There are a lot of things to love about travel – the cultural experiences, delicious food, unforgettable experiences and once-in-a-lifetime moments, to name a few. But, for all its benefits, there’s really no way of getting around the part where you have to fly long-haul to get somewhere. It’s the worst. Being jammed on a plane for a long amount of time, feeling smelly and dirty, being unable to get to sleep. It can be exhausting and very challenging! With all the travel Matt and I do for Little Grey Box, I’ve had to pick up a few tips and tricks along the way to help make long-haul flights bearable. Today, I wanted to share those with you! So, here are 9 super easy things I do to help me survive those dreaded long-haul flights. If you have any great tips, please share them below!
1. In-flight beauty kit
When I’m packing my carry-on for a long-haul flight, I always pull together a couple of essentials to take on the plane with me. I have a reusable, clear zip bag that I put it all in, so I don’t have to worry about doing it at the international airport – it saves time and stress! In my kit, I include face wash (DermaVeen Extra Gentle Soap-Free Wash), rose water (Cedar + Stone Rose Water), moisturiser (A’kin hydrating antioxidant day cream), rosehip oil (Essano Organic Rosehip Oil), lip balm (Carmex), eye drops and my bamboo toothbrush and toothpaste. Before I go to sleep, when I wake up or just when I feel like it, I wash my face, spritz with rose water, slather on rosehip oil and top with moisturiser. I also do an in-seat freshen up, spritzing with rose water and slathering on more moisturiser when I start to feel my skin dry out. I pop in eye drops when I feel like I need them and find they help me perk up, especially when it’s time to land.
2. Pack a big pillow
Of all the things I do, this is probably the most important. Whenever I’m flying long-haul and know I’m going to need to get some sleep on the plane, I always bring a pillow from home (I’m referring to it as a big pillow cos it’s so much bigger than those awful travel pillows). I pop on a fresh pillow case and carry it on with me. Yes, you look a tad crazy, like you’re about to take up residence on the plane and, yes, you then have to cart that pillow around for the rest of your trip (it actually fits pretty easily in the middle of your suitcase as it’s squishy). BUT it is much easier to sleep as you can use the pillow to cushion those hard, jabby parts of the plane seat. You can cuddle it and rest your head on top, getting neck support, or squish it against the window and nestle in. Trust me, it makes ALL the difference.
3. Pack a scarf/poncho or wrap
I always put an oversized scarf, poncho or wrap in my carry-on. If you want to go to sleep right away but they haven’t dimmed the cabin lights yet, you can wrap it around your head and block out all the light. You can scrunch it up and use it as an additional pillow or lumbar support if the chair’s uncomfortable. Feeling cold? You can use it as an extra blanket or, if you’re flying with a super budget airline, use it as your blanket. I like to drape a scarf over my head when I sleep anyway because I hate the idea of strangers watching me sleep – it freaks me out.
4. Pack an in-flight medicine kit
I have a small reusable bag that I stock with essential medicines and always have with me, stashed in my carry-on backpack. In it, I keep paracetamol and ibuprofen, cold and flu medicine (day and night), antihistamine, eye drops, band-aids, Imodium and buscopan (in case of an upset tummy) and throat lozenges. This kit has saved my butt so many times! You just never know when an upset tummy, bad headache or sudden head cold are going to strike.
5. Noise cancelling headphones
You don’t realise just how loud and aggravating the sound of a plane is until you start using noise cancelling headphones. Matt got me a pair for Christmas (these Sony ones) and now I don’t know how I flew without them. There are all kinds of brands on the market and cordless tend to be quite popular, but those aren’t really going to work for you on a plane if you’re trying to watch in-flight movies. Mine has a cord and came with a special adaptor that makes them compatible with those special two/three prong slots on planes. It’s a great way to block out the noise of the plane and give you a bit of a mental respite.
6. Pack cosy pyjamas
When I know I’m going to be flying overnight, I throw a pair of comfy pyjamas in my carry-on. When it’s time to go to sleep, I get changed into my PJ’s. If you don’t feel comfortable wearing bright blue unicorn pyjamas (me) then some comfy sweatpants/tracksuit pants and a baggy top or jumper will do the trick too. You’ll be able to get more comfortable in your seat, without any buttons or zips digging into you, and it’ll help you feel fresh and clean.
7. Pack a clean change of clothes
Speaking of fresh and clean – I also pack a change of clothes in my bag. If I don’t have room for a whole new outfit, I just pack two clean pairs of underwear and one or two clean t-shirts. When I ‘wake up,’ I change from my PJ’s into my clean undies, jeans and a fresh t-shirt. Sitting in a plane seat for 12+ hours straight can do strange things to your body and popping on a fresh set of clothes will help you feel fresh.
8. Pack an eye mask and ear plugs
While noise cancelling headphones are great, they aren’t the most comfortable things to sleep in. So, slip an eye mask and set of ear plugs in your carry-on too. When it comes time to sleep, they’ll help block out the light and loud sounds of the aircraft and other passengers.
9. Wear a comfy outfit
This one should be pretty obvious, but it’s still really important. When I’m flying long-haul I like to be as comfortable as possible. For me, this usually means my comfiest pair of loose-fitting jeans or active-wear tights and a baggy t-shirt, jumper or poncho of some sort. The baggier and more loose fitting, the better! I don’t want any zips, buttons or tight waistbands digging into me. Instead of letting my bra dig into me for 12 hours straight, I usually prefer to wear a singlet/vest top with a soft, inbuilt bralette.
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.