Long haul journeys can be a nightmare. The cramped leg room, the annoying snoring passenger beside you, crying babies and relentless boredom… the list goes on. But you don’t need to be in first class to fly in style, whether you’re flying to Europe, Asia or anywhere in between, check out my travelling tips below and you’ll be well on your way to cloud nine.
- Invest in one of those Stupid Neck Pillows
I know, I know – they’re ridiculous and only old people seem to use them, but you know what’s more ridiculous? Waking up with a stiff neck from falling asleep leaning on your hand (a hand which incidentally, takes the rest of the flight to wake up). Bite the bullet, you may feel silly but there’s no feeling like the smugness that comes with dozing off on a comfy pillow when everyone around you is doing that awkward half asleep nodding or hitting their heads against the window when you hit turbulence. Trust me on this one, it’s worth its weight in gold.
- Bring a Travel Kit
While you need to be wary of airline restrictions on liquid (boo you terrorism), bringing a make-up bag or wash kit in your hand luggage can make your journey much more bearable. Flying dehydrates you and the changes in temperature can chap your lips and dry out your skin, and so since you can’t shower in the sky, bringing a toothbrush, deodorant and lip balm can transform you from gross to chic in a few minutes. Shops like Boots and Primark sell travel sized moisturisers, toothpaste tubes and anti-bacterial wipes/gel etc and how much make-up you bring is up to you.
Other than hygiene essentials, eye masks are another must. While on my latest journey I used the airline’s own, this eye mask from Urban Outfitters is really tempting my bank balance. Bringing noise reducing headphones can be helpful too, but ear plugs (while not very glamourous) are the cheaper and more feasible option. Check out my travelling wish list below:
- Pack Light
Hand luggage wise, only bring what you need to bring. Long haul flights tend to be pretty generous with their baggage limits so there’s little reason to drag a super heavy suitcase through departures. Even if you don’t need to make a connecting flight, airports have this lovely habit of having the gate you need a 15 minute walk away, so save your legs a little work and leave the heavy lifting to the airport staff.
- Bring Entertainment
It is a fact of life that one minute in earth time feels like two hours on a plane, so making those hours pass without falling into a pit of boredom or restlessness is vital. I’m a strong believer in bringing a book with you everywhere you go, and when you fly it’s no different. Given that at least an hour of the flight will be spent without the use of electronics, you should ditch the kindle and keep it old school with a book.
Depending on who you fly with, inflight entertainment can actually be really good. I recently flew with Turkish Airlines and got to watch Mad Max, Ant-Man and even got to drool over kit Harrington in Pompeii for 2 hours. That being said, good inflight entertainment is not a guarantee, so be sure to stock up your tablet with films and games and keep an eye out for the free magazines and newspapers available around your gate or as you board. I may be alone in this, but I actually really enjoy reading the airline’s magazines sometimes, they’re great for photos and inspiration for your next trip!
- Bring Snacks
While this is a philosophy nan’s have known for generations, bringing snacks with you when you fly can save you a lot of dollar and time. Most long haul flights have complementary meals but they vary in quality, even within an airline. Flying back from Doha I was presented with a breakfast at 4am that threw me straight into an existentialist crisis.
Now the rest of the meals on my journey were surprisingly great, and here lies the problem. I allowed my airplane food expectations to rise after three successful meals. I anticipated too much, I flew too close to the sun and fell down to earth with a thud. So, moral of the story, bring some crisps or something.
Like previously mentioned, flying can dehydrate you so bring water with you as well. If not, the flight attendant can give water away for free, so just ask! Avoid coffee and try drinking decaffeinated drinks like green tea, which has been shown to help with jetlag.
- Dress Comfily
Now, your outfit can make or break a journey. Not because of the paparazzi rinsing you once you get off the plane, but because wearing tight or uncomfortable clothing will bring you nothing but pain. It is what purgatory must feel like. You often hear people saying that if you dress smartly you are more likely to receive an upgrade, but in all likelihood, you’ll have to stay in economy with the rest of us. I’d recommend leggings or jeans and a sweater for the ladies, gents and all the people in between. Also – sorry to sound like your Granny – but wear sensible shoes. Stilettoes may make an instagrammable picture but they’re pretty impractical when it comes to getting to your gate. Also, as a personal plea, if you’re going to take off your shoes please be wearing clean socks (and never, ever go barefoot or you will make others suffer the way I suffered recently).
- Wear Layers
Temperatures can change quite drastically throughout your journey so rather than sticking to a T-shirt and heavy jacket, wear multiple layers and you can strip off or cover up at your leisure. Scarves are always a good accessory too as they can act as a blanket or make shift pillow. This 15-in-1 jacket by Baubax should be a favourite for any frequent flyer and/or general adventurer, I’m definitely putting it on my Christmas list.
- Be Aware
Be conscious not just of the clothing requirements of your final destination, but of any stops or transfers you need to make in between. When I flew to Thailand we stopped in New Delhi and me, being a white girl with bright blonde hair, realised quite quickly that I wasn’t dressed appropriately and swiftly fished my jumper out of my bag to cover up. You should always consider the customs and values (and weather) of any place you’re in, even if it is just for a few hours. Being respectful is much better than feeling out of place.
- Make a Travelling Playlist
For me, having a good travelling playlist is vital to making the most out of any journey. I quite like long haul journeys (mainly because they always lead to somewhere cool) but creating the perfect soundtrack to your trip is the first step to having an awesome time once you get there. After all, who doesn’t love staring out of a bus window and feeling like you’re in a music video?
- Need Extra Hand Luggage?
Here’s one final extra trick you can use on any flight, but especially those who only give you one designated cabin bag. It’s simple: pack an extra smallish bag and carry it with you through customs (since they don’t care how much baggage you have), then once in go to duty free and buy something (can be anything, or even just take a plastic bag) place your forbidden bag within your duty free one and hey presto – more baggage.
So there you have it, my long haul lifesavers. It’s like what Buddha (or someone) said, life is all about the journey. Quite often it’ll be one of the few days a year you are completely disconnected from work, family and the outside world. So why not dedicate this little slice of solitude to doing something special? Bring your favourite films and books, gorge yourself on your favourite snacks or simply dose up on sleeping pills and get some shut eye, it’s up to you – you are on holiday after all.
Do you have any travelling tips or nightmare journeys? Let me know in the comments section below!