I recently booked a holiday to Thailand and it got me thinking of the flight ahead and what I need to do to make the journey as easy and as pleasurable as possible.
If you only have a week or two for your holiday and a day or two of this is taken up in travel to and from your destination then it’s really important that this time should be made as enjoyable as possible so you don’t spend the first few days of your break recovering from your flight. Sitting on your bum in a confined space for hours can make or break most people, so here are some tried and tested methods I employ for international travel that leave me relaxed and feeling fresh at the end of my journey.
Firstly and most importantly try to book a night flight. If you are able to do so, wear yourself out that day as much as you can so you will sleep through.
If not the information below will help make your travel time more enjoyable;
Pack the day before (even if you have been able to book an evening flight). This will allow you an extra day to buy
anything you may have forgotten. My number one packing tip would be to make sure you bring your own pen. This will come in handy when filling in customs forms but more on that later.
When checking in, arrive around 3 hours before the flight. Try and be first at check in if you can as this will give you the best negotiating power with the check in attendant. Especially if you want to negotiate for seating preferences – aisle, window, near or far from toilet, or the elusive exit seat with all that beautiful legroom. ALWAYS be super, super nice to these people. Remember they are determining where and most importantly whom you will be sitting with.
Once you have secured your favourite seat, the next step is the security checkpoints. The easier you make it on the security staff the quicker you will be through. Have your luggage prepared with all relevant items in a screening tray and travel documents ready. Remember; the security checkpoint staff are thinking about you like they are herding sheep, and although it pays to be nice and polite, try to avoid making eye contact as you enter through the metal detectors. In their mind looking at them raises suspicion and they will surely stop you for an explosive residue test. Just focus on your luggage or the person in the next row who is holding up the queue for forgetting to do as you have just done and been so well prepared.
So you’re at the airport very early checked in and relaxed. Eat as much as you can now. As I will describe soon, to help with jetlag I recommend not eating while flying but more of that later. Also drink plenty of water or mineral water but absolutely no alcohol as this dehydrates your body and the inside of the plane at altitude is an already a very dry environment.
Before you sit in the seat you requested, empty your pockets of all your belongings and keep only what you need for the flight. Keep a jumper, your passport and that trusty pen you have been holding onto all this time.
Next thing remove your shoes and place under seat. Your feet swell when on a plane, I find it at least adds another quarter again to the size of my foot and by removing your shoes your feet will have plenty of circulation.
Relax and enjoy that amazing feeling when a jumbo jet fires up its engines and thrusts down the runway launching you up with all its might towards your destination.
There is usually up to an hour or so before meals are nearly ready to be served. If you need to go to the toilet now is the time. Best to use a toilet first rather than after 200 people that will be using it shortly after their plane food.
Let them eat. I generally just ask for more water or maybe a soft drink to keep sugar levels up. If crossing timelines I find this really helps. Have a sneaky peak and others eating that lovely airplane food. You will not see one smiling face. No one is enjoying it or having their taste buds dazzled. You are not missing out on anything.
Once the air stewards have cleaned up watch the rush for the toilet. Nice not to have to get into that queue. While the crowds gather I generally get up and go for a walk. Go to the back of the plane and stretch your body as much as possible, especially your legs. On a long flight I will spend up to an hour after each food service doing this. No one will mind, and while you are down the back of the plane you can find out from the steward when the their next meal run is so you can time your toilet run. Besides with all the clear fluids you have been drinking you will need it. Ask the air steward for a wet cloth and wipe your hands, face and neck as much as you can throughout the trip. This will keep your skin feeling nice and refreshed and help it from drying out.
Just keep repeating the process of exercise and fluids until you arrive.
So you’ve landed at your destination feeling relaxed and fresh. Immigration card in hand with nothing to fill it out with. Oh wait you have a pen. Nice. Feel free to share it with other passengers who are scrambling through their bags and pockets hoping to find a pen that they know they didn’t pack.
Again through customs repeat the same process as departure. As soon as you are through customs try and find something to eat. You will be hungry by now. Here is the important bit to help reduce jetlag. Try and eat a meal that is relevant to the time of day it is at your destination. E.g. if it is dinnertime eat dinner. Don’t listen to your stomach saying but last time we ate we had breakfast it must be time for lunch. Eat a dinner. This will trick your body into adapting to the country you are in more easily. This works also if you have a stop over before connecting to another flight. Find food that is relevant to the actual time of day not the time your body is on.
I hope you are able to get some value out of my tips. Remember we are all different and need different things so experiment and see what works for you.