I'm writing this on a plane for my yearly pilgrimage to Australia. I don't usually make much fuss when I fly, but for these 24 hour journeys, I do prepare.
So, if you're about to spend serious time in the air, here's a count-down on how to prepare for the flight ahead.
A few months before the flight
My flight to Australia had no in-seat entertainment. Seriously. Be prepared for this voyage-of-the-damned situation by checking the audio, video, power, food and infant facilities on your flight with SeatGuru.com.
SeatGuru also helps you choose your seat - I've gotten unexpectedly good seats at the back of the plane this way.
It wont tell you if you need a power adapter to use the in-seat power, so Google that yourself.
A few days before the flight
Download entertainment. Sit down with your laptop or tablet and download all the books, magazines, podcasts or videos you want to enjoy in flight. Here are some ideas:
- Movies: If you have in-seat entertainment, it usually has the latest films, so you want to choose others. For example, see: Best movies from the 80s
- Books: try a book from the New York Times best seller list
- Podcasts: I like Monocle 24: The Entrepreneurs and NPR's Car Talk. Like Top Gear, it's inexplicably entertaining.
- Magazines: I stock up on magazines on my iPad using Zinio or Apple's Newsstand app
Just before the flight
For your comfort, consider:
- moisturizing your whole body and face with a very hydrating moisturizer. If you can be bothered, reapply during the flight.
- dressing for comfort and warmth. I wear track pants. Resign yourself to the fact that you will look awful when you get off a long-haul flight, no matter what you do.
11 things you should bring in your carry-on
1. Bring your laptop to stay productive
2. Hard copies of magazines to read during take-off and landing
3. A tablet is more compact than a laptop, so it's good for flights.
4. Your passport!
5. Sleep mask to give you your best shot at sleeping on the flight. Mine are Bucky 40 blinks sleep mask, $10.
6. Power adapter if you have in-seat power with a different socket. No in seat power? Bring a portable charger.
7. Lip balm. I use Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream, $15, which you can also use on the dry areas of your face and body.
At the airport
Buy a bottle of water and stretch your legs. You can also try an airport massage. As massages go they are pretty awful, but better than nothing. They start at around $40 for 15 minutes.
During the flight
To feel comfortable
- during the flight, move your legs around to prevent deep vein thrombosis.
- flights are really dehydrating, so drink lots of water and avoid coffee and tea.
- Work on your laptop.
- You can make photo books offline. Before the flight, make sure you have all your photos on your laptop, then download BookSmart from Blurb.com. It's fun and time consuming, perfect for the flight.
- I would love to be able to knit on the plane, and the TSA says that you can. Can you imagine taking off with a ball of wool (and no knitting skills) and arriving with a pair of socks?!
When you get there
Jet lag - When you arrive the most important thing to do is NOT GO TO SLEEP. DO NOT TAKE A NAP. NOT EVEN A QUICK ONE.
Got it? Because if you do, you'll be stuffed for a week. I used to do this and then, for a week I'd fall asleep at odd times during the day. And not just ordinary sleep, a kind of narcolepsy - I HAD to sleep. I left half-way through a dinner-for-two to sleep.
The better alternative is to power-on for the first day, and try to sleep at the usual time you normally do. The next day you'll wake up and feel pretty normal. And that's it.
If you're a pro at long haul travel, let me know how you do it! Am I missing something in my carry-on? Anyone have any luck with those neck pillows?