Volunteering is a great way to help people and a lot of people contribute to this activity every year. From autumn last year to spring this year, Statista showed that roughly 68 million people in the US did volunteer work.
Nowadays, people are often choosing to go overseas to volunteer their skills and give back. For some, it may be their first time leaving the country, which could mean their first long haul flight. Most non-profit organizations are located in places that are in need of resources, taking volunteers across the globe. Africa and East Asia are the top destinations, while other locations include the Pacific Islands, Central America, and the Middle East.
When you volunteer abroad, tasks can be challenging. They can range from teaching children to building houses. Therefore, it’s imperative that you’re in the best condition once you arrive to start your work.
Here are some Tips to make your Long Haul Flight as Stress-Free as Possible.
1. Choose pre-flight food wisely
Business Insider pointed out that some food may be more helpful for your flight than others. For example, carb-rich food like whole grain bread and oatmeal make it easier to manage jet lag. They increase your insulin levels, which allow you to adapt quicker to the change in sleeping schedule. Getting good rest means that you will be ready from day one to start helping.
2. Bring something to read
While airlines normally offer the chance to watch movies in-flight, the stimulation from the screen may distract you from relaxing and/or falling asleep. In this case, reading is a viable option. The best materials you can bring are books, magazines, or even pamphlets that will give you more information about your destination.
3. Pack extra medicine
Stress from the airport alone can already cause headaches, which could extend all the way to your time on the plane. Be sure to take some medications with you to remedy common aches as well as other minor health issues. Bring extra if you’re traveling with a co-volunteer because they might need some, too.
4. Wear/Bring warm clothes
Leesa shared suggestions on how to fall asleep easier, and these include keeping warm. Since you don’t have control over the plane’s thermostat, the best solution is to wear warm clothes or put on additional layers. Plus, having extra clothes or your own blanket can also prove useful during your volunteering days, especially if the country has volatile weather.
5. Pack a pillow
A pillow can serve as your protection from neck and head discomfort during the flight. Carrying a traveling pillow around could also be very useful at your destination, which may not always have good sleeping areas.
6. Bring snacks
If you’re hungry while on a plane, it’s also hard to relax and sleep. In addition to your in-flight meals, you can bring snacks for the trip, which could save you money as well. You may even bring extra to give to the locals at your destination.
7. Do not overeat
On the other hand, it’s also inadvisable to overeat. Digestion takes longer while you’re in high altitude because of the change in air pressure. During this time, the body slows down or even shuts off processes including digestion.
Eating more than you should, can lead to stomachache due to indigestion, which in turn will lead to an uncomfortable flight. If you tend to have digestive troubles even with normal amounts of food, stick to the warm varieties because they’re easier and faster to digest.
8. Stay hydrated
CNN Money explained the importance of drinking water during a flight, noting that flying can be extremely dehydrating. They stress that you should drink water before, during, and after your flight. Bring a refillable bottle with you, but be sure it’s empty before going through airport security.
Spending long hours on a plane might lead to muscle cramps and stiffness. Although, you can still stretch on your seat by twisting your torso and extending your arms upward or forward from time to time. You can also roll your head back a few times to alleviate any stiffness. Aside from preventing cramps though, stretching allows your body to condition itself for any strenuous volunteer work ahead.
It’s normal for some flyers to get uneasy even before the plane leaves the runway. A good and effective way to calm your nerves is to meditate. Breathe in through your nose, hold your breath for a couple of seconds, and exhale through your mouth. Do this while clearing your mind at the same time.
Meditating is also good when you’re nervous about your trip, considering you’re about to go to a remote place you’ve never been to before. A relaxed mind and body helps you to be more committed to your volunteer work.
Volunteering is a life-changing and daunting experience. Following these tips will ensure that your arrival to your destination is stress-free. Even if it is your first-time long haul flying, you will arrive fully prepared.
If you like this list of tips, then check out our suggestions on what to pack before volunteering abroad.
Written by Brian Jones, a longtime volunteer worker. He started back in 2008 and has traveled to various countries in West Africa, Central America, and Southeast Asia.