It’s amazing that we live in an era when we can get on a plane and in a few hours we find ourselves on the other side of the planet. Of course, long hauls can get very tiring and demanding, especially when you need to stop a couple of times during your travels and spend time in different airports. My longest flight was a 28-hour journey from London to New Zealand, via Abu Dhabi and Perth. I remember embarking on this journey totally unprepared, hence ended up feeling sick, catching a cold, not getting any sleep and so on.
I wish I knew how to really prep for a long flight and how easy it is to transform your long haul into a first class experience.
Based on my personal experiences, I put together this list with all the items you should take with you on a long flight. I'm sure this will help you have a much better journey than ever before.
1. Noise Cancelling Earphones / Headphones
There are two reasons why you will need these. Firstly, because you will actually enjoy the sound of silence, as opposed to the continuous background engine noise. Secondly, you might find yourself very unlucky, being seated right in front of a family with small children. Surely you appreciate how this can very quickly irritate you, especially when you’re trying to catch some sleep ...
2. Offline music available on your phone
Most airlines will have their own music available on the entertainment system, but sometimes you might find yourself on a plane that has some really bizarre playlists. I for example, really like listening to meditation music during a long flight. I use it to fall asleep on. On my way to Japan, I flew with a Chinese airline and none of the music selection was right for my taste.
3. Have some snacks with you
What if you don't like the food you get on board? Or you get hungry in-between meals? Best to have some snacks with you just in case. I like to bring a couple of bagels (they really put your hunger at bay), some salted crisps, nuts, a couple of fruits (something like apples, bananas or blueberries) and some protein bars. They don’t take much space in your hand luggage and are sure to make your flight more pleasant. Try to avoid sugar as it might make you more susceptible to catching viruses.
4. Wet wipes and sanitising hand gel
I love to keep my hands clean at all times. I find it really refreshing to use the antibacterial wipes after sleeping on a plane or finishing my meal. It’s also quite nice to clean my surroundings, such as the folding tray and the arm rests. Yeah, I’m a germ freak.
5. A super comfortable travel pillow
I’m sure you don’t want to invest a lot of money in an expensive travel pillow, but honestly, sleeping is crucial on a long haul flight. Besides, the more you sleep, the faster time flies. Most international flights will have pillows and blankets available, but I like to use those for securing my lower back. Just buy the most comfortable (not necessarily the most expensive) travel pillow for your needs. I found a £15 foam travel pillow in a supermarket and I've been loving it since.
6. Vitamin C
The air gets really dry and you are travelling for hours and hours in a box … with hundreds of other (potentially sick) people. To help you avoid potential illness, take a vitamin C pill prior to your flight. Get the super potent ones (2000 mg). Always have a few vitamins handy. If you’re feeling a little nauseous, just take another vitamin C pill.
7. Avoid alcohol and drink plenty of fluids
I know, it’s a difficult one. You totally want to enjoy the free booze included in your flight price. For your own sake, just don’t do it! The alcohol will get you dehydrated, together with the already recycled dry air, you will end up having some killer headaches. Make a habit of drinking at least 2 litres of water during your flight. Yes, that might mean going to the loo a lot, but it’s better to keep hydrated than end up all dry, with a horrible hangover-like feeling. Hydration will also help you better cope with the jetlag.
8. Have a warm hoodie
Most airlines provide you with a free blanket and maybe you are flying towards the Seychelles where you don't need a hoodie, but never underestimate how cold you can get whilst trying sleep on a plane. Grab a warm, comfy jumper and sleep in it. It will give you such fuzzy feeling.
9. Flip Flops
If you don’t like wearing your shoes on a long flight, have your flip flops with you. Don’t walk around in your socks or barefoot. People walk on the same carpet using their potential dirty shoes. Yucky!
If you have oily skin and you are prone to spots, here is a handy trick. Crush an aspiring and mix it with club soda water. Form a paste and bring it with you in a small container. Use the aspirin paste to dab it on any forming pimples.
