So you’ve booked the ticket, accommodation has been confirmed, visa is sorted and your bag is packet. Now all you have to do is prepare yourself for your first long haul flight. It’s quite intimidating. You’ve got a 12 hour flight ahead and another 3 hour stop over and another 8 hour flight before you reach your destination. How are you going to cope with this. How will you sleep? What will you do for 3 hours on the airport? So here is a survival guide for your first long haul flight.
1) Wear comfortable clothes
Trust me, the last thing you want is to have your skinny jean cut into the back of your legs for the next 12 hours. Your feet will most probably swell up like a piece of sour dough, so wear flat comfortable shoes you can easily take off and put on again.
2) Take a warm jacket
Even if it feels like someone opened the gates of hell outside, it does get cold when you are 30000ft in the air and the blankets supplied by the airlines are not always sufficient. If you get cold feet like me, pack in an extra pair of socks.
3) Pack extra clothing in your carry-on
I speak of personal experience when I’m saying this. Pack extra clothing. Even if it’s just a clean pair of under wear and a shirt. Pack it in. A few years ago I was flying back home from Bangkok via Hong Kong and our flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong was running a bit late. I ended up missing my connection to Johannesburg and the only next available flight was at 11pm the following night. Cathay Pacific was kind enough to put us up in a hotel for the night and gave us meal vouchers, but if you’re at the end of your holiday and spent every last cent. There’s no way you can go and buy new clothes.
4) Do not drink too much on a flight
You will have the hangover from hell! Apart from that, you will not sleep. Alcohol will make you sleep for an hour or so, but will keep you up the rest of the time. When you are at that high altitude, with the recycled air from the plane, you will get dehydrate 10 times more than usual. Another thing, is that you don’t want to be the loud drunk on the plane. Not only are you annoying everyone that’s trying to sleep or watch a movie, you’re only embarressing yourself. You will also most probably be put on the no fly list. So keep it civilized.
5) Invest in a good neck pillow
It won’t change your life, but it will help you sleep better.
6) Sleeping pills
If you struggle to fall asleep easily like me take some over the counter sleeping pills with. This will change your life and the way you travel.
7) Stay fresh and move
Move around often. This will help with the swollen legs and keeping good circulation going. Especially if you are at risk of deep vein thrombosis. While you are moving around, go freshen up at least once or twice during your flight. Keep your skin moisturised and your breath smelling fresh. Even a quick wiz with a wetwipe under the arms makes a diffirence. Your in an enclosed space with +- 300 other people. You do not want to be the smelly one on the plane.
8) Let me entertain you
Or you can entertain yourself. Most airlines have inflight entertainment, but in these days where everything is at your fingertips, you’ve probably already seen most of the movies/series on offer. I recommend downloading your favourites on your phone or ipad and plug into the small screen infront of you. Or if modern technology is not your thing or you are one 8th hipster (like me) then pack in a good book. Pack the book in any case. It will come in handy when you’ve got a 3 hour stop over (which might get delayed with 3 hours more) and all the charge points in the airport are taken or just not working.
9) Notify your bank
You should notify your bank that you are travelling to certain countries and will be using your debit or credit cards in those countries. Most importanlty make sure your card does not expire during the time you are travelling and notify them if you will have a stop over in any other countries other than the ones you are visitng. With credit card fraud on the rise most banks will block your card, espesially if they are unable to get hold of you.
Buy snakcs and water before you board your flight. Having a water bottel is handy as you can just ask a flight attendant to fill it up for you when ever you need.
So now you have the basics down, just remender your ticket, passport and a sense of adventure.