It’s not too long before I am off to the ol’ homeland for what will be my winter holiday and the height of summer there. I guess I have an obligation to go back to see my family and friends, but it doesn’t feel like as much as a chore to me as it may seem, except for the 23+ hour flight…that isn’t exactly a dawdle. I haven’t been back for about a year and a half but time has flown by quicker than I could have ever imagined and here I am again thinking about seeing all of my family and friends again in just one weeks time. I will praise the day that teleportation is invented and all of the kinks have been worked out of it so that I can transport efficiently and in one whole piece to the other side of the world in an instant, what a wonderful world that would be. Don’t get me wrong, I love the whole idea of travelling but aeroplane rides are certainly not the height of my experience, save the top-notch views.
So, it only seems right to be thinking about what I’m going to pack for the trip and most importantly, how I am going to survive the flight. I don’t know about you but I am not a particularly keen flyer. It’s not that I am scared of heights or even claustrophobic, it is purely the act of sitting in the same seat, next to the same people for an accumulated duration of a whole entire day that I cannot fathom. Having done the flight back and forth from NZ to the UK a couple of times now, it is safe to say that I definitely know what it’s like to experience such a thing, and therefore I thought it only right to supply some handy tips and tricks for those who will travel long distances on an aeroplane at any time in their lives.
1. Dress comfortably
The amount of times I have seen people get onto a plane that is setting out for a 12+ hour flight wearing jeans and/or heels is ridiculous. I can’t think of anything worse to wear on a long distance flight other than leather clothing and don’t even get me started on short-shorts. It is common knowledge that jeans, though stylish, are not your go-to travelling clothes, they rub against your skin and restrict your movement abilities. Moral of the story: don’t wear jeans. Also, the air conditioning on a plane is pretty frosty so I always pack layers and personally, shorts are not an ideal choice. There was one time when I was coming into England from L.A and a girl next to me was wearing a very light singlet and sporting a small pair of denim shorts, all I could think was “we’re not in California anymore, put some clothes on”, as granny-like as that sounds, she made me feel cold in my layers of clothing. Ideally, you want clothing that you can sleep in and to be honest if you want to wear pajamas, I am pretty sure you will be the object of envy when you’re halfway through the flight and cosy in the midst of sleep when everyone else in their denim jeans and leather jacket are wishing they’d done the same. My plan this time: a pair of Nike sweatpants for $60 that I purchased solely for the flight, two tops, a hoodie, a scarf and comfortable socks. I am not dressing for a fashion show this time, all insecurities aside, I just want to be comfortable in my bundle of cotton. Layers you can take off, however you can’t magic a pair of sweatpants out of nowhere. Also, wear comfortable shoes like sneakers and something you can slip on and off easily to make your life easier. So boots and heels are a no no in my opinion.
The smartest decision you will ever make is buying a big bottle of water before you get onto a long-distance flight. Despite the fact that many airlines provide plentiful supplies of water throughout the flight, I have had experiences where the hostess staff have not circulated for a while and my throat is dry from breathing in the air-conditioned air, my head hurts from dehydration and all I want is a drink. I might sound like I am overreacting but this is probably one of the things you will need most. If you think about it, you’re spending a whole day on plane if you’re anything like me, you have to think about how much water you normally drink in a day, and then relate this to the flight, how much will you need? I know that I’ll be packing a large bottle of water in my carry-on.
Do you want to be that one person that you sit next to on the bus who smells of B.O and has bad breath? Well the same applies to aeroplanes, except you have to spend longer sitting next to them. A small bag of deodorant, a toothbrush and toothpaste or even just mouthwash or gum goes a long way. moisturizer/facial spray and dry shampoo too! I find sitting in a plane for long periods of time, my face bloats, my eyes get tired, my hair gets lanky and greasy, my skin gets dry and irritated and I generally feel awful. By including a small bottle of dry shampoo, some moisturizer, a pack of gum and some eye drops, you’re saving yourself a lot of trouble. Even if you don’t suffer from these things, it’s one of those ideal “just in case” essentials to have because your body is unpredictable and there’s no going back once you’re on the plane. I went out and bought a 50ml (travel size) bottle of Batiste Dry Shampoo today for $8 from Farmers, quite a pricey expense but it’s worth it and much easier than having a suspicious looking stash of talcum powder in your carry-on. I absolutely love dry shampoo, even when I’m not travelling this is my right hand man in lazy cleaning, just a quick spray and greasy hair is long gone, put off washing your hair for another day. If you can’t be bothered with any of this stuff, at least include a small pack of Wet Wipes in there, to wipe your face and underarms, trust me, it’ll be worth it. If you want to chuck in some makeup for the end of the flight so that you don’t look like death when you step off the plane, that’s a good idea too. Bear in mind that most airlines are very strict on liquid limits and you can only carry about 100ml in your carry-on so be sure to stay under this limit.
