Long haul flights are never a walk in the park, but there are some tricks to make the experience a bit less arduous, while leaving you feeling more refreshed when on the ground again.
Dress to relax
Whether you are in business class, premium economy, or right at the back of the plane, you are going to have a nicer trip if you come prepared with the right gear. Loose clothing is essential, and a jumper is a must. When you sleep your body temperature falls and, together with the fact that many flights are chilly anyway, you are doomed to have a poor sleep if you aren’t all rugged up.
Travel pillow and eye mask
A blow-up neck pillow helps some people to get a bit of sleep, but the best thing in your armoury is an eye mask to shut out all those lights and movement. If you are travelling in business class you’ll probably get one handed to you on overnight flights, but if you are in economy that isn’t necessarily so. Just press that dinger and ask the steward for one. They’ll have a stack of them somewhere.
A really good set of noise-cancelling headphones can be a terrific investment. Expect to pay a few hundred dollars for a great pair. Put them on and select a movie and the plane goes away. Bose noise-cancelling headphones are excellent, and they are comfortable enough to keep on while you’re sleeping too.
Keep fit onboard
However tempting it is to indulge in all that free food and drink, it could come back to haunt you. Just think about it. You eat a heavy three course meal with wines, and pre-empt it with a couple of mixed alcoholic drinks too, not long before you try to settle down for a kip. That’s not the best recipe for a good night’s sleep on land, let alone in the sky. Drink water. Walk up and down the cabin for exercise, and eat moderately.
Have a reality check
It’s easy to feel put out if the service isn’t as good as you’d expected, or the food is not as tasty as you’d like, or a child is screaming close by, but all that fades into insignificance if you think about the where you are – in a metal tube, screaming through the air, defying gravity, above the clouds. How amazing is that?
Avoid the bugs
Unfortunately, it’s pretty common to come down with the lurgy three or four days after your flight. And yes, you’ve probably caught it from your flight. Wipe the surfaces around your seat with a disinfectant cloth, wash your hands regularly with soap and hot water, use liquid hand sanitizer from time to time, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth (the usual access points for viruses that cause the flu and the common cold).
Contact lenses? Take them out
If you wear contact lenses then the best thing to do is to take them out as soon as you can. Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep with them in. The air circulating on planes is much dryer than at sea level and, thanks to the air pressure, your eyeballs swell up too. This means that if you keep your contact lenses in you could get an eye infection after landing. When you remove or put in your contact lenses make sure your hands have been sanitised.
There’s something comforting about reaching into your overhead bag and taking out something special to eat, like lollies, or chocolates or something else that you fancy. That little bit of pleasure is like a hug from someone close.
Call on your inner Zen
The flight is going to be long. There will be times when you are sore, or tired, and time seems to drag. The best thing to do is just accept that this will be the case and imagine yourself in orange robes and cross-legged in some idyllic place somewhere else. Or, just watch another movie. It could be worse. You could be in the office.
Break up your flight
Some people find that jet lag seems to be worse when they return to Australia than on the outward journey. Stopping off on your way back home might help. For example, if you are returning from Europe, opt for an overnight flight that arrives in Asia in the morning. Stay awake all day, sleep the night in a hotel, enjoy the rest of the day around the pool, then take off again on another night flight. It could cut your jet lag down from 10 days to two.
If you’ve timed your flights well, it’s morning and you have the whole day ahead of you to try and reset your body clock. Getting out in the sun helps, but if you sleep too soon then you are setting yourself up for an extensive period of jet lag. Try and stay awake for as long as you can and, if you just have to sleep during the day, make sure it’s for no longer than an hour.