If you love travelling or simply live in a far-flung country (like New Zealand) long haul flights are inevitable. I’ve been travelling back and forth between Canada and New Zealand (and everywhere in between) for the past ten years and it doesn’t get any easier. That said, I have picked up a few tips along the way and have learned how make the journey more bearable…
Choose your seat ahead of time
For flights longer than two hours; I always opt for the aisle seat. It could be that I’m particularly restless, but I need to get up every hour or so to walk around. I also drink plenty of water and prefer not disturbing fellow passengers when I need to go to the bathroom.
Pack the perfect carry-on
I now give more attention to my carry-on than my checked luggage, ensuring I’ve got a toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, a face towel and plenty of moisturiser (face and body). Lately I’ve been packing sheet masks as well because they are such a simple luxury when you have nowhere to be. I probably wouldn’t bust one out on a busy flight, but recently, on a flight to Shanghai, I had a whole row to myself and indulged in a moisturising mask that didn’t need to be washed off. Rather than leaving the plane feeling like a shrivelled up raisin, I left feeling rejuvenated and fresh.
In previous years, I’d always try to go home for Christmas. However, in the past few years, I’ve been travelling off-peak and reaping the rewards. This year I’m heading home for Canadian Thanksgiving, which can be a busy time to travel domestically, but it’s super quiet internationally (it’s on a different day than American Thanksgiving). Whenever I travel during the off-season, the plane is empty and I often have an entire row to myself or in the very least, an extra seat.
Make the most of airline loyalty
I used to religiously fly Air Canada or basically any airline on the Star Alliance network, which proved extremely beneficial. I’d often get upgraded to business premiere when flying internationally. I haven’t had any upgrades in awhile (hint, hint Air Canada), but since changing to an Air New Zealand credit card, Nick was upgraded on a recent flight from Los Angeles and managed to get an entire night’s rest. Lucky! We also always get free lounge passes (neither of us are Koru Club members). If you can opt for an Airpoints credit card, do it because it makes travel so much better.
Break it up
I don’t book two back-to-back long haul flights if I can avoid it. Flying for nearly 24 hours straight isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time and the recovery time gets longer as you get older. If you’re flying from say England to New Zealand, try to see if you can fit in a one to two night stopover to break it up. Not only will you get to see a whole new place, you’ll look forward to the second leg of your journey a whole lot more!
Exercise before you fly
This is a tip I picked up from my dad, but I always try to go for a run or do a quick workout before I fly. Not only does it tire me out, it’s a nice way to get outside before being cooped up on a plane for several hours. It also makes me feel better about the lack of exercise I’ll be getting over the next day or so.
Pack a comfy change of clothes
Someone once told me that those who are dressed nicely (ie. those who look like business travellers) are more likely to get upgraded. I don’t know whether or not that’s true, but I usually try to look somewhat presentable when I’m boarding an international flight. I’ll always pack a change of clothes that are comfier than what I’m wearing, so I can get cosy during the flight.
Download your favourite podcasts and movies
Never have I do I ever get so into podcasts as when I travel. Lately, I’ve been listening to Jenna Kutcher’s Goaldigger Podcast and have picked up so many tips for my business and my blog.
Train your brain
Long-haul flying is a bit of a mind game. If you’re in the right headspace, you can trick yourself into enjoying it. I always look forward to reading the books I’ve packed and listening to new podcasts. Sometimes the entertainment available is so good, I manage to fit in two movies that I would have easily paid to see in cinemas.
One of the best things about long-haul flights is the quiet thinking time you have to work through whatever it is you’re dealing with. I often come up with business ideas and plans while in the air away from the distractions of every day life.
Sleep and meditate
We all know that staying hydrated and avoiding too much caffeine and wine is key before, during and after flying. But maintaining your sanity whilst in the air requires a decent amount of sleep and likely a bit of mindfulness, If you’re an uneasy flyer, I encourage you to download meditation and mindfulness apps like Calm or Headspace. It’ll help pass the time and remind you of the exciting things ahead.
Well, there you have my top tips for more enjoyable long haul travel. If you’re still struggling, remind yourself how fortunate you are to be on a plane heading somewhere new and exciting (or maybe heading home to see your loved ones). It’s a cliché for a reason, but the journey is as important as the destination!
Photos by Carmen Huter