We’re on our way to Italy! This is Dave’s first trans-Atlantic flight, his first trip to Europe and most importantly his first long haul flight. I’m only 5 feet tall and so I never really think about comfort when flying. I always have lots of room and in many ways I think I failed him because I didn’t research long haul flight tips.
We arrived to the airport early so we wouldn’t have to rush or if Dave was “randomly chosen” for additional screening. When you travel with someone who has tattoos it’s good to give yourself extra time to reach the departure gate.
Things went so smoothly, until we got on the plane and I realized we were a bit unprepared for his first long haul flight. He barely slept and arrived exhausted in Rome. There wasn’t much I could do except suggest a nap and take note of what we should do. Please learn from our mistakes:
Our long haul flight tips
I’m not so picky when it comes to food. I’ll pretty much eat anything but Dave has a sensitive stomach and often has to decline a lot of food. It means that he didn’t eat much on the plane and was starving. Next time we’ll bring more snacks, a couple protein bars and not just candy.
Unless I’m flying on Air France where delicious French cheese is included, I generally order a vegan meal. It means you’ll get beans and rice with fruit for dessert instead of some kind of dicey meat.
Travel Neck Pillow
We had planned for Dave to sit in the window seat and I would take the middle. But when we arrived we realized the plane was angled so that there was barely any footroom in the window seat so he took the middle.
This may be one of the most important long haul flight tips. I once loathed neck pillows and I previously couldn’t fathom dragging one around for an entire holiday. But next time we’re picking up this J-Pillow or this inflatable travel pillow, which we now understand are essential if someone needs to sit in the middle seat.
I don’t want to sound privileged by complaining with these long haul flight tips. But unbelievably many still planes that don’t have power sources at the seats. This means your iPhone is probably going to die before you land and you’ll be forced to listen to on-flight music. I really like the LinearFlux LithiumCard because it’s lightweight, the size of 5 credit cards and has two outlets.
I had been traveling solo for the last 5 years so I never paid to pre-book a seat or worried about legroom. Big mistake. As soon as the flight settled in the person in front of us fully reclined their seat. This left 12 inches between Dave’s face and his television screen. Next time we’ll book the first row.
If you’re on a budget and don’t want to pay for the seat reservation check out Seat Guru, which has airline seat maps and a comfort rating system.
An eight hour flight can get a bit grimey. Keep these travel-size (under 100ml) products in your carry on: Mouthwash, travel toothbrush, moisturizer, hand sanitizer, deodorant, lip balm and moist wipes.
Block Out the World
Of course everyone recommends an eye mask and noise cancelling earphones but they can be so expensive and I’m not even sure I can justify $400 for them. But I did find these great Monoprice Noise Cancelling Earphones just over $100.
As tempting as it may be, this is not the time to break out yoga pants. You want breathable layers as flights can be hot and cold.
If you’re tall and can pull off wide leg linen pants or cute harem pants go for it. I tend to wear a free flowing dress and throw tights in my bag. Whatever you choose, a cardigan and cotton scarf and socks are key as you never know how cold a plane can get until you’re freezing and have to buy their crappy $12 blanket.
One of the best ways to fight jet lag is to stay well hydrated, which isn’t really possible if you’re waiting for the attendant to give you 100ml every 2-3 hours. Bring a waterbottle and when they come by ask if they can fill it. Most are happy to accommodate, only a few times have the attendant given dirty looks, which I just ignore.
If you want to step it up even more consider bringing Emergen-C for your water. Not only does it have Vitamin C to ward off your coughing fliers but more importantly it has electrolytes to help keep you hydrated.
This is more of a “do as I say not as I do.” I love to have a glass of wine with dinner but if you want to avoid jetlag the best thing to do is abstain from alcohol 24 hours before the flight and during the flight.
If you’re a wine lush like me just remember 1 drink = 2 in the air so it’s easy to get drunk. This may like one of the bonus long haul flight tips but it’s actually painful to arrive hungover in a foreign land.
Should You Pop Pills?
I know a lot of people recommend Ambien, Ativan or over the counter sleep aids like Benadryl. I’m not a fan of these as it’s not real sleep and if something happens, like needing to emergency land in another city I’ll be groggy.
Also it’s recommended that you get up and walk every two to three hours. I have taken homeopathic Valerian and Melatonin which sleep to help relax rather than knock me out. Whatever you choose try it before you get on the plane to see how it works for you.
Now it’s your turn, what long haul flight tips did we miss? What are your best hacks for a great long flight?