In It For The Long Haul
Updated: Apr 6, 2020
I’m sat writing this post on my flight back from San Francisco to London. It’s a long-ish flight (10 hours) and I overheard a fellow passenger saying how much they hate flying, how boring and uncomfortable it is.
In times gone by I would have completely agreed, but over the years I’ve found little tricks to help the flight fly by - literally!
I thought I’d share my best tips on surviving long haul flights without having to disembark the plane feeling like you haven’t slept in about a week.
1. Dress well
There's nothing worse than being cold or uncomfortable for hours on end (I tend to get cold on planes). My go to travel outfit is usually legging trousers, a loose fitting tank top/t-shirt and trainers. Then I also carry a jumper, coat and scarf for extra layers too. Often the temperatures at your departure and arrival destinations won’t be the same, so dress for both and pack extra layers or a change of clothes in your hand luggage if necessary. I also like to bring a super comfy pair of cashmere socks to slip on once we’ve taken off.
2. Bring entertainment
Most airlines have on board entertainment, but we’ve found it can be really hit and miss, so don’t rely on it. Make sure you’ve got music, movies and books downloaded on your electronic devices as back up. I never travel without my kindle, it’s the ideal size to tuck into hand luggage.
Also make sure everything is charged up, as even in this modern day many aircrafts still don’t have charging points.
3. Catch some zzz’s
If you’re on a long flight you’ll want to sleep as much as you can so you’re not a zombie when you get to wherever you’re going. I wrote about my sleeping tips in this post and many are the same when airborne. I always bring a lavender essential oil roller, eye mask and eye cream.
4. Stay hydrated
It’s so so easy to get dry and dehydrated at altitude. Drink lots of water and slather on that moisturiser! I take my make up off pretty much straight after boarding and apply lots of this to keep my skin dewy and refreshed. On an overnight flight I also like to use a sheet mask when I wake up for extra hydration (just don’t scare the other passengers!), and this balm is great for lips/any dry patches of skin.
5. Stay off the sauce
It can be really tempting to hit the bar cart a little too hard, especially if you’re celebrating the beginning of a big trip, but it only ends in regret. You’ll have a massive headache a few hours in and end up with an even dryer mouth. Have a couple, but don’t go overboard.
6. Lounge about
If you fly frequently make sure you know all the lounge options that are available to you, especially if you have a long connection. Even if you don’t have frequent flyer status, most airports have a lounge you can pay a small fee for access to. If you’ve got a long gap between flights, sometimes a shower and a hot meal is exactly what you need to feel fresh for your next flight. On some of our longer travels (sometimes 30 - 35 hours catching different types of transport and flights) that shower in the lounge is about all that has kept me going. If you’re flying with British Airways they even offer Elemis treatments in their Heathrow Lounge!
7. Keep your head in the clouds
Some of the best views I’ve ever had have been from a plane window. When we were flying out to California we had the most incredible view of glaciers and icebergs off the coast of Greenland. I honestly just sat and daydreamed whilst looking out the window for about an hour.
8. Pack the essentials
There’s nothing worse than being stuck 37,000 feet in the air wishing you’d packed your lip balm or headache tablets. I have a little zip wallet with everything I need for flying/travelling so I can just grab it and go. It has lip balm, face wipes, paracetamol, buscopan, earphones, a phone charger and travel battery pack, tissues, chewing gum, earplugs, an eye mask, an inflatable neck pillow and a moisturising serum.
9. Keep moving
It’s easy to want to just stay in your seat for the duration of a journey, but you’re much more at risk of deep vein thrombosis and other health issues if you do. Wander up and down the aisle every now and again and make sure you do a few leg exercises and flexes every half hour to keep the blood flowing. If you really suffer invest in some compression/flight stockings.
10. Pick your seats wisely
We reserve our seats as soon as we can. Have a look at the aircraft and pick the best option. In economy there’s often a few rows of just two seats near the back on each side, perfect if you’re travelling as a couple and they often have a bit more space to the side. If you’re lucky enough to be flying business have a look if the seats on each side of the plane have more storage and space than those in the middle, they often do.
Relax and enjoy!
Travelling the world, to me, is the greatest privilege. I love the excited flutter I get when taking off to a new destination and try to view a long flight as an opportunity to catch up on any films, shows or podcasts I’ve been wanting to get around to. How many times have you wished you had a few hours to yourself to chill, well here you are!