For those of us who travel, we know to get to exotic destinations means long haul travel. If you live in North America, this is especially true. If you’re looking to do some cheap travel in Europe, or visit the incredible Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Africa, this can mean anything from 10-24 hours of travel. The airports, the flights, the stopovers. They can all take a toll on your mental and physical health. These long-haul flights are the beginning of your adventure. When you prepare for them properly, you have a much smoother transition from A to B. Here are some helpful tips for managing long haul flights as an economy traveler.
1 Check-In Online
I’ve found that many people don’t check-in online. I show up at the airline counter and there’s a massive line-up of people. Then I see, “Online Check-In, Bag Drop”. There are a handful of people. It’s something you can do by going online between 2 – 48 hours before your flight. It’s little things like this that can make your trip so much easier. Having to wait for and hour in a line-up just to get your boarding pass can take the wind out of your sails before you’ve even left the country.
2 Choose Your Flight Wisely
When you’re taking a long flight, you want to make sure the airline doesn’t make things worse. Not that long hauls are even so bad but when you’re with an airline that is running late, changes gates, and has terrible food, it can be a nightmare. There are many budget airlines that aren’t great. Check out the reviews of airlines before you book. For example if you are traveling to South Africa you should check this SAA flight bookings page and you’ll see there’s plenty of information. You want to minimize your travel time no matter what airline you use. Be choosy about your stopover time and how many you’ll have.
3 Prepare for Comfort
This is rule number one really when it comes to the actual flight. Don’t have too much in your carry-on when you can check most things with long flights. Hauling heavy bags while looking for your gate can leave you sore and exhausted. For travelers on a shoestring budget, you’re not going to have the lay-down bed you would in first class. Wear multiple layers as the air conditioning can be extreme on flights. Your temperature tends to change a lot. I personally like wearing a merino wool base because you can sweat profusely in them and they don’t get smelly. They are also super thin and keep you cool when it’s hot, keep you warm when it’s cold. Wear your coziest shoes that offer enough space that they’re still comfortable when your feet start to expand from those long-haul flights.
4 Things to Bring on the Flight
You can make yourself more comfortable on a long-haul flight by bringing a few things. When you’re 10+ hours in, it’s going to feel like a godsend to be able to feel somewhat clean. Here are a few essentials to bring on a flight:
- Baby wipes.
- Lip balm.
- A few snacks.
- Eye mask.
- Re-usable water bottle.
- Noise-cancelling headphones.
- Emergency entertainment (Netflix or a book).
- Gets rid of bad breath and helps your ears during the take-off and landing.
5 Try to Get an Upgrade
Let’s face it, this is the holy grail of a long-haul flight. The opportunity to upgrade to business or first class. I once got a first-class upgrade although I paid for economy. It was a 10-hour flight and I felt far less exhausted when I got to my destination. There are ways you can get upgrades without paying. Though, if you’re willing to pay a little extra at the airport, you can usually get business class for a steal. You can use your frequent flyer miles, which may entail the help of a travel agent. It’s worth the space, the entertainment, the food, and the service if you the options are there for you. You can always ask for a free upgrade once you’re at the airport too. If you’re traveling alone, they may consider it if the space is there.
Being comfortable on those long-haul flights is one thing. Getting a good flight for a cheap price is even better. Look at trending prices on flights to get on a good airline that offers short stop overs or none at all. These long flights can take lot out of you but these tips should help.
Do you have any tips on flight essentials? Please share in a comment below.