How to (hopefully) Survive a Long-Haul Flight

If you're ever booking a trip, its kinda essential that you factor in how you're getting there. And if it happens to be on the other side of the world, chances are you going to be on a plane for a long time / multiple flights. 

After nearly 2 years in Australia, I decided to fly back home to Wales over Christmas for a quick visit to see and catch up with family and friends over the festive period. As a backpacker, when booking flights its always the struggle choosing between the quickest or cheapest option - it is very rare that they will be the same. 

I ended up booking the cheapest and longest way; 40+ hours to get me home. Joy

In the space of 3 weeks I made 6 flights and alot of hours on planes:

Melbourne > Shanghai > Frankfurt > Manchester 

Manchester > Munich > Shanghai > Melbourne 

The long-haul flights were all 12+ plus so alot of preparing went into making sure I was ready and had everything I needed to survive these journeys. 
I'm usually a sucker for just binge-watching movies the ENTIRE flight and then having the worst jet-lag for days after long-haul flights because I've not slept. 
BUT i've decided to compile a few things that definitely helped me prepare this time round!

Prepare yo'self 
Mentally, physically, emotionally - just do it! Take some time maybe the day before & day of your flight doing some walking, stretching, go to the gym - make sure you're body is prepared to spend the next however many bloody hours in a sitting position in a small space. Make sure you are rested before your flight too - all too often we try to deny ourselves of sleep, hoping to fall into a deep one on the plane. Sorry love but this will probably just backfire on you and leave you even more exhausted.

Select Yo' Seats 
Are you a window or aisle kinda-person? If you're set on one make sure to choose your seats early to avoid disappointment and have an uncomfortable journey. I'm terrible with selecting seats and always try to get myself an entire row to myself! I'll go online and find an empty row and select one - come back to check a day or so later so and if anyone is sitting next to me I move again. On my journey home I got lucky, my first flight I had a middle seat, but the window was empty so I spread out and curled up over the two the whole flight. My next flight we had the middle seat empty so myself and a girl shared the space. My flights BACK however were full and packed and there was no room to spread out. 

Be Comfortable
I honestly don't understand people who turn up to the airport dressed to the nines. I'm all about the comfy life. Forget wearing skinny jeans or anything thats a tight-fit, you will not be happy after 12 hour of sitting with circulation cut off in your legs and a waistband cutting into your belly. Crack out the leggings & a baggy tshirt & you're happy. I'd love it to be acceptable to not wear a bra on a plane either, its probably not ,so I settle for a nice comfy sports bra to keep the girls in check. If you want to look a little more presentable for when you arrive to your final destination you can always pack a nicer outfit in your hang luggage, or make sure it is first on top in your suitcase for a quick change before walking out of arrivals. 

Keep Moving
I think we can all agree that sitting down in a small space is not the most comfortable for 10+ hours. Whether you just do some simple leg and feet exercises at your chair, or do a few laps of the plane every hour - every little helps. It will not only make you feel better but help to minimise the risk of blood clots. 

I'm all about staying hydrated, whether it be a bottle of water, or several glasses of wine; its important to keep those liquids coming! Make sure you drink plenty of water before & during your flight to avoid feeling any more shite than you are likely to! OR just drink so much wine you pass out on your flight and it'll go by super fast! Just don't do a Bridesmaids moment and mix alcohol with medication and start seeing Colonial Women on the wing! My flight from Shanghai to Frankfurt with Luftthansa was great, they offered alcohol so often, I was drunk over a few timezones. 

Charge Everything
We live in an age where we have more hand-held and electronic devices than we know what to do with. Bring back the days of a tamagotchi and a walkman powered by two AAs. But times have changed so, if you plan to use them all to keep yourself entertained make sure everything is fully charged and have access to charging-cords so you can top up en route or at the airport. Do make sure you look into restrictions when carrying power-packs though, mine got confiscated at Shanghai airport because it was too powerful - oops. 

Thats right folks, Bring Your Own Entertainment! You may be half-way through an 8-season show and fear it won't be available on the plane. Don't fret - bring a back up on your laptop / tablet or phone of everything you could possibly want. Extra films, tv shows, music and even e-books. Or if you're old-school bring a real book thats made of paper. 

Do Something.
Now I don't mean start kicking a football round down the aisles or having a game of hide and seek - even though both those options sound like great fun! You have the luxury (well, depending on what airline and class of service) of having no access to Wifi, can't text or call anyone. Make use of that time and finish that blog post you've been meaning to, write about your travels in your journal, write some postcards, a song, sketch or even crack out some social interaction and make friends with your neighbours. 

Clean Yo'self
Whether you're on one long-haul or have a couple one after the other, nothing says refreshed like a clean face, brushed teeth, combed hair and a fresh dose of deodorant. Even if you still feel terrible, you'll look dramatically better. Planes are packed with germs so try to freshen up during your flight too - chances are if the person next to you is starting to smell, so are you! 
I did find however that no matter how many times I refreshed, it didn't make the slightest difference, turns out if your stuck sat for 40 hours, there's not a lot you can do. The reaction from my family as we closed the doors of the car after they picked me up and were locked in a small space with me was hilarious: 

Sleep ... if you can
There's always the fear of sleeping on a plane, like where am I going to wake up? What time zone? What date it is? What time would it be from where I left? What time will it be where I'm going? What if I fall asleep on the person next to me?
If you're the kind of person who can fall into a deep sleep on planes I salute you! For those, like me, who need a helping hand look no further than the trusty eye-mask & headphones / earplugs. For extra comfort get yourself a neck pillow to avoid all sorts of strains, and a blanket! No matter what climate you're leaving from & going to, planes can always get cold! For my flights, I've got a nice thick scarf as well which opens up to pretty much a double duvet to keep me warm. 

For those who no matter how hard you try you will never be able to sleep, embrace the binge! The majority of long-haul flights these days will have some sort of entertainment system on the screen in front of you. Fill your entire flights binge watching TV episodes, films, listening to album after album. Sit back, relax, enjoy the movies & treat yo'self to a glass of wine while you're there. 

You'd hope, for the price you've paid for your ticket, you'll be receiving some sort of food (hopefully more than once). However these can be served at completely the wrong time according to your stomach and could be turn out to be a horrible meal. Only YOU know when you're hungry and to avoid getting to the hangry stage, bring plenty of snacks on board to keep you going! I like to pack small granola or protein bars to keep me satisfied. 

Hopefully I can apply all the tips on my next flight ;)

Thanks for reading & happy travels 

♡ G

Join me on Instagram @gemwills 

& follow me as I continue my New Zealand Adventure! 

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