I just finished the four long flights (4 x 13 hours) that it takes to get to Australia and back, and after landing back in New York, I thought it might be handy if I gave my top 5 tips for long flights (with a bonus #6 that I learned from my girlfriend this trip).
1. Drink water
So some of these tips are going to be boring, and what you’ve read before, I know, but: water. Water, water, water. Planes are dry, air-conditioned, gross-tubes and you need to stay hydrated. It not only will make you feel, well, hydrated, but it will also help with the transition in time zones, locations, and overall sanity.
On most international flights, you will be offered a drink early with your first meal, so use that to have a soda water with ice (ooh how exciting). You will then be offered a small bottle and/or lots of cups of water throughout the flight. If you are awake and see that person with that tray, take a cup of water and gulp it down.
Sometimes you’ll think “I don’t want anymore water” but that’s just a trick, have another cup!
2. Avoid caffeine & alcohol
Booooooo! But Josh, free drinks! I KNOW! But it’s not working in your favor. Caffeine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant. If you keep taking these uppers and downers, your poor body (which is already under a fair bit of stress) just doesn’t know what to do.
If I’m super boring, stay off the sodas too as you’re going to be on that plane for some time and sugar didn’t get better for you just because you’re at 32,000 feet.
Stick to the water from #1.
Author’s note: … God I’m boring on international flights.
3. Adjust timezones as early as you can
Especially if you’re headed out on holidays, you will want to be on your A-game immediately after you land, and that’s going to be difficult. The best thing you can do though is behave as early as possible as if you’re already in the timezone you’re headed for.
For some directions and distances this is going to be especially difficult but for example, if you get on a plane at 9pm local time, and your destination is currently at 12pm, then think about what might be best for when you arrive. Plan your trip around when you’ll be going to sleep, what you’ll be doing when you arrive, and try your absolute hardest not to just fall asleep at the wrong time.
4. Take a friend or make friends
Be nice to the people around you on your flight, as they are now your besties for the long haul. Instead of just thinking of them as obstacles to the toilet, introduce yourself early and try and build a tiny bit of rapport.
Staying awake is SO MUCH EASIER if you have someone to talk to, or even engage with for a few minutes every hour.
This tip goes for life in general. Introduce yourself to people, be friendly, and ASK BEFORE YOU RECLINE YOUR DAMN CHAIR SO YOU DON’T CRUSH MY LAPTOP, MAN.
5. Don’t plan to do any work
I don’t know about you, but every time I plan a long flight I say to myself “Perfect, this will give me every opportunity to do a lot of work”. It’s never happened on a long flight, and I don’t know why I keep doing it. Get as much of your work out of the way as you can before you fly, because there’s a great chance that the second you step onto the plane, you’re going to be sleepy-awake-bored-tired immediately.
Watch a movie instead. I’ve taken away your coffee and alcohol but I’ll leave you with everything the in-flight entertainment has to offer.
(BONUS) 6. Learn how to sleep on a plane
I don’t know it’s done but my girlfriend, Stacey, managed to sleep for about 45 of the 56 hours of flying we had to do these last two weeks. It’s like magic and I wish I had the skill, but from what she says, it basically makes the whole flight disappear before your eyelids. That makes pretty much all of the above points moot!