While the prospect of travelling to some far flung part of the World is usually pretty darn exciting, the prospect of sitting in a flying aluminium tube for up to 14 hours to get there, isn’t. During my life I’ve experienced my fair share of long haul flights including the killer that is London to Sydney (21 hours in the air is not pleasant). So, to help you not-so-frequent flyers out, I’ve compiled some of my tips and tricks on how to get to Arrivals with your sanity still intact.
It’s all about the layers. I usually bring a cashmere-esque/pashmina scarf with me. It’s great to use as a light blanket if it’s chilly, bunch up as a pillow if need be or even as an actual scarf. Most airlines provide their own pillow and blanket but these are never usually that clean as they’re just re-used from past flights. I recommend using the pillow as a back support and popping the blanket under the chair in front of you to use as a little nest for your feet!
A pair of cosy socks are a good’un too, especially if you want to take your shoes off during the flight (something I highly recommend!) I always travel in flip flops which aren’t the most sensible footwear sometimes but they’re easy to kick on and off during a flight or at airport security.
- Eat but don’t gorge
Airplane food is kind of like Marmite, you either tolerate it or you hate it. Either way, try and avoid filling up on too many heavy carbs like bread or rice or pasta; they’ll sit in your stomach and make you feel sluggish which is not ideal.
On the other hand, don’t be doing a Friendly Fires and ‘skip the meal for a G + T’ (however tempting it may be!) If you’re feeling a bit queasy or aren’t super hungry, at least try and eat the veggies. Any nutrients you can get, no matter how dehydrated and soggy they might be, will be good for you!
If you’re really iffy about plane food, bring some of your own snacks to nibble on when you fancy. Obviously you can’t bring a full on meal through airport security but some sealed packets of dried fruit and nuts would be a pretty ideal. I find Starburst are good to suck on if you want a sugary boost/during take-off and landing or even to revive your tastebuds after a bland airplane meal!
- Sit near the back of the plane
There are very divided opinions about where you should sit on a plane. Personally, I have had the best experience being in the last 3-5 rows of the plane and on an aisle seat. When people check in online and pick their seats, it is ALWAYS the first page of seats that get taken first and when people arrive at the airport to check-in, seats are automatically allocated from the front. Trust me, if there’s a spare seat going, it’ll be at the back (I’ve had one next to me the past three times I’ve flown!).
At the back, you get boarded first so your bag wont end up at the other end of the plane from you, you usually get your food first (the flight attendants start at each end), you’re near to the quietest toilets and furthest away from the seats where crying babies are usually found.
- Invest in some noise cancelling headphones
That being said, no matter how carefully you choose your seat, you can never quite escape from that couple having a domestic or a guy with a shockingly loud cough. Grab yourself a set of decent headphones that can block out as much of this noise as possible (or even all of it). Also means you don’t have to use the airplanes rubbishy ones that look like they came straight out of an episode of the Fresh Prince of Belair.
- Keep Moist
Yes, I know the majority of you just cringed at my use of the M word but seriously, don’t let yourself dry out! Bring a mini hand cream/face moisturiser and a lip balm in your carry on and make sure you use it (yes boys, I’m talking to you too!). Also, goes without saying but drinking lots of water is a great way to keep you hydrated and make you feel as good as you can breathing in recycled air. I always give in to the ridiculous prices in Departures and buy myself a big bottle of water at the airport because the cups they give you on planes are so tiny and the water always tastes a bit iffy anyway.
- Try not to knock yourself out
I know it’s probably quite tempting to help the sleepiness come along with a glass of wine or sleeping pill but from my experience and hearing others’ too, it will just leave you feeling rubbish. As beforehand mentioned, planes dry you out and alcohol will just dehydrate you quicker meaning you’ll probably wake up feeling worse than you did before.
Ditto the pills. Yes, they’ll will ensure you get a good couple of hours of shut eye but when you wake up, you’ll feel like utter crap – dry mouth, headaches etc. I know some travelers swear by them so if you aren’t going to take my advice, just make sure you test them out before you board the plane!
- Freshen Up
I usually take advantage of the lay-over to use a slightly larger toilet with a decent mirror for this. Pack your toothbrush and a mini-toothpaste in your carry on for a much needed brush – I know the airlines sometimes provide these but I find the toothpaste tastes like dentists and leaves your mouth all dry.
Also bring a spare pair of pants or even a top to change into half-way through your flight. Simple but fresh, clean clothes can make a world of difference and make you feel slightly more human. I also try and have an outfit to change into at the top of my checked luggage so I can cheekily change before I walk through Arrivals and give off the Beyonce-esque impression that I always look flawless. I mean, you never know who you might bump into…. (Just kidding, it’s usually my Mum)
And there you have it, my top tips to make long haul travel a bit more comfortable. Happy flying!