Travelling is a favourite pastime of Australians – we’re one of the most well-travelled nations on earth. To get anywhere from our island, long hours of travel are usually required: to get from the east coast of Australia to, say, London, you’re looking at about 24 hours in the air. People often say it’s about the journey, not the destination – but poor planning can make a long-haul flight less than agreeable.
Choose your seat
Get in early and choose your seat – whether you find a window seat best for sleeping, you prefer an aisle for ease of reaching the bathroom or you really want to sit over the wing – you’ll only have the option to get the seat you want if you check in ahead of time.
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Get your body prepared
The day before your flight, spend some time at the gym, walking or stretching in preparation for spending 24 hours in a sitting position. Make sure you’re well-rested, too – denying yourself sleep in order to be exhausted on the plane can backfire.
Charge all your devices before you leave and bring along your chargers so you can top them up along the way. An external charging device is a great back-up in case the plane has no power points.
Bring back-up entertainment
Load your computer, tablet or phone with additional music, movies and e-books in case you run out of on-board options. Books – real ones, made of paper – are a good option to give your eyes a break from screen time.
Waistbands that dig in, stiff jeans or tight-fitting shirts are bad options for long-haul flights – and really, who are you trying to impress? If you want to step off the plane looking stylish, bring along a change of clothes such as leggings or loose-fitting pants and a t-shirt. Wearing layers also helps – it can get chilly on a plane but your body temperature might also fluctuate.
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Bring some snacks
There are meals available on the plane and often a few snacks too, but it’s good to have something from home, even if it’s just a couple of pieces of fruit or some crackers and peanut butter. That way, if meals aren’t served when your stomach says they should be, you can quell hunger pangs.
Always bring a scarf or shawl
Handy for warmth, covering your eyes from the light, as a blanket or as a pillow – a scarf is a hardworking multi-tasker for travellers.
Pack a pillow and blanket
It’s hard to doze off when your head is lolling all over the place and you’re cold. A travel neck pillow supports your head and neck and a blanket keeps you cosy – these can only be aids in an attempt at mid-air, upright sleep.
See no evil, hear no evil
For some reason, it’s possible to fall asleep with the lights on and the TV blaring at home – but trying to drift off on a plane is a different story. Noises from the guffawing guy watching an Adam Sandler movie across the aisle and light from your seatmate’s iPad can prove irritants that might just ruin all chances for slumber. An eye-mask and a pair of noise-cancelling headphones give the quiet and darkness necessary for the best chance at rest.
Boredom, being unable to sleep, watching an apocalypse movie about a dystopian future ruled by non-empathetic aliens – all these things can contribute to in-flight anxiety. Download a meditation app before the flight to combat stress or practise some deep-breathing techniques.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
The difference between stumbling off the plane feeling like death warmed up and stepping off the flight ready to face the world can often come down to hydration. When you’re dehydrated, your mood, energy levels and cognitive function will all drop. It’s also responsible for dry, flaky skin, headaches and irritability. Drink water frequently – even if you don’t feel like you need it – and limit booze to combat dehydration.
Keep it clean
Brushed teeth, a clean face, and a soothing layer of moisturiser does wonders for your sense of wellbeing in the air. Bring a little kit with a comb, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, facial wipes and moisturiser for in-flight freshening.
It’s remarkable how productive we can be when there are no other distractions. In the air, there are no phones ringing, no emails arriving and no text messages to respond to. Open your notepad/laptop/sketch book and get to work.
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