Long haul flights can be such a pain, especially for those of us who don’t have the luxury of flying business or first. I hope to be able to do so at least once in the future, but I don’t think that’s going to happen too soon. In the meantime, I’ll just have to do what I can to make good ole’ economy class as comfy as possible. Of course, these things can only do so much, but it’s a whole lot better than nothing. So, here’s what I do.
First of all, research is key. One thing is knowing if meals and snacks are included or not, that’s something you usually know at the time of booking. But a lot of other things are possible to find out from browsing the airline’s website. I always check for the following:
* In-flight entertainment: Most of the major airlines provide pretty good information about this, so there are no big surprises. If they offer seatback entertainment, there is usually a list of available movies, series and music. This is very important to me as I’m never able to sleep during a flight, so I need something to help me pass the time.
* Menus: Although I’ve rarely experienced an airline not having meals included in the ticket price for their long haul flights, it has happened. When that’s the case, it’s good to know what is available for purchase.
*Other: is in-seat power available? What is the carry-on allowance? do you get pillows and blankets or even more? Basically things that make it easier to plan.
In addition to these things, I find it helpful to take a look at the maps of any airport I’ll be stopping at. I hate stressful layovers, so knowing where to go, where to eat (if applicable) and so on helps.
2. Remember back-ups
Sometimes things just don’t go as planned, so it’s smart to take some things that could go wrong into consideration. For me, this mainly includes three things: Food, entertainment and clothes + toiletries.
Airplane food is usually not all that. You may have to choose between two dishes you just don’t like, or if it’s something you normally do like it may just not be any good. Of course, you can be lucky and have a decent meal. In my experience, however, that is more the exception than the rule. Therefore, I always pick up a sandwich or something at the airport before boarding.
Entertainment systems go bad sometimes. This is something I’ve seen happen almost every time. In most cases they’ve been able to fix it pretty quickly, but a couple of times they weren’t able to. So if you really need to have something to watch, you might wanna make sure to have alternatives on your laptop or tablet.
When it comes to clothes and toiletries, that is more of a thing for after arriving at your destination. It especially goes for tight iteninaries with short layovers. I had to learn this lesson the hard way. It really sucks when you make it to your destination only to find that your bags did not, and especially when you’ve spent many many hours traveling. Luckily, this has happened to me only once, and the bags did make it on the next flight and were delivered to the hotel the morning after. But that was enough to make remember this forever. Should have had that extra change of clothes and some essential toiletries in my carry-on. Now I always do. It actually also helps reduce stress while traveling, as the “what if” element is not as strong.
3. Pack smart
The next thing is packing the carry-on bags in a smart way. I easily become that girl who frantically goes through her bag just to find that one thing that of course has ended up in the bottom of the bag, underneath all the other things. Not cool, unnecessary stress. So I need to have a system. Now, my system is still “under construction”, but it’s really starting to help. It’s based on a 1 piece + 1 personal item allowance, as I’m under the impression that this is what most airlines operate with. I put the things I know I’m going to need during the flight in a large handbag, and everything else in a cabin suitcase. In the personal item section, each box represents one room or pocket in the bag:
4. Take care of yourself
It’s no secret that flying can be a little harsh on our bodies. For me, the main issue is dehydration. I do three things to fight this:
1. Avoid alcohol. While a lot of people like to have a drink or two at the airport before departure or during the flight, and don’t experience any trouble with that, I like to just avoid all alcoholic beverages starting the day before. I can really feel the dehydrating effect, and that’s no fun.
2. Choose water. Ok, so I might not do this as much as I should. I like to drink soda, but I try to drink more water than soda. Not always easy when you’re already bored – water is honestly a pretty boring drink.
3. Skincare. I always remove my makeup, to let my skin breathe. I apply my day cream, and then I use a moisturizing spray whenever I feel the need to. I don’t know just how much this actually helps, but at least it feels good.
Then there are a few other things to do just for general comfort. I am a big fan of wearing flight socks, getting up from the seat every now and then, and dressing comfortably. I don’t look like I’m attending a fancy party when I’m flying, and I’m fine with that. I might reconsider this when I get the chance to fly business someday. No, actually, I won’t. I’ll probably just try to find a better looking comfy outfit.
Did i miss anything, or do you have any other long haul travel tips? Please let me know in a comment.