Since living in Australia, I’ve started to become a specialist of long-haul flights across half of the world. Originally from France, I’ve done many many return trips to Europe and therefore many hours / days and nights in a plane.
I say I’m a specialist but in theory - I’m still struggling from time to time with surviving those countless hours of flying, transfers, waiting and the exhaustion when landing.
However, since a few months, I’ve decided to get better for several reasons: the need to maximise my time, the need to reduce my tiredness to the minimum because of a busy life awaiting for me as soon I land and just the need to stop “nailing it” by going into long flights without a strategy and failing it anyway.
When I was a teenager or student, I used to not care thinking I’ll be fine the day after. I still fall into those bad habits sometimes but there is nothing worse than not closing one eye during a long flight and arrive as alive as a zombie in a new place or back home.
I’ve even gone as far as the first time I visited Australia when I was 15 to not sleep at all during both of the 12 hours flights. Needless to say on my third flight from Sydney to Cairns and as soon as I arrived in Cairns, I was feeling super unwell. Believe me ten years later, I still remember the feeling.
So I’ve decided to put a stop to all the improvising during long-haul flights and go into “strategy” mode. It’s not often that I have many hours ahead of me to relax, work a bit, eat and sleep so why not use it? Let me talk you through it:
Find out a plan to set yourself on destination
Depending on where you stop and where you are going, make a plan on when you should be awake and asleep to set yourself right for when you arrive.
Tip: set your watch to your destination so you are already psychologically in the right time zone and can adjust your flight time according to it if possible.
Definitely sleep a bit in each of the planes
Don’t skip on the sleeping part, really. Even if it’s just a bit of sleep and if it’s not long, it’s better than nothing. It’ll save you when landing.
Tips: choose the seat you prefer prior to the flight - having a window seat gives you more option to rest your head on the wall whereas aisle seat might be easier to spread legs and get up for exercise. Take a sleeping mask to avoid light disturbance and earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones for a calmer environment.
Do a stopover if possible
So I only tried this strategy this year and it made a HUGE difference on me. I stopped in Seoul for 20 hours between Sydney and London and although I also did some sightseeing, I slept very very well for 5 straight hours in a hotel and it made the whole difference. I was tired during the day but not the same kind of tired and I didn’t feel the jet lag at all when arriving in Europe.
Tip: From Australia to Europe, If you have the opportunity, I strongly recommend one or two nights either in Asia or in the Middle East to combine rest and sightseeing between two long flights! Works for other kind of destinations following how long / where you fly.
Make your life easier on the plane
Being comfortable on a plane is key to relax. We all know how cramped it can get in economy class (lucky you if you’re flying business!) so better wear the right clothes, have all the entertainment you need and everything by your side to not go up and down looking in your bag.
Tip: Drink water, water and water! I am not a fan of drinking alcohol on planes - unless it’s a day flight, champagne is flowing and the flight isn’t too long - it sure can make you sleep but make you dehydrated and exhaust you faster.
Get some information about your connecting airport
It’s so precious to know little things like you can take a free shower between flights at your connecting airport or be able to relax in peace in a special lounge or just discover the culture of the country directly from the airport!
Tip: I found this website called Sleeping in Airports and it has some very precious information on many airports. Definitely worth researching before your layover!
And finally, just take time to sit back and relax
You have some many hours ahead of you, just enjoy those and relax! You’ll get to your destination in a breeze and will think it was faster than you thought when arrived. Congrats!
Tip: in our ever-connected world, sometimes it takes only a flight to get us out of social media and the internet. So enjoy those few hours being off-the-grid and watch that movie you’ve wanted to see for so long or finish this book that’s been hanging since three months. You have nowhere else to go right now…
What are your strategies to survive long haul flights? Let me know and I’ll try!