Being South African + working in China for over 3 years + seeing as much as Asia as I can in that time + dating a Dutch guy
= Over 70 flights in the last 4 years.
I went from someone who didn’t know that you couldn’t take water past security to someone that can make an 8 hour stop-over feel like only 1 hour.
This post is not about travel magic and tricks giving you clues like “book your flight on the 7th Tuesday of the 3rd moon 2 months before your flight”, or that “the best seat is the 4th one from the left of the 7th one if you enter the plane from the right side”. I have read many of these blogs and I have never managed to find these specials that they talk about on the day I am supposed to. (Probably because a lot of my trips are a bit more last minute than they should be.)
This is a post about what I do to make sure that I can arrive at my destination, 3 flights and 25 hours later, relaxed and happy. After all, the flight is just as much a part of the journey as the destination itself.
So here goes.
1 – Attire
Let’s start here. When I have a long travel ahead of me I go for easy and comfortable. I don’t wear makeup and I don’t wear heels. I also try to go with an outfit that can get me through security without any hassle – this means no belt, a bra without a wire, and less jewellery.
2 – Tissues and scarfs
The air in the plane gets so dry. This affects my nose and my sleep. Having tissues saves me the hassle of having to ask someone for one or running to the toilet to get some. When I want to sleep on the flight I put my scarf over my face. I’ve found that when I sleep like this I don’t wake up with a burning nose because the air I breath in is damp.
The tissues are also very, very useful at airports. Most airports are fine, but you will find yourself at some point needing the toilet and not finding any toilet paper close by.
3 – Lip ice and small hand lotion
Talking about dry air, I always have lip balm and a small hand lotion on me. Again, you won’t die without it, but it just makes the whole experience a lot more enjoyable if you don’t feel cracked and wrinkled all over the whole time.
4 – Kindle and/or book
I am someone that prefers an actual book to a kindle, but for flights it just makes so much more sense to pack my kindle. I download 2 or 3 books and my kindle fits in the side pocket of my handbag. I usually pick easy read, page-turner, shorter books for a flight. Being drawn into a book can make 8 hours at Hong Kong airport feel like only a moment. If you’re not a book reader a magazine is also a good idea. It should be something that can keep you busy for an hour or two in case sleep doesn’t come easy or you have a lot of time to kill at the airport.
5 – Earphones or earphone adaptors
A lot of airlines now make use of the one audio jack earphones, meaning you don’t have to use the crappy airline earphones but your own instead. I have spent too many 10+ hour flights not being able to use the entertainment system properly because of poor quality earphones. Being able to watch a movie or 2 takes 4 hours off the flight easily. For the odd occasion that you fly with an airline that uses the double jack earphones, it is nice to travel with an adaptor. Then you can still use your own earphones.
6 – Chocolate/water
The first time I flew on my own to a foreign country I didn’t know what budget airlines were. As far as I knew all flights came with some form of food and some form of earphones. So needless to say, I was caught off guard finding myself on a 4-hour flight with no food, no earphones and no credit card to buy anything. Never again! Now I always make sure I have a mini chocolate bar with me on longer flights. I prefer to take dark chocolate because then I don’t finish all of it in one go. On night flights I also take water or a drink with me so that when I get thirsty in the middle of the night I can just have a sip.
7 – Tablet/phone
Before a flight I load a few episodes of my favourite series onto my tablet. This is very useful if you find yourself in an airport for over 4 hours, or on a fight with no or a limited entertainment program. I always have a backup of 2 seasons on a flash drive and an adaptor to plug the flash drive into my tablet.
The other thing a tablet is very useful for is games. Word games, puzzle games, number games. You’ll be amazed at how fast the time passes when you start playing these games. My favourite games for time killing is Candy Crush, Wordscapes, Sudoku, Farm Heroes, Ticket to Ride (not free), scrabble, Spider Solitaire, Word Brain. All available on Google Play for free, and all can be played without internet access.
8 – Wet wipes
You never know what situation you might find yourself in while travelling – poor bathroom hygiene, broken taps, sticky food trays on the plane, spills, sleepy face (yes, that’s a thing). I don’t use wet wipes too often, but when I want to use them and don’t have them it does spoil my mood quite a bit. So, better safe than sorry.
9 – Pen
Especially on flights that you need to fill in a landing card. Queuing for a pen when you could have gone through customs and been on your way to the hotel is the last thing you want to do after a long travel.
10 – Portable charger
Nowadays most airports have charging points and even most airplanes have USB slots you can use to charge your devices in flight. I very rarely use my portable charger, but the last thing I want is being stuck in the middle of nowhere for who knows how long without any entertainment.
11 – Chewing gum
Some people like to chew chewing gum during take-off and landing. I don’t do that very often. I just like having a strong, minty chewing gum at times I didn’t feel to fresh anymore.
12 – Painkillers and hay fever tablets
Travelling and going on holiday can be a shock to the system. I never travel anywhere without these two medications and it has come in handy so many times.
13 – A bag within a bag
I always have a small bag in my bigger bag that has all the essential things for the flight in it. That way, when I get onto the flight, I can put my backpack in the overhead compartment and just keep the small bag at my feet. This bag is just big enough to fit the essentials. Kindle, lip balm, tissues, wet wipes, pen, passport, cell phone (the bag is usually too small to fit my tablet, so I keep that separate) and charger.
14 – Neck pillow
I am very strongly for neck pillows. My boyfriend is strongly against them. So, this might not be for all, but I’ve found ever since I started using one during flights I don’t wake up with a sore neck after my sleep anymore. There are so many different shapes and sizes and you’ll need to find the one that works for you. It took me three tries to find one that I am really happy with.
15 – A change of underwear
Luckily I’ve never actually “needed” this, but I always have an extra set of underwear in my hand luggage for in case my check-in luggage gets lots.
And that’s it!
I would like to also hear from my you guys. Which of these tips are your favourite? Do you have anything to add to the list?