Long haul flights can be brutal on your comfort, your health and even your sanity, but with these simple tips you can make things if not better, then at least bearable until you finally get to your destination.
We are long, long past the golden age of travel now, and for anyone who can’t afford the ever increasing luxuries and costs of first class and is forced to endure economy class travel, we seem to have regressed into a free for all cesspit of pain, misery and suffering.
A lot of airlines have come under increasing fire recently, with dramatically increasing passenger dissatisfaction levels, ever shrinking seats, increasing costs and extra add on expenses for every little aspect of travel they think they can get away from charging us with, constant delays and problems, and even cases of actual abuse toward passengers are becoming increasingly common.
But despite the best efforts of the airlines who seem to want to make economy long haul as horrible an experience as possible, there are ways to make your journey just that little bit easier on yourself.
Wear comfortable clothes.
Despite that moronic myth passed around by snooty idiots with their head up their proverbial that wearing a three piece suit or dressing in your smartest ballgown at the airport will bag you a free upgrade (it won’t), the best thing you can do for a long haul flight is dress comfortably. Remember you will be wearing your choice all day or night (maybe even longer), so you want it to be loose, comfy and layered so you can cool down if needed, cover up if the air con gets too much and sleep in it without feeling restricted.
My personal choice is always cargo shorts, a loose t shirt and flip flops. Easy and comfortable.
Get yourself ready for a long sleep.
Okay, I know the cramped conditions aren’t ideal, especially when the selfish idiot in front of you crushes your legs with their reclining seat and the wide load to your side is constantly oozing over into your personal space, but there are things you can do to make it a bit better for yourself. Basically this means bringing ear plugs (the best invention ever on flights with a lot of kids) and some form of mask. Personally I use my shemagh (an old military version of a shawl or scarf), tie it round my head and pull it down over my eyes. Instant blackout.
Time your sleep well.
Depending on where you are going you will have to contend with different time zones and possibly jet lag. One of the best ways you can beat jet lag is try and set your body clock to the country you are going as quickly as possible, so try and sleep at the normal times for the country you are heading to (and aim to wake up in the early morning of that destination if you can).
This really is an essential one. Aircraft cabins are notoriously dry places, and with the times between the crew bringing you out that ridiculously tiny plastic carton of water seemingly lasting a lifetime, you need to stay hydrated.
Get yourself a good sized bottle of water and a bottle of your favourite juice at the airport after you have gone through initial security, you can keep these in your bag for when you board because for some reason we all know sealed bottled drinks bought in the airport are far safer than drinks bought in a shop outside. Or better yet, get yourself a refillable water bottle. That way you won’t be beholden on waiting to see a crew member so you can beg for a drink.
When the crew do come round don’t be afraid of asking for extra drinks too. You paid enough for the flight dammit, they can spring for some extra water or juice!
With a combination of these you should be able to drink small amounts constantly, keeping yourself relatively well hydrated through the flight.
And lastly try and avoid excessive amounts of alcohol or coffee. I’m not saying avoid them entirely, just remember that these drinks will dehydrate you and they should be limited. Best to stick to water and juice as much as possible.
On a long haul flight it is not possible to avoid the gas inducing, tasteless concoctions that they pass off as airline ‘food’ entirely, as you will need a meal at some point, but let’s face it they are hardly great are they? And the fact that your hunger will be a slave to when the crew can be bothered to bring the trolley to you isn’t ideal either.
So bring snacks.
Good, healthy choices like slow energy release cereal bars, nuts and dried fruit are always ideal, but a good bag of harribos never goes amiss either!
Try and reserve a good seat.
Okay, I know this one is almost impossible, especially if you are tall. With airlines reserving any seat at the front for those with babies or young kids and seemingly having preferential treatment for 5″4 short arses who don’t need the space in seats with extra leg room, not to mention the fact that most airlines now charge extra for that privilege too in the huge con they call ‘economy plus’, it is always worth trying to reserve the best seat as you can as soon as you are able. If you manage to get yourself an exit row or the holy grail of a front row seat (with no babies next to you), then congratulations)!
Use your time productively.
Let’s face it, no matter how comfortable you can get you are still stuck in one place for a very long time, and that can get very tedious very fast. So why not use the time productively? Use the time to practice a hobby, read a book you have always wanted to read, learn some of the language of the place you will be visiting, or do as I do and try and write a few chapters for your next novel.
But don’t forget to relax too. Take advantage of the fact there are no mobile phones going off every five minutes, no mountains of emails to crawl through and just relax! Some of the better airlines have a great selection of movies and box sets on those tiny little screens that will definitely kill a few hours, but failing that – and given that the ridiculous electronics ban is likely to expand and become the new normal, go all retro and pick up a good old fashioned paperback to lose yourself in.
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