Flying Long-Haul? 9 Essential Tips For a Comfortable Journey
A long-haul flight is a flight longer than six hours. That's a long time to be up in the air, and if you're flying in the day, it can be hard to kill some time by taking a nap. Here's some tips for before your flight, making the most of the available services, and staying comfortable during your journey.
Before your flight
Preparing for your flight before you get to the airport is essential, and can make your journey much less stressful.
1. Don't drink [too much] the night before
Depending on where you're flying to, some people might want to party before you go - for example, if you're going abroad to study, or moving to another area. Flying whilst hungover is horrible - and as you can't concentrate properly, it can make everything else more difficult too. Sensitivity to loud noises can mean you're in for a rough ride - roaring engines and possible turbulance is uncomfortable enough without having to get through it with a hangover.
If your plane is taking you somewhere where you'll be for a while, and you do want to have a party, simply have it a few days before you fly, rather than the night before. If this is unavoidable, just be careful you don't drink so much that you're suffering the next day.
2. Pack a sweater and socks in your carry-on luggage
A plane can sometimes get cold, and the provided blankets aren't very thick. Pack a sweater and a pair of socks (if you're not already wearing some) into your hand luggage, so that if you feel chilly, you can keep yourself warm. Make sure the socks aren't too tight. Your hoodie can also be used as an extra blanket or pillow if you take a nap.
3. What to wear
To help minimise the likelihood of you getting beeped and frisked at the security barrier, wear loose fitting clothing with no metal buttons. Take off all your jewellery (if you have a lot of piercings, you can ask an employee if they're safe for the barrier). Wear something like shorts or leggings that don't require a belt.
Avoid jeans and tight clothing for the flight - you're going to be sitting, lying and relaxing for a while, so make sure you wear loose clothing such as a baggy t-shirt, leggings and/or sweatpants to keep you comfortable and decrease the risk of deep vein thrombosis.
4. Stay hydrated
It's always important to stay hydrated, and flying isn't an exception. Drink lots of water the night before you fly, and drink a generous amount before you board. It can be easy to not drink a lot whilst you're on the plane, so make sure you drink whilst you can. Being hydrated will make you feel fresher, fight off headaches and nausea, and make you feel better in general during the flight.
5. Use the bathroom
Just before you board, make sure to use the bathroom. The amount of time between boarding the plane and being in the air when the seatbelt light goes off can be anything up to an hour. You'll especially need to go if you've drank lots of water beforehand. Take a few minutes to use the nearest bathroom whilst you're waiting at the gate.
During the Flight
6. Find empty rows of seats
Once the plane is up in the air, you don't have to stay in the same seat for the whole flight. Particularly if you're travelling on your own, it can be a good idea to look for rows of empty seats, so that you can stretch out and nap. This of course depends on how full the plane is - if it's full, don't bother. But if it's half full or less, you (or a flight attendant) can find three or more seats together with nobody in them. A long haul flight is easier to get through if you can lie down properly.
7. Stretch regularly
It's extremely important to regularly stretch and walk around during the flight. It's not good for you to sit in the same position for hours at a time, so regularly walk up and down the aisle, touch your toes, and stretch every few hours. Again, this minimises the chances of problems such as blood clots, which can be devestating to your trip.
8. Check if the drinks are free
Unlike short-haul flights, a lot of airlines offer free drinks on their flights. Some even offer a bar at the back of the plane, such as a KLM flight to South African airports. Check either on the website or with an air hostess what in-flight services are on offer.
9. Get a window seat
If flying doesn't scare you, try to get a window seat and enjoy the view. There are some amazing views you can see from a plane, whether it's sunrise, sunset, or a blanket of clouds. Take some time to appreciate that it's only the past few generations who are able to see views like this from a plane. Perhaps even make the first few photos of your trip be a stunning view from the sky.
Enjoying your flight is important - it's the first thing you do on your journey, and emerging from the plane well-rested, well-fed and fresh will put you in a good mood for the next part of your trip. Hopefully these tips will help you get more out of your flight and make the journey easier. Enjoy your trip!