Most people would probably agree that commercial air travel can be a soul-wrenching amalgam of physical discomfort, existential terror, and ritual humiliation. Everything sucks: the lines, the people, the seats, the food, the delays. Frequent flyers develop their own private ceremonies to offset the inevitable indignities. Some turn to prescription pills, others to pashminas or paperbacks. I prefer compression socks.
I got my first pair about a year ago, and was so delighted I bought my second a month after that. (All the better to have a clean pair for each leg of a round-trip.) If you’ve never experienced compression socks before, just imagine little corsets for your feet. They’re the very tightest around the foot and ankle, gradually loosening from the calf to just under the knee. Typically used by diabetics and those afflicted with varicose veins, they help to keep blood from pooling at your feet — which can cause dangerous clots, or just unsightly swelling— while you’re sitting for 12 hours, say, on a flight to Dubai.
Wearing them for the first time can be jarring. They’re astonishingly tight and very stretchy. They require a little muscle to pull on, but the effect is worth it. You’ll land without heavy legs or swollen feet (the scourge of travelers who take their shoes off mid-flight), and you’ll arrive feeling deceptively slim.
Now, I’d sooner fly across the country without reading material than without compression socks. I’ve bought them as gifts for multiple bicoastal friends. And as far as travel indulgences go, they’re cheaper and more healthful than either in-flight entertainment or Maker’s Mark.
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