Surviving long haul flights

Tips from a once-upon-a-time rookie traveler.

I’ve done my fair share of long haul flights and each time I learn something new. The first few times I flew international were hellish. I remember waking up from fitful sleeps, bleary eyed and on the edge of exhaustion. On one particular trip a customs officer actually apologised to me for how terrible I looked after asking me to remove my hat and exposing my fro which had morphed into a weird tower of hair that was flat on both sides and fuzzy on top.

Anyway, I’m fifteen hours into travelling and thought I’d share with you my quick and dirty guide to flying international.

Elastic is fantastic: from the get-go, don’t try to look good. Lower your fashion standards, rock the track pants and just let it go.

Drink like a fish: but don’t touch the booze, or coffee for that matter. Stock up on water, juice and tea. Unless you like burping in confined spaces, carbonated drinks are also not your friend.

Eat logically: before I even board a flight I experience food freak out and have to stop myself from devouring or purchasing chocolate, lollies, chips and other junk. Similarly, once I’m on the flight I seem to lose the ability to say no to food. If you’re like me and vacuum everything that is put in front of you at least go for the slightly healthier options, if anything it means you can look at your co-travellers with that superior look of smug satisfaction healthy people seem to have perfected.

Watch movies: but not until your eyes bleed. Set limits, choose a few you really want to watch and stick with it. Don’t even go into the TV show section, you’ll be awake the whole time and hate yourself for it.

Freshen up: face mist, tooth paste, moisturiser, mouthwash, lip balm, face wipes are all things I deem essential. You may look like you haven’t showered for 24 hours, but try not to smell like it too.

Pen: Take one. You’ll need it several times.

Be a bit selfish: Secure a seat that has a spare seat next to it. If you’re lucky stake out a whole row, multiple seats are a poor mans first class.

Buy one of those pillows: you know the ones; they wrap around your neck and feel heaven sent if you can’t score extra stretch room.

Don’t sleep the whole time: it sounds like it’s the key to success, but sleeping the whole time means no water or movement which will make you feel like Yoda. Wake up occasionally, go freshen up, drink some water, stretch your legs and try to not to watch your flight path too much.

Lastly and most importantly, enjoy the ride. Watch some really good movies, appreciate the food if it’s half decent, be nice to the staff, clean up after yourself and just be a good human being.

Obviously I didn’t post this one mid-air. I’m now in Chicago and love what I’ve seen so far, which is basically one street and my accommodation…but hey, so far so good.

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