Undoubtedly the worst part of any holiday is the part where you have to actually get yourself there. No-one likes long car trips (unless there’s amazing music you can sing to friends with a sweet road-trip vibe) and no-one likes long plane trips. Let’s face it; you can’t really get away with singing on a plane unless you’re these guys, or if you just don’t mind being incredibly annoying to everyone else on board (please, stop).
Sydney to London via Singapore is about 15,200 Km. It’s a long-haul and took about 23 hours in total.
It’s amazing how small the world seems, especially when you are 35,000 ft up in the air. The land becomes a patchwork beneath you and the clouds become their own fluffy landscape around you. And you can’t help but think about the billions of people beneath you going about their daily lives as you soar over the continents.
And then you begin to wonder; how am I going to survive being stuck in this flying capsule for 23 hours?!
When you can’t afford business class (ding ding, story of my life) and you’re crammed in between the masses of people in economy class, a long flight can drag on forever. So, here are ten tips for making the journey, that I wish I had thought of before I left!
1. Entertain Yourself
We all know that time goes by slowly when you’re bored. There’s not a lot to do on a plane except for fighting over elbow-space with the person next to you. Luckily most flights provide in-flight entertainment. We flew with Singapore Airlines, on the first leg from Sydney to Singapore we were on a slightly older Boeing 777-200. I found the movie-screen in front of me to be a bit crappy (it reflected light really badly and I could hardly see what was happening in The Scorch Trials which really bummed me out), especially compared to the one on our flight from Singapore to London in a Boeing 777-300 – which was newer and non-reflective. In saying that, both planes had a really great selection of new release movies and older movies, radio stations, tv series and some games. It’s nice to be able to sit and watch endless movies on a plane knowing you have nothing else to do – it’s like having a Netflix binge weekend but without the guilt.
If you don’t feel like staring at a screen for 23 hours, I’d recommend bringing a magazine or a great book along with you that you can really get into. At the moment I’m reading Claudia Gray’s ‘Ten Thousand Skies Above You’ (the second book in the Firebird series) and Charlotte Wood’s ‘The Natural Way of Things’. For me, time flies (no pun intended) when I’m reading an amazing book.
Don’t forget to fully charge up your iPod and load it with music before you leave. While the radio stations on the plane are pretty decent, it’s always nice to have your own playlist. Other ways you can entertain yourself include colouring in, chatting with the person next to you (if they haven’t put their headphones in yet, of course. Katie and I had a few good chats with the people next to us), writing, or even colouring in.
2. Bend… and Stretch
The truth about Economy class is that it is really, really, uncomfortable. There’s not a lot of legroom, elbowroom, or any other kind of room. Your butt is gonna get sore from sitting for so long, your legs are going to be uncomfortable, and if you’re unlucky your ankles might even swell up (try wearing compression socks to avoid this). One of the most important things you can do for your body is to get up every now and again, and stretch. When I was younger and flew with my parents, I remember being embarrassed by the funny-looking stretches they did in-flight. Now that I’m a little older, I guess you could say I understand. Take a walk up and down the aisle of the plane. If you stand near the toilets or near the emergency door at the back of the plane there will be a bit more space for you to move around and stretch your legs and de-numbify your butt cheeks (my worst fear standing near the emergency door is that I will somehow trip over and unlock it accidentally and fall out, but anyway – I’m sure you’ll be fine).
3. Optimise your Comfort Levels
So you’ve been for a walk around the plane and you’ve settle back in your seat. Even though you’ve stretched, it doesn’t feel all that great to be back in your little section of the plane knowing that you’ve still got 19 hours left. Luckily for you, you planned ahead and brought a NECK PILLOW with you. These funny little things not only provide other passengers with amusement at how silly they look around your neck, but they are actually really comfortable. So lets be honest, no-one on the flight cares how you look and most of the other passengers aren’t looking their best either. Some of them are even drooling on themselves in their sleep. So get over yourself, and use that neck-pillow that your mum bought you especially for the flight (cough, cough, mum knows best!). Your neck will thank you and you will be more likely to get some sleep. And you can even get really cute neck pillows like this awesome elephant one on Etsy.
Other things you can do to optimise your comfort level is to take your shoes off (unless your feet stink, then please refrain!!!) and just wear some nice comfy socks. Wear a scarf on board the plane which can also double as a blanket. Store your carry-on luggage in the compartments above you instead of under the seat, so that you have a little more room to stretch your legs out.
