The time of the year is here! The school holidays are near, and most of us are making plans on going for trips abroad. However, there are a group of people who go on long flights every other day.
PRIME had a conversation with Mr. Chong Chan Pin, a Senior Executive who manages global businesses that are based in Southern California. He travels about a million miles a year, as he visits different sites with his clients. Having been so familiar with travelling, we took the opportunity to ask him for a few pointers on how best to deal with frequent flying. He also shared with us the things he does to survive flying back and forth often.
Understanding your own personal body adaptability to different flight timings and choice of carrier is very important. A longer route with one stopover may not be a bad thing because it lets your body adapt to the ground for a couple of hours before taking another long league. This is typical for long US flights where a direct flight may not be suitable for everyone. On shorter leagues, having direct connecting flights may be better suited to the body. Today’s air travel has opened up to many opportunities, even with budget carriers. Budget carriers have direct flights to several remote locations where global airlines may not reach. Those flights are worth taking as even a small upgrade may save you long transit hours. There a few cities in China such as Xi’an, Changsha, Tianjin, Guangzhou, and Xiamen where budget carriers have direct flights.
Managing your sleep hours versus travel time is very important. If it is going to be daylight when you arrive at your destination, try to sleep a few hours on flight before you arrive. If it is going to be night-time, reading or checking your emails may be advisable to keep your body adapted to the hour before you touch down. This will help you rest at the “correct time zone” hours once you’ve landed. Crossing time zones can be tough on your body but the trick is to adapt quickly to the new time zone within the first 12 hours or it will delay the body adaptability.
ADAPTING TO GLOBAL TIME ZONES
Usually when I land, I will either get into an exercise programme immediately to get a work out, sweat it out and get the body adjusted to the ground quickly. Taking a hot shower a er that can help your body get into a ‘resting mode’ fairly quickly. Avoid working on emails as soon as you land especially if it is nighttime, because that will keep your body alert and make it harder to fall asleep. The body is constantly adapting when you are between time zones, so you have to help your body understand which time zone you are in. O en Asian travellers going into the US “stay in the Asian time zone” and keep working on emails or phone calls throughout the night the moment they land to stay in tune into the Asian timing, however, this is a huge mistake because when you are finally done, your body is still telling you that you are in Asia whereas it is already 4am in the US. Adapting to a new time zone is within your control, you have to manage it and not get into a habit that makes it hard for the body to adapt.
DIET AND LIFESTYLE
During the weekends, if my accommodation has a pool, I would swim 10-20 laps. I also avoid alcohol or long night entertainments when I am on the ground. Eat healthy, fruits, vegetables, non-fat diet. Every possible hour that I gain in exercising or completing a brisk walk around the hotel helps the body to adapt and recover. I o en encourage colleagues to walk as much as possible, like walking back to the hotel a er a meal, walking to a meeting with a client, if it’s near our hotel. The ‘WeRun’ app on WeChat is very useful as it keeps track of my daily walking steps. I use it a lot to keep myself up to the “mark” for my personal target.
I have been travelling globally for at least 7 years and have come up with a few tricks up my sleeve on surviving long flights. My tips for travellers are: don’t think too much about the long hours, but enjoy the moment that you have on flights as it’s the best time to ‘switch o ’ and spend time alone or thinking. Once on the ground, you are clearer about what you need to accomplish. Plan your travel schedule well. Allow the weekends in between countries to be your resting time and don’t bother to rush back home, only to rush o to someplace. Eat healthy and exercise regularly. This will help frequent travellers to do better on long flights.
While travelling on long flights, there are several things that you can do, sleep, watch a movie, eat, read a book or continue on emails via in-flight WIFI. However, I do not suggest that you stay on WIFI unless you have a deadline to meet. Reading a book or the newspaper helps to relax your mind. Even watching a movie is also relaxing. I usually look at the flight hours and make a plan. Time to read, time to catch up on emails and time to watch a movie or to complete that crossword puzzle you never had the time for. If the flight is 6 hours, you can break it into portions of 2 hours each where mealtimes or relaxing could be 2 hours, sleep could be 4 hours if needed. If the flight hours are more than 10 hours, then you can break the hours into having meals, sleeping, relaxing and reading. Once you have planned your time well, the hours on the flight will feel shorter. The worst thing to do on long flights is to keep asking yourself “How many more hours till I land?”, this creates anxiety and will cause your body to remain alert throughout the flight.
Finding good seats is also very important. I typically like to choose the aisle seat where I don’t have to wake people up if I need to get out of my seat. Sitting at the back of the plane is also another choice of mine as back seats typically have empty seats in between and this allows you to stretch a little more or gives you more space to do your work or
read a book comfortably. Usually passengers choose seats in front because they want to be the first ones to disembark the plane. On long flights, try to take breaks every 2 hours by doing some simple stretches near the emergency exits, where there is more space. A 2-3 minute stretching exercise helps your body relax the stiffen muscles.