“Getting there is half the fun” doesn’t sound quite as true when you’re five hours into a 10-hour flight. However, if travel blogs are to be believed (and we do!), long-haul flights to far-flung destinations are more often the norm rather than the exception. If you have the exotic on your itinerary—say Bangkok, Dubai or The Land Down Under, for example—you may want to heed a few travel tips:
1. Upgrade as far up as you can: Being scrunched in your seat for 3 hours is no fun—let alone 10. If you can’t afford the all-out comfort of Emperor of the World Class, if your airline carrier offers Premium Economy we highly recommend it. According to SeatGuru.com, this class can offer about 5-7 inches of extra legroom as well as additional amenities, including 2-3 inches of extra seat recline, laptop power ports, premium food service and more (oh yeah, did we mention free booze?) Cost varies quite a bit, so check with the Guru.
2. Be wise about your choice of seat: They each have their pros and cons. An aisle seat might mean you’ll have to get up every time your neighbor wants to use the bathroom; a window seat might mean you’re trapped by a passed out neighbor; and exit seats may not always be as roomy as you think. Check out the aircraft carefully before you book and weigh the scenarios vs. the hours you’ll be in the air. And, if you change your mind, you might be able to change the seat at the gate if the flight isn’t full. (This is where the incomparable SeatGuru.com once again comes to the rescue to help you choose.)
3. Bring your own comfort: As in, bring your own pillow and blanket. You really, really don’t want to know who’s kept company with the ones on the plane, and airlines usually go for the once a month deep clean. Unless it’s wrapped in plastic, you might want to take a pass. It’s also a good idea to bring your own eye mask, thick socks, noise-cancelling headphones and earplugs (unless your flying in the aforementioned Emperor of the World Class, in which case, you’ll be taken care of.)
4. Keep boredom at bay: This is the number one cause of stir-craziness aboard flights. Take it from frequent flyers everywhere: go for the lowbrow entertainment. This is the time to brush up on who’s wearing what or dating whom in Hollywood, China or London, not breaking out the spreadsheets or putting the final touches on your dissertation. Unless, of course, you’re that kind of traveler. Which is OK. Really. The rest of us will make sure every gadget we have is charged and ready to entertain. And remember: print is your friend and it never, ever runs out of batteries.
5. Catch up on your zzzz: Sleep truly is critical to surviving your long haul flight, not to mention you’ll be able to adjust better to your new time zone. Put together a sleep strategy based on how many hours you’ll be in the air, what time you left and what time you’ll get there, and how your body reacts to sleeping aids (natural or pharmaceutical?) We recommend overnight flights (it’s easier to sleep.)
A few extras quickies:
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Even if you have to crawl over your seatmates to get to the bathroom; your body will thank you. And don’t forget your skin: a little lotion goes a long way.
- Avoid airplane food. It’s packed full of sodium and you’ll end up looking like a blowfish at the end of the flight. Pack your own or choose wisely at the gate.
- Ditch the contacts and wear your glasses. The air up there will make your eyeballs feel like they’re shrink wrapped.
- Keep your “needful things” under the seat in front of you, so you don’t have to get up every time you want to switch out your magazine.
Planning on a long-haul flight somewhere exotic? Don’t forget to pack your Global Emergency Travel Services membership along with your gear!