Thursday, 7 January 2016

How to Survive a 24+ Hour Flight.

After flying many many flights that have lasted 24 hours or more, I thought I would write a blog post with advice on how to survive them and not go stir crazy! My first 24 hour flight was when I was seven years old. We flew from London to Perth via Singapore, stopping off at Singapore for 3 nights on the way there, and flying all the way through on the way back. We've repeated that exact flight path dozens of times over the years, and I've even mixed it up by flying from London to Perth via Dubai, Qatar, and Hong Kong, with the Hong Kong route lasting over 30 hours.

Photo by Jakob Owens,

I'm just gonna put it out there - I love long haul flights. Love them. However, I never used to. I still remember being thirteen years old on our way to Australia, it was the first time we'd flown all the way through on the way out without stopping. We were in Singapore airport waiting for the next flight and I burst into tears because I couldn't bear the thought of spending another 5 hours on a plane. When you're travelling for 24 hours, it's hard. It's tiring, and it's frustrating. But there are a few things I do that make it actually pretty enjoyable! And the best thing is these tips apply whatever cabin you're flying in; economy, business, or first (although lay-flat beds definitely help the flight experience ;)).

1. Think Positive

The biggest thing for me is thinking positively. After that Singapore airport incident I decided that I needed to look at the positive side of long flights. When else do you get to sit down for the majority of 24 hours (not including transfer time obvs), watch a heap of movies, read a book, and just relax, without feeling guilty and as though you should be doing something more productive? My life is so busy that I rarely do this, so for me flying is downtime, a chance to rest and recharge before an awesome holiday.

2. Remember: you get waited on!

The most important thing to remember when flying is to be polite to the airline staff, always. Even if there's an issue, the nicer you are about it the more likely they'll try and help you. However, it's pretty awesome on long haul flights getting waited on hand and foot. You just gett to sit there and have all your food and drink brought to you without you having to lift a finger (or having to get your card out and pay extra a-la Easyjet). Make sure you respect the staff though and don't press the buzzer for things you can easily just go get yourself (like snacks - usually airlines have a help-yourself basket in the area where the food is kept).

3. Wear comfortable clothing

When I'm on a long haul flight that's lasting an entire day and night, there is no way I'm looking good. I do not care who sees me, I'm wearing leggings, a big jumper, and a big scarf, with my hair up and no makeup. 

4. Take a change of clothes

Talking of clothing, always pack a change of clothes and underwear (and bikini) in your hand-luggage. If you spill curry down you (which happens fairly often on flights that go via Asia which serve Asian food and are prone to turbulence), you can just go into the toilet and change your top or bottoms. Also, if your checked bag gets lost, it means you have a change of clothes, underwear, and bikini to use before you get your luggage back or the chance to buy new clothing.

5. Pack your toiletry bag well

In my toiletry bag I always pack; deodorant, toothbrush, mini toothpaste, mini perfume, mini wet wipes, a thick face moisturiser, hand cream, hand sanitizer, basic makeup (foundation, eyeliner, mascara, blusher), and then my inhaler. I also carry a little pack with paracetamol, ibuprofen plus (nurofen & codeine), anti-diarrhea tablets, antihistamines, and anti-nausea tablets. You never know when you might need any of these on a 24 hour flight or when you're in transit!

6. Plan before you go

I'm talking about movies here, fyi. A few days before I fly I look up all the movies and tv shows that will be on my specific flight, and mentally plan what I'm going to watch and in what order. Apart from the destination it gives me something to look forward to on the flight. Also I find it's pretty important what order you watch things in. I start with heavy dark films and dramas when I'm still all happy and excited for the trip, and leave the comedy and light entertainment (ie; Friends and Big Bang Theory box sets) for towards the end when you're bum starts to hurt and you get all claustrophobic and fed up. 

7. Sleep when you can

Even if it means you miss a meal, sleep is worth it. Plus, on the decent airlines you can just ask them for snacks and they'll bring you sandwiches and crisps, nuts, chocolate etc. If you're on a red-eye and feel tired when you first get on a flight, sleep, just give in to it. Even if you're trying to adjust your body for jetlag, just sleep now and adjust to jetlag when you land. It's much easier. Having said that, I do book my flights from London to Perth based on the flight times to help my body adjust to jetlag easier (ie; I always fly on a red-eye so I have a coupla hours nap on the plane, then stay awake the rest of the flight and then land in Perth around 2am and instantly go to sleep when I land, then wake up around 11am refreshed and ready to go!).

virgin atlantic premium economy seats

8.  Drink plenty of water

This is so important. I'm such a water baby anyway, I'm not a huge fan of other drinks, I can quite happily just drink tap water. But you really need to drink as much as possible to stay hydrated. Don't take a bottle and ask them to fill it as the 'taps' on planes are notoriously filthy dirty. Instead just ask them to fill it with their own bottled water.

