Long haul flights are perhaps one of the most dreaded forms of travel. To be honest, aside from buying a first class (or business class) ticket, there's not much you can do to make the experience enjoyable. That being said, there are a few little hints and tips you can use to make a tough long-haul journey that little bit easier.
Here are our top 3 long haul travel hacks that are going to change the way you fly forever.
Reserve Your Seat
This is undoubtedly the biggest, best, and most effective long-haul travel tip you're going to learn of. Most people reading this will have come across the seat selection section of the ticket booking process and decided to roll the dice instead of paying for the “privilege” of booking a specific seat. As there are more “good seats” (window and aisle) than bad seats (middle) on almost all aircraft, the odds seem to be stacked in your favour, and many people will just skip seat selection and let fate decide.
On shorter flights, this isn't a bad idea if you're on a budget. The middle seats are less than ideal, but they are tolerable for an hour or two. However, on long haul flights, the middle seat is a nightmare. You're probably going to be trying to sleep during the flight, and your head will be flopping over from side to side on the people next to you, you'll be jostling for armrest space the entire journey, and the slightly claustrophobic feeling of being enclosed tightly isn't all that fun either.
Avoiding the middle seat is reason enough to reserve your seat on its own, however, it's also worth remembering that not all seats on an aircraft are created equally. Sitting close to the wings will reduce turbulence and you will usually be far away from high traffic areas (like the galley). Sitting at the back right next to the toilet is undeniably the worst position to be in, you'll have the loud vacuum suction of the toilet in your ears throughout the flight, people will be lining up next to you while they wait to use the facilities, and there will be much more noise and activity in general.
For a few extra dollars, you can avoid all of these annoyances, and we honestly think it's one the best bangs for your buck in all of aviation (although we'd prefer it if airlines still offered seat selection for free as standard).
There's a good chance that you're going to be dealing with jet lag at the end of a long-haul flight (depending on your route). Staying hydrated is one of the best ways you can beat jet lag and feel a little fresher when you reach your destination. It's not a cure, and you're still going to be feeling a little worse for wear, but if you're familiar with long haul flights you'll notice the difference proper hydration makes to your condition upon arrival.
Invest in Noise Cancelling Headphones
Noise cancelling headphones are the best invention for long haul travellers since the creation of the wheelie suitcase. They are almost custom made for this specific situation, they excel at cancelling constant low-pitched noises – like the engines of an aircraft. Without noise cancelling headphones your ears will adjust and drown out the noise, but when you land and the engines turn off you suddenly remember how loud the engines were. Even if you're not listening to music or watching a movie, the noise reduction drastically increases your feeling of comfort and will leave you a little more refreshed at your destination.
When you're first blessed with a baby, there's a good chance that you're going to be inundated with requests from those nearest and dearest to you who want the opportunity to meet the newest addition to your family. This can often mean undertaking large, potentially international trips with your child.
It should come as no surprise to you to learn that traveling with a baby can be a testing experience at times. However, it doesn’t have to be anywhere near as stressful as you are perhaps expecting it to be.
Here are 4 tips we suggest you use that will make traveling with your child a little less stressful - for you, and your baby.
1. Let The Airline Know You're Travelling With A Baby
Airlines are well equipped to help parents with young children. Almost every commercial aircraft today will have a bassinet that can be attached to one of the bulkheads in the plane. They can't usually be used during takeoff and landing, but once the seat belt signs have been turned off, a steward or stewardess will set it up for you.
It's unlikely that you're going to be able to reserve bassinets in advance. Most airlines will assign them to parents on a first come first served basis - so it's a good idea to get to the airport a little earlier than you normally would to ensure that you and your baby have a more comfortable journey.
Note:It’s still worth calling the airline to check if bassinet reservations are possible. While you’re on the phone, it’s also a good idea to ask them which seats you should reserve to be next to a bulkhead that a bassinet can be attached to.
2. Travel As Light As Possible
Carrying your child around with you while traveling is going to be reasonably tiring. You can make things easier on yourself by traveling as light as possible. You obviously want to ensure you've got all the essentials covered, but don't go overboard.
Nappies are one of the biggest offenders here, for some reason parents like to overstuff their luggage with far more nappies than are required for the trip. Take as many as you'd use normally for the amount of time you're traveling (with perhaps one extra for emergencies) and buy the rest at your destination.
3. Ensure You're Prepared For Unexpected Delays
While we've just said that packing as light as possible is generally recommended when traveling with a baby, you should also take the possibility of unexpected delays into account.
We're mainly thinking about food for your child here. If you're not breastfeeding, unexpected delays can become even more stressful situations while you go on the hunt for suitable food. Again, don't go overboard, but have enough extra for at least a few hours more than your estimated journey time.
Tip: Remember that in most airports, standard liquid container size restrictions do not apply to baby food and you can take much more on board than normal - check the limits before you travel.
4. Be Aware Of The Additional Assistance That Is On Offer
You’re never alone when you’re traveling with your child, there’s a wide range of little “perks” that parents can receive to make the journey a little less testing.
For example, parents traveling with young children will often be asked if they wish to board the plane first, which provides you and your little one time to get settled without the stress of holding up other passengers (and it guarantees you space for your luggage in the overhead compartments too).
Similarly, there are often separate lines for people traveling with young children when going through security, some airports even have playpens you can put toddlers in while you go through the motions.
Tip:If there's no dedicated line for parents, then trying to catch the eye of an airport employee can be a good idea - they may ask you if you want to move you to the front.