I'm by no means a long-haul aficionado, but I make my fair share of long trips – probably a minimum of 2 10hour+ trips every year.
I'd like to think I've picked up a few tips for sweat-free travel during the past few years, so I thought it'd be nice to share them!
*The Ultimate Tip*
If you ignore every other piece of information in this post, remember this!
Make a gesture of bonding with your seat buddy if they are a stranger.
Offer them a sweet or a magazine – you have to sit by them for a long time.
Now… on with the show.
1. Hand Luggage can Make or Break You.
I’m really guilty in normal life of just chucking everything into my handbag and rummaging around it later for whatever I want.
This is an absolute no-no during long-haul travel. You will be groggy and irritable and sleepy eventually, and the last thing you want is to add to your irritation by having poorly organised hand luggage.
Plus, when you disembark, you will save yourself that “omg where is my Passport/purse/phone/money” feeling of utter despair.
Make a checklist, empty your hand luggage bag and pack it sensibly. You'll appreciate it later.
2. Layer Up.
Whilst flying, you experience vast changes in temperature. One moment you can be boiling, and the next absolutely freezing.
Mrs Sat-In-Front-Of-You might leave her fan on and fall asleep, leaving you shivering.
Combat this by layering up for travelling – using flexible but light layers which can be easily removed to cool down – meaning you don't have to rely on the airline blanket, which is usually pretty slim.
I’d advise bringing some cotton socks, a pashmina/shawl and a hoody.
Material is so important, as when you’re tired & dehydrated you can become very sensitive to polyester etc – best to stick to something soft and soothing!
*NOTE* If you’re wearing flight socks, do not wear cotton socks under or over them. It will interfere with your circulation.
3. Fill Up in the Airport.
Sounds mad – they do have food and drink on long haul flights, but the food can be very light, and you may have to wait some time for drinks service.
To avoid hunger and dehydration, have a decent meal in the Airport and drink plenty water before boarding (don't forget to visit the WC before you board, though – it can be a while until the seatbelt sign is off!)
It’s also a good idea to take snacks with you – crisps, cereal bars etc – most of which you can buy in the airport newsagent & stuff in your bag for a quick energy boost.
I favour macadamia nuts & cranberries or good old chocolate, although Chocolate doesn’t really make you feel awesome.
4. Have a plan.
It might sound incredibly anal to have a plan for what you’re going to do on the aircraft – I mean… what can you actually do?
Judging by your journey, you should figure out when you’ll arrive, and whether you should have slept or whether you should arrive “ready for bed”. For example, on oa recent flight I was scheduled to land in Dubai at 10am – so I made sure I slept on the flight and woke up a couple of hours before landing, like I would on land.
5. Lose yourself in the Music.
This kind of goes hand in hand with planning your sleep. Not everybody likes music, but everybody’s feelings respond to it. Prepare playlists for soothing, relaxing music, and energising music to help you chill out for sleep, or snap out of your haze for landing.
6. Start a good book before you leave.
I find it helps if you’re already “in”.
Once you already know your characters and are invested in the narrative, its much easier o block out distractions and stay focused.
7. Take off your watch.
Seriously. A watched clock never ticks.
If you keep checking the time, or your journey progress, the flight will drag – its best to just busy yourself with things instead of focusing on the time.
8. Remember it’s temporary.
I like to break it down – I tell myself “it’s only like 1 shift at work” and imagine myself getting to sit at my desk reading a great book or watching a film instead of doing work stuff.
Amazingly, that helps.
9. If You’re Not Sleeping – Stay Fresh.
Don’t sit there letting yourself get crusty – it’ll just make you feel worse. Frequently rinse your face, wash your hands, adjust your hair, brush your teeth. It’s good to feel awake and shake off that slobby feeling.
Drink lots of water, even if you don’t normally. The air circulating around the cabin can dehydrate you much quicker than normal, so its important to stay hydrated.
If you’re really not keen on water ask for some fruit tea.
10. Have other things to do.
Bring stuff to keep you entertained. You’d be amazed what you’ll find fun after 9 hours in the same seat.
At home, I never do Sudoku, but I am a master because I do them religiously on flights.
Similarly with card games.
Absolutely 100% bring a pen. You will be so gutted if you don’t.
So there you have it – a few ideas that won’t make your flight any shorter, but they might help you deal with the length a bit better.
If all else fails, just try to get absorbed in any of the provided films!