Saturday, 12 April 2014

How to survive (and enjoy) a long haul flight

Today  I am buzzing and overly excited. More excited than a fat kid having VIP rights to the Ben and Jerry’s factory.

Because after a loooooong 8 month wait, I finally get to go on my honeymoon to South Africa and Dubai!!!!

erm, not sure if this gonna close!!!!

I have a brilliant flight time of 20.30, meaning today has been a leisurely day of a lazy breakfast, a bit of exercise and treating myself to a pedicure.

this is OPI 'koala bear-y'' in case you liked the colour 

Whilst today is not technically a part of the holiday, the preparation, the airport and the flight is all part of the fun for me.

I have been fortunate enough to have started flying long haul from a young age (I took a 32 hour flight when I was 18 months old to my mum’s home town in Okinawa, Japan) so I guess I have grown up accustomed to long haul flights and flying in general.

However, although I love flying, I know that a long haul fight can be boring, stressful and dam right uncomfortable. So every time I fly, I make sure it is as easy as possible. 

Flying can sometimes feel like you’re cattle, being herded into a tin, to be herded out the other end in 12 hours time. But there are things you can do to regain control and therefore be happier and more relaxed and comfy…

Today I want to share with you my top tips for happy flying from the things I have learnt over the years.

Top tip 1: choose your seat

This is a top tip that my dad shared with me from an early age...choose your seat before you fly. 

If you are not a plane geek like my dad, I don’t expect you to know the difference between the seating arrangements of an A380 and 747, then take a look at Seat Guru to advise you where to sit.

Think we'll be flying on an A380 on our emirates flight

My dad’s advice was to never sit by the toilets – people queuing next to your seat, the smell and the noise is a long haul flight no-no. Also be wary and avoid the exit aisles, bulk head seats and the seats in front of the partitions as these usually are where the on board cots are as I learnt a couple years ago on my way back from Cambodia. The exit rows may have extra leg room but the trays and the tv does have to be stowed in the arm rest, which shaves a couple of inches of the seat. Also there is not place in front of you to store your luggage! 

Personally I have chosen an aisle seat as I have the bladder of an incontinent gnat and don’t want to have to keep asking, or worse, trying to discreetly climb over the other passenger, every hour when I want the loo.

Another area to avoid is the last row of the plane. The seats may not recline, as they back on to a wall and they're often located right near the toilets. On the plus side though, they are only two seats instead of three, so you have a little extra space to your side by the window to store stuff.

*(an A380 has 450 seats depending on the layout just in case you were wondering)

Top tip 2: wear something comfy and in layers.

Unless it is a business trip and you’re suited and booted, chill and relax. Take comfort over cool. Tthe fashion police don’t operate 30,000 feet in the air in my eyes. My outfit today will be jeans or leggings, with a vest top, light jumper, shawl, pashmina and comfy shoes. Layering is the key as the temperature is always fluctuating on planes. For those of you that have travelled with me on a long haul flight, yes, I will be taking my PJ bottoms and bed socks too.

Top tip 3: rid your excess energy

There is nothing worse than being on a long haul flight when you have ‘fidgititous’ and got that achy feeling in your legs where you just want to move about, but you obviously cant. Try and do some form of exercise, preferably cardio, to burn up some of that excess energy before you go!

Top tip 4: take some snacks

If you can’t stomach the plane food or watching your calorie intake, my advice is to stock up on some healthy snacks for the journey. The average plane meal have a whopping 1,500 - 2,000 calories in it. If you are on a 12 hour flight and getting a breakfast, lunch AND dinner, that can tally up!!!

take foods that will last out the fridge! 

Today I am taking with me:
Edamame beans, carrot sticks, protein bars, my home made protein flapjacks, crispy kale, homemade chickpea snacks, low fat popcorn and packets of dried fruit and crackers.
Don't judge. it's a long flight.

Try to avoid squishy foods, like bananas or smelly foods like a tuna sarnie. Also be careful of liquids – my innocent pineapple chunks in juice made me look like a terrorist as I accidentally tried to “smuggle” these through security.

Top tip 5: be in control

If you are on a long haul flight then I am guessing that you have spent a lot of your hard earned cash on it. Like you would expect good service tailored to your needs at a restaurant or hairdresser, don’t be afraid to make some requests for your flight.

Before you fly, if you are going to eat the in-flight meal (see above) then request the meal that suits your dietary needs– veggie, halal,  gluten free etc.

Also many people I chat to about long haul flying don’t seem to realise that you can ask for extra food, drink and snacks in between the allocated meal times. It is usually bags of peanuts, crackers, crisps and chocolate so not the healthiest but if you want it, ask for it. Obviously it does depend on the airline as to what you get. 

When I was 8, me and my mum flew back from Japan with ANA, so in between meas, snacks were delicious noodles in broth pots. Don’t do what my mum did though and sit on a plastic cup when returning to her seat, breaking the cup, causing her to jump up in pain, dumping boiling broth all over her lap, requiring her to stop the burning by removing her trousers immediately. I think the poor guy sat next to her is probably still scarred to this day.

Also on this point, if you are cold, ask for another blanket as they might have spares.

Top tip 6: banish boredom

Be honest with yourself, you are going to be on that plane for a long time, and if you are human, you are likely to have a short attention span, so take plenty of things to occupy you. I am travelling with the Boy so you may be disillusioned in to thinking that I don’t need to take much with me, that I will have someone with me to keep me company. Think again. The Boy is hates turning his head sideways on modes of transport so refuses to talk to me for too long on transport when we are sitting next to each other.

Today I am relying on some good films, catching up on some books and magazines, doing a bit of writing to keep me occupied. 

What are your top tips for travelling??

X x X

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