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Top 10 long haul travel tips

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This week, Qantas made history by launching the first direct Perth to London flight, the only direct air link between Australia and Europe. Although it will reduce the overall total travel time, it’s still a 17hour flight! Flying long haul can be daunting but with a little preparation and home comforts it's possible to leave the aircraft feeling relaxed and ready to go. To help you get through, we’ve put together our top 10 tips on how to survive a long-haul flight

1. Dress for comfort

Not sure how to choose? Try to imagine what clothes will help you relax whilst spending ten hours or so on a plane. Layering is recommended, sitting in one spot whilst the aircon system (or heating in some cases) is on high throughout can be uncomfortable if you’re not dressed to cope. Wearing several loose layers are ideal when adjusting to varied temperatures. If you're worried about looking smart for that business meeting once you’ve landed, pack a spare pair of clothes in your hand luggage. There’ll be plenty of opportunities to have a quick change before leaving the airport. 

Scarves are great accessories to bring on board a flight. Don’t think of them just as fashion accessories, a good scarf can have many guises when travelling: blanket, pillow, lumbar support to name but a few. 

Dressing for comfort also applies to what you decide to wear on your feet as spending long periods of time at a high altitude can sometimes cause them to swell. Don’t go for anything tight fitting or snug, opt for a light pair of shoes or change into loose socks once on board. 

Keep it clean - long haul travel tips

2. Prepare for sleep

Getting to sleep on a plane can be tricky business. If you’re a light sleeper this can become quite a challenging task. In which case, it’s best to travel prepared. Sleep masks, ear plugs, travel pillows or even meditation music (if that sort of thing works for you). Try to pack the necessary tools to help you combat any insomnia. 

For frequent travellers, pack some running shoes or book a hotel with a gym. Our Head of Sales Ewan Kassir advises travellers to try and exercise where possible. Not only will it help work out all the aches, pains and stiffness from the flight, but it will help you sleep and get over jet lag. “Plus, it means you’ll be in better shape and sharper focused for your business meeting.” - Ewan.

3. Pack some snacks

Travelling through time zones can mean being fed when you’re not expecting it. Breakfast at dinner time or sandwiches for brunch. If hunger is bad when you’re on the ground, it can feel a lot worse when you’re confined on a plane. Take some snacks if you can, protein-rich treats will help you feel full for longer. 

Some studies have found that carb-rich foods can make it easier to cope with jet lag. And others advise travellers not to fill up and that warm foods are easier to digest than others. Some airlines take their menus quite seriously, Qantas for example have worked alongside researchers to devise a special inflight menu for long haul journeys. 

4. Don’t forget to move

Sometimes easier said than done but stretching your legs on a long flight isn’t just a way to keep your sanity, it’s essential for your body’s general well-being. If you can’t get up, try a few gentle leg exercises or use bathroom breaks as an opportunity to walk down the aisle a couple of times before sitting back in your seat. 

5. Keep hydrated

Recycled, pressurised air in cabins is incredibly dehydrating. Health experts generally recommend drinking more than you normally would and not to hold off until the flight crew offer it round. Liquids aren’t allowed in hand luggage, but you can still travel with an empty bottle to fill up on the other side of security or even on the aircraft. Try to avoid too much caffeine or alcohol, as they can dehydrate you further. 

Thirst aside, your skin can also become dehydrated. Pack a small tube of moisturiser, rehydrating eye drops if you wear contact lenses or are prone to dry eyes and lip balm are all products you should keep close.

6. Power up

Nowadays people tend to travel with their own technology to provide inflight entertainment. Kindles, iPad, laptops… all of which require battery power so whatever you do, don’t forget to charge up before travelling. If you know that continuous use of a product won’t last the entire flight, invest in a good quality power pack. There are plenty of manufacturers who sell one portable battery bar that can charge multiple devices, allowing you use your electronics inflight and still have enough power for the rest of your journey. 

7. Choose a good airline

We often discuss the importance of marginal gains when it comes to business travel and choosing the right airline fits in well. Depending on your company’s travel policy, try to choose an airline that boasts a decent seat width and serves more than a bag of peanuts inflight. Using a travel management company can come in handy here, most consultants will have knowledge on aircraft amenities and services and will be able to source the right carrier for your trip. 

Speak to fellow travellers too, compare information on what matters to you most, whether it’s the food, the service or for tall travellers, things like leg-room measurements. 

Keep it clean - long haul travel tips

8. Keep it clean

Being able to freshen up after a 10-hour flight can do wonders for your wellbeing. Pack a toothbrush, toothpaste and flannel in your cabin bag to lift yourself up after an inflight snooze or stuffy flight. If you’re a frequent flyer, put together your own on-board amenity kit with deodorant, comb and perhaps a change of socks too. 

9. Get to work

Yes, there are many distractions on a plane, but they are not the everyday ones we’re used to. For most people there are no emails, no phones ringing, no texts to respond to. Why not utilise this time to get some work done? Use this opportune moment to focus and make the most of having nothing else to do. 

If you happen to be on-board an aircraft that does offer inflight Wi-Fi and network coverage, the above still applies. You may not be completely cut off from the world but being confined to one place for a long period of time is an opportunity to be productive on your terms. 

10. Book a seat

Everyone has a seat preference. Aisle, window, middle (although we’re not sure who would willingly pick the latter). There are advantages and disadvantages to all, but generally window seats ensure you receive minimal disruption during your flight. For long flights, avoid seats in front of exit rows as these tend not to recline. And for extra legroom, exit rows (or an upgrade) are your best bet. If you are hoping for some quiet time, usually travellers with babies are seated near the front of the plane so perhaps aim for the back. 

Some airlines charge extra to choose your seat once you’ve checked in. However, on long haul flights and bearing in mind our concept of marginal gains, the extra charge may be worth it if it means an all-round improved traveller experience.

And of course, our last word of advice would be to try and relax. How often do you have a full crew preparing your meals, someone else at the wheel and a five star view of the clouds?

What are your top tips on surviving a long-haul flight?