Total travel time: 23 hours. Wait what? I had no idea this was the reality after booking my Contiki trip (Vietnam Highlights). I remember feeling pure joy at first as this would be my first trip to Asia. However, now I had to deal with Toronto to Seoul: 13.5 hours, Seoul to Ho Chi Minh city: 5 hours. With the layover, waiting for my bags upon arrival, sitting at the gates pre-flight, the total travel time seemed a bit overwhelming.
But not one to complain about going on an epic trip, I knew it was time to create a game plan. Here’s everything I learnt and my advice on how to prepare for a long-haul flight…
1. Book an overnight flight
Sleeping on planes isn’t easy, but if you’re flying when you should be sleeping, it might make your situation a tad easier. My flight left at 10am so no such luck for me. Look for red-eye flights that usually take off after 9pm, or you could even plan an extra stopover if you’re worried about the flight length, these usually end up being cheaper, too.
2. Pick your snacks wisely
I personally like taking dried mango and other fruit as it’s not completely unhealthy, tastes glorious and is very compact. Your flight will likely provide you with meals, but energy or protein bars are also super helpful to have on hand to help you deal with those hunger pangs. Top tip: want your meal quickly? Order the veggie or vegan option as these usually get served first.
3. Layer up
It sounds obvious but trust me, people don’t think about this as much as they should! Wear something comfortable (maybe ditch the jeans) and I’d recommend layering up loose clothing that’s breathable – ideal for changing climes and temperatures. Lightweight shoes are also a good idea.
4. Plan your in-flight entertainment
Think ahead and download a range of movies and TV shows – you don’t want to get bored of your favorite show because that’s all you downloaded for the flight. Most of the time, your plane will also have a good movie choice (which you can always look up before departure!).
Podcasts are also amazing if you don’t feel in the mood for music or keeping your eyes open for a movie. More times than not, I end up falling asleep listening to podcasts since I lean back and close my eyes (pssst, have you listened to Contiki’s Out of Office podcast yet?).
5. Pack a freshen up kit
I love Emergen-C – mix one of those with some water and you’re one step closer to preventing that post-flight cold and sickness. Another thing I pack is hand cream as for some reasons, my hands really dry out on planes and it’s VERY annoying. I also pack a travel-sized deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, wet-naps, and hand sanitizer, just to feel as fresh as possible!
6. Be smart and beat the jet lag
Okay, so I can’t promise anything, but there are some ways to stave off the jet lag! Drink plenty of water while flying (maybe lay off the alcohol) and make sure you walk around the plane whenever you can, so you’re not sat in one place the whole time. Set your watch for the time in your new destination before take off so you can get used to the new timing. Then when you arrive, try to push through until at least mid-evening local time before dozing off. You’ll thank me for it!
Bottom line, you want to feel comfortable and refreshed (all while trapped in a metal tube flying 35,000 feet above the Earth). But just think about the amazing experience you’re about to have once you land. Safe travels!