If you're a wanderlust riddled earth dweller like me, you've probably been on a long distance flight before. I'm talking 14 hrs and up, non of this 7 hr "my knees hurt sooo much ugh" luxury bullshit please. You've encountered the many issues that come along with being in a confined space for a perverse amount of hours, crouched in basically one and the same position, 375 people using the same 4 toilets over 14 long hours and other nightmares. But unless you fly twice or four times a year (like moi), you won't have made as many illogical decisions in the long distance preparation department as I have. I've had to learn the hard way that some things are better to be left out of your carry-on bags, and some things you really should NOT travel without. This is information you won't find in a travel guide, my lovelies, and I am here and happy to safe you from making those very same smelly, painful, uncomfortable and impractical experiences yourself! I am not saying I am a long distance martyr, but you know... :)
1) The clothing you wear makes all the differenceI don't own thongs (aka flip-flops for the rest of the world), I own one pair of super stylin' track pants that I would still never leave the house with so in case you're rolling your eyes at the headline, this is NOT going to be a paragraph about how you should dress like a bum when on a LD flight.
Au contraire, you should glam it up a little, because hey, it's a special occasion and you probably forked out big dollars to go on this trip. The vital information you should filtrate form this is that it doesn't matter if you're wearing jeans or dresses, but that the fabric you choose really does make a difference. In other words: Steer away from synthetics!
Starting from your underwear to your socks to jackets and even your shoes - I won't go into detail but that synthetic shit starts staaanking and itching so bad so early on into what can easily be a 32 hr round trip and is not recommendable AT ALL! I once wore synthetic pantyhose on a plane because I liked how I could pull it all the way up under my boobs and have it caress my belly and I could not recommend any other type of garment any LESS (except for an outfit consisting of a transparent rain coat and a 12 gallon hat...maybe...). My feet were a catastrophe in the smell department, my thighs got itchy from the constant friction and my belly felt like I had sliced it in half with a knife so no, do not ever consider wearing pantyhose on a plane.
Go for cotton or other natural fabrics (not wool though, ITCHY!), because not only will they allow your skin to breathe and make you sweat less, but you can also cover up odours (yes, you will stink, I'm not making this up dude!) with your regular deodorant better than you could on synthetic fabrics (once that stuff is drenched in fluids, it holds onto them like an old lady to her purse).
Another thing is synthetic coats and pleather jackets. They're all bad ideas because their yucky plas-sticky-ness (new word patented) will make you sweat, but they won't keep you warm in return and you will end up with an air con cruel plane cold. Go for a warm yet thin cardigan you can throw under your seat no worries when it gets too warm and which will still keep you warm when you want to go to sleep.
As for footwear: Wear whatever you feel comfortable in because you will most likely kick them off 20 minutes into the flight anyway. I found that Vans slip-ons are a good idea, because they take little to no effort to put on and take off (no elbowing the passenger next to you while you're trying to put on your kicks is always a plus) and again they're mostly made of cotton. Ballet flats are an okay option too I suppose. Just not the oldest pair you can find. Because. Foot smell. Yuck.
Accessories will be more annoying than anything on planes. A pair of sunglasses is really all you need. And don't forget to bring a scarf! Not only will it give you the illusion of a little privacy when you wrap it around your head an diminish your field of vision (aka block out all the assholes), but it also collects all the out-of-mouth dribble you will inevitably produce when trying to sleep sitting upright. Amazing advice, I know.
|Chloe got it right. She also doesn't need a scarf, she employs drool-removalists|
2) Keep your hand luggage light and compactIn other words: Don't take anything on board that isn't a necessity! I've made my own life extremely hard by cramming too much unnecessary stuff into my hand luggage in the past. The various problems that can arouse when your carry on is bursting in its seams are for example:
- every living soul in proximity of a scale between the airport entrance and the boarding gate will make you weigh the damn thing and then tell you that you're really pushing the weight limit this time (or make you throw out $ 70 worth of good magazines you bought 3 minutes prior to the scale scandal due to "their weight" gggggrrrrrrrr)
- the carry on bag will fall over whenever you take your hands off it. I mean EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF IT! It basically needs as much attention as a new born. Learn to cope with that cruel fact after 21 hrs of sleep deprivation.
