Chances are, your Round the World trip will result in you taking off on a long haul flight to some far off destination. I prefer most methods of travel over airplane travel, but inevitably you’ll be forced to board a jet knowing very well you wont be going anyplace else for the next six, eight, or twelve hours. Even for those who don’t suffer from claustrophobia, the thought of being confined to an airplane for extended periods of time can be daunting.
And rightly so. Even for seasoned travelers, the thought of a long haul flight and the aftereffects of one (severe jet-lag) can be quite stressful. Yet these 7 tips for dealing with a long haul flight should allow you to have a much more comfortable experience – on the plane and off when you arrive at your destination.
1) Make Minimal Transfers On The Way
Believe it or not, much of the planning for your long haul flight starts before you even get on the plane. And this tip starts long before you head to the departures terminal. Your long haul flight will be significantly easier if you don’t transfer five times on the way. Get to your departure airport as quickly and directly as possible – and the same goes for the destination. This can be difficult as a budget traveler, as we’re always looking for the cheapest option. Consider your options though, and if you can, avoid those annoying two hour layovers.
2) Get Heaps of Exercise The Day Before You Fly
Make a point to get lots of exercise the day you fly out (or the night before if you’re flying early). The day I boarded my 13 hour flight from LAX to AKL, I went on a half day bike ride along the beach. The benefits of exercising the day you fly are twofold.
First, exercising releases chemicals in your brain that helps to reduce stress. For the same reason you might go for a jog after a long day at the office, you should go for a jog before your long haul flight. You’ll be much more relaxed and less stressed about the upcoming half-day spent in the air. Second, if you get a good exercise in, you’ll be much more likely to get tired as the day goes on. If your body is exhausted, you stand a better chance of a deep sleep and catching some Zs in that cramped airline seat.
3) Reserve a Window Seat In Advance
When booking your ticket online, try and reserve a window seat for the long portion of your journey. You’ll want to try and sleep, and nothing is worse than getting woke up by the man in the middle seat who suffers from a weak bladder. If you forget to do this online, talk to the ticketing agent at check-in and see if they can secure you a window seat.
4) Grab Empty Seats Before The Seatbelt Light Goes On
This one takes a bit of practice, skill, and determination. It’s an art you could say – one it pays to master. If you’ve traveled before, you know the situation. You’re snugly smushed against your neighbor in the two window seats, while the same situation is going on at the other window. Yet between you and your fellow cramped traveler are three vacant seats in the middle row. A sleeper’s paradise.
When do you decide to take them? Right before the seatbelt light goes on. Too soon? You risk taking a late arrivals seat. Too late? Someone else jumps in ahead of you and you spend the night with your newfound travel partner’s head on your shoulder.
5) Drink Lots Of Fluids
Spending hours confined to an airplane will result in you getting dehydrated. That airplane air is not only cold, it’s also extremely dry. The effects of dehydration are the last thing you want to deal with in addition to your jet-lag. So, drink heaps of fluids before you get on the plane and continue drinking as you fly. Most long-haul flight operators make a point of bringing water and juice around – yet bring a big bottle of water for yourself as well.
That complementary beer and wine will be hard to turn down, so limit it to a couple to take the edge off and help you sleep.
6) Avoid The Post-Flight Nap
Regardless of when you arrive at your destination, do everything you can to avoid taking that quick ‘one hour’ snooze. It won’t work. You’ll hit the pillow, crash into dream land, and chances are you’ll feel worse when you wake up. Power on through the day (by following the next tip) and go to bed at a normal hour. You’ll feel much better the next morning.
7) Get Lots of Sunlight and Fresh Air When You Arrive
It won’t be easy to avoid that nap. Despite how excited you’ll be to have arrived in a new country, it will still be hard to stay away from a pillow after a long haul flight. Make it a point to stay active and explore your newfound city. This will result in you getting exercise, fresh air, and the sun’s Vitamin D. This will help keep you alert and allow you to make it to bedtime.
While these seven tips should help you deal with a long haul flight, you’ll inevitably feel a bit off when you arrive to your destination. That’s okay. Deal with it – be kind of tired, slightly delirious, and somewhat nauseous. Enjoy it for being a part of traveling and get excited to be someplace new.
What do you think? There are certainly more tips to dealing with a long haul flight – please leave yours in the comments section below.