Long-haul flight survival tips

How many of us have booked a long-haul flight thinking that the excitement of reaching our exotic destination will help us survive a 10- 12- or even 14-hour flight? 

And how many of us have found this isn’t the case at all? Okay, so the first couple of hours is fine, the excitement mounts, but then the novelty wears off and the reality of sitting cramped into a tiny seat for the best part of a day begins to sink in.

If you’ve booked a long-haul flight this year then check out tips for enduring the journey, and with any luck, you’ll arrive, not feeling like you need a holiday, but actually that you’re holiday has already begun!

  • Eat Light
    For many of us, the holiday begins once we arrive at the airport. After a quick wizz though duty free, we head off to one of the restaurants for a celebratory meal, but if you’ve a long flight ahead of you, it’s advisable to eat a light meal. Feeling bloated because you’ve over indulged will make for a very uncomfortable flight. Especially considering you won’t be able to get up and walk around the cabin until well after takeoff.
  • Sleep Aids
    Before you travel, stock up on sleep aids:
    • Invest in a good quality neck pillow, one that is filled with ‘beans’ rather than an inflatable and covered in a soft velour-type fabric - it will take up a bit more space in your hand luggage than an inflatable one, but it will be well worth it
    • Eye mask - these really do cut out cabin light and can help aid sleep
    • Blanket – fold, or roll, up a small blanket into your hand luggage to keep you warm on the plane. Alternatively, take big cardigan, pashmina or even a woolly poncho that can double as a blanket.
  • In-flight Entertainment
    Most long-haul flights should have a good choice of recent movies and radio/music stations. However, given the wide range of ages onboard, the movies tend to be ‘family favourites’. So, in advance of travel:
    • Download your favourite films, TV shows etc. onto your electronic devices
    • Take a book or two with you, but to save on hand luggage space, invest in a reading device, such as a Kindle, and download sufficient books to last for your entire holiday
    • Load your favourite music onto your phone – but don’t forget to pack your earphones.
  • Clothing
    When you’re squashed into a small seat for 10 or more hours, you need to be comfy. So while it’s not suggested that you put on your PJs, you need to wear comfortable clothing. 

    If the thought of arriving at the airport in your scruffy slacks brings you out in a cold sweat, then simply get changed just before you board. Nip into the toilets on-route to your Boarding Gate.
  • Water
    Try to drink water, not alcohol when flying. Because of the high altitude, alcohol will dehydrate you much quicker and will mean you’re more likely to feel sluggish, or even suffer hangover-type affects, during and after the flight. 

    Also, to make sure you are well hydrated at the start of the flight, buy a bottle or two of water in the departure lounge.
  • Snacks
    Contrary to popular belief, you can take snacks onboard an aircraft.  So long as liquid based foods – yoghurts, soups etc – do not exceed 100ml.  Packing some snacks, the healthier the better, will help pass the time and ease the hunger if meals times are different to what you are used to.

    Nuts, dried fruits, dark chocolate and seeds will give you a good energy boost, as well as being delicious, making them perfect for a in-flight snack.
  • Toiletries
    Don’t pack all your toiletries in your main hold luggage; pack some in your hand luggage, so that you can freshen up an hour or so before landing.
    • Pack a toothbrush and some toothpaste – be sure to adhere to the 100ml liquid rule  
    • Face wipes – a small travelpack to freshen up not only your face but your body too
    • Moisturiser – the air conditioning units on an aircraft are renowned for drying out your skin
    • Make up – ladies, remember to pack your bare essentials in your hand luggage.