11. Toothpaste, Toothbrush
Bring a good travelling toothbrush and some nice quality toothpaste. Don’t ignore your normal routines, brush your teeth after each meal and before falling asleep on a plane. When you wake up, brush your teeth again. I also recommend brushing your teeth just before landing. It feels really nice to have a minty breath and a fresh attitude.
12. Lip balm and Moisturiser
Whether you are male or female, please bring moisturiser and lip balm with you. During the flight, you will get really dry and your skin (especially your facial skin and the corners of your lips) will suffer a lot. Once every few hours, you should clean your skin with water and facial wet wipes. Then apply a new layer of moisturiser. Use your lip balm as often as possible. Don't forget to use it after you brushed your teeth.
13. Eye drops
It’s not just your skin getting dry during long fights, but your eyes too. Have some eye drops handy and use them everytime you feel your eyes tired or drier than usual. I strongly recommend against wearing contact lenses during long flights. Wear your glasses instead.
14. Sleep mask
Although the plane's lights are switched for some of the flight duration, you might still get blinded by the next seater who insists on reading whilst everyone is asleep. To avoid being woken up this way, best to wear a sleep mask. Try and find a good quality one made of soft material. I tried using cheap black ones provided by airlines as well as others which I bought online for a couple of pounds … they all turned out to be really bad quality and made my head hurt because of the tight elastic band. I ended up investing in a good Victoria's Secret sleep mask, made of brushed cotton.
If you are a travel blogger, then you surely want to use your time on the plane to write an article or two. If writing is not your thing, you can still use your laptop for all sort of entertainment purposes. Even on short flights, I sometimes like to watch tv series.
Long hauls are a great chance to catch up with those top travel books you’ve been meaning to read for ages. I always try to find fascinating subjects to keep me entertained and excited. Download a few books on your kindle to ensure you have options in case one of the novels doesn’t turn out to be as great as you imagined.
17. Tea bags
I am crazy about my hot beverages and I feel the need to drink green tea everywhere I go. I suggest bringing a few tea bags with you as you might otherwise get disappointed if the airline doesn't have the type of tea you fancy. For example, on my way to Japan, I kept drinking jasmine tea because the company didn't have anything else. On my way to New Zealand, I could only have mint tea, which resulted in some serious stomach aches.
Dehydration can cause some really nasty headaches and you most certainly don't need one during a 10-hour long flight. Drinking plenty of fluids is key, however, sometimes you might actually need a painkiller to alleviate the pain. Make sure to have a few pills handy. Try to buy the ones you could potentially take on an empty stomach. You never know, you might need them in between meals.
19. Medical compression socks
We all hate feeling heavy when we get off a plane. Your ankles feel incredibly thick and your legs are suffering. You can use medical compression socks to help with your circulation. These socks are designed to apply pressure to your lower legs, helping to maintain blood flow and reduce discomfort and swelling. Magic!
20. Hair bubble
If you have long hair you might want to consider using a hair bubble, especially when you need to use the airplane facilities to wash your face and brush your teeth. Your hair will very likely get dirty and oily during the flight, so you don’t want it touching your facial skin as you might make it prone to pimples.
21. Positive Mental Attitude
This is probably the most challenging part of this item is not something you can physically bring with you on board. It’s down to you to have a positive mental attitude. You have to be on this plane for x amount of hours, so you might as well have fun. Relax as much as possible, drink hot teas, read a book and watch tonnes of movies. Listen to your favourite song a dozen times and smile. I’m serious, just smile and you will start feeling better. Do breathing exercising and draw circles with your nose to ensure your neck and shoulders get a little lovin’. Stretch as many times as you can, and think how cool that in a few hours you will be in a completely different time zone, on the other side of the planet.
What do you bring with you during a long flight? What helps you have the best in-flight experience? Let me know in the comment section bellow.