Surviving a Long-Haul Flight 101


Long Long Long Flights

There are some lucky folk out there who love flying and bask in the 6+ hours of interrupted rest.I am not one of those people.Turbulence, boredom, gross food, discomfort, cold... boredom.

Having done 45+ flights in the last year, I've explored many ways to keep myself occupied and get some decent shut-eye at 39,000 feet.

Of course, there are lots of tried-and-tested products out there to help you enjoy your flight, such as ear plugs, eye masks, chill out playlists, in-flight movies, games for phones and tablets. For me, they've only had limited success.

So for you, my fellow travellers, I've shared some of my favourite boredom-busting tips just for you!

1. Take a Pillow (or equivalent)

One of the best ways to kill time on a flight is to sleep. Typically some people struggle getting to sleep due to the noise, temperature and uncomfortable seating position. Taking a pillow really helps, I take a pillow along with me on my round-the-world trip on every flight. This was a bit of a compromise, due to the fact I'd have to haul it around the world with me in my backpack. where space is always a struggle. But this really paid dividends when I've disembarked from my flight feeling well rested, been on long road-trips or tried to get a good nights kip in a cheap hotel room with pillows like bricks!

There are plenty of travel-friendly pillow/cushion options on the market, but I've found that the inflatable pillows and neck pillows are not as malleable as a regular pillow. There have been countless times I've been able to fold, roll and squish my pillow into awkward corners and spaces to help me get some shut-eye. They're also washing machine friendly!

Pro Tip: A dry bag (slightly inflated) can make an excellent emergency pillow along with it's many other uses.

2. Give yourself a mini pamper session


Let's fritter away 30 minutes or so of your flight.Pack yourself a face mask/peel sachet, exfoliator, toner, moisturiser, cotton pads, nose strips, wet wipes etc. You could even pack a nail file, cuticle cream (or Vaseline) and some nail polish too.

Bearing in mind that most airlines stipulate that you cannot travel with more than 1L of liquids in hand luggage, so that's 10x 100ml containers. You can easily pick up travel sizes of these potions from most beauty counters (sometimes they're free!).

Now you have everything you need to give yourself, or your unwilling travel partner, a mini pamper session. I love doing this because it helps me to relax and I tend to fall asleep afterwards.

Pro Tip: I travel with a moisturising spray my hand luggage, so I can give my face a spritz when the air conditioning makes my skin dry out.

3. Transfer your in-flight 'must-haves' into a smaller bag

Many travellers want to make the most of their hand luggage, particularly for a long-haul flight. My backpack usually has to negotiate with a pillow, toiletries, a change of clothes, a lot of food, drinks, kindle, iPad, laptop, powerbar etc. Consequently, I struggle to cram the bag in under the seat infront of me, so it usually gets stowed in the over-head lockers.

The dilemma with that being, whenever I want something out of my bag (usually chocolate), I have to disturb other passengers in the row to get to it.

The Matador Transit Tote bag has been a gem for long-hauls, as it allows me to cram all the things I will need to have 'to hand' into the tote and slip it under the seat infront of me, while my backpack remains in the over-head.It's ultra-lightweight and rolls up into a tiny bag, making it easy to travel with. It's also water-resistant and is made out of CORDURA® Ripstop fabric, which looks like a tiny pattern on the surface of the material. Ripstop fabrics use this tiny patterning as a reinforcing technique to stop small tears easily spreading.

Pro Tip: Pack a pen with you as many countries require an Arrival Form to be completed for Customs, these are usually distributed prior to landing for you to complete during the flight.

4. Listen to Expat Podcasts

I have only recently introduced myself to the world of podcasts, and honestly I love them. Initially I struggled to navigate my way through the plethora of shows available online, but following some great recommendations, I have my faves that I listen to almost every day.

If you want to know more about the country you're flying to, why not listen to a podcast made by those expats living in the countries that you may be flying to? I prefer these over the generic travel podcasts because they offer great cultural insights into what it's like living in the country, and often give local tips on the best places to visit and stay.

We listen to the Bangkok Expat Podcast all the time, it's informative, entertaining and always makes light of the quirks of life in Bangkok. Other expat podcasts can be found here.

5. Download articles to read offline on Pocket


Pocket is a mobile app that allows you to save online articles to your phone, so you can read them later. Specifically, you can download the articles so you can still view them even when you're not connected to 3G or Wifi. It's really easy to use, just download the app,  create an account (it's free) and saving articles.

Now you can use this to save your favourite articles to read anytime! #shamelessplug

6. Pack a warm jacket

Pourqoui you say? The reason is two-fold. Firstly, taking your bulkier items on the plane with you saves space in your suitcase/backpack. Bonus!Secondly, modern aeroplanes have upgraded air conditioning systems, primarily to reduce the humidity in the air, but the effect of this is it feels much colder on the flight.

It is said that you enter a deeper, more restful sleep if it's colder in the room. This is because losing heat from our core signals to our body that we are ready to sleep, which promotes physiological changes that cause us to feel tired. Disruptive rest can be caused when  our bodies are constantly trying to regulate our body temperature. 

Conversley, if it's too cold, your body has to work too hard to maintain enough heat at the core to function properly.If, like me, you find that aeroplanes are freezing, you might benefit from taking a warm jacket to wrap yourself up while you sleep. Many airlines provide blankets, but I have discovered that most budget airlines actually charge you for the blanket. Some US airlines charge up to $10!

7. Rehydration Salts


It is recommended that you drink 1L for every 4 hours of flying, despite this I find that sometimes I still feel sluggish. And there's a reason for this, when the body expels fluids it doesn't just flush out H2O, you're also losing sodium (one of the mineral components of electrolytes). Sodium is important because it helps our bodies keep our fluid levels balanced, which in turn promotes optimal hydration both in and outside of the cells. Without it, the function of our cells are compromised which leads to fatigue, headaches, dizziness etc.

Rehydration salts, which are commonly used for Diarrhoea sufferers, help to replenish the body with glucose and electrolytes. I have discovered that a great way to quickly rehydrate is to pour a sachet of the salts into my water during the flight and within 30 minutes I am refreshed. They also sell a range of flavours, so they don't have to taste disgusting in your water!

Frankly, most of the tips I have provided have come from trial and error. And despite the boredom I experience on most flights, it's always worth it when I get to my destination. It's just a means to an end, hopefully some of these tips will help make the journey a little more enjoyable!