- you probably put a liquid in there somewhere, forgot about it, the security people will make you unpack your suitcase in front of everyone and will make you showcase your practical yet unattractive COTTON (!) panties, you tell all the laughing security people that at least you won't get a yeast infection because of bad underwear choices, everyone gets awkward, you pack your bag angrily and walk away ashamed yet triumphantly
- you can't find space in the overhead locker
- once you find space five rows down from your seat you put your back out before even commencing your journey of discomfort because the thing is so heavy it should be exclusively lifted by The Hulk
- the space under your seat doesn't harbour your feet, but an armada of electronic devices you don't use, a stack of books you're too tired to read, a synthetic pleather jacket you can't wear (see above) and you will end up crouching in your tiny seat, ruining your already achy-brakey knees because TOO....MUCH....STUFF
- you brought the biggest set of headphones you could find, only to realise that whenever wearing them you won't be able to sleep (too much bulk), that they don't slot into the entertainment system properly and you only get sound through either the left or the right ear, that they're too fragile to put into the already full overhead locker, so you're forced to store them in your seat pocket which, again, takes up space vital for sustaining most bodily functions on this long and lonesome journey
- gathering all your stuff takes about 25 minutes so once descend has commenced and the fasten seat belt sign is switched on, you basically have to power pack all your shit and break an anxiety induced sweat because you will most likely forget or break some of the stuff you should have just left at home in the first place
- a layover of 5 hrs or over will turn into an even greater hell than it sounds because you're completely immobile due to the size and weight of your cabin baggage, meaning duty free shopping, using a shower/bathroom or ordering and carrying food to a table will all be a flipping nightmare
3) MOISTURISE, MOISTURISE, MOISTURISEThere is no such thing as too much moisturising when you're on a plane. I'm not vain or worried about my complexion, but I have had the worst experiences with forgetting moisturisers altogether and then trying to live with that burning sensation of raw skin for what seemed like an eternity. As a matter of fact I actually started licking (!!!) the backs of my hands 12 hrs into a 15 hr flight in 2011 because they were that sore, read and raw from the dry air in this god forsaken metal tube. There was no trace of a chap stick or anything similar in my hand luggage whatsoever and the only duty free option on board would have been "La Mer" face cream for $ 400 so yes, I did in fact resort to saliva moisturising and I am not proud of it.
You want to take the following moisturising products on a long distance flight:
- Intensive nourishing cream - this is a thick, white moisturiser that usually comes in a flat tub (Dove and Nivea do a good one), you can use it on the really dry spots on your face, your hands and in emergencies on your lips. If you only want to take one product, this is your winner - but make sure it's under 100 ml
- PAWPAW is an Aussie all rounder and a good alternative to the intensive cream, but makes me break out if used on my face (this might also happen with the above, so make sure you do a test run beforehand)
- Good quality colourless chap stick - because your lips will die and then not recover for the entire duration of your holiday from that flaky, cracked horror that only extensive plane rides or Siberian winters can induce, if you don't keep slapping that shit on every hour. Forgetting your chap stick essentially means you won't be able to wear coloured lipstick your whole holiday unless you're happy with your lips looking like a weather beaten garden fence. This will not only ultimately make dressing up less fun, but will also rob you from at least one more hash tag you could use on instagram. #lipstickwearingscrubber
- Moisturising eye drops - YES because even your EYE BALLS will dry out in 45 000 ft altitude. Seriously, pack these or you will look and feel like a dope head upon disembarking. You're gonna skip this one? Think of me during cavity search, bro...
4) The devil's in the detailAs profound as some of this paragraph may sound to you, when you're on a plane with literally ZERO things that could urge you or fill your brain, you'll be thankful to have thought ahead and taken some of these things into consideration:
Don't watch new movies:
You will be dependent on the in flight entertainment system and if you've watched all new movie releases of the last five months in a weekend marathon, well, you'll be boned. Even if you've taken your laptop/tablet PC and external hard drive with you, there will come a time when you just want to get all that shit off your tray table and spread out, while still wanting to block out the engine sounds with some kind of light entertainment. You'll find that you will hate yourself a little when you scroll through the movie selection and realise you have watched EVERYTHING, then retreat to the Kids channel and watch Disney movies in silence and shame...
