- Photo Essays
This blog is about finding inspiration in faraway places. It’s about off-the-beaten-path destinations and extraordinary journeys. It’s about the moments in those places that make you stop and catch your breath.
It’s musings and stories and ideas and photography of some of the world’s most beautiful places....
Travelling is something I plan to do for years to come and having a home base in Australia means long-haul flights are an inevitable part of getting from A to B. Finding ways to cope became a priority for me a long time ago.
So what do I do to survive?
I’m not saying any of this going to make things awesome, but it could help to take the edge off a little.
You can’t afford it? Neither can I. Don’t worry, I have a back up plan!
A quick tip: Check out your Air Miles / Frequent Flyer program and see how many points you need to purchase a class upgrade. You might be almost there!
Failing that…sweet talk / beg the airline rep for an upgrade when you check in.
(Yes, upgrades do happen occasionally. Read the article ‘Is Flying First Class Really Worth The Extra Money’ by Jade of Vagabond 3 about a recent upgrade.)
OR suck it up and resort to other, more realistic options below.
Do you really want to be stuck in the middle seats in a row of four people for 13+ hours? Uh, no I didn’t think so.
Make sure this doesn’t happen by pre-selecting your seat preferences. This can usually be done at the time of booking or by contacting the airline.
How do you know which is seats are good and which are crap? The website Seat Guru will tell you. Punch in your flight details and you will get a seat map and breakdown of your aircraft, seat by teeny, tiny seat. It’s brilliant.
Things to consider when choosing your seat:
Already booked your flight and didn’t choose your seats?
Don’t panic just quite yet. The first step would be to contact the airline you are flying with and request a seat allocation. You may even be able to do this online.
If you have a booked a code share flight this can sometimes prove difficult, even if you contact the airline directly. You can still try when you check in and if that fails, once you board the flight approach a flight attendant and see if they can arrange something. Don’t give up!!
Best. Invention. Ever.
Many airlines have this option now and it’s usually surprisingly reasonably priced. Contact the airline directly to arrange this.
(Bear in mind that most Emergency Exit seating is near the toilets, which can sometimes be annoying.)
This is not for everyone.
Some people prefer to just keep going and get the whole nasty business over and done with. But on a long-haul flight you are likely to touch down somewhere.
(Unless you are flying Sydney/Melbourne to LA…then you are on that plane for 15 hours without a break. Sorry.)
So instead of just wandering around the airport for 4 or 5 hours why not stay overnight at an airport hotel. It’s not a budget option by any means, but this IS your sanity we are talking about. Singapore’s Changi Airport is my favourite place for a quick overnight stop. The hotel is in the airport itself so you don’t even need to clear customs.
Even better still…try to fly via a city you would actually like to visit and stay a couple of days.
A stopover would usually have to be arranged when booking your flights but doesn’t necessarily cost that much more. Sometimes it won’t cost any extra depending on who you are flying with and where you want to stop. Choose the ‘multi-flight’ option on the flight search engine you are using to book a stopover.
As someone who can’t sleep on flights, I find this takes the edge off the anxiety I feel towards my long-haul flights. I’ve only been doing this the last couple of years, but there’s not turning back now! I have a stop in Singapore on my flights to and from Europe in April.
I always take some mild sleeping tablets with me when I fly. Sometimes they work for a couple of hours. Mostly they don’t. But I know people who swear by this! You can always go for a herbal remedy if you prefer. Have a chat with your pharmacist or GP for specific suggestions.
Whatever you use, test it out before you fly so you know how your body will react.
Noise-reduction headphones: these are a godsend. And you don’t have to spend a fortune on them. Mine cost about $50 and work really well…unless there is some freakishly loud snoring and cackling going on.
(these come complimentary on many business class flights.)
Earplugs: I never fly without earplugs.
Both the headphones and/or earplugs are great for reducing the engine noise.
Neck pillow: I find the inflatable ones incredibly uncomfortable. The bean-filled, material neck pillows are much better, and kinder to your neck. You should be able to pick one up from most major airports for around $20.
Eye mask: Yes, some airlines still provide them. And yes, they are usually horribly uncomfortable. Take your own.
Pressure stockings: Oh yes, they are super-sexy. But if you suffer from swelling or pain in your legs when you fly you aren’t going to be looking or feeling particularly sexy anyway. Remember to put them on before you fly.
There is a time and a place for masterpieces. If you’ve been looking for the perfect opportunity to read Irigaray‘s ‘The Forgetting of Air’ or some other work of literary genius that deserves (and requires) your undivided attention…this is not the time.
The popular fiction best sellers at airport newsstand will serve you much better: something light, easy and entertaining. Even an old favourite that you have read before.
FACT: the airline food could quite possibly kill you.
All right, I’m not serious. But it will quite possibly gross you out and ruin your appetite forever. Not cool. And you don’t want to go hungry.
In case you missed the wonderful visual example of this in Part One of this post….
Take a few substantial snacks just in case the meal is really bad – museli bars, dried fruit and nut mix, cheese and biscuits, and even a sandwich are all good ideas.
Oh, and chocolate of course.
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All photographs and text copyright © Quiet Wanderings 2012. All rights reserved.