Long haul flights are seriously underrated. Underrated for how f**king horrific they are.
Tip 1 of a travel website that I read for surviving long-haul flights was, “upgrade”. Excuse me, but flights alone are enough to make my bank balance cry into a knock-off tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream – the dream of getting out of Economy Class is one most of us will never have the luxury of experiencing.
It’s time to get real on flight preparation, and ladies, we’re about to get all kinds of down(stairs) and dirty.
For me, the idea of carrying a packet of tissues in your handbag has always seemed like a notion for women to express how organized they are. But do not overlook the power of Kleenex on a long haul flight, after all, you need something to cry into other than the sleeve of the person next to you.
Being stuck in a confined space for hours upon end is bad enough. But add boredom, altitude change, a drop in blood/oxygen levels, and around 100 other slaves to the economy class and you’re likely to turn into one heck of a wreck.
I’m not embarrassed about my numerous prolonged noisy crying sessions on flights. I’m sleep deprived, my brain is acting foggy and sluggish, and my anxiety is sky high (literally). But at least I’m doing it with dignity, and hiding my face into a mountain of used Kleenex.
PACK TWO SETS OF UNDERWEAR
For the comfort of all my fellow lady folk, I strongly advise you to pack two pairs of underwear in your hand luggage. I do this on flights over 10 hours, and for anything under just one (but we talking long haul here so go hard).
You’ve already been wearing your undies for hours on your journey to the airport, and then the agonizing wait in the departures lounge. Shocking info: a healthy vagina will secrete discharge throughout your day-to-day life.
Now add 10+ hours of sitting in a moist-free box in the sky. Altitude and oxygen changes can mess with the bacteria in your body and cause a heightened amount of discharge. It’s normal. Normal, but a little bit uncomfortable for you. I usually change my underwear halfway through the flight, and then again at airport arrivals, so at least I’m feeling a little more fresh despite the fact that my hair is a wild mess and my eyes are puffy and the whole world feels chaotic.
PACK MULTIPLE ENTERTAINMENT RESOURCES
Chances are you’re not going to use them all. Chances are you’re like me and find sleeping on a plane impossible. But at least knowing that you have some options, and options is exactly what you need when you feel stuck to a chair.
On my first long haul flight I only took two books. ‘I like reading every day for hours on end, why wouldn’t this keep me occupied?’ Well friends, relying on reading on a long haul is a fantasy. As previously stated, cognitive function isn’t going to be at it’s best with prolonged sleep exhaustion and decreased oxygen levels, eventually you’re just going to become frustrated with yourself.
On my last long haul I packed: three books, an iPad (for games and music), a pack of cards, magazines and a notebook. I hardly touched most of these, but knowing that I could made me feel better.
SNACKS AND LITRES OF WATER
Plane food is terrible (unless you fly with Emirates and are lucky to get a Middle Eastern menu, that mezze platter was fantastic). Even just looking at the food that has been given to you makes you want to cry all over again. I’ve never been to prison, but I imagine there’s some food similarities there. Take your favorite snacks, and plenty of them.
For water: I can’t stress this enough – check your flight provider to see if water is free or chargeable. On my long haul emirates flight, I could request a glass of water free of charge, but with Thomsons I only got two free plastic cups of water for the 10 hours that I was there. Stock up on at least two litres of bottled water in the departures lounge. The risk of dehydration on flights is real. This is a great article on dehydration on flights here.
Avoid the free alcohol and caffeine, unless you want the jet-lag hangover from hell, you need to concentrate on upping your water intake.
Don’t question it, just pack some. Thank me later. Men too.
FACE MOISTURIZER WITH SPF
The internet is telling me different things about this, but better to be safe than sorry! If you’ve got a window seat (and lucky you for getting a head rest that isn’t the shoulder next to you), then make sure you use a face moisturizer with SPF in it. Although plane windows are some super high tech stuff, you still want to be protected from the sun.
Even those without window seats, still make sure you take plenty of multi-purpose moisturizer, because your skin is not going to be feeling good.
TAKE A JUMPER
For a while it’s too cold, then it’s too hot, and then it’s too cold again. For those ‘too hot’ moments you can still DIY yourself a pillow by frustrating folding your jumper up into something of a ball. It’s not recommended to put your head on your fold down table, you could strain your neck and/or break the thing, but sometimes you just got to do what you got to do. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Just hopefully it never gets so desperate that your head is literally lying on hard cheap plastic.
SCREW LOOKING CUTE
If I see one more post about how to look cute but comfortable on a long haul flight I might puke a little. Comfort is everything on a long haul. Your fellow passengers are not going to give a crap about what you wear, they will be far more bothered following the above steps to even give you a second glance.
For me, this usually means wearing low necked men’s t-shirts in size large and the baggiest men’s lounge pants I can find that don’t fall down. Mobility is key to trying to arrange yourself into multiple comfy positions without being a nightmare flyer to the people next to you.
Hygiene wise, you can take roll on deodorant and toothpaste can be taken onto planes in your hand-luggage, but make sure they are less than 100ml. But seriously, there’s only so much hygiene maintenance a person can do on a long haul.
And finally, do not clock watch. Unless you want to inflict self-torture, don’t even go there.
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