Here are some tried and proven tips to help survive long international flights. The key is a combination of activity, water and sleep to help you arrive feeling and looking good.

Wear loose-fitting clothing, shoes and socks.

Keep this “RHYME” in mind “IF it’s TIGHT to wear it’s NOT RIGHT to wear”

To minimize swelling in your ankles and feet and to increase circulation, keep your feet elevated. Stash your carry on luggage under the seat in front of you and rest your feet on top of it, off the floor.

Avoid drinks or snacks high in sodium like pretzels or peanuts. Read the labels! If you consume too much salt during a long trip, your feet may swell so much you won’t be able to put your shoes back on. I’ve seen people walk off the plane in socks, carrying their shoes and in some International airports you deplane on the tarmac, try being in your socks in Eastern Europe in the winter and having to wear socks through the snow and slush until you get into the lobby. Not fun!!

When you enter the plane pick up a pillow and blanket. Place the small airplane pillow in the curve of your lower back to alleviate tension in your lower back.

Every time I use the flat airline pillows to support my head while sleeping, I get a sore neck. I’ve discovered that an inflatable pillow keeps the head up and prevents pulled muscles. If you don’t already own an inflatable neck travel pillow, buy one. Most international airports have a good luggage and accessory store. They are inexpensive and readily available. Or better yet hit the discount stores and save a few dollars.

Drink lots of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine. Eight ounces of water an hour is the recommended amount. That may sound like a lot, but if you drink 6-8 ounces an hour, you’ll be forced to get up and use the bathroom, thus stretching and moving around. Carry your own EMPTY water bottle aboard (won’t allow you to take a full bottle through security) and ask the flight attendant to fill when they serve meals or snacks. If you store it in the seat pocket in front of you, you’ll drink more often and have it available when the lights are out and the flight attendants are nowhere to be found.

Pack soft earplugs to mute airplane noises, the wailing of a baby or the rock music seeping from your neighbor’s iPod. The pellet-shaped foam earplugs don’t work as well as the soft silicone (or wax) variety that conform to the contours of your ear.

RELAX and try to get some sleep your not going anywhere for a long time, so loosen that belt, un-tuck your shirt and get comfortable. Carry cloth slippers or socks and wear them to keep your toes warm and let your feet breath. ( I personally try to plan my flights so that I am "sleeping" in the plane at the same time I would be sleeping at home, helps me with overcoming "jet lag"),

Airplane Stretches
If you’re self conscious about doing these stretches in your seat and worry that passengers around you may stare or think you’re having an anxiety attack, then do them in the bathroom.

Shoulder Shrug: Lift the top of your shoulders toward your ears until you feel mild tension in your shoulders and your neck. Hold your shoulders raised for five seconds then relax and resume your normal posture. Do this 2-3 times every two hours.

Head roll: Begin with your head in a comfortable, aligned position. Then slowly tilt your head to the left side to stretch the muscles on the side of your neck. Hold this stretch for 10-20 seconds. You should feel a good, even stretch. Don’t over do it! You are trying to stay limber not hurt yourself. Then tilt your head to the right side and stretch. Repeat this exercise 2-3 times on each side.

Ankle twist: Point your toes and hold the stretch for five seconds, then stretch your feet up and back toward your knees and hold this position for five seconds. Next ROTATE your foot to the left, hold five seconds, and then to the right and hold for five seconds. Repeat several times

Recently I learned that “economy class syndrome” is a more serious condition, described as “deep-vein thrombosis, or the formation of a blood clot, usually in the legs, a rare but fatal condition that occurs as a result of sitting for long periods of time, immobile, on international flights.” So do not worry that you are going to “bother” the passenger next to you by asking them to move, your health is more important than a couple of inconveniences for your seat mate.