Travel Guide: How to survive long haul flights

plane sunset

plane sunsetWith New Zealand being a small country at the bottom of the globe, we always have a decent flight ahead of us if we want to travel anywhere in the world other than Australia or the Pacific Islands. Not many people enjoy long-haul flights, as being cooped up in one place for 6-12 hours is enough to test anyone’s patience (or worse; ultra long-haul flights that are more than 12 hours!).

The excitement of travelling can get off to a slow start when you disembark the plane feeling dehydrated, tired and spaced out. Here are our top tips to help you survive long-haul flights.

Dress for the occasion

You may not feel particularly glamorous, but wear your most comfortable clothing such as stretchy leggings or trackpants and a cotton T-shirt. Consider whether you want to take compression socks as well as an extra pair of thick warms socks (taking your shoes off when you’re sitting down for so long will feel better than keeping them on!). Also, layer up as you may get cold at some point during the flight.

Drink plenty of water

Special drinks aimed at preventing jet lag may seem like a tempting purchase at the airport, but often the main point of them is hydration. Planes can be extremely drying environments due to the sealed cabin and air conditioning circulating for the duration of the flight.

Make sure you drink plenty of water when you’re flying – most flights should provide free water if you ask the flight attendants, or there may be a water fountain with tap water available on board. You could also consider purchasing the biggest bottle of water you can find at the airport after you go through security at your departure airport to take with you on the flight, or taking an empty bottle through security and filling it on the other side before you board the plane.

If you’re feeling iffy, freshen up

You’re allowed to take a small, resealable, clear plastic bag for liquids, aerosols and gels in your carry-on luggage as long as any containers are no bigger than 100ml and the capacity of the bag doesn’t exceed 1 litre (20cm x 20 cm or 15cm x 25cm). Using your allowance to help you freshen up intermittently throughout the flight will help you arrive at your final destination feeling more comfortable and definitely more presentable to the world outside the plane.

Consider packing some of the following – a travel-sized tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush, lip balm, small containers of moisturiser suitable for your face and hands, facial wipes or wet wipes, a spare set of contact lenses if you wear them (and possibly a travel-sized lens cleaning solution), some key items of makeup if you usually use it and perhaps also a rosewater facial spray which can be very refreshing if you’re feeling a little dried out.

Take a walk and make some legroom

It’s not ideal to be sitting down for so long, so make sure you get up regularly to take a little walk around the cabin and stretch out your body to feel less stiff and to reduce risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Stow any of your carry-on luggage that you don’t need in the overhead compartments to ensure you have the most room possible for your feet under the seat in front of you.

Get comfy and try to sleep

If you’re one of those lucky people who can sleep standing up against a knobbly tree trunk, then you probably won’t have too much trouble falling asleep in a plane seat.

Otherwise you will likely need to put a bit more thought into how you’re going to get some shuteye.Β An eye mask and earplugs may help you block out your surroundings. If you need some extra help to get to sleep, you might want to ask your GP before you fly about your options for sleeping aids, which can range from natural supplements to prescription pills. Ensure you try them out at some stage before the flight to make sure you don’t have any unexpected negative reactions on your trip.

To try and reduce the effects of jet lag when you arrive at your destination, figure out a good ‘in-between’ time to try and sleep that will help you transition from the sleep time at the place of departure compared to the sleep time at your arrival destination.

The little pillows you get given on the plane can be a little on the thin side which can make for a rather uncomfortable attempt at sleeping. If you have room in your carry-on, pack a small quality travel pillow for added comfort. You might want to bring a neck pillow to give your neck added support while you sleep and to keep your head in one place.

Keep entertained

Preparation is key! Although the in-flight entertainment can get you pretty far, watching five movies back-to-back will likely leave your eyes feeling square. A bit of variation will prevent boredom setting in. Before you get on the flight, sort out some of your own entertainment.

Magazines, books, a tablet, writing paper and a pen, an e-reader, your own music, movies or TV series, or games if you’re travelling with someone else. Check whether the airline you are flying with will allow electronic devices to be turned on mid-flight.

Consider bringing your own comfortable headphones for in-flight and electronic entertainment. If your headphones end in a single plug, most planes still have a socket for two pins. Most good electronics stores should stock a small, cheap converter so you can use your own headphones on the plane.

Ensure all your devices are fully charged and if you’re concerned about running out of battery power, consider purchasing a power bank to allow you to recharge on the go (get from any electronics store). Some planes may have chargers available on board. You could also use the flight time as a great opportunity to write a travel diary.

Image / FreeDigitalPhotos.net – potowizard


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