My Top Tips For Flying Long Haul

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(Photo by Daniel Olah on Unsplash)

I love flying. I love the anticipation of being at the airport, mooching around duty free and buying more magazines than are necessary at WHSmith. I love the process of picking your seat, trying to cheat the system in some way in order to get as much legroom as possible. And I love the actual flight itself. In fact, one of my favourite moments of any holiday is that time just after take off when you know you’re finally en route to your destination, and you have hours of chilled-out relaxation time ahead of you. When you have a busy life it’s not often that you get a few hours where it’s impossible to check emails or distract yourself with Instagram, and I cherish that.

However, it has to be said that long haul flights are a bit of a different ballgame. The novelty can wear off after a couple of hours, and if you don’t plan properly, you can end up spending the whole flight feeling bored, grumpy, or downright uncomfortable. Over the years I’ve been perfecting my long haul flight routine, and I have to say that this year I feel like I’ve totally nailed it. And so I thought I’d share my tips and tricks with you all, because don’t we all want to arrive at our destinations feeling blissed out and refreshed, rather than cranky and tired?

Without further ado, here are my top tips for flying long haul…

1) Stay at a hotel the night before

If you’re long haul flight is relatively early, I’d thoroughly recommend staying in an airport hotel the night before. When you’re already going to be travelling for over 8 or 9 hours, you don’t want to add extra travel time before you even get on the plane. Instead, consider booking into a hotel and doing the first leg of your journey the evening before.

We did this when we went to LA earlier in the year and it made all the difference. We stayed at YOTELAIR in Gatwick, which meant we only had to wake up half an hour before check in. Not only did we feel more well rested for our flight, it also felt like we’d started our holiday that little bit sooner!

2) Prioritise comfort

I used to be one of those people who would meticulously plan their travelling outfits for holidays. I’d try to get that perfect balance of stylish yet practical, while also working in any of those heavier accessories that I didn’t want to weigh my baggage down with. I’ll admit it - I’ve been that person at security slowing down the queue as I remove my wedge heels and multiple bangles.

However, I’ve learnt the hard way that if you’re gonna be on that plane for a significant amount of time, you have to prioritise comfort. Now my go to long haul flight outfit is a pair of tracksuit bottoms (size up for any on board bloating!), a tshirt and a big chunky cardigan. Basically, as close as I can get to wearing PJs in public! I might not look oh so stylish, but it makes the journey so much more comfortable.

3) Stock up on snacks and water

One of my biggest bugbears about flying long haul is that they never provide you with enough water! Flying can be so dehydrating for your body, and not drinking enough water can make your jet lag even worse. For that reason I always like to make sure I’ve bought a couple of bottles in the airport before boarding - that way I can stay hydrated during those hours when there isn’t an at seat service.

Same goes for snacks - you never know what the quality of the plane food is going to be like until it’s too late, so I always make sure I’ve got a couple of snacks in my bag just in case. Plus, don’t forget the sweets for take off and landing!

4) Think about your inflight entertainment

It’s a given that when you have to sit in one spot for 9 or 10 hours you run the risk of getting a little bit bored, so pre-planning your inflight entertainment is an essential in my eyes! Chances are that there will be some form of entertainment provided by the airline, but in my experience the choices seem to be getting worse as the years go on.

Instead I always make sure I’ve got enough with me to keep me occupied, and then anything else is a bonus. Make sure you’ve downloaded podcasts and playlists in advance, and think about what you might like to read too. I always like to have a physical book or magazine with me as well as my Kindle, as you can’t use electronic devices during take off or landing.

5) Take two bags on board

One of my top tips for flying long haul is to take two bags on board with you - one to put in the overhead locker, and one crammed with all of your in flight essentials that you can put under the seat in front of you. I know not every airline allows this, but in my experience, baggage allowance for long haul flights are usually a lot more generous.

Having all of your essentials close to hand will make your flight experience so much better - there’s nothing worse than having to interrupt your fellow passengers every couple of hours while you reach into the overhead locker,

6) Add your own bit of luxury

Unless I win the lottery (which I don’t actually play, so good luck with that one!), it’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever make it into business or first class, so I like to add my own bit of luxury to any flight! I always take a few things on board to make the flight more comfortable in some way and it really does make a big difference.

Some of my must haves are a decent neck pillow, a sheet mask (you might terrify your fellow passengers a little bit, but they really help with the dry skin situ), a really nice hand cream and a pair of fluffy socks.

What are your top tips for flying long haul? Do you do any of the above?

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