Mention the words, “Long Haul Flights” to me and my heart begins to beat faster.
I love them, loathe them, dread them and look forward to them in equal measure.
They promise excitement, adventure, family reunions, and time to sit back relax and be waited on. But they also require planning, as well as fortitude – because who doesn’t hate it when the plane begins to shiver and shake due to turbulence above some desolate desert just south of Timbuktu?
To tell you the truth I’ve lost count of the number of long haul flights I’ve taken. We’ve lived in 11 different countries and holidayed ‘back home’ many times during our expat years. We’ve also been supremely lucky to visit many exotic and not so exotic destinations all around the world during the course of Dave’s career, and my blogging.
I’m often asked, “What do you take with you on long haul flights?” along with, “What tips do you have to stay sane for 11 or so hours at a stretch stuck in a seat hemmed in by people you might not know?” And “What do you wear for comfort and style?”
In no particular order, here are 21 tips which work for me. I hope they might help make your long haul flights just a little bit more tolerable too.
Tips for long haul flights.
- Take an empty water bottle with you, and ask the flight attendant to fill it up, so that you can keep your own stash of water in your seat pocket for any middle of the night thirst quenching.
- Avoid paying for water – if you have to change planes, ask the flight attendant to fill your bottle up just before you disembark, so that you have water in the airport terminal if you have to wait for your flight connection.
- Don’t drink coffee just before you board, because if you’re like me, coffee will make you want to pee even before the plane takes off.
- Have a light meal before the flight at your normal meal time. Dont eat for the sake of it because you’ll most likely be fed within an hour of getting on the plane. Also, if you’re not hungry then don’t eat just for the sake of something to do on the plane – you’ll probably feel better for not eating.
- Wear layers. Planes can be hot and cold, so can different airports.
- Wear smart clothes to the airport and for checking in – you never know, you might get an upgrade. Either way, it pays to look reasonably smart. I’ll often wear a stretchy, no iron jersey dress.
- If you prefer trousers, then in your hand luggage take a lightweight, baggy, pair of long trouser pants. Just before your plane is due to take off go to the more spacious loos at the airport and change into them so that you’ll be comfortable on the flight. When you arrive at your destination you can change back into your smart pants while you’re waiting for your luggage to appear on the carousel.
- On long haul flights I generally wear a soft cardigan or lightweight fleecey over a (coloured – not white!) T-shirt and also take with me a soft and luxurious Pashmina to snuggle around my neck and shoulders if necessary. If I’m flying to a chilly destination I might also take a lightweight coat to put in the overhead locker for arrival.
- Take a pair of long socks in your hand luggage. I always take my shoes off on long haul flights in an effort to feel more comfy, but I take a long pair of socks for two reasons. Firstly, because I feel that long socks might help circulation just a little as my feet and ankles tend to swell and secondly because I’m pernickety and don’t like the thought of padding in and out of the loos either barefoot or in the socks I’ll be putting back into my shoes on arrival. My plane socks go into a plastic bag and straight into the wash when I get home! I realise this could be a bit obsessive compulsive!
- Wear shoes that expand a little. There’s nothing worse than trying to squeeze your shoes back onto swollen feet after a long time in the air. My go to travel shoes are FRANKiE4 Sandals.
- Alcohol really does dehydrate you on a plane, so avoid it if you can. I must admit to enjoying a glass of wine with an aeroplane lunch or evening meal but no more than one.
- Onboard I try to moisturise my hands each time I visit the bathroom, and I generally have a small tube of basic moisturiser in my bag to use on my face (as part of my liquids and gels allowance declared at security checks, so it has to be a tiny demo-sized moisturiser).
- Your eyes can also dehydrate, I sometimes take eye drops with me to relieve tired or gritty eyes at that moment on a long haul when you really feel you’ve had enough and want to get off into the fresh air. Don’t forget though that eye drops are considered part of your liquids and gels allowance, and also need to be in a sealed plastic bag to go through security checks.
- Yes, it is important to get up and stretch during the flight. Despite the fact that I feel like a fool, I can often be found at the back of the plane or by the bathroom bending and stretching, doing figures of eight with my knees to stretch and rotate my hips, and pretending as if I’m picking apples off tall branches to stretch my torso.
- In my seat I make sure to rotate my ankles and lift my knees up and down every now and then to keep the circulation going – and I don’t care what the person next to me thinks I’m doing.
- Say Hello to the person sitting beside you because you never know, you might end up having a nice chat. If you don’t like them or you think they are going to be the type of person who might chat the hind leg off a donkey, then simply smile, put your ear phones on, watch a movie, listen to some music or tell them you’re tired and want to sleep.
- Take a good book to read, something easy and gripping – or take your iPad or Kindle with your bookstore already loaded.
- Turn your phone and electronic devices off when you’re told to do so and enjoy a little digital detox for a few hours.
- Do sit back, relax and enjoy being waited on. This is ‘you’ time. No driving, no food to buy or cook, and hours to read, dream or think.
- If you wear glasses, don’t forget to take some lens cleaning wipes in your hand luggage.
- Take some chewing gum to chew during take off and landing to help prevent your ears from popping.
Don’t Worry Be Happy!
Most of all – Don’t worry, be happy! Remember you are one of the very privileged minority in the world who are able to be geographically mobile and long haul flights are most likely leading you to an exciting adventure!
Long Haul Flights keep me Lovin’ Life!
Have you any tips to add – please share them in the comments section!
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The Lovin’ Life Team