It’s that time of year again: rooms are packed up, exams are over, results are looming and we all want to escape not-so-sunny Southampton to somewhere a little more exotic.
If you’re lucky enough to beg/borrow/steal your way onto a flight that’s outside of the £20 return on easyJet to a Greek island, we’ve come up with some tips to help you survive your long-haul flight this summer.
- Book quiet flights and avoid family routes
When you’re booking, avoid going on a flight that’s during school holidays; they’re cheaper and you’ll have fewer screaming kids.
2. Try and upgrade
Of course it’s a long shot, but there’s no harm in trying. Want the odds in your favour? Travel alone, turn up early, and look smart.
3. Ask about seats
Failing not getting an upgrade, ask about seats – you may be able to get a row all to yourself if the flight’s not too busy.
4. Use Seat Guru
Seat Guru is a website from TripAdvisor which will show the layout of your plane and the best seats to pick (and where the most legroom is).
5. Avoid jet lag
If you’re flying transatlantic or to South East Asia you’re probably going to get jet lag. But there are ways to reduce it. In the words of Frank Turner: “I’ve heard it said the trick, is to set your watch when you hit the plane”. As soon as you board tell yourself it’s the time of your final destination and try and sleep accordingly.
This is two-fold. Step one: drink lots and lots of water (also try and get an aisle seat; more water = more peeing). This will keep you healthy, alert and hydrated. Step two: moisturise. Different things work for different people, but some essentials to take are:
- Hydrating oil or moisturiser (my personal favourite is Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream, an absolute godsend on long flights; it’s expensive (£15 for 30ml) but so worth it).
- Make-up or baby wipes – for hydrating and keeping fresh
- Water or hydration spray
7. Get yourself some decent headphones
Increasingly, airlines are not providing earphones, and when they do they’re uncomfortable. Plus, noise-cancelling headphones will be really appreciated.
8. Download all of the things.
Flights now often have ports for chargers; if not, go with a charged-up laptop or tablet and watch away. The perfect excuse to binge-watch that series you’ve been meaning to catch up on.
9. Charge charge charge
On that note, charge up before you get on the flight; you don’t want your laptop to die halfway through the season finale of Daredevil.
10. Sleep mask
Bit of a no brainer really; if you want to kip you need this.
11. Work work work work work work
If you’re as uptight a workaholic as me, then pre-arrange some offline work to get done before you leave. Work that spreadsheet, research proposal, problem set, or essay. It will make the time fly by and you won’t have Facebook to distract.
12. Pack light
Anything for the extra legroom!
13. Sleep… but travel well-rested
If you can sleep on a plane, it’s a great way to pass the time. It can be tempting to stay up and exhaust so you can sleep on the plane – don’t. The quality of sleep you’ll get on a plane is not good, and if you can’t sleep you’ll feel terrible when you get to your final destination.
14. Get drunk
Booze is normally free on a long-haul flight; a drink or two can help you sleep.
15. Don’t get drunk
Equally, alcohol isn’t for everyone, especially if you’re prone to deep vein thrombosis (being on the pill can make you more prone to DVT). Plus, you don’t want to get sick.
16. Bring a neck pillow
17. Dress right
Be comfy; you’re not trying to impress anyone (unless you’re trying to get upgraded). Travel in a onesie if you want to.
18. Get up and stretch
Walk around, go to the toilet. Don’t stay stationary for hours on end or your body won’t thank you at your final destination.
19. Stay healthy
As much as crisps, peanuts, chocolate, and pretzels are tempting (and often free) on flights, it’s best to avoid refined processed foods like this.
It’s better to take things like nuts (unsalted), fruit (fresh or dried), trail mix, natural cereal bars, whole-grain salads (they won’t wilt, unlike green salads). If you want a treat, opt for something not too salty or sugary as that will just dehydrate you out more. Dark chocolate is a great treat.
20. Stay hygienic
All about that antibacterial hand gel life.
21. Get creative
Take the time to unwind; write a poem, use a colouring book, practice mindfulness.
22. Be nice to the staff and your fellow passengers
Being nice to staff can really go in your favour. Being nice to fellow passengers is just common decency (and common sense; you’re stuck in a tube with these people for hours).
23. Pack the following in your hand luggage
- Long socks (good for circulation)
- A scarf/jumper/blanket (or something that can double up), as air con is often high!
- Ear plugs
- Noise-cancelling headphones
- Eye mask
- Water bottle (buy it once you’ve gone through security)
- Healthy snacks (see above)
- Toothbrush & toothpaste; it will really help you feel fresh
- Whatever you’re entertaining yourself with
- Face wipes/baby wipes
- Lip balm