4. Bathroom Bag
Okay people, listen up! This one is really important. If you’re travelling on a plane, you need to know that you are not allowed to take bottles of liquids on-board that are more than 100 mL’s. All your liquids must be kept in a plastic bag, like a zip-lock bag or a see-through vanity bag. The good news is that most of your make-up probably comes in 20 mL bottles and you can get travel-sized containers from your local supermarket or pharmacy.
What to bring on board the plane:
- Moisturiser. Can I say it again? Moisturiser! The air conditioning on the plane is going to dry you out like crazy, and you will be grateful when you slip into the bathroom with your vanity bag and apply some moisturiser. It will help to keep you feeling fresh and will re-hyrdrate your tired skin.
- Lip balm. Same goes for your lips as for the rest of your skin – you will dry out if you don’t do something to keep it hydrated.
- Deodorant. Because there’s nothing worse than knowing that you smell bad in a confined space. You can’t take aerosols on board, so just bring a roll-on.
- A mini toothpaste and toothbrush. Some airlines (like Singapore Airlines) will supply you with these on long flights, others won’t. Keep in mind that on a long flight you are going to be having at least two meals, plus snacks. Keeping your breath fresh after eating will help increase your overall sense of in-flight freshness.
- If you feel the need to touch-up your make-up before you land, feel free to bring your foundation, eyeliner, blusher and mascara with you too.
The middle-seat sucks. You don’t have a window/wall to lean against, and you have the
most limited space to move around in. When you are booking your seat, try and get either a window seat or an aisle seat. Most airlines let you choose your seat when you book the flights online. Also, I’d recommend that you avoid sitting near the toilets – sometimes they can smell pretty bad if the lunchtime curry dish didn’t sit too well with someone. If you can, book a seat near the start of the section of seating, or near one of the emergency exits; these normally have more legroom.
Don’t forget to drink lots of water on board your flight! As I said before, the air conditioning will dry you out and you need to stay hydrated to feel better during the flight. The air hosts or hostesses will come around offering beverages, instead of opting for soft drink or coffee, go for water. It’s also a good idea to bring an empty water-bottle on board with you (or buy a water bottle once you are past customs) and ask one of the hostesses to fill it up for you.
7. What to Wear and Bring Some Spares
If you were thinking that your skinny-jeans and tight-fitting top will make a great fashion statement on your journey, think again. You might look amazing for the first few hours but you will be uncomfortable and by the end of the trip you are going to feel bedraggled anyway. Instead, opt for comfort. Loose fitting pants, like trackies, comfy leggings, or jeans that aren’t too tight, are ideal. Skirts and dresses aren’t so great; although they are loose-fitting they make it harder for you to sit comfortably. Wear a baggy shirt that is a decent length and won’t annoy you by riding up while you’re seated. Wear comfortable shoes that you can slip your feet in and out of.
Maybe you don’t want me to mention this, but bring spare underwear, socks and even a t-shirt! This will help you to keep feeling fresh. I regretted not having spare clothes on the way over to London, but on the way home I took some with me and changed about half-way through the journey – it made me feel so much better as it’s really the next-best thing to a shower.
8. Eat Healthy
You’ll definitely be tempted with the chocolate bars and candy on offer in the duty-free
section and during the flight. While the sugary fix may be delicious and comforting, it won’t be good for your body, your energy levels, and your comfort (I’m writing this while eating a chocolate hot cross bun… Happy Easter everyone!) Even though I can’t take my own advice, try and choose more healthy snacks like nuts, fruit or sandwiches if these are on offer during your flight; this will make you feel healthier, fresher, and you will have more energy.
9. Catch Some Z’s
Try and get a bit of shut-eye during the journey. Planes are very noisy; you have the sounds of big jet engines in your ear, not to mention crying babies, coughing, and the champions who have already managed to fall asleep and are snoring. Get yourself some noise cancelling headphones before you leave the country, wip out your neck pillow and put on your eye mask and try and sleep. This will help to reduce jet-lag when you arrive.
10. Pray for an Upgrade
If all else fails, bat your eyelids at the employee giving you your boarding pass, and pray for an upgrade.
What has been your experience on long-haul flights? If you have any other travel tips to share I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.
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