Don't wear colourful/glitter/3d nail polish:
It will crackle, it will come off half way down your nail, you will look like a hobo and you won't have enough to do to distract yourself from that horrible wannabe grunge look, you'll start picking at your nails, people will think you're a dope head, cavity search, The End. Seriously though, this is one of the things that has annoyed me THE most in the last couple of years of travelling and it wouldn't surprise me if I stepped on my plane next month with yet another experimental "only lasts for two-and-a-bit-hours" nail do that could bug me until I landed in Europe. Clear or no nail polish on short "can't split on the sides" nails. Simples.
If you can find a public shower at the transit airport and have enough layover, take advantage of it. Don't wash your hair because any activity that requires a hair drier is stupid, but give yourself a few minutes of hot water, pleasant smells and most of all PRIVACY! I don't know what's best out of the three but privacy is one of those things you really, really appreciate after intercontinental travel. A shower will fix you up even if you're tired, shitty and sore and will put you in good spirits. Make sure you packed a small towel and travel sized shower gel in your hand luggage (essentials for me!).
Take ear plugs with you:
And ensure you have at least one spare set you can replace the used ones with, once you had a shower between transits. Cause they get rank, man. Have you ever smelled them after wearing them for a day? Goose bumps.
Plane food be cruel:
I don't actually mind the taste of most of the food I have been served on planes, but my bowels do disagree - meaning I get painful stomach bloating a lot and for extended periods of time after I eat up in the air. This is a pretty common symptom called "Jet bloat", caused by equally the food and pressurisation of the cabin, and there are a lot of online threads and forums about this out there in case you want to do some extra research. The most common remedy is peppermint tea, but you can buy peppermint capsules for on the go. Try to avoid eating too many carbs, as they further the symptoms, and eat slowly. Yeah, and don't eat the fresh sea food salad. But that goes without saying...
Make sure you have a sufficient supply of headbands in your bag prior to departure because as flow y-fresh your blow dry might be now, as destroyed and greasy your maine will be within the hour. Also: travel sized dry shampoo!
5) Stay chilledAs much as I talk about preparing yourself through collecting the right amount of handy yet purely materialistic helpers, not going crazy when being stuck in transit for hours really all comes down to how you're feeling.
The ideal physical and mental state you should board a long distance flight in is calm. Really, this applies to everything in life but is one of the vital prerequisites to not experiencing what is essentially the beginning of your holidays as totally annoying. You don't want to be all pumped, super excited and full of beans when you board a plane because, beware of logical conclusion, there is literally no room to expel any of these energies, you will have (even more!) trouble sleeping and will therefore get impatient and restless. You don't want to be super stressed either because it will be near impossible to calm down in a confined, loud space with no privacy and a possible army of crying babies and a seat-kicker behind you.
What you want to do is exhaust yourself physically before the flight, because this will automatically calm your mind. Presuming you have packed your bags properly and have a few hours to spare before heading to the airport, exercise is really one (but not the only) of the best things you can do for your body and mind before a LD flight. Here are a few of my other favourite insanity-preventative activities:
- Go for a run/walk in the park - double bonus is you expel energy (and burn calories), but also get to enjoy a bit of fresh air and nature before hours and hours of being surrounded with artificiality
- Sexercise - no explanation needed
- Go to the beach/Get some sun - you'll practically be a vampire who will squint in wonder at the first sun rays once out of your destination airport so soak it up while you can, tough warrior!
- Do laps in a heated pool - this always calms me down like a baby in the womb and will also tire you out rapidly
- Watch a Will Ferrel movie with your friends, eat Doritos and laugh so hard your abs will poke through your sweatshirt and ask you what the FUCK is up
- Do Pilates or Yoga or a combination of both or mediate, sniff scented candles or drink ridiculously expensive tea, whatever makes you get in touch with yourself
- Get a massage!
Admittedly, LD-flights will most likely always be a pain, but thankfully the sheer excitement and anticipation of discovering a new place or seeing long-lost friends and family will keep you going. Yes this whole article was based on making the experience more pleasurable but being stuck in transit is a tiny price to pay in order to see the world, don't you think!
Live it up my lovely readers!
And who knows, one of you might be sitting right next to my drooling and bloated self on the next economy flight I board halfway across the world! It's a sight to look forward to, I promise!
(images via pinterest)