You’ve given in to your wanderlust, and you’ve booked that holiday of a lifetime. You’ve gone through all the options, the dreamy destinations and you’ve found the best deal – that’s one challenge out of the way – so not long now until you’re dipping your toes into glistening Vietnamese sea or having a cuppa in Mauritius (yes there’s a tea route). There is just one more hurdle – that long haul flight – and, of course, the jet lag that is likely to greet you on arrival too.
While a good book, a meal deal and the in-flight magazine is likely to get you through a short flight to Europe – we’re talking 6-10 hours flight time and stopovers too – so you’ll need a little more to cut the mustard. From your in-flight entertainment, to how to stay comfortable and calm so as to rest adequately to start preparing for the onset of jetlag – we’ve got all the secrets to surviving long haul flights to the next destination on your bucket list. So when you’re flying to the other side of the world, here’s a what you should be taking on board, in all senses of the word.
Preparing for takeoff
As well as checking in online, you should choose your seat wisely and seriously consider the extra legroom option. Seat 6A is supposedly the best of the bunch while you should also think about what factors could benefit you as well as what could be a real annoyance on board.
If the thought of a crying baby is giving you the chills, provisions for infants are likely to be stored at the front of the plane – where the kids are likely to be too – so opt for a seat towards the rear of the plane. While if you know you’re likely to fidget and move around, which we do recommend to a certain extent, consider an aisle seat for your own benefit and to avoid disrupting your neighbour, or rather, potential new best friend for the foreseeable flight future.
If you’re tall or keen to stretch out for a comfier sleep, adding extra legroom to your booking is a must. One cheeky way of finding that extra legroom for free is to opt for an exit row seat, but you didn’t hear that from us!
Conquer jet lag with carbs
Most airlines will include a warm meal and a snack in the price of your flight, TUI does for example, and you can usually choose an option beforehand. While you don’t want to go hungry on your flight, it’s best to not overdo it either as research shows that it’s far harder to digest at high altitude. Carbs are good (hooray) as insulin inducing foods can help you cope with jet lag a little easier. We do mean whole grains and healthy options, however, so enjoy that bread roll but don’t have too many biscuits.
Otherwise be sure to arm yourself with plenty of protein-based snacks too. They’ll keep you fuller for longer, and you won’t run the risk of going hungry if the food on board isn’t up to your snacking standard.
What to take on a plane
When it comes to packing your cabin bag, pack like a pro and try to take the bare minimum so as to not lug extra weight around, because who needs that? Comfort is the key, especially when it comes to clothing. Be cunning with your outfits and forget about the catwalk. There is no harm in packing a pair of joggers or a loose t-shirt for you to change into when you want to get cosy, especially if you’re travelling on business and boarded in a suit. Opt for closed toe shoes for around the terminal buildings, while a pair of flip flops are sure to come in handy when you’re on board and not wearing your funky flight socks (we will come to these shortly).
Getting to the land of nod is crucial when it comes to tackling jet lag. You can certainly start preparing your body for a new time zone, a few days before your flight. Going to bed a little earlier if you’re going east, and hitting the hay a little later than usual if you’re going west. Making slight adjustments will help reduce too much stress on your body, but being able to get that shut-eye when you need it on the plane can be somewhat of an art.
Packing earplugs, an eye mask and a scarf will help you roll into a hearty slumber. Earplugs will keep you calm by drowning out surrounding noise and snoring neighbours, while an eye mask will help block out the natural daylight when crossing through different time zones so that you can keep your internal clock in check a little easier. A scarf can double up as anything – a blanket, extra bit of pillow, or even support for your lower back if you decide against a lumbar support – hence it features on your list of essentials:
|Earplugs, eye mask, a super scarf and lumbar support||To drown out noise, light and the cool of the aircon|
|A hydrating spray, hand cream, lip balm and eye drops||It’s easy to get dehydrated spending an excessive amount of time at such a high altitude.|
|High protein snacks and plenty of H20||While you’ll usually get a meal, hunger isn’t nice and hydration starts from within!|
|Flight socks||They help to relieve compression, swollen feet, ankles and general leg discomfort.|
|Headphones, Kindle/ereader, a classic book, podcasts and the likes||To keep you feeling sprightly, while low light settings on Kindles won’t give you a headache or keep you too alert to affect your sleep.|
Master your in-flight entertainment
By far one of the most anticipated moments of a long haul journey is the never-ending list of films you can watch. You could find the latest blockbusters, or you could be in for some dreary numbers, so it is best to prepare yourself for the worst-case scenario. Charge all of your devices and download your favourite shows or a low-key podcast that has the ability to entertain and chill you out too. Be sure to bring your own headphones, you’re more than likely to be supplied with a fresh pair but your own will always be more comfortable!
When we say entertainment, your imagination may take you to the airline minibar, and fair enough if you want to kick your holiday off with a tipple. However, if you’re so lucky that alcoholic beverages are included in your flight, still do your best to not overindulge. Alcohol will take its toll a little more swiftly at high altitude, and while you’ll be flying high for a while, you could find yourself struggling to sleep and feeling pretty groggy and nauseous through the rest of your journey. Not a great start and jetlag will take its toll even harder. Plus, you shouldn’t get rowdy on a plane, just no.
Opt for herbal teas instead, to help keep you calm and hydrated. Green tea can help reduce stress so can be a great alternative throughout the flight and on waking up in your destination for a gentle lift. While if you go completely caffeine free, ginger tea is good option to fend off any nausea.
Staying happy and hydrated will help you cope with constricted movement and the likelihood of cramp – not the nicest couple! That’s where a funky pair of flight socks can help and hopefully you’ve picked an aisle seat so that you can pace the plane every hour or so to keep your blood flowing happily. This is by far the best type of in-flight ‘exercise’ you could do; while some seated stretches will also go down a treat for your mind and body, do approach this with caution as an elbow or an armpit in your neighbours’ face will not do you any favours.
Touchdown, and everyone’s clapping, but especially you as you’ve had a first class journey. Goodness, you can’t even join in on the rant about the guy in 6A who took on a walrus-like howl at 2am, GTM. You feel rested, entertained, ready to take on a less upsetting level of jet lag and most importantly, ready to take on that holiday that you deserve. Hopefully, a long haul flight now sounds manageable, and if that’s the case, TUI has an exotic list of destinations waiting for you to discover. After all, there is no time like the present to book an epic trip to the other side of the world.