It hasn’t been very long since I took my first long flight and that trip seemed to have opened Pandora’s box of long flights for me. Having gotten used to the 2-hour flights to Zambia from South Africa and back, my first flight to London had me absolutely finished! And I still had 7 hours in Heathrow before another flight to Philadelphia and finally Atlanta.
I thought that having taken multiple long bus rides across (Southern) Africa, I would be adequately prepared for my first long flight and while I wasn’t ill-prepared, I still wasn’t as adequately prepared as I would have liked to be so I thought I’d help any other (first-time) flyers by pretending to be an expert on the subject.
The window seat attracts many with its ‘built-in’ head-rest, the ability to look out the window at a sky like it’s your first time ever seeing the sky and the illusion of not being bothered by people walking up and down the aisle. These are real benefits that I’ve also enjoyed on shorter flights. However, it’s all a scam!!!!! You might find yourself boxed in by the heaviest sleeper (insert guilty face) and have to keep squeezing past them each time you need to use the bathroom or just stretch your legs, which you should do every 90 minutes (I mean stretch your legs, not use the bathroom, you can do the latter whenever).
If you find yourself in the middle seat, make sure you hog at least one armrest. You deserve it.
Long flights usually involve time zone changes so familiarise yourself with the time of your destination. If you wear a watch (and actually use it to tell time), it may be beneficial to adjust it to the time zone of your destination, however, once you connect to WiFi, your phone should automatically give you your current time. I find it easy to adjust by taking a sleeping pill on my first night so I sleep through what my body thinks is afternoon and wake up at a normal time for my current time zone.
Finally, drink water. It really is a miracle drink.
So, to recap (or just because I love lists) for your long flight, you will need;
Patience and tolerance from above (or wherever your preferred deity lives)
Soft material leggings or non-tight track pants
A zip-up jersey
Antibacterial wipes - those tray tables aren’t as clean as they seem (edit:this was written pre-covid, I guess I'm a visionary)
Hand sanitiser (less than 50ml)
Your flight pillow
Snacks (okay maybe you don’t need these, but still, it helps to have something to nibble on when you can’t sleep)
Chitenge (or your cultural equivalent; think sarong, big scarf, Kente, Madras, Wrapper)
A good pair of earphones
Well charged phone with your favourite pre-downloaded Netflix shows or a good book
Makeup pads, some toner (packed in your travel bottles), face cream and mouth wash to ensure you don’t step out of the plane with puffy eyes and stale breath
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