After an exciting trip abroad, many people, although home with wonderful memories of exotic places, also feel the soreness and fatigue that comes with turn around travel on budget airlines, sitting in economy. Even though the Middle East is close to amazing travel destinations, travelling itself can be something one has to suck up and get through, rather than enjoy and revel in.
Those who spend their breaks closer to home watch their Facebook feed fill with travel but traveling to exotic locals, although a privilege, can feel like abuse on the body as a tradeoff to see the beauty of the world.
As Donna Copel, Dubai resident and frequent traveler, explains: “I travel a lot. Honestly, the hardest part of flying economy is the physical toll it takes on a person. You're stuck in a small seat, in a position that you would never spend long hours in for any other reason. Your ability to move and flex is restricted and sleeping is a major challenge. The older I get, the less I am able to sleep like a sardine in a seat that moves about 20 degrees backward (in my not so mathematically estimated opinion).”
The complaints and concern with travel are a common thread among expatriates in Dubai and those with an international life. Cait Stevenson, a teacher in Dubai who travels a significant amount not only in the region but internationally, echoes many individual’s thoughts about travel: “Overall, the more I travel, I see newer planes with smaller seats, less leg room, and decreasing baggage allowance. We're supposed to be okay with this because the TV screen got bigger? The more I fly, the more I hate it. But what can you do? I'm not willing to spend a full month's pay for a reclining seat in business.”
But even though it may be impossible for many to upgrade or fly business, there are little things you can do to make the overall travel experience more luxurious.
To make her flights more bearable, Stevenson has some of her own little tips. “I always bring my own bottles of water and snacks onto the plane. I consistently feel like I'm being starved, even when the food is excellent. My travel pillow is my best friend and I always make sure I have an airplane two plug adaptor for my own headphones. I hate those cheap provided ones!”
Stevenson also recommends that travellers, “dress in layers. Planes seem to either be roasting or freezing, so it helps. And I'm always, always early. I avoid most airport issues by doing this. I'd rather sit around the airport with a book than be rushing through the terminal. I keep movies and tv on my phone for the extra wait time. That's also helpful if you're on a shorter or budget flight with no built-in entertainment.”
Dubai based Holistic Aesthetician Katrina Valente has some tips to help the economy traveler bring the spa with them onboard. “Using essential oils while flying can greatly reduce swelling, specifically using oils such as peppermint, rosemary and lavender. Chamomile is good for anxious passengers also. The smells are very indulgent and you can mix them before you fly, giving you a very spa like experience.”
Personal trainer and health expert Nicole Olaivar, owner of GogoDXB, also recommends hydrations and stretching to take care of your body on flights.
“My number one tip is to drink water! Lots and lots of water! Being hydrated will make a world of difference to the effects of flying on your body. And if you have a tight seat, make sure you take the time to stretch and walk around. Treat your body well on the flight and the effects of flying and even jetlag will be lessened.”
You’re not the only one who’s invested in you having a pleasant flight. Airlines also want you to enjoy your time in the sky, to help bring back repeat customers. As one insider, a pilot for a regional airline, explains: “one of the ways we try to make economy feel like a premium class is greeting and saying goodbye to all the passengers. Outside of that it's more product than personal touch from the well trained and enthusiastic cabin crew, who have a heavy presence in the cabin. Another thing is that we employ multilingual cabin crew that can sometimes add a personal touch to be able to speak directly to passengers in their native tongue”