Long-haul flight survival tips

Everyone has the ‘booking 2015 travel‘ bug. Well, in the last 3 weeks I’ve spent 50 hours hurtling through the clouds, cruising through 4 hemispheres, over several continents and hours staring at a screen roughly 8inches in diameter. It’s the biggest downside to moving to the other side of the world – having to travel 20,000km to get a slice of your Dad’s Bacon and Egg Pie. True story that. (Strangely all that flying hasn’t curbed my wanderlust, just made it more ravenous…)

My flights this time were 7 hours London-Dubai, 13.5 hours Dubai-Brisbane then 3 hours Brisbane-Auckland. It wasn’t a lot of fun but also strangely meditative. Living in the crazyness that is London, it’s not often that I just get to sit down, (in fact I’m pretty terrible at sitting still) zone out and read my book, so the flights were in some ways kinda awesome.

What to do on a long-haul flight - Adventures of a London Kiwi

I took a bit of a strange view hopping on the flight to New Zealand straight after work, working on the assumption that I’d be so exhausted that I’d manage to grab a few winks here and there. It also meant that I didn’t stay awake the night before fretting about the flight and sleeping through my alarm. Stopping off to quickly shower (a life saver) I cruised out to Heathrow and began to make my way home.

To hang in the aisle or lounge in a window seat:

This is entirely down to personal preference. 90% of the time I’ll get a window seat – you can watch the world go by, won’t be disturbed by other people needing to get up and can create a little cocoon of How To Train Your Dragon movies. I find personally I’ve been elbow-bashed in an aisle seat too many times by passers-by to outweigh the great ability to hop up and down as much as you like.

The one time I have gone against my own preference was an emergency exit seat upstairs in the A380 (my coming home flights via Dubai). Ah-maz-ing. Not only was I able to hop about as much as I liked (despite being told by the grouchy air hostess to ‘go back to sleep’ when asking how long we’d been flying, in order not to disturb my seat mate) but it gave me more leg room than I’d ever need, and a hunky bloke to snore-on next to me. And no, it wasn’t my poor husband, he was spared that particular enjoyment!

What to do on a long-haul flight - Adventures of a London Kiwi


It never ceases to amaze me how dressed up people get to board long haul flights. Stiletto boots, skin tight jeans and pancaked makeup seems to be almost de riguer. Just why?? It’s best to dress fairly nicely, but you have to be comfortable. If you’re angling for an upgrade it might be an idea to wear something classy, by make sure you take a pair of yoga pants and a comfy jumper. Think loose, light gym gear or a maxi dress and you’ll be a snug as a bug in a rug.

The usuals:

– Keep hydrated – drink plenty of water

– Wear comfortable clothing

– Make friends with the air hostesses

– Get a bulkhead/emergency exit seat

– Move those hips (and legs, and arms – Deep Vein Thrombosis isn’t good)

Jet lag

Some people run with the school of thought that jet lag is beaten by not eating and forcing your body to sleep in line with the country you’re going to. Personally that doesn’t work for me – I just assume that the first few days on arrival I’ll be crashing early and waking at the crack of dawn – perfect for exploring. Every cloud has a silver lining after all!

What I did try to do was eat well and drink plenty of water in the days leading up to my flight (you have no idea how challenging this was during the Christmas whirl), keep my vitamins topped up and get in as many steps as possible. In between flights I stretched as much as possible, and when not standing, often sat on the floor in airport lounges to stretch my hamstrings.

Long-haul flight survival tips - Adventures of a London Kiwi

Tips I’ve learned the hard way:

– Check in as early as possible – online is the very best

– Hop out early to the airport – that way you’ll breeze through security and can enjoy a leisurely gate-side wine or two.

– Always double check your seat at check-in. If it has been changed by the airline politely insist they change it back (especially if it you’ve paid for it) or ask them to offer you a better alternative (I always joke about an upgrade)

– Take change of clothes for each flight

– Change whilst at the airport, rather than in the plane loo as
turbulency will happen at the worst moment (I’m speaking from

 – Research any terminal transfers

– If you have long connection times, check out if the airport has a airside hotel with rooms or bathrooms you can use (hello Changi) or if your airline will allow you to purchase access to their lounges (that’s for us plebs of course!) 

– Never book the last flight of the day unless you can be flexible and fly the next day

– Know your rights as a passenger

Connecting flights transfers terrify me. Forget spiders, heights or axe murderers (though I’ll never been keen on huge cliff drops beneath my feet) it’s transferring flights that give me the heebie-jeebies. I squarely place the blame on Helsinki airport and a nightmare flight that only gave us 45 minutes to rush through slow-moving security, run through the incredibly narrow airport and skid over an icy tarmac to make our connecting flight to London. Not all transfers are like this, in fact they should never be like this, and often aren’t.

Long-haul flight survival tips - Adventures of a London Kiwi
Watch out for furry stowaways in your luggage, especially your carry on…

Carry on list:

– Light, loose clothing including socks

– A light, big scarf – they hide many evils

– Sturdy slip on shoes

– Extra socks. You’ll thank me.

– Face wipes (a life saver), deodorant, a light perfume, toothbrush & mini-toothpaste (another life saver), eye drops, mousturiser

– Chargers for your electrical devices

– Your favourite headphones

– Fully stocked e-reader

– Paper copies of bookings

– Snacks and a bottle of water (purchased post-security)

– A smile and plenty of thank-yous

– Light fleecy blanket perfect for snuggling in

– Painkillers and tummy settlers, just in case

If you’re super organised, you could even use the time as a mini-spa session like this lady

What to do on a long-haul flight - Adventures of a London Kiwi

Happy flying!

(What’s your favourite tip?)