Whether you’re a seasoned long hauler or you’re excitedly preparing for your very first long haul holiday, these travel tips will help even the most jaded traveller survive that 14-hour flight.
I know, I know, I can almost hear you rolling your eyes at me but drinking water is essential! Not only will this little miracle drink stop you resembling a shedding snake as you rush through security with your parched skin, avoiding eye contact with anyone and everyone, but it will also help prevent muscle discomfort – an added bonus when you’re cramped in a confined space for so many hours.
2. BRING WET WIPES
Planes are known as a great big party house for germs. We all know someone who at some point has stepped off of their plane and not long after has become a snivelling, sneezing, big ball of ugh. Try to decrease your chances of catching a strangers virus by carrying some antibacterial wipes in your hand luggage. Give your seat arms/tray/remote control a quick wipe before take off then use them before you eat throughout the flight. They also have the added bonus of not using up any of your liquid allowance, unlike hand sanitiser.
3. DRESS COMFORTABLY
Along with my hydrate point, this seems like another obvious one. However, I, along with many other women, have fallen foul of wanting to dress up and look good while travelling. I wore heels on a four hour flight to Gran Canaria and made the rookie mistake of taking them off during the flight. I hobbled off of that plane and through the airport like a ninety year old woman. Grab yourself a pair of cute ballet pumps or comfortable trainers, it’s much more sensible than four-inch heels.
Also, those skinny jeans that you think look stylish and will give you an air of cool as you strut through the airport? Don’t. Just, don’t. There are dozens of quality jeggings out there now that don’t strangle your knees and won’t have you desperately unbuttoning during the flight as the bloat sets in.
4. LIMIT YOUR ALCOHOL INTAKE
I realise that this won’t be a popular suggestion but drinking glass after glass of wine or beer will not only dehydrate you further to assist that post-flight dry skin you so desperately want to avoid but can also compromise your immune system. Remember those germs that you’ve tried so hard to wet-wipe away? Do yourself a favour and don’t treat your flight like a Saturday night out with your besties.
5. INFLATABLE FLIGHT PILLOW AND EYE MASK
You’re never going to look particularly glamorous when trying to sleep on a plane, doing your body a favour in relation to change of time zones, but using an inflatable flight pillow and eye mask will definitely increase your chances of catching some zzz’s in an alien environment for your body. Plus, if you go for an inflatable flight pillow, it will easily slip back into your hand luggage taking up a LOT less room than the squishy kind (technical term there 😉 ).
6. CHOOSE YOUR SEATS WITH CARE
The front rows of a plane are the dream, right? Especially in economy or premium economy, where there is a 100% guarantee that no one will recline on you thus destroying your in-flight movie/snacking experience. I have two tips here, both a positive and slightly negative.
1 – Although the guarantee of extra leg room and no one in front of you is very appealing, it is also likely to be where parents with very young children/potentially very upset babies will sit given the proximity to changing areas. So consider this and maybe just sit near the back.
2 – If you really do want/need that guarantee of no one being in front of you and you’re desperately trying to reserve that seat asap, chances are you’ll notice some pesky family have beaten you to it. However, this probably isn’t the case. Airlines will block these seats out to give families with the aforementioned young children/babies first refusal but if no one reserves these seats before the free for all seat reservation begins then you might get lucky! Log in to reserve your seats as soon as that 24-hour window opens before your take off and you may get your dream seats. Good luck.
7. PREPARE OR BUY HEALTHY SNACKS
Along with alcohol, sugar compromises the immune system and the salty, carby food that is usually available in-flight is only going to assist the water retention during your flight. Either come prepared or hit up the airport M&S/Boots for some healthier snacks such as cheese sticks, fruit or vegetables and dips – you get the idea. In my experience, the free healthier snacks available in-flight are always long gone (if they were indeed stocked up) by the time I get to the snacking stage.
8. AVOID A FULL FACE OF MAKE UP
For who knows how many hours you will be in a relatively confined space with zero fresh air (we hope!) and that is definitely no good for skin, so try your best to let it breathe. If you really can’t imagine leaving the house without a full face on then take some face wipes in your hand luggage, again getting around the liquids situation, and remove it at some point during the flight, then reapply just before you’re about to land. The reality is that no one will care what you look like other than you. Speaking from experience, if you travel with a face full of makeup (I travelled in a full face of MAC to San Francisco – big mistake. Huge.) then when you eventually face yourself in the mirror post-flight, you’ll realise a bare face would have been the lesser of the two evils.
9. TAKE A MOISTURISER ON BOARD
Once you’re into your flight, remove your makeup/your early morning face products, and moisturise your skin as best you can. Drink that water, apply some serum/oil then moisturiser. Or at the very least, apply some thick moisturiser. My own personal favourites include Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream and Elemis Superfood Facial Oil because my skin is dry at the best of times, let alone when I fly! However, while the above work for me, if you’re simply wanting a thick moisturiser for the sole purpose of this flight, try a night cream as they tend to be thicker. The Body Shop are great for travel size items that won’t use up your allowance leaving you plenty of leeway for the makeup that you may want to reapply before you land.
10. MOVE AROUND
If you’re drinking plenty of water, you probably won’t have a choice but to stretch those legs as you’re up and down to the toilets, but the risk of DVT is real and you want to move around on such a long flight as much as possible. It’s also recommended that you get some in-flight socks for this very reason but if you’re not a fan, make sure you move around regularly.
11. PACK AN OVERSIZED SCARF OR WARM JUMPER IN YOUR CARRY ON
While the blankets they provide are all well and good, some part of you will still remain uncovered and therefore cold. I always travel with an oversized scarf that looks both stylish for travelling, will wrap around me while on board like a great big hug, and will fold up nicely and go in my hand luggage when I land if I don’t want to wear it at my destination; which will definitely be applicable for those of you heading to sunnier climates!
12. A LIGHTWEIGHT CHANGE OF CLOTHES
Sometimes, it’s nice to freshen up before you land and a lightweight change of top and underwear is a simple yet effective way to do this. It’s also wise to pack a little extra something in case of any emergencies such as lost luggage. It’s something none of us want to think about but it does happen and nobody wants to have to head straight to the shops after a long flight! Prepare for every eventuality is my advice and roll up a couple of extra bits – they won’t take up that much room and if the worst does happen, you’ll be thankful that you took this advice.
All of the above are just a few things that I’ve learnt over the years when flying long haul. What are your top tips? I’d love to hear from you.