I’m always amazed at the different ways people try to get through long-haul flights: particularly those who just sit there and drink can after can of beer. (Each to their own, but I can only imagine how rough you feel after 10+ hours of solid drinking, combined with jetlag and sleep deprivation). If you’d rather use a means other than alcohol to get through a flight and – ideally – want to feel somewhat fresh at the other end, read on for a few tips that I’ve learned the hard way.
1. Drink plenty of water
Granted, the taste of water will get seriously boring after your eighth hour of sipping it, but the more (non-alcoholic) liquid you can get inside you, the better. Fruit juice will also help to do the job, although try (if you can) to avoid caffeinated and gassy beverages like Coke, as well as tea and coffee. Plane cabins are notoriously dried-out environments, and dehydration can contribute to making you feel yukky. Plus, more trips to the toilets means more chances to stretch your legs (oh joy!).
2. Don’t eat too much food
The unappealing nature of most plane food means that a lot of people won’t have a problem with this, but gobbling down a pile of overheated starch and stodge will contribute to making you feel gross. You also don’t really need to eat as much as they tend to give you over the course of a long-haul flight, especially as you are so inactive, and feeling bloated and full is no-one’s idea of fun. If you can, try and request in advance to have a lighter, healthier meal. On an Emirates flight I once requested that instead of meals I had their fruit platters, and I would do this again in an instant. Not only did the fruit add to my water intake (see above) it was also nice and refreshing, healthy, and tasty.
3. Fly through the night
I recently flew back from South East Asia on a daytime flight, which I thought would be vastly superior to a night flight. Boy, was I wrong! Instead of being bored – yet managing to waste around 5 hours sleeping – I was just bored for the entire flight. Turns out 11 hours of doing nothing is terribly tedious. I also had a mini anxiety attack when I realised I still had over half of the flight to go, but had reached the point where I JUST WANTED TO GET OFF!! Even if you’re one of those people who can never truly sleep well on a plane (like me), wasting a good few hours dozing – and hopefully more, if possible – will make the flight seem to go faster.
4. Book flights with a stop halfway
I also learnt this one the hard way. Faced with the option of two 7-hour flights with a short break in Dubai, or one solid 12-hour flight from Amsterdam to Bangkok, I plumped for the latter. “It will get it over and done with in one go!”, I thought. “No messing around waiting to change planes!”, I thought. Turns out, for me, that chance to get off halfway through is worth the stop. Stretching your legs, walking around and eating normal food is underrated. However, watch the duration of your stop carefully, and opt for something between 1.5-2hrs max. Anything above that will drag, and add considerable hours on to your overall journey time.
5. Take toothpaste!
This might sound like a curveball, but trust me on this one. There is nothing worse than sitting in a tin can for 14 hours, eating manky food, and feeling like your mouth has tasted better days. (Actually, the one worse thing than this is sitting next to a mouthbreather who also hasn’t cleaned their teeth recently). Cleaning your teeth en route (as well as splashing a bit of water on your face) will make you feel a lot fresher, and will also help to wake you up a bit, particularly if you’ve nodded off. Oh, and the people around you will probably be grateful – even if they don’t return the favour…