9. Exercise

I fidget a lot when I'm watching films just to keep myself moving. The people sitting next to me probably think I have something wrong with me, but whatevs. I used to tap dance, so I'll often stretch my legs out infront of me and just have a little tap dance while watching a movie or tv show. In-between films or episodes I get up and walk around for 10mins and go to the bathroom before sitting down for the next one.

10. Moisturise Frequently

In-between films I also moisturise my face, my hands, and apply lip balm. It really helps my skin stay fresh and means I don't arrive with it all dry and nasty.

11. Make the most of the transfer

I usually have a couple of hours in-between my flights. My Singapore airlines days ended a few years ago, and I'm a frequent flyer with Emirates these days so I usually stop at Dubai, unless tickets are drastically cheaper with Qatar or any of the other airlines. I know Dubai airport like the back of my hand (despite never having stepped outside of it), so as soon as I get off the plane I race to the nearest toilet and have a refresh (face wipes, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste etc). 

I then spend my entire time in-between flights walking around to get some exercise. When I had a silver Emirates card I'd go to the lounge, and shower and stock up on food there. I haven't had that for a coupla years though as they changed their membership system and you now have to fly a ridiculous amount with them within a year to get Silver or Gold. So I wander round and get some food and a drink, and on the off chance I fly business I obvs go to the lounge (they have massage chairs - hellooooo). 

12. Freshen up when you arrive

When you arrive at your destination, while waiting for the bags to come out head to the toilet and freshen up. Face wipes, deodorant, toothbrush/toothpaste, and after moisturising your face apply some light makeup. I find this really refreshes me and applying a small amount of makeup after 24hours without makes me feel really good! 

Take a look at my vlog below from my last flight from London to Australia! You can also pin the image below the vlog to come back to this post later on ;)

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  1. I thought that a 12 hour flight was bad enough but a 24 hour one is way worse! Thanks for those useful tips. I enjoy catching up on films so rarely go to sleep when flying

  2. Great tips - I haven't done many flights that long, apart from one to New Zealand (where blissfully I was flying business) and to Japan, which is almost that long. With my daughter, there's less chance of sitting back and watching films these days, so 10 hours is our max so far (and stopovers will be my friend beyond that!)

  3. Love this post! Like you I actually really enjoy long haul flights, as Mr S and I are avid collectors of Avios we always fly Business class which I see as a chance to switch off from the internet and your phone and eat and drink as much as I want whilst watching Rom Coms. Weirdly I actually look forward to the flight as much as the holiday! Some great tips here :)

  4. I've never been to the other side of the world and my longest flight ever was to the Canary Islands from Berlin (5h). I'd love to visit Australia by the end of this year though, so thanks for sharing. Will definitely come back to it when I'm preparing for my trip.

    Caz | Style Lingua

  5. I struggle so much when I fly to Australia. I think it is eating aeroplane food for a day solid

    Lauren x |

  6. Goshhhh... I can relate hehehe, though it would have been a life saver if you could have written this thing 2 months ago, i had done three 24+ hours travelling trips in last 40 days and it was just awesomeee, crazy and tiring at first but awesome. I think i am getting used to it now..
    continue travelling
    see ya at some corner of the world

  7. I have to say I'm like you (is it a weird travel blogger trait?) and love the chance to settle in & chill over long-haul flights!
    Excellent tips! I never understand why people don't take changes of clothes - I take a set for each leg ..

  8. I always dread the extremely long flights. Dressing comfortably and stretching your legs are a definite must!

  9. Great to see that there's someone out there who enjoys long hauls like me! We seem to travel the same because I follow nearly everything you wrote. I also use the time to write massive amounts of blog posts. Loved your part about Dubai! I've been to Atlanta's airport a zillion times but haven't stepped foot outside of it in to the city! Hope to see you at a blogger event soon :-)

  10. Planes are literally the only place I've never slept...something to do with the air con I think! I always take noise cancelling headphones on the long flights- the noise of planes is so annoying haha. xo

    we are dannah | australian lifestyle and travel blog

  11. I totally agree. I fly to Hong Kong a lot and I literally get as much sleep as I can. I always wear sandals/flipflops inflight as I find that more bearable! May x


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