It’s lucky for the world that long-haul flights aren’t an Olympic Sport. Australia would win hands down. I’m only in my 20s, but the longest single flight I’ve ever done was Sydney to Los Angeles in 2016, and that was 15 hours. For Europe, it was 8 hours Sydney to Hong Kong, a ten hour layover, then 13 hours Hong Kong to London. It was something I really needed to be much better prepared for, because on my first long haul flight to the States, I was naive and made just about every mistake you can possibly make on a long haul.
But not this time.
1. Be Organised
I always make sure I’ve finished packing by the time I go to bed the night before a trip, including my carry-on/personal item. For things I can’t pack til leaving for the airport (like my phone, charger, toothbrush etc) I write a list of these on a post-it note and stick it to my bag. That way I’ll never forget anything.
Don’t forget to bring a pen for the immigration forms. Check online for luggage item and liquid restrictions/regulations to save yourself unnecessary stress, and weigh your luggage before checking in. And for the love of all that’s good and holy, NEVER PACK YOUR VALUABLES IN CHECKED LUGGAGE.
2. Dress Carefully
You never want to wear anything tight or restrictive, and there’s no need to dress to the nines. Stick to stretch fabrics and light, breathable fibres like cotton and wool. Remember that planes can get extremely cold, and the airline blankets are tissue-thin, so layering is your friend here. I’d also recommend slip on shoes for security.
My first 15 hour flight to America, I wore a fairly thin biker-style jacket, a tight tank top…and skinny jeans. The less you know about the results, the better. Suffice to say, you could have poured me into a bucket about halfway.
Having learned the error of my ways, my go-to long haul flight outfit NOW is stretch hybrid pants – AKA ponte pants. They’re thicker and warmer than leggings, but just as comfortable and look incredibly stylish with just about anything. I also wear a soft cup wire-free bra, a loose cotton t-shirt, neutral coloured sneakers, and I wear a blue sweater/jumper which is 50% wool, 50% cotton. In my carry-on I’ll take a pashmina scarf as an extra layer against the downright Arctic chill after ascension. On the way to Europe I took my packable down coat as a blanket which worked wonders, even as a pillow.
3. Health and Beauty
Who here wears makeup while travelling? I never wear makeup on a flight because cabin air sucks the moisture from your skin, vampire style. Regardless of whether you do or don’t, it’s advisable to bring a bit of facial cleanser/micellar water/facial wipes to clean your skin. You’ll also want to regularly apply facial moisturiser and hand cream. I always take my contact lens case and a travel size bottle of solution so I can swap to glasses and hopefully get some shut-eye.
I’ve never been game enough to use a sheet facial mask on a flight, but I do have a small routine. As soon as I settle into my seat, I brush my hair into a low ponytail. Then I take antibacterial wipes and wipe down the tray table and armrests, and regularly use hand sanitiser, since planes are breeding grounds for germs. I’ll cleanse my skin and use face cream, hand cream and lip balm.
If you can before the flight lands, brushing your teeth is highly advisable. A fresh minty mouth always makes you feel a little bit better. And don’t forget to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Bring an empty water bottle to fill up when you pass security and get the flight attendants to fill it up during the journey.
And for everyone’s sake, don’t forget deodorant.
4. Dinner and a Show
I never step onto a flight of any kind without my phone, portable battery, charger, a good book and my headphones/iPod. You can’t be sure your entertainment system will work (hell, if there’ll even be one in the first place!) so be prepared. Noise cancelling headphones will drown out that screaming infant, a book is great when you’re tired of staring at a screen. Puzzle books are fun too. There’s usually charging ports at every seat, so take advantage of that if you bring an iPad or something. I never go anywhere without my portable phone charger though.
I think we can all agree that plane food is one of the most abominable experiences known to mankind, so bringing your own snacks is always a good idea.
For a day bag, I used the Pacsafe Metrosafe 100 Crossbody, but it wasn’t quite big enough for all my flight essentials, so my carry-on bag was a foldable tote bag from Typo which was bigger, and could be packed away in my suitcase until I flew home.
Here’s everything I took in my carry on. Again, it might seem like a lot in a list format, but it was quite minimal in real life.
Travel size contact lens solution
Contact lens case
Perfume (the solid kind from Lush)
Hairbrush (travel size)