Spending more than 8 hours on a plane is torture. That’s hours of screaming children, being cramped, listening to the roar of the plane engines and irritating seat neighbours.
But with some preparation it can become an enjoyable part of your journey.
Use up those frequent flier miles and upgrade to Business or First Class. You’ll be thanking yourself when you’re reclining in the comfort of your spacious seat sipping on a 2004 Dom Pérignon. If you’re interested in the world of Travel Hacking check out this course on CreativeLive.
If you’re a bit short on points give Premium Economy a try. As Chris Heasman from Travel + Leisure very says that the benefits of “priority check-in, extra legroom, seats that actually accommodate a grown human’s body - far outweigh the cost. ”
Select the right seat
This will be different for each person - read our article about picking The Perfect Plane Seat and find out which is best for you.
Although you should bring all necessary cables and chargers, save yourself from having to fuss around with them by charging up electronics before you board your flight. You shouldn’t need to reach for these for the duration of the flight and so won’t need to fuss around in putting them away just before landing.
There are so many interesting people around us and they all have a unique story. Although we all dread that the person sitting next to us will be overly chatty but you’re just as likely to be seated next to a genuinely interesting person as you would be to anyone else.
So if appropriate, say ‘Hi’ and the time will fly by (haha, get it?) and you will have turned an otherwise boring flight into a possibly beautiful friendship.
Prepare for sleep
Make sure to have a pillow, blanket, eye mask, ear plugs & a comfortable set of clothing to give yourself a good chance at quality sleep.
Foot hammock & Compression socks
When I’m in a seated position for an extended period of time my lower legs and feet will swell, something that never happened to be till a few years ago! Not only was it a bit scary it was often painful to walk after disembarking the plane. Also, DVTs are no joke!
I invested in some compression socks - tight ones - and started to put them on as soon as I found my seat. Putting them on when you feel the swelling will do you no good, it will only hurt more. Since then I’ve had NO issues with swelling at all.
I’ve recently added a foot hammock into the mix. I have shorter legs that usually don’t reach the ground on almost any seated position and it helped me so much, not only with swelling, but just to feel more comfortable. I just clip it behind the tray table and foot is hammocking away!
Although carrying around a neck pillow is inconvenient it is also essential in getting quality sleep in long haul flights. You may take a little time in finding the perfect one but avoid the blow up ones as they tend to be too stiff and do not provide the correct neck support.
Eye-mask and Earplugs
To really be able to tune out the cabin surrounding you then bring along noise cancelling earplugs and an eye mask that blocks out all light. This will make it easier to tune out and doze off soundly.
As a compulsive moisturiser this is almost the first thing I will pack on my carry on, one for my face and another for my hands & body. First wipe down your face with a clean cloth dampened by hot water, then moisturise to stave off blocked pores and breakouts. I find I can sleep better when my entire body feels hydrated as well.
Most overnight Business & First Class flights will provide passengers with pyjamas, otherwise bring along a comfortable set of clothing (and underwear) to change into when you’re ready to nod off.
Keep it light
Struggling with a heavy carry onboard a plane will only increase your stress levels. Although you want to be prepared only take on the essentials and check in the rest. You can use our Packing Guide for Carry On Essentials to help with this process.
It is tempting to stay seated and people are less likely to move around when in transit on the plane. This can contribute to Jet Lag, DVTs and leave you feeling cramped at the end of the flight. While compression socks can help with the blood flow and reduce the risk of DVTs it is best that you walk around as much as possible when you’re awake to allow your body to function as normally as possible.
Ward off the effects of near zero humidity involved with air travel - hydrate inside and out. Ask the cabin crew to provide you with a bottle of water (a glass will only get you so far) so you don’t have to keep pressing the service button.
Try to stay away from caffeine and alcohol as this will dehydrate you faster.
When you’re in a hurry it can be a challenge to resist the fast food option, particularly racing through the airport or when you’ve hurried out the door to arrive at the airport on time and didn’t get a chance to eat.
Make sure to choose food that has a high nutritional value, and maybe try to select the vegetarian in-flight option, which can sometimes be better than the alternative.
In general try to avoid complex carbohydrates as they can make you feel more dehydrated and tired once you reach your destination.
Even though you may wish to, you can’t sleep the whole time you’re on the plane. You may either be feeling anxious or just not sleepy at that moment and it’s not a good idea to try and force yourself to sleep - it never works!
Most long haul flights will have an entertainment system but they aren’t always reliable. Sometimes they don’t work or there just isn’t anything you like. Bring some alternatives with you: a good, but light, book or some movies on your tablet.
Rarely we are able to just do nothing these days, where we have no internet connection and are forced to unplug. Catch up on that book you’ve been meaning to read, or TV shows & movies. If you’re up for it, meditate! Not only is it very healthy for the mind it will help you unwind and fall asleep faster.
Prepare for impending jet lag This is something everyone dreads on the other end of a flight and would like to avoid at all costs. Read up on ways to Combat Jet Lag and get the most out of your trip.