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If you’ve been following my travels on YouTube or any of my social media channels (cheeky plug: you can find me @alajode if you haven’t already! Come say hi!) – you may have noticed that my flight path has been, er, inefficient. To say the least.
In mid-February, I travelled from New York Fashion Week to London Fashion Week – so far so normal – then on to the Philippines less than a week later. That’s a whole lot of flying (almost all the way round the world, in fact!) but all in one direction. So it kind of makes sense.
After 10 days in the Philippines, I boarded a return flight back to London. Again, so far so normal. But then the fun began. After travelling from London to Manila and back again, I hopped on a flight to Berlin after 24 hours in the UK. After 4 days in Berlin for ITB, it was back to London again for another 24 hours before boarding a 19 hour journey to Japan.
Are you keeping up?
In case I completely lost you, let’s summarise: In the last few weeks, I’ve gone from America to Europe to Asia to Europe to Asia, like a human ping pong ball. In the past 5 months, I’ve taken no fewer than five long-hail flights of ten hours or more. That’s over 60 hours in the air, not including the 2-8 hour flights in between.
(If I wanted to add to the ridiculous, I could also mention that next month I’m flying back to Europe AGAIN only to fly on to South Africa. But let’s ignore that for now, shall we?)
How I prepare for long-haul flights
So now I think I’ve proven my credentials, let’s take a look at how I handle these crazy long flights. Because the one plus side to all of these flights is that I’m getting good at them. Like, really good at them.
Here are my best tips for surviving a long flight (so far!):
Choose comfy clothes
This one kind of goes without saying, but somehow there’s still always a voice in the back of my head urging me to, you know, dress a little bit fancier. Especially since that seems to be the only way to get a free upgrade. But don’t worry – I always let the sensible side win, to the point I barely have to think about it anymore.
My fail-proof flight formula looks something like this: Long gym leggings + layered tops + blanket scarf + trainers.
I used to wear jeans (because they’re heavy and I wanted to save weight allowance!) but I’ve since switched to the super-comfortable gym leggings, without exception. Long-haul flights usually involve a change of climate as well as a change of time zone, and full-length gym leggings are perfect for all weather; after all, they’re made to sweat in, but will also keep you warm when it’s cold. Plus, they double up as pyjamas, lounge wear AND workout gear once you arrive. And versatility is everything when you travel long-term and live out of a suitcase.
Planes can vary in temperature a LOT and you can’t rely on the free blankets to keep you warm. Layered tops will prepare you for all climates and a blanket scarf will keep you cosy if you doze off. A sports bra or soft bralette is always MUCH comfier to travel in (and sleep in!) than a regular bra. Trainers are easy to kick off once you’re on-board – or run through the airport in if you spend too much time in Duty Free!
Wear a watch
I wear a watch pretty much ever day, but ESPECIALLY on a long-haul flight.
Not only is it one less thing I have to worry about packing, but it means I can live in two time zones as once. I’m the kind of person who wants to adjust to the new time zone as quickly as possible… but I always want to know what time it is in the country I just left, too. I know it really doesn’t matter, but I can’t help myself.
As soon as I board the plane, I set my phone to flight mode (so it stays in the origin country’s time zone) and set my watch to the destination time zone. That way, I can easily know both through the entire flight!
I like to rotate my watches, but only ever take one with at a time now. Right now, I’m wearing this navy and rose gold Adexe watch (below), which has a super comfy strap and goes with pretty much everything I wear (i.e. black, grey, blue and white).
Pack a pamper kit
There’s nothing worse than rocking up to your holiday with dry skin and tired eyes. After all, who doesn’t want to look their absolute best in their Instagram snaps?
A long-haul flight can wreak havoc on even the healthiest skin, so I’ve started packing a few hand-luggage friendly products on every flight. And what a difference it makes!
If you board the plane in makeup, you’ll want a small bottle of makeup remover or cleansing wipes (not ideal, but they do the job when you’re 33,000 feet in the air). I also like to pack a good moisturiser – my current favourite is this 75ml tube from Antipodes. It’s an all-in-one face and body moisturiser with SPF 15, so it’s the perfect lightweight solution for carrying around. Having this with me also means I don’t need to lug an additional body moisturiser or day cream around with me.
As well as moisturiser, I also like to pack some eye drops for soothing eyes after the long exposure to air conditioning, a miniature toothpaste or spray, lip balm, hand cream and maybe a face mask if my skin’s already feeling super dry or I’m heading somewhere cold.
Get some shut eye
If you’re on a Dreamliner, you’ll probably sleep pretty easily – even if you don’t want to. But if you’re not lucky enough to be on the comfort of a Dreamliner or flying First Class, you’ll need to do the best you can to make seat 56E as much like a bed as possible.
Most airlines will hand out pillows, blankets and eye masks on long-haul flight, but that’s not always the case. The only flight I’ve taken recently where we weren’t given eye masks (or toothbrushes) was with Alitalia, but luckily I came prepared anyway.
Even if you know they’ll be handing out comfort packs, it’s always a good idea to bring your own. Mine packs down into the tiniest makeup bag I own and barely takes up any room in my hand luggage. It contains an inflatable pillow, eye mask, flight socks and two pairs of ear plugs (ALWAYS useful when travelling!). Because I really struggle to sleep, I also attach a Trtl pillow onto my backpack with a carabiner, and it’s been a game-changer.
Choose your luggage wisely
Nothing makes the entire process of flying worse than having luggage that’s inconvenient in some way. However much luggage you pack (or don’t), make sure you only choose high quality backpacks and cases that are easy to recognise, pack well and won’t break on the baggage reclaim belt. Or in the queue to get on the plane. Nothing will ruin a long-haul journey quicker.
Make the most of it
Get excited! The best part about flying long-haul is that you’re probably (okay, almost definitely) heading somewhere exciting! This is your time to read every guide you can download to your Kindle or plan out an itinerary of all the places you don’t want to miss.
If you’re already organised and have planned out every last minute of your trip, now is your time to get rested before you start exploring. You’re stuck in a small space for hours, so why not use the time to meditate, read or enjoy the movie you’ve been dying to see? You have lots of time, after all!
If you’re taking a long-haul flight, I hope these tips will help you stay sane and enjoy your time on-board as much as possible. Long-haul flights kind of suck, but they don’t have to be too bad if you embrace them and go in prepared. Good luck!