While we spend months on end looking forward to our next holiday, the same can’t be said for the journey there, especially if it involves a long-haul flight.
And who can blame us? We’re essentially sat down in the same spot for eight to fourteen hours with the live flight tracker showing how many more miles there is to go. But with a bit of preparation and a few home comforts, long-haul flights can have a silver lining – you just need to know how to make the most of them.
Reserve Your Seat
This may seem obvious, but the importance of choosing your seat beforehand can’t be stressed enough — unless you’re happy to sit in the middle seat between strangers for an entire day. You may think “what are the chances?” but it will happen, and you’ll wish you prepared earlier.
Whether you prefer the window seat for a quiet life next to the clouds, or the aisle seat so you can get up and out whenever you like, pick your preference in advance and there will be no regrets. You can also select specific seats for extra legroom or to fit an airline bassinet.
Make Use of Your Personal Item
While every airline has its own baggage allowance rules, most international flights give you the option to bring along a carry-on bag too, as well as one small personal item, such as a handbag or small backpack.
The extra personal bag is the perfect size to store under the seat in front of you, so you can access everything you’ll need during the flight, without having to reach into the overhead locker. It saves you having to bother your neighbour and you’ll be far more likely to use essentials when they’re right in front of you. Save the overhead locker baggage for larger items that you’ll need after the flight, such as a change of clothes, camera or jacket.
It’s no secret that sitting on a plane for fourteen hours can be an uncomfortable experience, especially if you’re prone to back pain or pressure ulcers. A pressure relief or back support cushion are excellent options to provide effective distribution of weight. They’re light and portable enough to fit in your hand luggage easily and are ergonomically designed to help improve posture.
Pack your favourite pair of cosy socks too and wear soft layers so that you can sit, curl up, sleep or walk around with ease.
It’s not every day that you get hours of uninterrupted time stretched out in front of you. While flying long haul can be testing, make the most of it and enjoy watching movies, reading and listening to music. After all, what else is there to do?
Additionally, use this time to give yourself a pamper session. As the altitude and cabin pressure of the plane can cause your skin to feel dry, it’s the perfect time to put a sheet mask on your face, moisturise and stay hydrated. You’ll thank yourself the next day!
If you’re not a fan of in-flight meals, or if you have a dietary or ethical requirement, you can select a special meal off the menu beforehand. From low-lactose and vegetarian to kosher or bland foods, most airlines can cater to your needs.
Bring your own snacks too, as they’re small enough to fit in your personal bag and don’t restrict you to the airline’s meal times. Cereal bars, trail mixes and popcorn, are great options to nibble on. Above all else, drink plenty of water.
Get up and stretch your legs as often as you can. Not only will this break up the long hours and give you something to do, but it’s a great preventative measure to avoid developing deep vein thrombosis, which can cause serious health concerns. You can also wear compression stockings during your flight to improve your circulation.
Adjust Your Sleep Pattern
When you get on the plane, immediately adjust your watch to your destination’s time zone and refer to that when you’re planning your in-flight naps. Starting the timezone hop early makes a massive difference to how well you’ll adjust and it means you’re not exhausted on arrival. Nobody enjoys jetlag — so if you can get a head-start on beating it, do it.
Congratulations, you’ve survived your long-haul flight! One final piece of advice — don’t head straight for border security and baggage collection upon exiting the plane. Instead, stop at the second bathroom you see (the first one will be packed) and change your clothes/freshen up. It takes five minutes but will make you feel a million times better if you’re stuck in long queues or waiting for luggage to come through. Now, go enjoy that holiday.