a plane with a mask, water bottle, socks, and blanket on it

My Airplane Essentials

As a frequent solo traveler, I believe the saying ‘catch flights not feelings’ was created just for me. I can definitely say I have caught more flights than feelings in my lifetime.

Preparing for trips

There are risks that come with having sickle cell and flying. For that reason, there are a few essentials that I always bring specifically for plane journeys.

These are my airplane essentials:

1. Flight socks

People living with sickle cell are at a greater risk than healthy people of forming blood clots. This is more likely to happen if you are in the same position for a long period of time with little to no movement. If undetected blood clots can be extremely fatal. So, wearing flight socks or any compression stockings can help to prevent this from happening.

2. Face masks

I have been wearing face masks on planes since 2010 BC (Before COVID). When I started to fly more frequently, I noticed a pattern occurring. Every time I flew out, I would end up returning home with a terrible chest infection.

The infection would more often than not lead to pneumonia and on several occasions, acute chest syndrome. I decided to try wearing masks to cover my nose and mouth when traveling to avoid breathing in any germs. I do have slight OCD tendencies so even though it seemed weird to people, it made sense to me. And it worked; no more chest infections after every flight. Winning!

3. Water bottle

I always bring a reusable water bottle in my hand luggage. Staying hydrated is very important and even more so when traveling. I finish the bottle before going through security and most airports now have water dispensers around the airport where you can refill again before getting on the plane.

I use an alkaline water pouch in my bottle so the type of water doesn’t have to be a concern. Carrying a water bottle also comes in handy on the plane; when you ask for water and are handed a tiny 100 ml cup when you are 500 ml thirsty. Most flight attendants if you ask nicely and explain that you have sickle cell will fill your bottle up for you.

4. Blankets

The only thing I hate about planes is the temperature. Why must they be so cold?

In my experience day time flights seem to be ok but the night flights are always freezing. I always pack a blanket or two in my hand luggage, regardless of the flight time. Layering up on the clothing is also something I do when flying. I’d much rather be too hot and able to take off layers of clothing than be too cold and have no way of warming up.

5. Extra legroom

This is most often an extra cost but it is so worth it. If you are able to get extra legroom I find it really helps to not be so cramped up on the plane. Having avascular necrosis in both hips and also issues with one of my knees, the extra legroom really makes a difference for me.

Share your travel tips

So, those are my airplane essentials, and hopefully, they can be a part of yours too.

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