Travel Secrets

Know Before You Go!



How to sleep like a baby on a long flight

sleepAvoid carbonated drinks. The bubbles in them expand at high altitude, making you feel bloated. Enjoy fruit juice and plenty of water instead.

Don’t chew gum. It tends to make you swallow as you chew, and can cause gas.

Try and eat foods that contain tryptophan, a calming amino acid. Examples: dates, cottage cheese, turkey and fish.

Ditch gas-producing foods such as beans, broccoli, cauliflower and potatoes.

If you can’t wait to curl up and get some shut-eye, choose vegetarian meals. They are served first, so you’re done faster.

If you’re really tired, eat something light before boarding, then tell the flight attendant you don’t want dinner. Goodnight!

Always carry earplugs and an eye mask. They are wonderful sleep aids. An inflatable pillow is another good investment.

If you want to grab a good night’s rest on board, choose a window seat so that you can lean against a solid surface and not be disturbed by a co-passenger wanting to go to the loo.

Engine noise is loudest towards the rear, so try and get a seat up front. To do this, you should check in online. Most airlines allow web check-in 24 hours prior to take off.

Don’t be tempted to take a sleeping tablet. It can increase the risk of a blood clot from sitting in cramped spaces too long. Besides, it’s good to be alert, not inert, when flying.

(With inputs from Vikalp Dubey)

How to dress right for a long flight

Artist Bipasha Sen Gupta gives us the key to a comfortable and successful travel, so that you look and feel “ready to go”.


  1. Wear loose and dark trousers with a wrinkle-free shirt- full sleeves because of the levels of air conditioning in a flight. Avoid jeans if you can.
  2. Always carry a stylish pashmina stole or shawl which can be used as a wrap or a pillow. It also works as a great accessory. (We love Janavi’s vibrant cashmere scarves and stoles—outlet at Emporio Mall Vasant Kunj, Delhi). Keep jewellery minimal.
  3. Use basic or no makeup at all while travelling, as cabin air dehydrates your skin (carry a thick moisturiser, hand cream and lip balm for regular use).
  4. Wear a comfortable pair of slip-ons or one size bigger shoes, as feet swell up during long hauls. Don’t forget to pack a comfortable pair of socks.
  5. Carry one big tote bag to hold the things you need during the flight. It’s a nuisance to reach for your cabin bag every time. Da Milano has an irresistible collection of them!
  6. Pack these in your hand luggage- (a) a comfy pair of pants, preferably sweat pants or something similar.(b) a warm pair of socks.(c) a t-shirt.(d) a warm sweater (e) spare underwear (f) toothbrush and toothpaste (Check out Woodland’s new range of summery t-shirts for men and women)
  7. Make sure all products that you take on board comply with the hand luggage restrictions. You can always put some of your favourite products in handy travel size bottles. Deodorant is a must.
  8. Replace your contact lenses with glasses so your eyes don’t dry out from arid air plane air and the contacts don’t bother you while sleeping.
  9.  Women’s Special: Take a nail file and nail varnish with you, so you get through at least 30 minutes of the flight without getting bored!
  10.  Pack some cleansing face wipes to remove all the airport grim and help you freshen up before landing.

“Is the air quality inside a plane bad for my lungs?”

Breathe easy! Guess which of these has the best quality air to offer your lungs—a plane, train or bus? You got it: aircraft. That’s because cabin air is refreshed 20 times every hour. Want even better quality breathing? Get yourself a seat in one of the front rows—that’s the section of the plane with the best ventilation.

“Can a crazy person on board push the plane door open?! I heard someone tried to!”

Relax!  Once airborne, it is virtually impossible to open plane doors. That’s because cabin pressure is much higher than the surrounding air pressure. When the plane climbs, the cabin air pressure pushes the door outwards, sealing it into place. When the plane reaches its cruising peak, it is impossible for anyone to open it. But hey, that doesn’t mean you should try it!

Airbus or Boeing: Which one do pilots prefer to fly?

We wondered, so we asked writer Hardyp Kaur to pin down Captain D’souza*, who flies both.

Travel Secrets: So which planes have you flown so far? 

Captain D’souza: Like any pilot, I trained on various small planes. These are either single or twin-engine, and usually have two seats for the two pilots on board and are hence called 2-Pilot Aircraft. I have commercially flown the Airbus and the Boeing, which are the planes at our company, for about 23 years now.

Pilots are insured for the vehicles they fly commercially. You have to give details of the type of aircraft you fly when you fill up your insurance forms. If you are ever caught flying another type of plane, your insurance goes void.

TS: What’s your favourite plane?

CD: If you ask any pilot, they’ll tell you that they like the Boeing better than the Airbus, and so do I. I am itching to fly the 787, the next generation Boeing!

TS: Why Boeing?

CD: Well, let me put it this way. The Boeings put the pilot first and the Airbus puts the computer on top. Planes have changed a lot in the past 5-10 years and so have the cockpits.

TS: Details, Captain? Secrets of each of the cockpits!

CD: Okay, so the Boeing 777 has 33 computers that a pilot has to handle. They are not computers with QWERTY keyboards, but specially programmed computers controlling a particular function each. The job of the pilot is to control each of them. Having said that, if we feel that in a particular condition we should deviate from what the computer says, we can do so. In an Airbus, you can’t do that.

The Airbus looks like a meaner, neater machine because it is technologically quite advanced. It is supposed to make the pilot very happy. But does it? Frankly, not me! When you have flown almost half your life, you trust your instincts in an emergency. At least in my opinion that’s what a good pilot always does. And an Airbus puts limitations on you precisely in that respect. Once you are at an altitude, the computers take over. Say, the turbulence is really high at some point, the computer will give you the maximum deviation you can make and under no circumstance can you exceed that limit. You have a joystick-like control in your hand and you basically just follow what the computer says.

TS: Well, if you look at it another way, isn’t the airbus really reliable on a day when some pilots are not?

CD: Well, that’s true since you are in what may seem like the simulation mode with a joystick in hand and following the instructions, and it can feel like a test 3-D test to check your driving! But it is not. It’s a serious responsibility.

In a way it is helpful too since the controlling base doesn’t have to deal with unnecessary input which can make the flight unsafe or uncomfortable since the computer allows for only so many variations for each situation.

But while the Airbus is excellent for a ‘normal’ flight, a good pilot will feel the lack of authority and control in case of some problem!

TS: Are there other differences too between the two?

CD: Boeing aircraft are far more stable during turbulence. The Airbus has stiff wings that are designed for high speed flying and efficient fuel consumption, but they aren’t much help in turbulence.

*Captain D’souza is not authorised to share his photo or the airline he flies.

Q: “My feet are swollen from 8 hours of flying. My husband says my black pump shoes are to blame. Is he right?”

A: Yes he is, especially if you wore those shoes throughout your flight.

Learn from Lady Gaga’s mistake:  she reportedly wore a pair of scarily high and tight armadillo shoes on a flight, and soon felt her feet beginning to swell.  The cabin crew immediately made her slip into comfortable slippers, and she was saved from Deep Vein Thrombosis, a very common and life-threatening condition that develops when blood clots form in the veins of the legs.

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