Most of you have probably already been on your holidays, but as someone who likes to sprint worriedly 3 miles behind the curve, mine are still impending (23 days left)!
For those of you who are unawares (probably no-one, as I scream about it every single day to some poor new pedestrian), me and my second-in-command are jet-setting off to the sweet land of Japan. Hoorah.
Fabulous as this may be, there’s about 17 hours of flight-time between us and our destination – which is no small stretch, when you’re sitting in a confined space with only a screen and your brain for company. Particularly when you are of the ilk who get easily bored – when this happens to me, I like to quiz whoever I’m with with a series of mundane questions, in a frail attempt to lift the lethargic lull (a.k.a., ‘what was your favourite colour as a child?’ ‘Do you prefer green or peppermint tea?’ ‘If you were an alcohol type, what would you be?’ I pray my boyfriend doesn’t dump me out of extreme irritance upon landing.)
However, I’m also no stranger to the long-haul leap – having been to Asia a handful of times before, I’ve sat in on several lengthy flights already. Therefore, I consider myself somewhat experienced in entertaining myself during travelling-sky-high-in-a-vacuum quality time.
Behold, my tips and tricks for enjoying your long-haul flight.
- Get back onboard with reading
If you only read one book a year, save it for your plane-date.
My healthy diet of movies and real-life experience suggests to me that reading is most popularly practised when you’re either a), lying in bed next to your partner wearing unflattering spectacles or b), when you’re on your mundane morning commute.
Well, picture a commute which lasts about thirty times as long, and has a staggering absence of littered coffee cups and angry bus drivers – and you’ve got a long-haul flight, my friend. Or, as I like to call it, you’ve got a date with a skybound reading vacuum.
There’s nothing else to distract you from your book when you’re flying, either, which sort of gives planes the one-up on tubes and trains when it comes to giving you the ability to concentrate. No screaming kids, no annoying tannoy announcements, no angry businessmen shouting down the phone to the poor intern, Gerald. You’ve also got no phones, no internet and no mid-morning trash TV. This makes it a lot easier to get stuck into that challenging novel you’ve been saving, or that intense OK! interview you’ve been waiting for the right moment to read (hey – I’m not judging).
You could even read a phrasebook in the language of the country you’re headed to, and by touchdown be a cultural wordsmith. Watashi wa dokusho ga daisuki!
- Don’t forget the giant Toblerone
I’ll be damned if I ever get on a plane without purchasing mine and Joey’s mutual duty-free love:
I don’t care how expensive they are – they’re the perfect long-haul flight investment and tradition, and are a great post-flight-dinner snack to boot (especially useful if your flight-dinner is gross).
Additionally, when your holiday is over and you feel monumentally depressed, 400g of chocolate is the only way to go. We all know that.
- Take advantage of the midnight noodles
Miraculously, on most of the long-haul flights I’ve been on, there’s been NOODLE SERVICE in the middle of the night (at least, what appears to be the middle of the night – air-time is totally different to ground-time. I swear they feed you a new meal every hour. It’s like an odd time-cum-meal-centric warp.)
Nevertheless, in-flight fake-midnight is a fabulous time, in which you can slink out of your seat and down the aisle to where air hostesses are chilling and ask for noodles. I never pass-up the free noodle offer when it’s there.
I would like to add, however, that maybe this perk isn’t something that all airlines do, and I’ve just been particularly lucky – so please only ask for the noodles if you see the noodles noodling around on their noodle stand. Otherwise you’ll just be some weirdo who’s forsaken sleep to ask for ghost noodles. You don’t want to be that guy.
- Bring a bum-cushion
Your bum will look like two badly-pressed waffles if you don’t treat it kindly. Remember – it’s going to have to prop you up for MANY HOURS. It needs some TLC, too, so bring some sort of cushion-y thing to keep it cuddly.
- Don’t watch any movies for 3 days before boarding
I have no doubt that long-haul flights would be at least 350% more terrible without the presence of in-flight movies. In-flight movies, you are beautiful.
As a self-proclaimed massive movie-buff, I always make sure to squeeze in at least 2 – 3 movies on a long-haul flight (with time put aside for reading/uncomfortable naps). The in-flight film medium kind of makes short flights look boring: I’ve genuinely felt distressed before after logging into that amazing little screen, and realising that I won’t have time to watch all the films that have great synopsis’ before touchdown.
Also, in-flight films are the only thing which makes travelling back home after a holiday enjoyable – ‘well, at least there’s still 17 hours of movies separating me from reality!’
Don’t watch any movies the days leading up to your flight – particularly recently released ones. They’ll all be in that magical little screen (for in-flight film night snacks, see points 2 and 3).
- Don’t ask the person sitting next to you pointless questions because you feel awkward about not bonding
Despite the fact that I’ve already shared I like to ask pointless questions when bored, I feel it necessary to add, here, that I refrain from doing so to people I don’t know or who haven’t made eye-contact with me, as I am, contrary to popular believe, a little bit socially aware.
However, chitchatting with your neighbours can be a really good way to pass the time, if they’re up for a 17-hour long chinwag. This can be great if you make a cool new friend – though of course, you always run the risk of being seated next to a total weirdo.
On my flight to Thailand last year I’m pretty sure my flight neighbour was hitting on me (which did not occur to me at the time, as I was so absorbed by the whole midnight-noodle thing and abundance of films). He told me he was a professional golfer, for one thing (a claim which I’m now not positive I believe) and then said something succinct about every film he watched after he watched it in an attempt to connect – examples include ‘good’, ‘are you watching something too’ and ‘too many car chases’.
It’s not that I begrudged him the desire to talk, or anything – just that, after many hours of being awake, and wanting to immerse myself in an anti-social fictional universe – to be consistently roused from this by comments I couldn’t really respond to, with anything more interesting than a vague nod or laugh was a little frustrating. And kind of awkward.
He should have just asked me what my favourite colour was as a kid, or if I was an alcohol type, what alcohol would I be. We might have connected over that.
Making small-talk on planes can be fun if you really make a buddy – but a lot of people want to be left to their own Toblerone-guzzling, film-bingeing devices. Try and factor that in before you vomit with excitement all over them about your holiday.
- Pull faces
This sounds like a dumb idea, but some of my favourite hours on planes have been pulling faces at my holidaying partner (chiefly, my sister).
Short of genuinely being a robot, it’s important you make a facial expression every so often to stop your face from losing all its character. Keep it limber and exercised by sticking your tongue out at your partner/sleeping with your mouth open a little bit/smiling emphatically at everyone in your immediate circle.
- Arm yourself with a rousing holiday playlist
Whatever your summer jams are, pump your music player full of them so that when you’re beginning to lose interest in the whole flying-thing, you’ll remember your destination and feel that little burst of happiness again.
Some of my holiday tracks are:
When The Day Met The Night – Panic! At The Disco (in fact, the whole ‘Pretty. Odd’ album is good)
Brighter Than Gold – The Cat Empire (I like bands with cats in the title, clearly)
Dream Fighter – Perfume (possibly because I’ve been headed for Japan most of the times I’ve been on an epic flight)
- Emergency face-making pack
Everybody knows this one.
If you’re a girl, and a little vain, and unwilling to terrify customs with your wrinkly, haggard post-plane face – then bring a little powder, eyeliner and VERY BIG glasses onboard with you. They’re the miracle trio, and will help you step off the other side looking sleepily chic, instead of the salvaged parts of elephant diarrhoea.