Nick and I recently visited Hong Kong for four nights, starting with my birthday which I was so happy to spend with relatives. My extended family is very small and lives far from us, so I value every moment I get with them. My aunt and uncle treat Nick & I like their own kids, and somehow manage to communicate fluidly with him via gestures and food (and “bai jiu” aka very potent Chinese liquor) despite the language barrier.
For this trip I had the chance to partner with Cathay Pacific, which I used to fly on as a kid with Mom. They have some of the best service and tasty airplane food, which some may think is an oxymoron. I was happy to see Cathay Pacific introduce a direct route between Boston and Hong Kong last year, which is now offered 5 times each week. There are very few direct routes to Asia out of Boston’s Logan airport, so historically we’ve had to first transfer domestically and sometimes again when abroad. The total flight direct was 15 hours, shaving off over a third of our usual travel time there.
I also wanted to mention this particular route is one of the first flights to arrive into HKG (a big hub for flights throughout the rest of Asia), so passengers can be sure to catch any connecting flights. The departures terminal is full of shopping ranging from designer boutiques to a large Zara to counters for nearly any makeup brand imaginable (all tax free), so it’s rather easy to kill time there.
For those who may be traveling through Hong Kong on business or for pleasure, I wanted to share some quick notes on Cathay Pacific’s business class services and lounges at HKG in case it may be helpful. My favorite lounge was The Wing which houses their noodle bar, amongst several other bars and showers for freshening up. The noodle bowls and bao buns pictured above were very satisfying, and this condiment enthusiast had a field day at the toppings station. We also liked The Cabin lounge, which has a small health bar with fresh fruit beverages plus cubby sofa seats that overlook the tarmac. It’s a fairly peaceful spot for catching up on work, and my favorite drink was the “pink dream” smoothie made of watermelon, lychee, and guava (eager to attempt making this at home!).
On the plane, there were Western as well as Asian options for each meal. I always opted for the latter, out of which favorites included pretty good dim sum for breakfast and duck noodle soup on the snack menu. Nick sampled the Western snacks like the cheeseburger and fruit & cheese plate – I think that gleeful expression on his face says it all.
I also wanted to share some tips for traveling comfortably on a long flight, and arriving at your destination feeling as refreshed as possible!
– Hydrate regularly and avoid excessive alcohol or caffeine. Since the air on planes can be extremely dry, this is crucial for feeling your best after a long flight. Start hydrating before flying with water or electrolyte-rich beverages, and continue doing so after flying. I average about a cup of water each hour, as it’s recommended to drink more on flights than you usually do. Many international flights serve complimentary alcohol, which means a booze fest to some passengers like my husband… however, try to drink limited alcohol and caffeine before and during long flights (I usually have a few sips to help fall asleep) in order to prevent dehydration and the issues that come along with it. Ever since I started enforcing this with myself, I’ve felt worlds better after a flight, even shorter ones.
– Moisturize thoroughly. Prior to getting dressed before a trip, I make sure to apply moisturizer all over my body. And as some of you saw on Snapchat, after boarding the plane I remove makeup with wipes then break out my “portable spa” to thoroughly moisturize my face, hands and lips. This is the time for your thicker or more intense face creams instead of lightweight ones. I’ll share some of my favorite products another time, but one of the best things I’ve found for dry and sensitive skin is simply a travel bottle filled with your usual facial lotion mixed with several drops of natural jojoba oil. This oil by itself can also serve as a makeup remover or light lip balm.
– Wear stretchy knits. These are key for comfort, as I usually find my limbs expanding on long flights. I wore a soft wireless bra, loose cotton tee, and black leggings on the flight there and a stretchy knit maxi skirt on the return flight. I changed into black jeans before landing just in case we had to go somewhere where leggings may be too casual.
– Pack layers. Temperatures at the airport and on a plane can change quite a bit, so I always wear long bottoms and bring an oversized top layer. Most long-haul flights have blankets but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
– Bring easy slip-on shoes to fit bloated feet. I take off my regular shoes shortly into a long flight, and lay out either a pair of elasticized ballet flats or rubber flip flops. I guzzle liquids on flights which results in countless bathroom breaks, so easy on/off shoes make things a bit easier!
– (Optional) Pack quality headphones. A pair of good noise-canceling headphones are a treat on long flights. Cathay Pacific actually had a pair for each of our seats, which Nick said were pretty good after I stole his. This was my first time trying Nick’s Bose QuietComfort headphones on properly (I realized with chagrin that I had previously never turned on the noise-canceling switch, thus thought they were just “so-so”) and they were not only super comfy, but also amazing for clear sound quality or just peace & quiet when you wanted it.
– Stretch your legs. Instead of going straight from your seat to/from the bathroom, take your time to stretch standing up and walk up and down the aisle a few times. This is recommended by doctors (in addition to wearing compression socks, which I haven’t yet looked into myself) to combat poor circulation and blood clots, which could be worsened by dehydration while flying. If there’s a choice, I always pick an aisle seat for easy access.
– Sanitize. Avoid drinking water from the bathroom faucet on airplanes, and brush your teeth with bottled water if available. Carry a travel bottle of hand sanitizer or a small pack of antibacterial wipes if you are extra leery of germs.
– Fight jetlag early on. If possible, start shifting your sleep patterns gradually at home a few days prior to traveling. Set your gadgets to the destination time zone upon boarding the plane, and try to sleep like how you would in destination timing (since planes usually manage the lights and meals based on the origin time zone). I always use an eye mask for a total blackout when sleeping, and sometimes take melatonin, a natural sleep aid available at most drugstores.
– Freshen up before landing. Keep mascara and a good concealer (I’m a big fan of Nars radiant creamy concealer – I use “custard” when lighter or “ginger” when more tan) within easy reach for brightening up your eyes prior to landing. If your hair gets greasy easily, pack a small container of baby powder or starch to sprinkle and brush onto oily roots, or toss hair up into a forgiving style like my favorite 2-minute topknot. Also, we learned the hard way in the past but always carry on at least one outfit suited for your destination, in case checked-in luggage gets lost or delayed.