To get to the best destinations in the world, it’s typical that you have to sit in a big tin can for an excessive number of hours. This isn’t sod’s law, it’s simply a fact of the matter. To see wonderful things, there is a pay off, and that is the wonder of the long haul flight.
Now, surviving a long haul flight isn’t as difficult as it might seem, and you can cut out the degree of uncomfortableness, boredom, and stress if you’re a little clever.
Preparation is key
At the initial booking stage, do a little research into your airline, especially the seat pitch and amount of leg room they give you on long haul flights. It is worth booking extra leg room? If you’re particularly tall then yes, it is. You can do this at the airport when you check in, if there is room available, but you’re running a risk here so it’s advisable to do it when you book your seat. If you have a choice, go for aisle seats instead of window seats even though we know you want to catch that beautiful sunrise, aisle seats allow you to stand up and walk around any time you feel like it without having to wake a stranger. Better yet, if it’s not a full flight, ask if you can have the seat beside you empty so you can lie down.
Also, although I know some people are budget conscious when it comes to traveling, I’ve personally tried and realize that my own limit is 7 hrs for budget flights. Anything longer than 7 hrs does get a bit painful, so it’ll be good to take into account and consider that in your planning phase. Or if cash is not an issue, your body will thank you for paying that much more for a business class ticket, but if you’re like us, we rather save on the tickets and spend more when we get there, but that’s just us 😉
Secondly, do not fall prey to the myth of getting a good nights rest on the plane. I’ve tried it once & paid the price. Knowing that it is going to be a long haul flight, we often try to party/stay up all night before you head to the airport thinking we’ll catch some shut eye there and when we do reach, we’ll be well rested and ready to take on the country, bad mistake. Due to the altitude, cabin pressure, general public movements, restricted space etc, your body often do not get a well enough rest on the plane. You are asleep but not in deep sleep. But do not get me wrong, sleeping does help pass time on long haul flights like no other, just don’t go to the extremes with it and deliberately stay up the entire night before or you’ll still feel lethargic when you get to the country and have to spend an extra half day just catching up on sleep.
Don’t go to the airport in your most fashionable clothes, because by the end of the flight they’re going to be so creased and crumpled, you’ll be looking for the nearest iron. Wear comfortable, breathable clothes, and consider taking a change of clothes too. I always wear leggings to travel long haul, because I can move easily. In the past I have been known to put a pair of pyjama bottoms in my bag and some bed socks, and head to the toilet to get changed to up my comfort level! Also wear shoes you can easily slip on and off but for safety reasons such as mobility during an emergency, I do not and have never recommended wearing slippers on board.
You might also want to think about taking a blanket and a cushion with you. It’s easy to buy the travel sized ‘U’ shaped pillows, which fit around your neck and offer support, and when you’re trying to nod off mid-flight then this will be a godsend; laying your head against a cold, hard window is not comfortable. The blanket will come in very handy when air cons feels like sub-zero – there is nothing worse than being cold & unable to fall asleep.
When you’re packing your hand luggage, think carefully about what you might need. You do not want to compromise seat space for unnecessary baggage, comfort is key. In-flight entertainment will probably be available, but it will also probably bore you after an hour or so. Charge up all your electronics, such as iPad, Kindle, phone etc, and make sure you load them up before you leave with games, music, books, films etc, and also don’t forget your earphones! This should give you hours of entertainment when the mid-flight slump sets in.
Also remember your travel essentials such as paracetamol for that inevitable headache, sweets for ear popping, tissues, lipbalm, a hairbrush, and maybe even an eye mask, if you’re conscious of falling asleep in public. Or alternatively, you can always get a hoodie pillow to block yourself out from the general public eye.
A word of advice …
Never, ever look at the inflight map! The Singapore Travel Blog team did this once, I spent the entire flight from Narita to JFK New york thinking we were stuck in slow motion, because the damn thing never seemed to move! The key to surviving a long haul flight is to stay distracted and not focus on the amount of time you’re in the air, because this will help it pass much quicker. If you’re focusing too much on something that is reminding you of how far you still have to go, you’re not going to enjoy your flight.
Let’s put it this way, once you land on tarmac at your destination, your flight will be a long-forgotten memory. Long-haul flights might not be the most enjoyable things in the world, but the destinations they lead you to, most certainly are.
How do you prep yourself for a long flight ahead? Share with us in the comments below.