Ah, airplane travel. It may be a wonder of modern technology, but in so many ways it is the absolute worst. Too bad we have to suck it up and endure the experience in order to get to all of the amazing places we want to go to. For those of us who aren’t privileged enough to get a business class seat, here are some essentials for making long haul flying in economy just a little less miserable.
I like to keep things I know I’ll need for the flight in a separate, smaller bag that can fit into either the magazine pocket or under the seat in front. This way you don’t end up with a huge bag taking up all your foot space, things are easy to find and you don’t have to stand up to access the overhead bin every time you need something. Carry a pen and your passport in a secure but easy to access pocket so you’re not fumbling around when you board and when you inevitably need to fill in that little immigration card. Bring an empty reusable water bottle you can fill up after security so you can stay hydrated without waiting for the flight crew to dole out thimble-sized cups of water. Don't forget hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes to clean your tray table and arm rests before taking off. Yes, your seat really is a hotel for germs because nothing is cleaned as often as you think it would be.
What to Wear
Slip-on shoes are a must. Not only does it make for a faster trip through security, it makes it easier to put them on and take them off during the flight, like for trips to the loo (for the love of all things good and decent, please put your shoes on when going to the airplane bathroom. I never understood how people could walk in there in just socks. Think about what you might be stepping in!) Since the flight will either feel like an oven or an icebox (but never in between), layering clothing and bringing socks and a scarf or sarong that can act as a blanket will help keep you comfortable.
How to pass 12 hours in an airborne tin can
Being disconnected for so long is a great chance to catch up on your favourite reads or shows. Remember to download everything onto your iPad or computer and pack your chargers, USB cables, power banks and headphones. I like to bring a little pouch for cables, headphones, and other little things that might fall between the seats or get lost in the dark. Never rely solely on the airline’s movie selection as you might be unpleasantly surprised and that could make for a looooong journey. I like bringing an old fashioned book since the light from watching a screen keeps me from sleeping.
Speaking of Sleep...
Flying in economy is the worst, but trying to sleep in economy is the worst of the worst. Get yourself a nice fluffy sleep mask so you don’t need to use the airline’s cheap scratchy one. Bring earplugs (or ask the flight attendant for a pair early on) or nice noise cancelling headphones. I never got into the neck pillow thing, but by all means bring one if that's your jam. If you don’t want food, bring a post-it note that you can stick on your tray table informing the flight attendant of this so you don't get woken up.
How to feel human again
Airplanes are massively dehydrating. Because the air is constantly being filtered and re-used, it sucks moisture from your skin, contributing to that not-so-glamorous post-flight look you get when you land. A nice moisturizer applied in the middle of the flight and again right before you land will help you feel fresh as a daisy. Cleaning up when you land with a travel toothbrush kit, a hair brush, facial wipes, deodorant and make up basics will go a long way to making you feel human again. Store it all in a clear plastic pouch so you can easily pull it out when going through security.
There you have it! Some tips to help you survive your next long haul flight. Hopefully your jetlag isn’t too bad, but know that it’ll all be worth it.