Any intrepid explorers out there will know that some of the best travel destinations can be a real hassle to get to. Long- haul flights can often put a downer on ones travels, or even put you off all together. But, surviving these long-haul boredom boxes might not be as difficult as you think.
The first hurdle in this migration minefield is seat location. This crucial point can make or break your flight experience. All seats are viable options, and choosing the right one for you is not as difficult as you might think.
Do you have long legs? Do you need to use the bathroom a lot? Do you often get restless?
If yes, then you need an aisle seat. Trust me, there is nothing worse than having to get up time and again for other people in your row when you’re trying to sleep or watch a movie. So, if you are a constant pee-er, for everyones sake – take the aisle.
Do you fall asleep for most of the flight, awakening only for food and duty free? Are you an avid instagrammer, dreaming of capturing the perfect sunrise/set photo whilst soaring miles above the clouds?
Oh you! We are so alike you wouldn’t believe. I’ve often described myself as having a bladder of steel, because, when it comes down to the wire, I can work those floor muscles like no-one else. You, my friend, are a window-seater. This is the place for dreamers – both literal, and ‘day’ – and those of you who don’t mind waking two people up if you do become desperate for the loo!
(Or, like me, you ninja climb across said people using the armrests as your stepping stones and resulting in entertaining the rest of the passengers in your cabin. But, not waking your row up at all I might add. )
Do you enjoy meeting new people? Do you have sharp elbows? Are you travelling with other people?
Well hello there you rare breed – you are a middle seater. usually, you don’t see many solo travellers choosing these seats. Although, I have heard it can be good for nervous flyers, as they often feel more secure here. Those sharp elbows of yours will almost definitely come in handy though.
*Side note – I once had a long haul flight (11 hours) sat in the middle seat. The guy sat in the window seat on my row didn’t get up once. Not even to pee. Weird right? *
So, that’s your seat sorted. Now, you need to make your little nest as comfortable as possible, so you can get through the next 8, 10, 20 hours of travel. Most airlines will provide you with all you need for this task during longer flights, often dealing out free head phones, blankets and pillows. Don’t be afriad to ask for and extra of any of these if you think you’ll want/need them. “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”. This has been my mantra for a long time. Some of the best parts of my travels have only happened because of this.
Top tip: As soon as that seatbelt sign switches off – hot foot it to the bathroom. Going now won’t annoy anyone, and will set you up for the next few hours.
Also, do heed the advice of the cabin crew and fasten your seatbelt over your blanket, so if you doze off, you’re left undisturbed.
Now, if you’ve read my article about battling jet lag, you’ll know I’m a fan of alcohol and flying as a combo. If you’re a drinker, make use of the free wine and beer on these flights. Drinking a few glasses of the good stuff can help you to sleep on the flight – setting your body clock to where it needs to be. (And it can always make the journey itself a little less tedious). But, of course, don’t get hammered or you’ll (probably) get in some kind of trouble.
Nowadays, airlines almost all have seat-back TV sets on all long haul flights. These are serious godsends.
Top tip: Check your screen works properly as soon as you sit down. This way, if it doesn’t work, you can bring it up right away with the cabin crew, and hopefully get changed to another seat. You might think you can do without, but you’re wrong. You can’t.
My recent KLM flight had a great selection of content available. On my round trip to the UK I watched; Pitch Perfect 2, Attack on Titan, Minions, The Big Bang Theory, Game of Thrones, and one of my fave movies of all time, pictured below (Bonus points if you comment what movie it is!). It was true binge watching at its best! I always find watching multiple movies back to back tiring, and really hard work. So, I always try to switch it up by watching a few episodes of something light and airy (sitcoms usually), and the spreading out my movies throughout the flight.
Napping. This is an essential cog in the long-haul machine. If, like me, you can never quite get comfy on aeroplanes, long stints of sleep are out the window. Instead, I always try and take 3 or 4 good naps throughout the journey. For this, I recommend investing in a good neck pillow. I’m quite short, and I often find that the build in headrests are either too high or too low to truly get comfy. So I do my best to push it out of the way and rely on my trusty polar bear neck wonder. I really do believe that sleeping as much as you can is very helpful on these journeys, so whatever helps you drift off, bring it (within reason).
I’d also recommend bringing some kind of activity with you to stave off boredom. If you’re travelling to a non-English speaking country, why not try learning a bit of the language on the flight over? Even just a few simple phrases can make a world of difference when travelling. If there’s any kind of work you can do to pass the time, it might be worth smooshing it into your hand luggage. For example, I’m jotting all this down into my notebook 5 hours into an 11 hour flight from Amsterdam to Osaka. It helps to make the flight feel less like wasted time if you’re able to do something useful.
My final tip is stretching. I know this one is always mentioned in these kind of articles, but there is a good reason. I always feel like a bit of a dick if I start doing some simple relaxation stretches at the back of the plane, but they make such a difference, I’ve stopped caring. If you’re really flexible, you can even manage some good stretches in your seat. I know I was guilty of that once or twice when I was in dance school.
Just remember, as horrible as the journey may be, the destination will be worth it in the end.