How To…

…Survive long haul flights!

Last week I arrived in the amazing Vietnamese city of Hanoi, after around 28 hours of travelling. We set off at 5am on Tuesday morning and arrived at the hotel at around 3pm on Wednesday afternoon…scrap that – around 34 hours of travelling (if I’ve got my maths right, which frankly is entirely unlikely).

Now I’ve only ever done one other long haul trip in my life, a nine-hour flight to Calgary, Canada. It was pretty bad, everyone told me that it would be completely fine because I’d have lots of movies to choose from and could sleep the rest of the time or make friends with fellow passengers, that sort of thing (it didn’t help that I was travelling entirely alone). However, when I got on the plane I quickly realised that I was on the EasyJet of long haul flights, with tiny TV screens, sporadically placed around the economy class cabin, during the entire trip they played three films, one of which was Harry Potter (seen, like a million times already), We Bought a Zoo (don’t watch it, Matt Damon how are the mighty Jason Bourne fallen) and one other film which must have been really bad because I have irrevocably scrapped it from my memory bank. All the films also looked like they had been bought by one of the flight attendants on a layover in Thailand at what I can only assume was a particularly dodgy pirate DVD market.

Up in smoke went my optimistic hopes for making new flight friends when I found that I was sat next to two hardcore mathematicians on their way to Calgary for some kind of clever but dull person conference. They spent 9 hours discussing a complicated equation involving the letter C. That’s NINE HOURS of in-depth debate and argument about what “C” was, and 9 hours of me refraining from telling them that it’s actually the letter at the beginning of a word that would perfectly describe them both. By the time I got off this flight I was a mumbling wreck. I met up with a bunch of people I’d be travelling to the hotel with and we made friends (finally) but then after I’d arrived at the hotel, had a shower and came down to dinner, they reintroduced themselves – yes ladies and gents, I’d looked so bad when I got off that plane that once I’d washed and put a little bit of makeup on I was genuinely unrecognisable from the sweaty, greasy, mumbling plane person they’d first met. And they say you can never have a second first impression.

So, understandably I was not looking forward to a 12 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur (followed by a three-hour flight to Hanoi) and was determined to be more prepared than the last time. So I’ve put together seven tips on long haul flying, to help anyone who finds themselves having to spend nearly two whole days in motion:

  1. Stretchy trousers! One must have stretchy trousers, I refer to mine as ‘yoga pants’, basically elasticated waist band floppy things that Chris bought me back from Indonesia (I know someone else who calls them “Poo Pants” – better name). When it was safe to do so I removed my belt (I listen to the safety announcements) I went to the toilet to change from jeans to freedom. It was ace.
  2. Fluffy socks! Flights are cold places and the blankets they give you are like bigger but shitter pashminas so pack a pair of bed socks in your hand luggage – cosy.Fluffy Flight Socks
  3. Snacks! I didn’t know this but (and I don’t know about other airlines) but from the time you step on a Malaysia Air flight they behave as if you’re already in the time zone of the plane’s destination. Which essentially meant that at what was British breakfast time I was being served dinner, and then what was around 12am British time I was served breakfast. This sort of thing just messes with your head as well as your stomach and can result in a good 10 hours without a second meal so I recommend buying many snacks in the airport and then just eat when you’re hungry and don’t ask any questions. Best way.
  4. Cosmetics! Apparently long haul flights are really bad for your skin. There are millions of YouTube videos about it so I did my research and did my best to adhere to the skin ritual I had learned, I had to make a few bits up because I couldn’t be bothered to buy any new products which essentially just resulted in me having a really slippy face for 12 hours, however, it was a pleasant distraction from the boredom of sitting in the same seat for that long.
  5. Don’t try to look glamorous! I’m one of those people still suffering from the hangover of glamorous air travel. Actually I’m not old enough to have properly experienced this so it’s like having a hangover without the good drunk bit firs (but whoever remembers the drunk bit anyway?). I tend to think that air travel is some sort of smart event and try to dress as such but I have now tried twice to look like a glamorous mystery woman of the world when getting off a long haul flight and twice I have failed most spectacularly. I think I’m just going to accept that I will always look as shiny and greasy as an oil slick and deal with it. Plus when you look around, everyone else looks a wee bit slick too so we’re all in the same boat (plane).Malaysia Airlines Blanket
  6. Don’t go alone! Travelling alone sucks, not seeing lovely things in far away countries but the actual getting to those countries. I literally could not have made it through 34 hours of traveling all by myself, which is actually something that Chris does all the time, for which I take my (hopefully soon to be a traditional, conical, rice-picking) hat off to him.
  7. Travel with some one who’s freakishly tall! Another great thing about Chris is that he’s deformed (6ft5), which resulted in us getting awesome seats with epic leg space.

Early morning coach to Heathrow!

So there you have it – ram your hand luggage with stretchy trousers, fluffy bed sock, snacks, shit loads of moisturiser and a really tall person (they probably won’t fit that well) and the whole thing turns itself into a random motion movie day. Go get travelling!

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