The master­class Hacks for sur­viv­ing even the most gru­elling of long-haul flights

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - This Issue -

Board­ing a long-haul flight can evoke both ex­cite­ment and nerves; the thrill of a far-off ex­otic land tem­pered with how best to man­age count­less hours on a plane. Luck­ily, from pack­ing to pick­ing your­self up af­ter­wards, we’ve got you cov­ered…

Be­fore you board

Whether you’re a ner­vous flier or not, prepa­ra­tion helps with long flights. Start with fa­mil­iar­ity: if the air­line you nor­mally travel with also op­er­ates over long-haul dis­tances, then book­ing with a com­pany you know and trust can as­suage doubts. If not, then shop around. Ev­ery air­line of­fers some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent in terms of ser­vice, en­ter­tain­ment, meals and com­fort, so look for some­thing that you think you’d be com­fort­able with.

In the run-up to board­ing, pre­par­ing your body for air travel can reap re­wards. Drink­ing lots of wa­ter (more than usual) helps to avoid de­hy­dra­tion in the cabin, which is al­ways dry. “Take your own large wa­ter bot­tle with you and ask the cabin crew to keep top­ping it up,” sug­gests Christo­pher Babay­ode, au­thor of Farewell Jet Lag: Cures from a Flight At­ten­dant. Do­ing stretches or light ex­er­cises helps as well, adds Christo­pher, as your mus­cles will be more re­laxed when sit­ting down for long pe­ri­ods; the en­dor­phins that are re­leased are nat­u­ral painkillers and help to cope with the dis­com­fort. Stud­ies have also found that carb-rich foods aid in al­le­vi­at­ing jet lag, but don’t go over­board as heavy meals can be hard to di­gest in the sky and may im­pede sleep.

Flights are meant to be fun, though, so in ad­di­tion to any in-flight en­ter­tain­ment, make sure that you’ve got things to fill your time. “Cram your ipod with pod­casts, mu­sic and au­dio­books,” says James Nixon, au­thor of 23 Tips to Sur­vive a Long Flight. Bring lots to read and stock up your tablet, too, so that you’re not a hostage to the in-flight cin­ema.

Pack wisely

Once you’re in the air, you’re in it for the long-haul – lit­er­ally – so pack any es­sen­tial items that you’ll need in your hand lug­gage.

“Take snacks to keep your en­ergy sta­ble out­side of the cabin-crew meal timetable,” ad­vises Christo­pher. This helps lessen your body’s con­fu­sion, as on-board meals on long-haul flights – es­pe­cially overnight ones – can of­ten be served at odd times.

If you aren’t al­ready wear­ing them, a set of com­fort­able clothes should be next in your bag. No one re­ally en­joys sit­ting in jeans or tight trousers for long pe­ri­ods, so it’s worth tak­ing clothes to re­lax in, even if they’re less glam­orous – no one will judge you.

If you re­quire any med­i­ca­tion, throw all of it into your bag. Many pas­sen­gers are al­most pre-pro­grammed with a ‘short-haul men­tal­ity’ and tend to pack these in their main lug­gage in­stead, think­ing they won’t need them.

Get­ting rest and sleep is es­sen­tial, too. If it helps, bring your own eye mask as not all air­lines read­ily sup­ply them any­more. “Take earplugs as well,” adds James. “Some planes are noisy but the Air­bus A380s are so quiet that the trou­ble is other pas­sen­gers talk­ing.”

Dur­ing the flight

It’s im­por­tant to stay as healthy as you can dur­ing the flight. Drink­ing wa­ter – as much as dou­ble your usual in­take – is im­por­tant. “But so, too, is stay­ing off the al­co­hol,” adds James, “as it will just de­hy­drate you.”

The root of many peo­ple’s trep­i­da­tion when ap­proach­ing a long-haul flight is the fear of con­tract­ing deep vein throm­bo­sis (DVT), where the blood is at risk of clot­ting due to ex­tended pe­ri­ods of in­ac­tiv­ity. While the chance of de­vel­op­ing a flight-as­so­ci­ated clot is at least one in 50,000 on flights of all lengths, wear­ing com­pres­sion stock­ings – which gen­tly squeeze your legs to aid blood flow – and a few sim­ple ex­er­cises spread across the du­ra­tion of your flight can help dra­mat­i­cally lower the risk. Walk­ing around the cabin, even just to use the toi­let, can also help com­bat DVT. There’s even ex­er­cises you can per­form in your seat to aid cir­cu­la­tion: lift­ing your lower leg up and down and ro­tat­ing your an­kles are just two of many ex­am­ples. The NHS ( is a good re­source for this in­for­ma­tion. Keep­ing your mind calm is im­por­tant, too, adds James: “Se­cure your over­head bag, so peo­ple can’t steal your pos­ses­sions while you’re asleep.” Af­ter that, there’s noth­ing else to do but re­lax, dig into your stash of books and me­dia and en­joy the ride.

Ar­rivals ad­vice

Once your plane touches down, you should re­place any wa­ter that you might have lost dur­ing the jour­ney through de­hy­dra­tion. “Re­hy­drate with a good source of elec­trolytes, such as a low-sugar iso­tonic drink or even coconut wa­ter,” ex­plains Christo­pher.

Jet lag will al­ways be a hur­dle you’ll need to over­come on long-haul flights, but it’s not some­thing you can re­ally out­ma­noeu­vre. James ad­vises that it usu­ally hits most trav­ellers on the third day af­ter your flight, and the only thing to do is to al­low your body as much sleep as it needs while keep­ing in tune with the lo­cal time of your des­ti­na­tion.

If you fol­low this ad­vice, by the time you at­tempt the re­turn jour­ney, you’ll be a long-haul pro and bet­ter able to en­joy the re­wards of fly­ing to the ends of the Earth – namely vis­it­ing far-off des­ti­na­tions ripe for ad­ven­ture. Bon voy­age!

‘While the chance of de­vel­op­ing a flight-as­so­ci­ated clot is at least one in 50,000 on flights of all lengths, a few sim­ple ex­er­cises can dra­mat­i­cally help lower risk’

De­layed grat­i­fi­ca­tion Bring plenty of books and en­ter­tain­ment and turn your long-haul into a well-de­served rest

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