How to survive long haul flights and still feel human.
This week I’ve been thinking about when I might be able to go back out to Australia. The problem for me is the flight; it takes so long to get there, I can’t really justify going for less than 2.5-3 weeks. So then I started thinking about long haul flights generally…
Long haul flights are the worst. I mean, they’re the best because you end up somewhere amazing at the end of it. But the flight itself can be hell and it can take you a couple of days to feel human again.
1. Comfy Clothes
This one is the most obvious. But if you’re going to be confined to one seat for 10+ hours, those high-waisted jeans that dig into your belly when you sit down probably aren’t the best choice.
Personally, I like to wear clothes that are as close to pyjamas as possible. This generally means hareem pants, a loose t-shirt and an over-sized cardigan or hoodie – basically anything that isn’t tight fitted but that will keep me warm even in all that air conditioning.
2. Clever Footwear
I don’t mean in the sense of investing in trainers that have some sort of AI built in. I mean, think about your footwear before you leave the house. The first rule is to pick something that you can take off and put back on again quickly and easily. A lot of airports will ask you to remove your shoes at security and you really don’t want to be that person who holds everyone up because you’re not ready despite having been in the queue for 45 minutes.
Secondly, think about your destination. When you get off the plane at the other end, is it going to be the middle of the day and baking hot or is it going to be chilly and wet? You’ll probably want flip flops for one but not the other.
There is an exception to these two rules though. The one thing that overrides them both is specialised footwear. If you’re heading off for a month long trek in the Himalayas or to climb Kilimanjaro you want to be travelling in your walking boots. This is for two reasons: 1) they probably weigh a ton and will push you over your baggage limit, and 2) you will be screwed if they go in your hold luggage and your bag doesn’t make it to your destination.
No matter what you decide on in respect of your shoes, pack your biggest, warmest, comfiest socks in your hand luggage. You’re going to be on that plane for a while so you might as well kick off your shoes and get comfy. Everyone knows it gets insanely cold on planes and having cold feet is a nightmare. So, even if you board the plane in glorious sunshine and you’re heading towards even more sunshine, don’t forget the socks.
Most long haul flights are really good at looking after passengers but it’s just so much easier if you take your own snacks and water. I’m not saying don’t take advantage of the food and drinks offered as part of your in-flight service but there’s nothing worse than taking a nap and waking up to find you missed the midnight snacks.
Also, it’s really important to stay hydrated whilst flying. Even though your flight attendants will happily provide you with water, sometimes you don’t want to get up and wander to the back of the plane half asleep. So keep a bottle of water nearby just to keep you topped up.
That mean, old industrial air conditioning will dry your skin out like nothing else. The basics I love having with me on a long flight are a good lip balm, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste and a heavy duty moisturiser. I also don’t like to wear much, if any, make up but that’s your own preference.
It’s also nice to have some wet wipes (like a moisturising face wipe or similar), perfume and some make-up for when you get off the plane. Oh, and don’t forget a hairbrush too!
As a writer, long haul flights are great for getting some reading and writing done. I always ensure I have my laptop, notebook and some reading materials for research and/or inspiration. I know a lot of people like to have some sort of tablet with movies, books, podcasts etc. on too. Whatever it is that’s going to keep you entertained, make sure you take lots of options so that you can chop and change if you get bored of one!
And that’s basically how I get through long haul flights. Don’t get me wrong, these things aren’t going to stop you from getting jet lag but hopefully they’ll help the time pass by slightly quicker and leave you feeling less gross at the end of the flight.