Currently flying from Bangkok to Stockholm right now, and this non-stop 12 hour journey can either be a drainer, or pretty comfy. Hopefully we survive this long-haul flight!
I’ve put together a quick list of essentials that can either make or break a long plane ride. Check them out and let me know if you have any more tips or tricks to add!
Check the requirements for carry on luggage.
Most airlines we’ve come across will allow a carry on bag (various weights and sizes depending on the airline) that you will store in the overhead locker, and will also allow a smaller bag that you can store under the seat in front of you. We usually carry non-essentials (extra clothing, cables/chargers, toiletries etc.) in the larger carry on, and essentials for the flight in the smaller bag for easy access.
Pack your Essentials that you can Easily Access.
Fancy flights will usually provide eyemasks, ear-plugs, socks, etc. but budget flights are a different story. Best to pack your own essentials. Some things you might want to keep in the smaller bag or pouch can be eye-mask, ear-plugs, headphones, sleeping pills or “travel sickness” tablets, kindle, ipod, snacks etc.
Choose Your Seat. If you’re lucky enough to be able to choose your own seat, figure out what you would prefer. I usually avoid the seats near the toilets (too much traffic, or worst, the smell!), and go for the seats on top of the wing (you feel less turbulence). Window seats are great for leaning on to sleep, but you’ll have to make sure you don’t want to get up to pee every half hour, in-case your neighbour is sleeping. Aisle seats are great if you want to stretch your legs, or if you know you need to pee often. Emergency exits seats offer more leg room, but bear in mind these seats usually cost more, and parents with young children have priority on these seats.
Take a Pen
for filling out those immigration forms on the plane.
Memorise your Passport Number.
This one I still can’t do, even after so many flights and visa runs in the last 5 years. My memory is horrendous. Luckily, I have Lionel for this. Memorising your pp number means not having to pull out your passport every time you fill out a form.
On budget flights, pillows and blankets are charged extra, so it’s usually handy to bring a hoody or blanket with you. It is near impossible to sleep in a freezing cabin!
If you wear it backwards you can put the hood over the front of your face, blocking out some light and noise. It’s also easier to put on and take off, without elbowing your neighbour in the face!
Train your Body Clock.
If it’s a day flight, try not to sleep the whole 12 hour journey, otherwise when you arrive at your destination that evening, you won’t be able to sleep, and you’ll be jet lagged for days. I know it’s difficult but just try to take mini naps if need bee!
Bring an eco/reusable water bottle with you that you can re-fill once you’ve passed the x-ray machines. Don’t use the bathroom water, but most airports will have drinking fountains near the bathrooms. Unfortunately, most of these airports also have these stupid designs where the water flows at such an awkward angle!
Be Nice to Cabin Crew.
I’ve also found that if you ask the flight crew politely to fill up your bottle, most are happy to do so. Especially because it means you won’t be bugging them every 15 minutes for a small plastic tumbler of water. Also, less plastic waste!
Hydrate during the flight, but sip, don’t glug down the water. Otherwise you’ll be peeing every 40 minutes.
Bring Healthy Snacks.
Bring a snack on the plane, especially if you’re going budget and didn’t pre-book a meal. But don’t just limit your snacks to crisps (I nearly OD’d on salt during my backpacking trip ten years ago, when I attempted to try every different bag of chips around Europe. FYI, most of them are paprika flavoured. Boring.) Don’t bring cup noodles with you either. This is basically cardboard (sweet, delish, but terrible for your health, cardboard!), but also smelly in a confined space. Lately, we’ve been making our own sandwiches. Grab a baguette, some ham or cold cuts (they store well without a fridge), some avocado, etc. and make a couple sandwiches the night before. Saves you money, and is much tastier than anything else in Economy!
Take some moisturiser, lip-balm, toothbrush, toothpaste with you, and use them near the end of the flight. When you add up the time it took to travel to the airport, getting on the plane, the actual flight, getting to your hotel etc. it can be over 24 hours since you brushed your teeth! Gross. These simple things will make you feel refreshed and ready for the immigration line at your destination!
How to Queue.
Choose your queuing line carefully when going through immigration or security. I tend to avoid lines with families (with children, everything tends to take longer), couples/or groups of friends (these guys – like us I guess, ha – are leisure travellers, who don’t need to rush), or old people (sorry). Try to pick the line with single travellers, especially those in business wear (generally these are frequent flyers who know the drill).
Change your Watch’s Time.
Early in the flight, you can change your watch to the new destination’s time zone. Sometimes this helps in getting into the mindset of the new timezone, mealtimes, sleep times etc.
Carry a spare outfit in your carry-on.
Clean underwear, t-shirt, trousers etc. just incase your checked in luggage gets delayed or goes missing. It also helps having them handy incase you can’t be bothered to open up the huge suitcase when you arrive at your hostel at midnight.
Try to wear shoes without laces or at least, are super easy to slip on. Much faster when going through immigration, and also easier when you need to put your shoes on to go to the bathroom during the flight. No hitting your head on the seat in front of you.
On that note, WEAR SHOES TO THE BATHROOM. It’s gross if you don’t. Who knows what that wet patch on the floor came from. Ewwwwww.
Well, I can say we survived this long flight on Norwegian Air. What we did was watch three movies (Three Billboards outside Epping, Missouri + Murder on the Orient Express + the new Bladerunner movie), a few eps of comedies, and had a short nap (about 40 minutes). No lie. I felt refreshed after the flight, but that might be to do with the brisk 9 degrees in Stockholm!!! Brrrr.