A First Timer’s Guide to Long-Haul Flights
Plan Stuff to Do
Eliminate Stress Before and After
Book your Seats Near the Back of the Plane
Comfort is Key
Well, duh… Wear layers! Planes tend to be very cold at high altitude and whilst you are typically provided with blankets, having more layers always helps. It means that if it does get hot by some miracle you can also shed some layers. Bringing a large scarf that doubles as a blanket is also a good idea and means you also save on luggage space!
To Thailand I wore a pair of thick and comfy harem style pants from Next, a very baggy t-shirt and a jumper, so I was practically wearing pyjamas. For shoes I wore flip flops. On that note, always wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off for when you need to get up to go to the toilet. Also wear something that is appropriate for the climate in your arrival destination, unless you want to bring a change of clothes in your hand luggage and spruce yourself up in the toilet. I was boiling when I arrived in Thailand in my harem pants, even though it was at 9am, but luckily I could roll them up and throw my jumper in my bag.
Adjust to your New Timezone
Get the time at your destination up on your phone and try to adjust to it throughout the flight. It’s wonderful how much thinking about the other time can help psychologically. Our flight from London Heathrow to Thailand left at 12:30pm which was 6:30pm Thailand time. As a result I kept myself awake for the first few hours of the journey and did lots of activities to tire myself out, and then began to snooze.
Okay I’m not saying you should do your full workout routine on a tiny plane but just make sure you don’t sit in your seat the entire time. Get your blood flowing by moving your neck, wrists, ankles and legs. Take as many walks as possible down the isles and make the most of the time you spend going to the loo.
There are even plenty of in-seat exercises which you can do, including my favourite: lifting your feet off the ground by a few inches and rotating them in circles.
Bring Everything You May Need
Here’s a handy packing list of stuff you might want to throw in your hand luggage:
- Snacks – Aeroplane food isn’t the best and you don’t want to be going hungry. Bring plain snacks like biscuits or crackers, or come supplied with some chocolate to give you a quick sugar fix.
- Eye mask and ear plugs – Sleeping on planes is a right challenge, so make the whole process easier by packing an eye mask and ear plugs with you. I’m personally not a huge fan of eye masks but if they work for you then bring them! Noise cancelling headphones also work a charm.
- Charger or power adaptor – No one wants to get two hours into their flight to realise they have 12% battery left and no charger.
- Moisturiser and lip balm – Don’t let the harsh air conditioning get the better of your skin! Stay moisturised, and on that note, stay clean! Bring face/body wipes, and ladies, don’t wear make-up. If you really have to wear it to get to the airport, take it off as soon as you get on the plane, and reapply it just as you’re about to land. You’ll thank me later.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste – No one likes that grim after-nap taste in their mouth. Please tell me you know what I’m talking about and I’m not alone in this. Brushing your teeth is perfect for when it’s time to leave the plane as well – you’ll feel slightly fresher. Failing that, mints will probably do the trick.
- Earphones – Pretty self explanatory. Who wants the ones the flight attendants provide?
- Deodorant – Deodorant always goes down a charm. Bring it.
- Compression socks – To avoid swollen feet and ankles.
- Neck pillow – Or any kind of pillow for that matter…
Some Final Tips
- Just ask – Don’t suffer in silence. If you need water (stay hydrated kids) or an extra blanket just ask the flight attendants. You’re not being annoying – it’s their job. Just hit that little service button on the remote control and they’ll be over in a dash.
- Avoid caffeine and booze – Long story short, it won’t help. It will only dehydrate you further and make it harder to sleep. If drinks help you sleep then by all means go for it, but they usually make you feel worse.
Shell out for Premium Economy, Business or First Class – Easier said than done, but if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. You can even try asking for a free upgrade… good luck!
- Stay healthy and hygienic – Pretty self explanatory, but it’s far easier to catch a cold on a flight.
So what do you do to battle through long-haul flights. Let me know in the comments below and let’s make life that little bit easier for each other!
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