I flew for 29 hours and so can you!

Flying for long periods of time across long distances in one of the more unpleasant parts of international travel.

My most recent trip was a doozy. Halifax to Montreal, Montreal to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Johannesburg.

I left my house in Halifax at lunchtime, arriving in Johannesburg around 10pm, a total of 29 hours of traveling.

By the by, a fun way to torture yourself is to measure your travel time across timezones with the Travel Time Calculator.

Killing time in airports

I love traveling, but I loathe airport time. I rarely enjoy the overpriced food and you are always digging around in your bag for something. During a connection, I like to get to my gate as early as possible. For long, international flights, this is practical, as there are usually more travelers than seats.

In Montreal, I got to my gate so early, it was basically me and my plane.

Upside: I had a sweet spot for waiting out the interminable boarding process.

Sleep like a baby, literally

Since I spent so much of this trip sitting and doing nothing, I took the same advice new mothers get: sleep when the baby sleeps. The travel version of this is to sleep when you haven’t got anything else to do.

I also took what seemed like mountains of drugs. I gave No Jet Lag pills a try, even though they require doses every two hours, so I would snooze for a bit, then wake up for a pill.

As I always do, I had my trusty earplugs and sleep mask on hand to block out the mood lighting in the cabin and the overexcited group of high schoolers behind me.

For the first time, I also avoided caffeine and only drank water during my flights.

Freshening up

Traveling for 29 hours does not leave you feeling fresh as a daisy. Whenever I had a layover, I took 15 minutes or so for as extensive a freshening-up as an airport washroom will allow. This includes washing my face, brushing me teeth and taking a baby wipe “field shower” a trick I picked up from a friend in the Army.

I’m happy to say, 29 hours later, I arrived in Johannesburg fairly rested and ready to explore South Africa. I’m hoping it works just as well on the return trip, since I go back to work immediately.



  1. I wish I’d read this before my trip to South Africa five years ago! I flew Halifax/New York/Joburg/Cape Town, and the brand of sleeping pills I bought did not work. I arrived completely delirious, and the one saving grace was that it was nearing midnight when I arrived, so I was able to get a full night of sleep and feel refreshed the next day.


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