Tuesday, December 1, 2015

These tips and tricks will keep you sane on
even the most gruelling of journeys.
The amount of time spent in the air for somebody traveling
from—oh, let's say London to Australia—is about 22 hours.
That's 22 hours
of screaming children.
Twenty-two hours of cramped conditions.
Twenty-two
hours spent listening to the perpetual roar of the airplane's engines.
All, of
course, served up with the always delightful inevitability of severe jet lag
waiting for you at the end.
The nuisances of long-haul travel can range in
severity from the mildly inconvenient (the dude with the loud, grating laugh
watching "Dumb and Dumber" on repeat) to the downright dangerous (deep-vein
thrombosis: no joke), and a poorly planned journey can be enough not only to
ruin your day, but a few more afterwards too.
Luckily, there are some easy
ways to make a long flight infinitely more bearable.
1.
Book your tickets early This should go without saying.
The earlier you
book, the better your chances of scoring your favorite seat—it's that
simple.
2.
Sit in the back Just in case you don't have a favorite seat (or the
ones in the front with all the legroom are taken), go for the back.
It'll be
noisier, sure, but if everybody else is scrambling for the front, you've got a
far better chance of ending up with an empty seat or two beside you.
3.
Stay away from family routes Sometimes there's nothing you can do about
it, but if you have the option of not including (for example) the weekend New
York–to–Orlando route on your itinerary, always take that option.
4.
Use those air miles If you've got 'em, flaunt 'em.
You'll thank yourself
when you're reclining in your first-class seat, sipping on a 2004 Château
Latour and pretending to like caviar.
5.
Shell out for Premium Economy Because, sadly, we don't always have the
miles.
A step up from regular economy class, Premium Economy might be slightly
more expensive, but the benefits—priority check-in, extra legroom, seats
that actually accommodate a grown human's body—far outweigh the cost.
6.
Try for a free upgrade Worth a go, isn't it? Arrive early, travel by
yourself, dress nicely, and put on your best, most winning smile.
If that
doesn't work, you could try convincing the check-in desk that you're on your
honeymoon, though that might be a bit of a stretch if you're travelling alone.
7.
Prepare for jet lag There are several things you can do before your
flight to help avoid jet lag, or at least mitigate it.
Spend the days before
your flight adjusting your sleeping patterns (a few 4 a.m.
or 7 p.m.
bedtimes
should do it, depending on what time of day you'll be flying), book your
flight so that it arrives during the day, make the most of your stopovers,
and, most importantly, be well rested before you fly.
Trust us, staying awake
for the 24 hours before the trip because you're sure it'll balance out once
you arrive just doesn't work.
8.
Check in early The last thing you need before your pan-global flight
is to be panicking your way through a busy airport.
Or to miss your flight.
9.
De-stress before you arrive Have a nice breakfast.
Go to the gym.
Read
a book.
Go to the gym again.
(You'll be sitting for the next day and a half,
so work off that king-sized box of Toblerones you plan to eat on the plane
now.) 10.
Don't overdo the carry-ons You'll need more for a long-haul
flight than you would for a short one, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea
to bring three backpacks full of duty-free booze, electronics, and half-read
John le Carré novels.
10.
But do bring your own pillow A small pillow is a staple carry-on item
for all long-distance travelers.
Every airport on the planet will sell travel
pillows, and looking faintly ridiculous is a small price to pay for not
destroying your neck.
12.
Noise-cancelling headphones are your new best friend If you can't
afford them, some high-quality earplugs will do just fine.
13.
Build a scarf tent On the off-chance there's nobody in the seats
behind or in front of you, and you're by a window, whip out a few lightweight
scarves and place them over the seats to create your own private den and
cinema.
14.
Pack an eye mask An eye mask is especially useful if you're flying
during the day, or the person next to you is wearing particularly garish
clothing.
15.
Dress right Keep it loose and comfortable—you're not here to
impress anyone.
Remember to bring layers for when it gets cold, and don't rule
out packing pajamas.
16.
Try to relax Do whatever it takes—meditate, listen to some calming
music, do some breathing exercises—not only will it help you sleep more
easily, but it's also pretty good for your psyche in general.
And if all else
fails, there's always Valium.
17.
Travel blankets exist for a reason Don't bring anything too thick
(remember, it has to fit in your carry-on) but make sure it's enough to keep
you warm when the plane's air conditioning is going full blast.