4. Ear plugs/Earphones and Eye Masks
This is one thing that I always forget and end up using my headphones to block out the noise instead (hence the title). Imagine you’re trying to sleep but all you can hear is the gushing air conditioning, engines roaring beneath you, people chatting, babies crying, snorers snoring and loud breathers and every little noise is grinding on your last nerves as the last hopes of sleep escape your body. Sleepy people are angry people. Solution? Invest in some earplugs, only a couple of bucks to purchase these small miracles. You can get reusable ones and if you’re lucky the airline will supply you with some but like I said with the toiletries, it’s always good to have those “just in case” essentials. The same goes for eye masks, if you want to sleep when the lights are on, this will block out the lights for you. Most of the time airlines supply these but these are pretty budget standard and if you have your own that is better bring it alone, it doesn’t take up much space after all.
I never leave the house to go out without money in my pocket. The same goes for when I fly on a plane. Most people will have money on them to buy things from Duty Free in each airport that they pass through, however money is also necessary for any emergencies that may arise of even if you accidentally forgot to buy that essential bottle of water before you jumped on the plane and you need to buy one from the next airport or if you happen to find yourself paying for extra goodies that the airline offers in the way of advertisement in the magazines in front of every seat or making a donation to whichever cause the airline is supporting at that time. Either way, there is a reason they say money makes the world go round, you need it for everything, so why should it be different when travelling?
If you’re a regular snacker like me, you will find it difficult waiting for mealtime to come around on these long dragging flights. It’s a smart idea to buy some form of snack before you get on the plan to subside your hunger between these meals and I find that food keeps me going and gives you something to look forward to: two more hours and dinner is served, one more hour…don’t tell me you’ve never done this same countdown before! Especially if you have kids, snacks are lifesavers when you want to keep a child quiet for a little while. Anything that has good fats and long-lasting energy in it is ideal: nut bars, muesli bars, packets of almonds etc. Also I like to sneak in some Mentos or something similar of that description that I can suck on when the plane is taking off and landing to avoid my ears popping and also to keep the bad breath at bay.
7. Reading material or music
Time is your worst enemy when you’re on a long-haul flight, it drags and draags and draaags like one of those long speeches that you have to sit through during a high school prizegiving. So you need something that will entertain you when you have watched every movie that you want to on the plane film playlist and the thought of staring at a screen for one more moment makes your eyes sting. This is when a good book, magazine or iPod comes in handy. My main issue with the books is that they are either too big and bulky for the carry-on (though I still find a way of stashing them in there) or it’s difficult to read them once the cabin lights have been turned off which they do after and before mealtimes so that people can sleep. Furthermore, I am not the type of person to turn on the overhead seat light as I know how irritating that is for the people sitting around you and the last thing you should be on one of these flights is selfish. So, either have a reading light or find another thing to do such as listening to music, this is a great way of killing time whilst also enjoying it. Similarly, sometimes I bring a notepad and pen for general doodling or working that also wastes times efficiently. Crossword puzzle or Sudoku books are also a great pastime!
8. USB cable.
If you’re a continuous device user, this will be essential for you. Planes these days have seats with USB slots in them for charging and connection needs so this is ideal if you forgot to charge your phone before you left or if you’ve been playing Tetris for the past two hours and your phone has dropped from 90% to 15% and you have 8 hours of the flight left.
If you have any other essentials that you think are must-haves on a long flight, please let me know! I need all the help I can get! I’m looking forward to seeing what movies will be on the playlists. I think that it will be relatively recent because they renew the playlist every month, so a flight on the 2nd will be perfect timing! I’ll let you know as I hope to keep blogging when I am in the UK but only time will tell if there will be chance to.
I hope that this list has been enlightening, I know that I wish I had known these things when I was an unexperienced traveller on a long-haul flight because including these essentials into your carry-on is very much a factor that will decipher how enjoyable your flight is and you’ll also be envied by any passenger who has failed to think of such wonderfully simple ideas.