Travel: My long-haul flight hacks

Travel: My long-haul flight hacks

A long-haul flight can be stressful, uncomfortable and leave you drained before you’ve even arrived at your destination! I travel regularly for work these days, and often alone on personal trips – mostly to America. I’m always improving my hacks and little tricks which make my life easier but I feel like I’ve got a good routine now.

Here are my 20 long-haul flight tips to leave you feeling smug and rested on board:

Pre – planning

1. Back at home, I now keep a big shoe box with all my travel essentials in – my flight pillow which I can’t live without, samples of beauty products from magazines, miniature toiletries and spare bags for my on-board liquids (you can usually grab a handful of free ones at security of Heathrow). 

travel size
travel size

2. I always keep the free eye masks they give you in premium/business class in your in-flight kit. You never know when you might need them; at the hotel or on the return leg if you fly back economy. I love having my eye mask on the plane so now I do have my own silky one from Zara Home like this one (from £5.99) for added travel luxury. 

Zara eye mask

3. Before I travel I notify my bank of my trip dates as occasionally I’ve struggled to use my debit card abroad to withdraw cash. Now though I do this with my online banking and it means a much smoother trip. 

Before your flight

4. Drink lots of water before even leaving the house to hydrate the body in advance. I find once I set off on my trip I’m busy so I forget how important water is!

5. Always travel in trainers, comfy bottoms and layers. I look in disbelief at women in high heels and tight jeans on an 8 hour flight! I’m going to do another post soon about travel outfit ideas.

6. Whilst still at home and in plenty of time before your trip, load up your iPhone with a ‘plane playlist’ of your favourite relaxing music. I once listened to I Never Learn by Lykke Li on repeat for about half of a flight to LA whilst I slept! Or if you’re more interested in learning something or unravelling a murder case a podcast could be for you. Download them in advance on iTunes Podcast app and they just delete as you listen. I would highly recommend Serial (for anytime not just the plane!) Be prepared – what if the entertainment system on the flight isn’t working! 

In the airport

7. When I’m travelling with work sometimes I can’t remember the airline! So I strap both my Virgin Airlines and my BA flying club membership cards to my hand luggage handles with the ‘I fly silver’ clearly visible. This means at the check in desk I can easily show it to get my air miles added to my account right there and then. Don’t forget, if you are a Virgin Silver frequent flyer member (or above) you can can check in at the much quieter premium economy desk, even if you are flying economy! 

flying club

8.  At airport security there is inevitably a queue – always turn left as apparently most people naturally turn right! And just take off your shoes to save time – those people in front of me who hold up the queue are not in my good books.

9. As a team we have a pre-boarding tradition these days: we go to Pret for an in-flight snacks haul. Everyone gets a big bottle of water (get the stewardess to refill you), a pot of fruit (usually mango and lime or grapes), a bag of popcorn for the movies, and a bag of coconut macarons.

On the plane

10. I know most airlines provide them on the flights but I always take my own headphones to use on the plane as they are much more comfortable on your ears for long periods of time. I use the UrbanEars Plattan Advanced wireless headphones. 

11. When getting settled in your seat, take off your shoes. I carry a canvas shoe bag to pack them away and place in the overhead locker. I use one from COS or Zara from previous online orders of shoes or bags. Free, and makes you look like a very chic traveller.

12. It goes without saying that a good travel pillow is vital for a comfortable flight. Muji do nice ones in jersey fabric with removable covers so you can wash them. And they also come in handy when sunbathing! If possible strap it to your bag so you don’t have to fit in inside taking up valuable space.

13. As soon as the plane takes off and the seatbelt sign is turned off I get into the bathroom (whilst it’s still clean) and remove my make-up, cover my lips in Elizabeth Arden’s 8-hour cream and apply a facial serum. I bought First Aid Kit serum mini capsules in Sephora which are perfect for travelling with. A good night cream will give your skin extra hydration too: I like Clinique’s Turnaround Overnight Revitalising Moisturiser. I also carry a small flannel in my hand luggage to dry my face with when I brush my teeth before landing.

14. I haven’t done it yet but I have actually considered sliders or little slippers on board so when I go to the bathroom my feet don’t get grubby. Normally thought I change into snuggly soft socks especially for the flight, as warm feet keep you cosy.

15. If you struggle relaxing on your flight try my colleague’s tip: she always carries lavender oil which the whole team rub on their pulses to aid relaxation.

16. During longer flights the stewardesses usually have a big basket full of bite size chocolates somewhere just in case you (or any children) need a sweet treat. Pop up to the gally and ask them for one, they won’t mind as they don’t normally hand them out. I usually get a little Cadbury’s Freddo!

17. During the flight I hate sitting in a messy seat with lots of clutter around my feet. So the things I want nearby I keep in a small Free People fabric bag which, I hook over the fold down table to keep my bits and bobs neat & tidy.

On arrival

18. These days I always pack a travel candle and small box of matches in my suitcase. Occasionally I’ve found that even in the best hotels my room can smell unfamiliar or a bit off. I find it comforting to have a familiar relaxing scent when jet lagged or arriving in the middle of the night – it just makes me feel more at home. My favourite, which is always in my travel kit, is the gorgeous Tarot Deck travel size candle ($14) from a gorgeous boutique called Catbird in Brooklyn, New York.

catbird tarot deck

19. I try to always travel with just a bit of local currency as often you’ll need to tip porters and taxi drivers when you arrive in the US and from experience the queue for the ATM in NYC is always huge.

20. And finally when I’m travelling to America I always grab a couple of the Customs & Borders Declaration forms ready for my next trip, then I fill it in before I board the plane – in departures or at home – to save me faffing with my passport and boarding pass or looking up my hotel’s zip code before landing. So be ready and always carry a pen! 


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