How to Survive a 24+ Hour Flight.

After flying many many flights that have lasted 24 hours or more, I thought I would write a blog post with advice on how to survive them and not go stir crazy! My first 24 hour flight was when I was seven years old. We flew from London to Perth via Singapore, stopping off at Singapore for 3 nights on the way there, and flying all the way through on the way back. We've repeated that exact flight path dozens of times over the years, and I've even mixed it up by flying from London to Perth via Dubai, Qatar, and Hong Kong, with the Hong Kong route lasting over 30 hours.

Photo by Jakob Owens,

I'm just gonna put it out there - I love long haul flights. Love them. However, I never used to. I still remember being thirteen years old on our way to Australia, it was the first time we'd flown all the way through on the way out without stopping. We were in Singapore airport waiting for the next flight and I burst into tears because I couldn't bear the thought of spending another 5 hours on a plane. When you're travelling for 24 hours, it's hard. It's tiring, and it's frustrating. But there are a few things I do that make it actually pretty enjoyable! And the best thing is these tips apply whatever cabin you're flying in; economy, business, or first (although lay-flat beds definitely help the flight experience ;)).

1. Think Positive

The biggest thing for me is thinking positively. After that Singapore airport incident I decided that I needed to look at the positive side of long flights. When else do you get to sit down for the majority of 24 hours (not including transfer time obvs), watch a heap of movies, read a book, and just relax, without feeling guilty and as though you should be doing something more productive? My life is so busy that I rarely do this, so for me flying is downtime, a chance to rest and recharge before an awesome holiday.

2. Remember: you get waited on!

The most important thing to remember when flying is to be polite to the airline staff, always. Even if there's an issue, the nicer you are about it the more likely they'll try and help you. However, it's pretty awesome on long haul flights getting waited on hand and foot. You just gett to sit there and have all your food and drink brought to you without you having to lift a finger (or having to get your card out and pay extra a-la Easyjet). Make sure you respect the staff though and don't press the buzzer for things you can easily just go get yourself (like snacks - usually airlines have a help-yourself basket in the area where the food is kept).

3. Wear comfortable clothing

When I'm on a long haul flight that's lasting an entire day and night, there is no way I'm looking good. I do not care who sees me, I'm wearing leggings, a big jumper, and a big scarf, with my hair up and no makeup. 

4. Take a change of clothes

Talking of clothing, always pack a change of clothes and underwear (and bikini) in your hand-luggage. If you spill curry down you (which happens fairly often on flights that go via Asia which serve Asian food and are prone to turbulence), you can just go into the toilet and change your top or bottoms. Also, if your checked bag gets lost, it means you have a change of clothes, underwear, and bikini to use before you get your luggage back or the chance to buy new clothing.

5. Pack your toiletry bag well

In my toiletry bag I always pack; deodorant, toothbrush, mini toothpaste, mini perfume, mini wet wipes, a thick face moisturiser, hand cream, hand sanitizer, basic makeup (foundation, eyeliner, mascara, blusher), and then my inhaler. I also carry a little pack with paracetamol, ibuprofen plus (nurofen & codeine), anti-diarrhea tablets, antihistamines, and anti-nausea tablets. You never know when you might need any of these on a 24 hour flight or when you're in transit!

6. Plan before you go

I'm talking about movies here, fyi. A few days before I fly I look up all the movies and tv shows that will be on my specific flight, and mentally plan what I'm going to watch and in what order. Apart from the destination it gives me something to look forward to on the flight. Also I find it's pretty important what order you watch things in. I start with heavy dark films and dramas when I'm still all happy and excited for the trip, and leave the comedy and light entertainment (ie; Friends and Big Bang Theory box sets) for towards the end when you're bum starts to hurt and you get all claustrophobic and fed up. 

7. Sleep when you can

Even if it means you miss a meal, sleep is worth it. Plus, on the decent airlines you can just ask them for snacks and they'll bring you sandwiches and crisps, nuts, chocolate etc. If you're on a red-eye and feel tired when you first get on a flight, sleep, just give in to it. Even if you're trying to adjust your body for jetlag, just sleep now and adjust to jetlag when you land. It's much easier. Having said that, I do book my flights from London to Perth based on the flight times to help my body adjust to jetlag easier (ie; I always fly on a red-eye so I have a coupla hours nap on the plane, then stay awake the rest of the flight and then land in Perth around 2am and instantly go to sleep when I land, then wake up around 11am refreshed and ready to go!).

virgin atlantic premium economy seats

8.  Drink plenty of water

This is so important. I'm such a water baby anyway, I'm not a huge fan of other drinks, I can quite happily just drink tap water. But you really need to drink as much as possible to stay hydrated. Don't take a bottle and ask them to fill it as the 'taps' on planes are notoriously filthy dirty. Instead just ask them to fill it with their own bottled water.

9. Exercise

I fidget a lot when I'm watching films just to keep myself moving. The people sitting next to me probably think I have something wrong with me, but whatevs. I used to tap dance, so I'll often stretch my legs out infront of me and just have a little tap dance while watching a movie or tv show. In-between films or episodes I get up and walk around for 10mins and go to the bathroom before sitting down for the next one.

10. Moisturise Frequently

In-between films I also moisturise my face, my hands, and apply lip balm. It really helps my skin stay fresh and means I don't arrive with it all dry and nasty.

11. Make the most of the transfer

I usually have a couple of hours in-between my flights. My Singapore airlines days ended a few years ago, and I'm a frequent flyer with Emirates these days so I usually stop at Dubai, unless tickets are drastically cheaper with Qatar or any of the other airlines. I know Dubai airport like the back of my hand (despite never having stepped outside of it), so as soon as I get off the plane I race to the nearest toilet and have a refresh (face wipes, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste etc). 

I then spend my entire time in-between flights walking around to get some exercise. When I had a silver Emirates card I'd go to the lounge, and shower and stock up on food there. I haven't had that for a coupla years though as they changed their membership system and you now have to fly a ridiculous amount with them within a year to get Silver or Gold. So I wander round and get some food and a drink, and on the off chance I fly business I obvs go to the lounge (they have massage chairs - hellooooo). 

12. Freshen up when you arrive

When you arrive at your destination, while waiting for the bags to come out head to the toilet and freshen up. Face wipes, deodorant, toothbrush/toothpaste, and after moisturising your face apply some light makeup. I find this really refreshes me and applying a small amount of makeup after 24hours without makes me feel really good! 

Take a look at my vlog below from my last flight from London to Australia! You can also pin the image below the vlog to come back to this post later on ;)

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