So you’re flying to the other side of the world for the first time! Yay! Congratulations, you’re about to become a long-haul traveller! So what makes a long-haul route? Well, the good people from Eurocontrol consider any flight over 4,000 km a long-haul flight so if you’re flying from London to say… Sydney, you’re doing about 4.5 long-haul flights in one go!
If you’ve never done a long-haul flight before, I can understand your concerns. Never fear, I’ve done a bunch of these flights so I’ll give you some practical tips to help ease your nerves, and the pain of long-haul travel. But, in all seriousness… long-haul travel can be dangerous. I don’t want to scare you but, sitting on an airplane in the same seat for something like 24 hours does have some health risks like DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis.. so, you really need to be up on all the health aspects when you fly.
If you don’t have the cash or the points to upgrade to a better class, here’s some helpful tips to get you though sitting in the cattle class of a long-haul flight.
The very first thing I do is go online and make sure I book a flight on the Airbus A380. Since the arrival of this airplane, it has changed the way I book my flights. The A380, in my opinion is quieter, and seems to have much better air-pressure, so my legs swell a lot less. This plane is a lot less bumpy and I also feel a lot less jet lagged. Overall, it’s a quiet flight and you’ve got a bit more room.
Then, I make sure to pick the seat I want. If you aren’t familiar with the airplane layout, have a look online. Try to get in first so you don’t get stuck with the worst possible seat. In my opinion, the middle seat on either side of the airplane just sucks. To avoid fighting your fellow seat mates for the armrest, it’s best to choose if you want the window or the aisle. They both equally have benefits. Like, the window comes with a view and something to lean up against, but the seat next to the aisle comes with unlimited access to freely wander the plane.
I always avoid alcohol on long-haul travel days. Yep. I know it sucks, but it’s for your own benefit because alcohol dehydrates your body and thus you experience more jet lag. Drink wayyy more water instead! This kinda does suck if you’re stuck next to Marvin the 500 kilo
gorilla gentleman that won’t wake up at any costs… but, if you need to do your business… you can always jump over Marvin into the aisle, and he probably won’t notice.
The day of the flight, I make sure to take 1,000mg of vitamin C. Airplanes can be flying incubators of illness because there’s a number of sick people that will throw all practical reason out the window and fly even when they’re one step away from death’s doorstep. This seriously sucks because 50% of the air on planes is recycled and thus, you’re breathing half of what Betty just hacked up. Airplanes do use HEPA filters, but to really want to beat the flu at it’s own game, wear a face mask.
Be sure to walk around. Yep… like I said before, you can totally DIE from DVT. It’s not something you mess around with. One main cause of DVT is from sitting in one position without moving around. Blood coagulates when your leg muscles aren’t being used. “Studies have shown you’re more likely to develop DVT if you sit next to a window, rather than the aisle seat.” So, move those legs around, go for walks and wear compression socks.
Relax – yep… if you’re relaxed, then you’ve got a better chance of sleeping on that flight. I bring a book to chill me out and I also listen to some music on my iPhone. If I do watch something on the in-flight entertainment, I turn the brightness right down on the screen. All these elements seem to tire me out and one of the great things I actually like about the long-haul flights is, I actually get about seven hours of sleep! Since I pick the A380, the flights are quieter, and the seats are better, I’m relaxed so in return I sleep way better than I would on a four hour flight!
Also, another long-haul hot-tip is to do a few laps of the airplane terminal. Whilst wandering around in Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands, I found an actual museum and in Estonia, I even found an terminal that had a public gym right out in the open ready for anyone to use! It was awesome and a great way to keep DVT at bay!
Got any great long-haul travel hacks you’d like to share? Leave them in the comments below!
A girl gone walkabout in the great big world!