What's in a Nurse's Carry-On for a Long Flight
Taking a trip out of the country is a journey you must prepare for both mentally and physically. Here are my key tips for those about to embark upon a journey around the world all through the eyes of a nurse.
C O M P R E S S I O N S O C K S
Being cramped on an airplane is probably one of the top ten worse feelings you could have, and trust me, just as much as you hate it your body does too. Sitting in the same position for too long is not only uncomfortable, but it can be harmful, as it puts your legs at risk for swelling and the formation of blood clots. These blood clots are known as Deep Vein Thromboses (DVT). The best thing to do is get up every so often and actually move around to get your blood flowing and body moving. The next best thing is compression socks. Compression socks are tightly fitted socks that squeeze your veins and leg muscles to help keep your blood moving efficiently even when you are sitting for long periods of time. Although the compression socks should be well-fitted, they should not be too tight to the point that they are cutting off your circulation. Make sure you have the proper fit when it comes to your compression socks to achieve optimal function.
M E D I C A T I O N S
When traveling overseas be prepared for a culture shock, as you may not be able to find a lot of the necessities you could find with ease back at home. Therefore, it is important to bring key medications with you. Expect the best, but prepare for the worst. The medications below are medications I would not leave for a trip without:
- Airborne: Used to prevent the common cold and improve your immune system. I typically take airborne before each flight to give me good coverage throughout the duration of my travel, as airplanes carry a plethora of germs and also leaves you more susceptible to succumbing to such being in such a confined space.
- Epi Pen: For those with severe allergies an Epi-Pen should never be too far away. I have a severe allergy myself and would hate to be away from home and undergo an allergic/anaphylactic reaction. Your Epi-Pen, if needed, can be the difference between a life or death situation before you can find help. Make sure that everyone you are traveling with knows how to use it too.
- Pepto Bismol: This here is one of my best friends. As you venture out and try new foods and drinks some may agree with you and others may not. Usually Pepto Bismol is a quick fix for food and drinks that cause an upset stomach or nausea, as it acts as an anti-nausea and anti-diarrheal medication.
- Nyquil/Dayquil: If you are anything like me, immediately after stepping foot off of any airplane you will have a slight sniffle, sneeze, or cough. Usually I take Nyquil at the beginning of a long flight to help combat the dreaded "post-flight cold", and it also helps me sleep throughout the flight making the trip seem quicker and that much more enjoyable. If you prefer not to go to sleep during the flight I would suggest DayQuil instead.
- Benadryl: Benadryl has multiple uses. Unexpected rashes, hives and itching do occur and Benadryl can definitely do the trick in helping to alleviate such. Also, Benadryl can be used as a sleep aid if adjusting to a country's sleep schedule becomes too difficult for you, although I would suggest trying Melatonin first. A lot of cold medicines such as the DayQuil and Nyquil that I mentioned above have diphenhydramine (Benadryl) in the ingredients, so be sure to watch how much Bendryl you are consuming so that you do not become too drowsy.
- Milk Thistle: Milk thistle is effective at naturally reversing the harmful effects of alcohol consumption, pesticides in our food, heavy metals in our water, and pollution in the air that we breathe, which are common hazards that we may experience on any trip. It should be taken as directed on the bottle with a full glass of water prior to, during, and after a trip which may expose you heavily to those things mentioned above.
W A T E R B O T T L E & S N A C K S
Of course TSA restrictions prohibit you from bringing water through the security checkpoint, but what you can bring is an empty water bottle and fill it up on the other side of the checkpoint. Airports have plenty of water stations with filtered water specifically for filling up your water bottle. Staying hydrated is an important task of flying, and also helps keep your blood circulating when you are sitting for long periods of time. I cannot forget to mention that bringing your own water bottle and then filling it up helps you avoid the astronomical cost of water at the airport. Along with the water bottle, do not forget to bring snacks. Sometimes flights experience delays and sometimes these delays mean you are stuck on the actual plane until an issue is resolved. I was stuck on a plane headed for Tokyo once for 3.5 hours as an electrical issue had to be fixed before we could takeoff. I was so glad I ended up packing my water bottle and a bag of snacks to hold me over until better food came my way.
C H A N G I N G L O C A T I O N S
Trust me when I say this, you cannot travel with everyone. Find a good travel buddy who is open to new experiences and will make the best of your time together overseas. A good travel buddy also knows how to keep a positive outlook even when unforeseen circumstances occur such as delays, late arrivals or departures, and cancellations.
- Bring a watch. Because our cell phones automatically update the time on our phones depending on which time zone we are in, bringing a watch is an easy way to keep track of what time it is back home. Keeping track of the time back home allows you to know when it is a good time to check-in and update family and friends, which relieves anxiety on your part and theirs.
- Bring a converter. How horrible would it be to get off your flight, all your electronics have died, and you get to the nearest outlet just to find the outlets are not the same as they are back home. That's right, different countries have different outlets and without a universal converter you will not be able to use the outlet in a different country for your devices. I found an affordable universal converter from Amazon for my trip.
- Apps are your friend. The apps that I swore by while overseas were WhatsApp and GlobalConvert. WhatsApp allowed me to communicate with tour guides and other persons who lived in the country I was visiting without incurring international fees from my cell phone company. As long as both parties have WhatsApp you can call and text each other for free through the app as long as you are connected to Wifi. GlobalConvert is an app that allows you to convert the USD into the currency of the country you are in. This was extremely helpful as I was able to convert the prices of my purchases on the spot to USD via the app to make sure I was being charged appropriately and not being ripped off. GlobalConvert also allowed me to keep up with the exchange rate, and even better you do not need Wifi or cellular data to use it, so it can still be used while out and about for those who choose not to purchase an international cellular plan. I was one of those people who did not feel the need to buy an international data plan for my phone as Wifi has changed the way we communicate with one another by allowing us to talk and Facetime with only a Wifi connection. I kept my phone on airplane mode the entire trip and turned my cellular data off and relied on Wifi to communicate with family and friends back home. I was able to use FaceTime and FaceTime Audio to speak to immediate family and friends and I was able to connect to my social media handles to update others about my journey. I would suggest making sure all your lodging includes Wifi before choosing this option.
Let's talk about it! Comment below with your tips for those embarking on a long flight in the states or overseas!