How to survive a long-haul flight

By  Claire Rorke

In this day and age it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t faced the hardships of the dreaded long-haul flight. Whether you’ll be sipping Mai Tais on the sands of Phuket, trekking through the rocky terrain of Machu Picchu, or shaking hands in Hong Kong, the least glamorous part of travelling is, frankly, the actual act of travelling itself. But it doesn’t have to be. We spoke to 10 long-haul flyers and compiled their best tips for to help make air travel a breeze.

1. Come comfortable

Haven’t you heard? Loungewear is the new activewear! It’s probably the easiest tip you’ll ever receive, but snuggling up in comfy clothes means the plane A/C won’t get to you, and it’ll increase your chances of getting that well-needed shut-eye. “For me personally, it’s all about comfort and being as relaxed as possible,” says Yumi, a Chinese-Australian student who frequently travels to visit family. She recommends bringing a travel pillow because, as we all know, there’s nothing worse than a stiff neck on a flight. Olivia, a property construction cadet often travelling for business and leisure, agrees. “Comfy pants are key, and I wear socks to keep my feet warm so I can slip my shoes off,” she says. Combine a supportive pillow, warm, loose clothing and comfortable socks to achieve maximum plane tranquillity.

2. Switch up your entertainment

While it’s obvious that the best way to pass time is by keeping yourself entertained, it can become extremely tedious staring at the same screen for hours and hours. “Variety means if you are sick of the movies, you don’t sit there watching the clock,” Bec, a student who tries to do a big overseas trip at least two times a year, recommends bringing along varied sources of entertainment. “Pack a couple of things to keep you entertained, magazines, crosswords, puzzles, even Uni work,” she says. Noah, a student who has just returned from exchange in England believes preparing for your different moods over the course of the flight is a great way to stay entertained. “I take a range of reading for different moods, for example a magazine versus a novel.” When packing your carry-on, make sure to include a few good reads, download some different apps and your favourite music and pack that study you’ve been putting off – you may as well make the most of all that time!

3. Drink up

When asking our flyers about their tips for surviving those gruelling flights, every one of them emphasised the importance of staying hydrated. “Between the plane Air Conditioning and all that germ circulation it’s so easy to get sick,” says Sophie a recent graduate who often travels to visit her dad living in Dubai. “The best way to fight illness and get off the plane in the best condition is to drink as much water as possible.” Take a refillable drink bottle to ensure you get enough H2O. Make sure it’s empty so it’s passed at customs, and once you’re through you can fill it up. When on the plane, ask the Air Hostess to refill it so you can avoid those meagre cups of water that’ll leave you thirsty.

4. Stay Fresh

Feeling clean and fresh is the answer to being comfortable when winding down, and also when getting revitalised for landing. Serena, a student who has just returned from an immersion program in Cambodia says, “When sitting and doing nothing for so long I feel so much better after a good cleanse,” she thinks the easiest way to getting that refresher is cleaning your teeth. “A toothbrush and toothpaste in your carry on is a must-have.” Packing hygiene tools can get heavy and create unnecessary clutter. Erin, a recent high-school graduate currently volunteering in Vietnam recommends minis. “Packing minis – cleanser, tooth paste, moisturiser, means you can feel fresh and clean without all the bulk.” Pro-tip: Put your minis in a zip-lock bag so when going through customs, immigration doesn’t have to go through all your belongings when checking your liquids. Bonus: Minis means nothing over 100mL!

5. Set your body clock

A crucial thing to consider when really mastering the art of long-haul flights is timing. Adapting your body clock to fit your travel destination ensures a seamless voyage and reduces contracting the dreaded jet lag. Martin, a young businessman whose work often takes him to America, recommends booking your flight based on arrival time. “Depending on where you are going, book night or day flights so you can arrive and adapt easier.” Aim to land in the morning or in the evening so you can do your best to adapt to the local surroundings by either going about your day, or trying your best to sleep. Serena agrees, “As soon as you get on the plane workout the current time at your destination and either sleep or stay awake according to that time zone – it’s the best cure for jetlag.”

6. Get up

All that sitting is not good for your blood flow or your sanity – get up and moving to avoid stiffness and swelling, while also breaking up the time. Running his own business for over twenty years now, Hayden is no stranger when it comes to long-haul flights. “The best thing to do is get up and stretch,” he says, “Make sure you do every so often to get the blood flowing through your body.” Being in a compressed cabin for so long your legs and feet are at risk of swelling so even foot exercises at your seat is a good way to induce blood flow. Katja, a student who travels often for leisure and to visit family overseas, uses movement to combat restlessness, “If I can’t sleep I like to do walks around the plane every one or two hours.” She believes while movement is the best way to improve blood flow it also breaks up the time, “It’s a nice scenery change and keeps you busy for a few minutes.” Being on a flight doesn’t mean the seatbelt sign is always on; give those legs a well-deserved stretch!

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