Over the past two years I’ve been travelling between Dar es Salaam, East Africa and London, U.K. around 3 or 4 times a year.
At best, it’s around 15 hours journey time, usually including a layover of a few hours in the wee small hours of the night.
Add to that an internal flight of 1.5 hours, taxis, trains, underground or kind family and friends collecting me and depositing me at airports, means I’ve often been constantly travelling for anything from 24 hours to 36 hours.
It’s exhausting, boring and frustrating. Long periods of nothing punctuated by bursts of activity.
This is what I do to get through it. These are my long haul travel essentials.
Carry on essentials for a long flight: Awake time
Entertainment: The inflight entertainment on the last long haul flight I took was not working in the section of the plane I was in. So what a huge relief it was that you can now download Netflix. I spent pretty much the whole of my 12 hour flight getting my ‘Orange is the New Black’ fix.
My advice is to load up the ipad/tablet with Netflix or whatever else you want – films, games, tv series, whatever. Even if you don’t feel like watching it on a plane I’m sure it won’t go to waste. Plus, whilst the entertainment system can sometimes be great on a plane it’s always good to have a back up plan.
I always take my own headphones and an adaptor to use the 3-pin headphone jack that’s available.
I find I can’t read much on a plane and have long ago stopped lugging magazines.
Carry on essentials for a long flight: Sleep time
I keep it simple and have tried all manner of flight neck pillows with varying degrees of success. I’ve never veered away from my trusted blow up neck pillow for very long. It’s cheap, small and easy to pack and most importantly, it doesn’t take up heaps of room in my cramped seat and I don’t have to lug it around when not in use.
I also take a contoured eye mask that gives your eyes room and earplugs by Howard Leight called Laser Light. Add a pair of compression socks and I’m good to go. All these items fit in small zipped pouch and stay there until my next flight.
Comfort: What to wear on a long-haul flight.
Confession time…I am that person whose long haul flight outfit is more suited to laying on the sofa on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
If you’re flying economy I don’t agree with the advice about turning up at the airport looking suitable for business class in case you get an upgrade. It hardly ever happens. Although a friend did once happen to ask at check-in if there was any chance of an upgrade and ended up flying business to New York!! So perhaps I’m wrong, but I’d still rather be comfortable.
I always travel with a light cardigan, a cotton scarf, and socks (this isn’t the sum total of my clothes, I wear other clothes too). Loose clothing helps keep blood circulating and sleeping sitting in a chair is hard enough without wearing a pushup bra.
Save your skin: Long haul flight beauty essentials
You need to keep hydrated inside and out. So…lots of water going in and lots of moisture going on.
I’m a big fan of face oils as I feel they give a good coating and don’t ‘evaporate’ in the same way water-based products do.
Skip the heavy harsh clay mud masks and acidic toners, this is not the time for that kinda facial. Go for hydrating soothing masks and moisturisers and take LIP BALM!
In addition I take a mini hand cream and apply through the flight. Ahem…I’ve also been known to deep condition my hair on a flight, with less success than I’d hoped!
Try and make healthy choices en route
You don’t need me to tell you to drink water on a flight Although I do struggle with this, particularly if it’s an overnight flight. I’ve had no problem taking an empty drink bottle through security to fill up ‘airside’ or in-flight. I’ve written about my favourite non-plastic water bottle in this article.
Many (probably wise) people say don’t drink any alcohol on a flight; but this isn’t an option for me. I mean….who doesn’t accept free booze?!
I have been known to ask for a wine and a cheeky gin with my in-flight breakfast. I just gave everyone the..’What? It’s dinner time where I’m travelling from/to’ look.
So, you’re not gonna hear me spout the no booze policy, but I would suggest you go easy and don’t combine it with sleeping tablets; I speak from experience and once had to be woken by the air steward to inform me we had actually landed in London and yes, the plane is now empty!
Try to reduce your chance of catching anything!
Look, you’re on a metal tube full of recycled air and scores of people who may have come from all corners of the globe. It’s a germ-fest!
I don’t care if saying this makes me sound a germaphobe but I take some antibacterial hand wipes and wipe down my arm rests, screen, table and entertainment console thingy as soon as I sit down. I sometimes use the hot cloth you get to do this too – once I’ve used it, of course!
A friend was telling me that on a recent flight he was sitting next to the former CEO of a large european carrier and he saw him wiping things down too, and commented to him about it. The former CEO said that planes aren’t cleaned as regularly as they perhaps could be so it’s a good habit to get into. I suddenly felt vindicated!
So that’s about it. Short and sweet but these are the things that get me through a flight. A bit of entertainment, a bit of comfort and a large gin (or two)!
Bon voyage..and cheers!
PS – wake me when we land.