In the last six months I’ve been to the South-East US and back three times (>24 hours one-way). I’ve picked up a few travelling tips that I thought I’d share with you…
Sleep is critical! Bring earplugs and an eye cover (if you’re travelling international with QANTAS you’ll get given an eye cover). I like to be somewhat tired when I get on the plane – I find I can get to sleep much easier – so have a short sleep the night before. Wear the earplugs whenever you can as it’ll cut out the drone of the engines which wears you down. Using earplugs dramatically improved my flying experiences – by far the best bang-for-buck tip here.
Drink plenty of water! Being in a closed air-conditioned environment for so long means you get dehydrated and your body needs more water than usual.
Avoid coffee and alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates, coffee keeps you awake and is a diuretic. Both bad. Caveats: A small amount of alcohol can relax so it may be useful before you sleep. Coffee may be helpful if you’re trying to stay awake to match the destination time zone (which you should be trying to do).
Wear a thick pair of socks. Take your shoes off for the flight. More comfy than shoes! Get up and walk around the cabin every so often and stretch.
Try to get either a window or aisle seat. Window seats are good because you can sleep without fear of being interrupted; aisle seats are good because you can go to the bathroom, or walk-around, whenever you like. Exit rows trump all – get ’em if you can. Middle seats suck. Check-in online the day before if possible and use Seatguru to choose a good seat. Unfortunately you often won’t be able to check-in online for international flights – in that case get to the airport early. Like, three hours early.
Accept the fact that you’re going to be in the plane for a long time! The more you concern yourself with the ‘horrible flight’ the more it gets to you. Having a positive attitude can make a big difference. Remember that it’s an insignificant blip in your life timeline.
I know a lot of people swear by noise-cancelling headphones but – for sleeping and general relaxation – ear plugs are better. They’re more effective at blocking out engine sound, much more comfortable and a thousandth the cost. However, if you’re listening to music or the in-flight entertainment system n-c headphones are the shiznit. Sennheiser and Bose are significantly better than other brands, but also significantly more expensive. If you travel a lot they’re a good investment. Beware that some people feel disoriented or nauseous using these devices so go to a store and try ’em first.
[Update! I bought a pair of Sennheiser PXC 250’s. I’ll put up a short review soon but they’re good for the price and fantastic to watch movies or listen to music on the plane. Very happy with them!]
Take multivitamins around the time of your flight. Your immune system is often weakened by long flights and multivitamins can help give you a boost.
Keep yourself occupied when you are awake. I like to have my laptop, my iPod for music and podcasts, a book to read and a notepad for note-taking. Some people like puzzles. Whatever, as long as it keeps your brain ticking over until you’re next ready to sleep.
Pack: deodorant, toothbrush/paste, moisturiser. Wash and moisturise your face, hands and neck every few hours and brush your teeth and deodorise between flights.
Also bring a change of underwear, socks and top. If your luggage goes missing you’ll feel much better with a clean set of basics.
When you arrive at your destination, don’t sleep until night. If there’s daylight go out and get some exercise in the sun. Both will help you adjust to the timezone.
That was a longer list than expected! Lifehacker recently published a similar article on the same topic; you may find more tips in the comments there.