Let’s face it, long haul travel isn’t really any fun at all. As someone who does the London – Melbourne trek and vice-versa at least once a year, the main benefit is the destination at the other end and the opportunity to catch up on sleep debt.
And, while you can’t control the time it takes to get to the majority of the rest of the world from our land down under, there are many ways you can make it as painless as possible. Here are 10 of my top tried and tested tips when it comes to going the distance.
Take your own water bottle
Hydration is the single best way to dodge jet lag. The easiest way to all but internally drown yourself on flights is to carry your own large (read one litre) water bottle and fill it up at drinking fountains after security and before you board. Alternatively, ask the flight attendants to do that for you when you’re onboard. It sure beats those thimbles of water they sporadically hand out.
Sleep in the new time zone
While it’s tempting to get on the plane and immediately catch some z’s, this isn’t necessarily going to serve you well in the long term. Work out the time at your destination and aim to sleep when it’s appropriate for that time zone rather than the one you are leaving. If you’re exhausted, try to sleep the whole time or at the very least be asleep when it’s night at your destination so you don’t throw your body clock out completely.
Make sure your devices are charged
…And that you have your chargers with you. Not only does this ensure you always have a way to contact people in case of emergency and that you won’t get bored, but it’s essential now from a security standpoint as well. Many security screening points will ask you to turn on your electronic device and if it’s dead and you can’t plug it in, they may not allow you to take it onboard.
Avoid processed foods
Our bodies rely heavily on meal times to work out what time of the day it is. One way to avoid jet lag is to only eat raw vegetables that don’t require much digestion. You can change your meal preference to raw food with the airline – let’s be honest you’re not really missing out with plane food! Another option is to largely eat fruits / salads and soups. I often take sachets of miso soup, which only require the addition of some hot water to prepare. If you want to eat normally, at the very least try to eat at the appropriate meal times for your destination.
You need a neck pillow
Never mind what George Clooney said in Up in the Air, a neck pillow is a game changer on long haul flights. Not only will your neck thank you, but you can then use the pillow provided to support your lower back and get a better sleep.
Eyes and ears
Same goes for an eye mask and noise cancelling headphones. While you can’t escape a screaming child or one who is playing with the window shade while you’re trying to sleep you can block them out. Probably safest for everyone!
Aim for the aisle
Despite what many people may say I am a big advocate of the aisle seat. First, you can come and go as you please which sure beats having to wake up your neighbour or two to get something. Second, if you’re drinking all that water you’re going to need to go to the toilet a fair bit. You’ll also be off the plane quicker at the other end.
Don’t get onboard without taking deodorant, a toothbrush and paste, moisturiser and any facial washes / wipes you may use. This allows you to freshen up at your stopover or before you land.
Avoid the last-minute bathroom rush
Anyone who flies often knows this is an actual thing. People wait until just before descent to decide they’ll use the bathroom one more time before the seat belt sign goes on. Avoid having to wait in this queue and catch the bathroom before it’s had all those bums on seats by going an hour before you’re due to land.
Pack a spare pair
There is no downside to packing a spare pair of underwear in your carry-on, and a lot of upsides. At least, if your suitcase goes missing, you’ll have a spare pair of clean undies.
What’s your trick when it comes to long haul travel? We’d love to hear it in the comments.