Heather specializes in cubicle escape artistry and entrepreneurial activation. She leads an eclectic, adventurous, self-designed life, running her own location-independent business two blocks from the ocean in Peru. She’s passionate about travel, and helping her clients flip the switch to chart lives + careers they really, truly, radically LOVE. Twitter.
Growing up as an airline brat, I’ve experienced my fair share of long haul flights across our beautiful globe. Here are my top tips for arriving and thriving, rather than feeling part cranky zombie/part raisin:
1) Choose a fabulous airline
Like most people, I’m usually looking for the best price when I book flights. But for long hauls, choosing an airline that has modernized airplanes with more leg room in economy class, on-demand entertainment built into seat-backs, and winged adjustable head rests is well worth the extra couple hundred dollars in my opinion. Check out Airline Equality to compare the ‘little things’ across airlines.
2) Collect points for upgrades
If you’ve got the coin, pay for an upgrade one way. This is the best gift you’ll ever give your traveling self. But if you’re trying to keep costs down, use air miles/points to ask for an upgrade at check-in. Get lotsa points fast by switching to a credit card that earns travel miles with every purchase, or join the Travel Hacking Cartel to be notified of opportunities to earn points without ever spending a dime. Run, don’t walk.
3) Wear layers
If you’ve ever been on a plane, this needs no explanation. Even if you’re headed to India, chances are you’ll freeze on the plane without something cozy to pull over your sundress.
4) Take toiletries & healthy snacks
Honestly, every time I travel and forget toothpaste, I curse the gods. A travel-sized toothpaste, toothbrush, travel-sized moisturizing cream, deodorant, and your favourite passion fruit lip balm will ensure you arrive at your destination feeling fresh and lovely. A protein bar and a bag of almonds will also help you offset the carb-heavy airline meals.
And last but not least…
5) Don’t set yourself up for a #jetlagFAIL! Here’s how: Whenever possible, fly east to west
A general rule of thumb is that the number of days needed to recover from jet lag equals two thirds of the time zones crossed. However! With westbound flights that time is reduced to one half of the time zones crossed. Trust me – this makes a big difference!
~ Splurge and stay near the airport
If you live far from the airport and have a dreaded early morning flight, stay in a hotel by the airport the night before. There is nothing quite like the nauseous dragging misery of waking up at 3am to get to the airport for 5am for a 7am international departure. It can also mess up your sleep schedule royally and pave the way for jet lag to have its dirty way with you upon arrival.
~ Take advantage of stopovers
Most long haul flights more than 12 hours have to stop somewhere anyway, so why not make a mini-visit out of it? Plan two days in Amsterdam or Hawaii en route, and not only will this help you adjust to time change, you get the bonus of exploring somewhere new.
~ Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
I know, I sound a bit like your mother, but this is really important for your body to cope with the time change and dry recycled airplane air. Think water, grapes, and decaf tea. Just Say No to soft drinks, coffee, and (sorry friends…) booze. Your body will thank you for it.
How do you deal with long-haul flights?