How to Survive a Long-Haul Flight

I’m no stranger to travelling, and living in Australia makes it hard to fly overseas without taking a flight less than 8 hours long. Over the years, I’ve learned to perfect the art of travelling long distances without feeling like a greasy, bloated, smelly monster when I disembark on the other side. Here are my best tips and tricks.

Skincare

I never bothered with in-flight skincare until a couple of years ago, and it has totally changed the way I travel. Before I leave for a trip, I pick up a couple of travel-sized moisturisers, face wipes, and sometimes (if I’m feeling extra boujee) a tiny bottle of hydrating mist. My favourites at the moment are from the Essano SuperFoods range – they’re made of natural, organic ingredients and the sample pack is perfect for travelling. I try to clean and moisturise my face throughout my flight—before I sleep, when I wake up, and at the end of my flight before landing. I also make sure to throw a small bottle of hand sanitiser and hand cream in my carry-on. It’s a super easy way to feel clean and refreshed throughout your entire flight.

Know the do-s and don’t-s of eating and drinking

It’s super tempting to take advantage of the free food and drink offered on your flight, but don’t give into the temptation too easily—think carefully about what you put in your body on a long-haul flight. There’s nothing wrong with a coffee or a glass of wine, but over-indulging in caffeine and/or alcohol will only serve to dehydrate you, make you feel groggy, and make it harder for your body to fight jet-lag once you arrive at your destination. Drink as much water as possible and try to keep alcohol and caffeine to a minimum.

If you’re not a huge fan of plane food (who is?) and you’re planning to pack snacks, try to stick to protein-filled foods like protein bars or peanut butter sandwiches that will keep you fuller for longer. As I’m a vegetarian and my in-flight breakfast options generally consist of either some type of meat or a couple of measly pieces of fruit, I generally try to pack my own meals. As well as a homemade sandwich, I often carry protein bars onboard with me and I also like to throw in a cup of instant oatmeal; then I just ask the flight attendant for a cup of hot water to cook my oats instead of breakfast. But if you’re planning to take your snacks off your flight and into the country you’re visiting, make sure you read up on that country’s customs restrictions first!

Don’t forget that you can special-order your meals to fit your dietary restrictions—there are tons of options: vegetarian, vegan, kosher, halal, and heaps more. A perk of this is that special meals come out before the normal meals, which allows you to get your mealtime over with and fall asleep earlier.

Zzz

I always hear people say, “I just can’t sleep on planes!”. False. Everyone can sleep on planes. If you think you can’t fall asleep on a plane, you’re probably just taking the wrong approach. Sleeping on a plane is exactly the same as sleeping anywhere else, except probably just a little less comfortable. Stay away from caffeine if you want to try to get some sleep on your flight (obviously); try drinking something more calming instead, like decaffeinated green tea, or just hot water or milk. Make sure you have an eye mask and ear plugs if you need total darkness and silence to sleep. Wear comfy clothes and pack an extra sweatshirt or scarf in case the airplane is cold. Be mindful of the music you’re listening to before you sleep (maybe upbeat pop or rap isn’t the best option) and try to limit how much you’re looking at a screen pre-sleep (try reading a book or listening to one of those 1,000 podcasts you always said you’d listen to but never did). Take a sleeping pill if need be! Most airlines will provide a pillow for you to sleep on—I suggest bringing your own pillow or neck pillow anyway. This way, you can put the provided pillow behind your lower back to keep back pain at bay, while not having to compromise your sleeping comfort. Most flights will adhere to the time zone of wherever you’re flying to, but if they don’t, you should anyway. Try to sleep when it’s nighttime in your destination; this will help you stave off the jet lag a little.

BYO power

Always, always, always bring a spare power pack as well as your chargers. You never know when something you need is going to die unexpectedly and this can be stressful if you’re on a flight with no other way of charging your device. PS—as a general travel trip, DON’T FORGET to pack power converters! They’re an obvious essential when travelling but are also super easy to accidentally leave out in your night-before packing rush.

Be realistic

I think most people who’ve travelled can relate to having a “holiday self”—basically a version of yourself that you hope to magically turn into once you leave for a holiday. My holiday self is suuuuper chill, way more spontaneous than anyone you’ve met before, and has tons of time to read tons of books. Holiday Monique prompts Real Monique to pack way too many books in my suitcase and tempts Real Monique to leave hotel bookings and holiday activities to chance and spontaneity. Realistically, though, I’m going to get stressed if I haven’t planned my trip. I’m relatively spontaneous, but still like to book things ahead and not leave too much to chance. I love to read, but I know that I’m not going to be sitting down with a book my whole trip.

Make sure you’re being realistic with the things you’re bringing on your trip; this includes in your carry on. Do you need more than one box of crackers? Are you actually going to read 3 whole books on your 10-hour flight? You don’t want to get stuck with a bulky, heavy carry-on when you’re not even going to be using half the stuff inside it,

Bring a change of clothes

Okay, I know that most normal, grown people don’t tend to spill stuff all over themselves while eating or drinking, and I know that you’re most likely not going to sweat through all your clothes. BUT you never know what might happen while you’re travelling. I once had a flight attendant spill a cup of hot tea all over me when we hit turbulence and I couldn’t do anything except dab at it with the 2 paper napkins he dropped in my lap before moving further down the aisle. Situations like these are why you should bring at least a spare t-shirt. I always bring an entire change of clothes—t-shirt, pants, undies, socks, the lot. I feel SO much fresher (and less stinky) if I can change my outfit toward the end of my flight.

I’m not a total expert on travel, I’ll admit. But I’ve definitely taken quite a few flights in my day and I’d like to think I know what I’m talking about. So follow my advice, or don’t. Be smelly and greasy with gross skin and raging jet lag. That’s your call.

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