Anybody who knows me, knows I book flights with one major deciding factor at the forefront of my mind: Price. It’s a well-used joke of mine that I would fly in the luggage hold if it meant that I could get a cheaper ticket.
Often with long haul trips, the airfare is one of the largest chunks of anyones’ budget. Pricing between airlines that are perceived to be more comfortable / higher end vs budget, is huge. So, making a savvy airline choice is key! But, who wants to compromise on comfort? Not me.
Like with everything in life, practice makes perfect. Flying is no different.
When I first began flying, I made rookie errors about how to manage myself on board flights. But, over the years and many thousands of air miles, I’ve worked out my own little nifty routine to hit the ground running when I get to my destination, no matter how long my less-than-glamorous-economy-class plane trip is.
Here’s my finest tricks, to help you travel like a pro.
NUMBER ONE: Don’t Drink Alcohol
This comes with the disclaimer that you’ve actually paid enough to be on an airline that has free booze that you’re dying to take advantage of, if you’re not; think of it as another money-saver! Why spend all those $£€ on a tiny bottle of wine, when you could buy a whole bottle on arrival for the same cost?!
Aside from that, if your booze is free, think on this: Alcohol has twice the potency in the air that it does on the ground. It means you get drunk quicker and because you’re already rapidly dehydrating in a plane environment, you’ll be hungover quicker too. Seems like a great idea at the time, justified to yourself that it’ll “help you sleep better”, but trust me. It won’t. It’s a bad, bad idea and the number 1 way to make yourself feel rubbish.
NUMBER TWO: Do Drink Water
A LOT of water. Even more important than not drinking alcohol, is drinking water. Whilst in transit anything with caffeine is a big no-no, and sugary drinks will leave you with a sugar high and plummet, so both are best avoided if you want to feel fresh on arrival.
On a 12 hour flight, I drink an average of 3 litres of water. Sounds crazy, but this is literally the sort of fish-like quantity of water you should consume to feel truly hydrated in the air.
TRAVEL HACK TIP
Take your own (large) empty water bottle to save on the eye watering price of post-security shops. We seem to forget you are allowed to take empty bottles through airport security provided there’s no liquid inside! Look for a drinking fountain to fill up once you’re through the checks, or have it filled by the air hostesses on the flight.
NUMBER THREE: Bring Your Own Essentials
In the dawn of budget air travel, even the fancier airlines are cutting back on what they provide passengers. Meaning the days of automatically receiving a mini travel kit, blanket and even headphones, is not always a given. Pack enough layers or even your own blanket/sarong to keep you warm. It’s much easier to fall asleep if you’re cosy.
PHOE TRAVELS UNDER SEAT ESSENTIALS
Water (lots and lots of water), eye mask, moisturiser, lip balm, inflatable travel pillow, iPhone with headphones (to drown out noisy passengers), comfy socks (ideally worn over compression socks – only the finest fashion on this blog), travel toothbrush + paste, reading material, and relevant arrival cards for immigration. I.e. passport, pen, boarding documents and access to the address of where you’re staying.
NUMBER FOUR: Always Have A Spare Cotton Bag
Random but, use this to store your essentials (listed above!) underneath your seat and keep the rest of your belongings in the overhead locker. This saves all that disruptive opening and closing of the overhead bins and no footsie wrestling with your bag when you’re trying to sleep, because you’ve brought too much luggage. Cotton bags are best because they fold up to nothing and can be reused on arrival.
NUMBER FIVE: Take An Aisle Seat
Seems like an odd recommendation perhaps, and it’s not always optimal for sleeping, as you have no window to lean on. But, it is optimal for your health. Sitting on the aisle means that once you’ve consumed your 3 litres of water (see above) you can take regular toilet breaks, which helps stretch your legs, combat deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and generally reminds your limbs you are alive. It makes a massive difference to your well-being and feeling less like a zombie on arrival.
CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?
I almost exclusively opt for an aisle seat, and you may think that I have the frustrating process of having to get up for my companions on the inner seats. Surprisingly not. Most people who fly barely move in my experience. I usually average a maximum of moving only once or twice during an entire flight for someone else, and often just for a pre-landing pee break. Don’t be one of those guys. Stretch those loins.
NUMBER SIX: Be Thoughtful Of Your Meal Times
One fantastic way to combat jet lag is tricking your body with eating. Meals on the plane don’t count, plane time isn’t real. But, ensuring you eat at normal meal times according to your new timezone, will help you regain a sense of normality for the rest of the day and hopefully lead to a peaceful sleep that night.
NUMBER SEVEN: Don’t Go To Bed When You Arrive
Even if you do have a late night arrival and it’s a logical time to go to bed, it pays to give yourself chance to eat something that constitutes as dinner, shower to get that plane grime off you, and then go to bed. This should help ease your bodies desire to wake up in the middle of the night.
If you arrive in the morning, it’s even more crucial to try to stay awake. There is no easy way to fight your body clocks desire to rest after being cramped on a plane. But, smart travellers trick their brains and bodies into thinking you’re starting a new day by getting off the plane, in to the shower and eating breakfast.
Plan your arrival day to involve gentle exercise, fresh air, normal mealtimes and maybe a cat nap. But only if you really don’t think you can keep your eyes open, and make sure you set an alarm!
One flights’ worth of sensibleness can prevent a weeks worth of sleepless nights and disruption. Feeling good when you step off the plane means you can enjoy what is left of your arrival day and it’s not a day wasted in bed, groaning about jetlag!
Remember that before you start knocking back the free alcohol and start watching every film to offer on the inflight entertainment system. It’s just not worth it if you want to make the most of your holiday, or return to a normal routine back home.