The first battle in surviving any long haul flight is the seat. Choose a good seat and you are halfway to having a great flight…the other half is landing safely. To do this you need to figure out what kind of flier you want to be. I am a short girl, which doesn’t have a ton of advantages, but one is definitely that I have tons of leg room on every flight. If you aren’t a 154cm and need a bit more leg room, try for an exit row seat. While the exit row seats do tend to cost a bit more, if you are of the taller persuasion, it is worth it.
Next you have to decide what you want to do on this flight. Want to try and sleep or work uninterrupted? A window seat is the way to go. I prefer them mostly because I have the bladder of a camel and I don’t like getting up because other people have to use the toilets. If you are one of those people who is constantly needing the facilities, please get an aisle seat. It lowers the guilt factor on having to wake someone else up when you need to go and is just more convenient.
If you can’t afford to get premium economy of business class, try upgrading just one way. As a budget traveller, I know the stress of spending money on upgrading a flight, but if you can, DO IT!! More leg room, wider seats, less feeling like a sardine….all this is conducive to a more pleasant flying experience. Plus you always have the option of asking for a free upgrade at check in. Airlines are rarely giving them away now, with all the overbooking of flights, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. The worst they can say is no.
There are not many people who are content going 8 hours without food, and instead of getting h-angry, go prepared. I always take a bag of nuts, raisins, chocolate….just a general trail mix of deliciousness. This serves two purposes, the first is keeping me occupied until the snack cart comes around, and second it tides me over till landing if I am not a fan of the in-flight meal.
Pick snacks that help you stay full longer, like nuts, or dried fruit and avoid snacks that take up a lot of room for little reward, like bags of chips (who wants to waste room carrying a half bag of air in your carry on?).
If you are travelling on a budget airline, check beforehand if they provide a meal. If not, pick something up from the airport before you board. Although airports are more expensive, they are cheaper than in flight purchases. Even grabbing a soft drink can save you a couple of bucks.
I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t HATE using the airplane bathrooms. They are usually cramped, not overly clean and generally unpleasant. When using airplane bathrooms, try avoiding busy time likes just after a meal or just before the plane lands. You will have to queue up and there will be no time to let the smell dissipate before you need to step in.
I bring a few wet wipes with me to wipe down the seat, taps and handles for the sake of my own sanity. I also bring a carry on
size bottle body mist of air freshener for a little spritz in the bathroom before and after I use the facilities. Finally, I make sure I try to leave the place as neat as possible for the next occupant. I throw my garbage out in the bins provided, try not to splash water everywhere and make sure the toilet is flushed.
Always, always, always dress comfortable for a flight. I can not stress this point enough. There is nothing worse than being uncomfortable due to restrictive clothing, mostly because it is avoidable. Lay off the jewellery, keep the high heels at home, opt for the sweatpants instead of skinny jeans. Go for light layers, as the air on a flight can vary, with a bit too much heat at some times and blasting AC at others.
Drink all of the water. I know it is tempting to drink a copious amount of free booze (depending on the airline you go with) but this will leave you feeling sick, tired and jet lagged. Even the complimentary tea, coffee and soft drinks aren’t as good as they seem. Filled with caffeine or sugar, drinking this isn’t going to help you feel any better. Water is the way to go. Every time I drink tons of water on the flight I always deplane feeling fresh, well rested and zero jetlag.
It is difficult to sleep in the best of circumstances, but sleeping on long haul flights is hard. Normally I don’t carry around eye masks, neck pillows and ear plugs because they are bulky, take up tons of room and I can’t use them every day; but long haul flights is the exception to the rule.
Supplements and prescriptions are a bit more difficult. Always try any supplements and pills for a few nights before your flight to make sure you react well to them. I have seen people who take prescription sleeping pills on flights for the first time only to find out they keep them wide awake.
Once, I let my ipod (circa 2010) die because there was supposed to be an entertainment unit in the headrest for my 15 hour flight. The headrest entertainment unit was broken and I was left to watching lint float through the air for 15 hours and I promised myself, NEVER AGAIN! Always take some sort of personal entertainment onto a flight…laptop, cell phone loaded with shows or games, e-reader, something or anything to keep you occupied for a few hours, even if there is going to be on board entertainment.
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