve got a bit of a scratchy throat, rub directly on it and it’s almost as good as having a lozenge.
Plus, it’s also handy for masking unpleasant odors you might encounter in airports or planes (especially if, God forbid, you end up being the unlucky person seated right near the bathrooms).
Every pharmacy in China carries Feng You Jing essential balm oil (fēngyóujīng, 风油精) and you’ll find it on Taobao. But in the US, you can also buy it on Amazon as well.
#2: Chinese Hawthorn Fruit Snacks (山楂卷/糕/片/球)
Chinese hawthorn fruit, known here in China as shānzhā (山楂), is already known for being a magical and healthful fruit that has great cardiovascular and digestive benefits. In particular, it has become a must-have in my home just because of its ability to ease indigestion and nausea — two symptoms that could make anyone miserable en route.
Thankfully, it’s easy to bring Chinese hawthorn fruit on the plane because it’s made into lots of packable snacks here in China. Rollups are my favorite version, but I also like the cakes and even candies, which can all be purchased online (just search Taobao for 山楂) or in any major supermarket in China. In the US, Amazon has a number of possibilities, including these haw flakes.
Another added benefit of bringing Chinese hawthorn fruit candies with you? They’re perfect for easing hunger between meals or connecting flights.
#3: Golden Throat Lozenges (金嗓子喉片)
Any veteran flyer knows just how dry it can be when you’re cruising over 30,000 feet — and that dryness can make for uncomfortable throats. That’s why I always pack throat drops. But far and away, nothing beats the magic of the Chinese brand Golden Throat Lozenges (jīnsǎngzi hóupiàn, 金嗓子喉片). They’re incredibly soothing and effective, and I’ve sworn by them for years. They’re always available at pharmacies across China (ask for jīnsǎngzi hóupiàn, 金嗓子喉片) or on Taobao, but you can also pick them up on Amazon in the US.
What are your magical must-haves for long haul flights?
P.S.: This post contains some affiliate links, where your purchases help support this blog.