Cashmere is
probably the way forward.
Alternatively, buy a lightweight poncho-style
blanket designed for travel online, or at the airport before take-off.
18. Stick some back-up movies onto your tablet In-flight entertainment
systems are not always reliable.
They sometimes fail, and when they do you'll
be glad to have something to do in reserve.
19.
Charge those devices Because the absolute last thing you need is for
your iPad to run out of juice halfway through the season finale of Narcos, one
hour into an eleven-hour flight.
Especially if your in-flight entertainment
system isn't working.
20.
Podcasts, podcasts, podcasts Load up as many as you can.
Listening to
podcasts uses up less battery life than watching a movie, and are often more
distracting than music. You can get through an entire flight on podcasts
alone.
21.
Stay healthy Sitting in a cramped metal tube for the better part of a
day (or more) is not good for you.
Fight off dehydration and deep-vein
thrombosis—your two biggest enemies in the sky—by regularly drinking
water, stretching, and walking around the cabin.
22.
Stay hygienic This is for everybody else's sake as much as your
own.
Bring toiletries in your carry-on and make sure to brush your teeth,
throw on some deodorant, or even change your clothes.
Just make sure you do it
in the bathroom, please.
23.
Get creative You rarely get the chance to sit down for such a long
time, more or less distraction-free, so why not make the most of it? Bring a
notebook, a sketchpad, or whatever else you need to give the right-hand side
of your brain a workout.
24.
Get productive If you've got your laptop with you, this might be your
best chance to catch up on any busywork that needs doing.
Bonus: everyone else
on your flight will think you're a sophisticated international jet-setting
businessperson, right up until they notice that Netflix tab you've got open.
25.
Befriend the crew Simply not being horrible to the flight crew is a
given, but you could always go one step further and make an active effort to
be nice.
(Giving out chocolates never hurts.) Not only will you up your
chances of preferential treatment, but you'll be doing something lovely for
the folks who look after you up there.
26.
Pack extra snacks Airline food is not usually plentiful, even on long-haul
flights, and it's important to stay well-nourished.
No need to overdo it, of
course, but no one was ever sorry to find a couple pieces of fruit or granola
bars in their carry-on.
27.
Adjust your watch It's important to acclimatize yourself to the time
zone of wherever you're going.
As soon as you get on the plane, change your
watch to the local time of your destination and then alter your routine
accordingly.
This will be especially useful inside your scarf tent, which
exists beyond the natural constraints of time.
28.
Drink As far as plane-situated recreational activities go, drinking
is a pretty good one.
Alcohol is usually free on long-haul flights, and, if
nothing else, it'll make the whole affair much more interesting.
29.
Don't drink That said, don't treat booze as a way to cope with your
flight.
You'll end up using those horrible bathrooms far more frequently, plus
alcohol is dehydrating and will mess up your sleeping pattern.
And that's to
say nothing for the hangover.
Keep it sensible.
30.
Bring your best conversation A lot of people dread it when their
seatmate turns out to be chatty, but you're just as likely to be seated next
to a genuinely interesting and friendly fellow traveler as you are anyone
else.
Don't bother anyone if it's not appropriate, but don't be afraid to
strike up a conversation with your neighbor either.
Long flights can get
really boring.
31.
Practice your death glare That child across the aisle from you,
running havoc at 30,000 feet? Death glare.
The guy behind you who's been
kicking your chair for three hours? Death glare.
Those four party animals
trying to lead the cabin in a drunken rendition of Dolly Parton's "9 to 5" at
4 a.m.? Death glare.
Hone it.
Perfect it.
It will serve you well.
32.
Achieve total zen Small issues can feel like major injustices when
you're stuck on a plane, but it'll all seem insignificant if you keep one
thing in mind: once you're in the air, there's nothing to be done.
You're on
the plane until you get off.
Close your eyes, take a breath, and come to terms
with this truth, and suddenly the aircraft running out of alcohol won't seem
like such a big problem.
33.
Combat jet lag The flight isn't over just because you've
disembarked.
To fight jet lag, get as much daylight as you can, take a quick
nap if you have to, and exercise at every opportunity.
Do all of that for a
day or two and you'll be back to normal—just in time for the return trip.
Before getting on a long-haul flight, it helps to be
prepared.
Here are 33 ways to make even the longest of journeys more
comfortable.

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