Happy travels: How to enjoy long haul flights
Whether you’re heading for far-flung destinations like America, South Africa, Australia or Japan, you know you’ll be cooped up for hours squatting in a plane. But it doesn’t have to be the worst experience of your life. If you want the best start to your adventure abroad, pack these tips into your hand luggage.
EXERCISE BEFORE THE FLIGHT
Go to the gym, for a jog or play a sport; anything that will get your heart pumping. Exercise in general reduces stress levels which can ease any pre-flight nerves. And once you’re on the plane, you should be tired enough to sleep through most of your flight.
Tip: Get a seat by the aisle of the aircraft if you can. It makes it much easier to stand up and stretch those legs.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT SEAT
Children are our future, sure, but the noisy ones are like little devils if you’re trapped in an airborne metal tube. Avoid the first rows of each seating section. Why? Because this is where you’ll usually find the families with children. Plan seating ahead of time and you won’t have to listen to screaming louder than the jet engines.
Tip: If you get motion sickness, take a seat near the wing. This middle section is where things are steadiest and least likely to have you reaching for the barf bag.
Let’s be honest, airline food isn’t the tastiest. Take snacks with you on the plane for a nutritious meal that’s not going to weigh you down; raw vegetables, nuts, whole grain bread and fruit. It’s worth noting that the atmosphere inside the cabin is said to numb about a third of our taste buds. Avoid carbonated water too; it gurgles in your belly and can lead to stomach aches if sat for long periods of time.
Tip: Four or five whiskeys and you’ll sleep right through? That can backfire. You should avoid too much alcohol - drinks dehydrate your body which you just don’t want on a long-haul flight.
WEAR COMFORTABLE CLOTHING
Choose comfortable and loose-fitting clothing like sweatpants or loose jeans. Casual trainers are also good, and you can always take off your footwear after boarding. Handy accessories make things even more comfortable: compression socks to prevent swollen legs, and a neck pillow to avoid aches and pains. Also bring a jacket with you as the air conditioning can make things chilly.
Survival tip: A day at altitude with air conditioning can soon dry out your skin. Avoid this unpleasant experience by taking moisturiser with you for the face, lips and hands. Some eye drops and nasal spray are also a good idea.
Hopefully the airline has a good film choice or maybe they’ll show Snakes on a Plane or Cast Away and you’ll get a little edgy. Probably best sticking with your own books, podcasts, music or games to kill time. And if you want to watch the latest shows or movies on your mobile or tablet, download beforehand and test them. You don’t want a nasty surprise at 30,000 feet.
Tip: Change the time on your watch to that of the arrival location after boarding. It will help you sync with the different time zones and minimise the effects of jet lag.