This is for those who, like me, travel in economy and travel often. Some of this will still apply to those who turn left when they enter the plane, but for those who are regularly forced to walk right through Business Class when about to take off for a night flight this is for you. As a regular long haul passenger I’ve worked out how to make it easier and much more comfortable.
1. Make sure you’ve joined your chosen airline’s loyalty program – it surprises me that so many don’t bother. If you fly often you can quickly tot up award miles, and even on the lowest level that can get you, along with extra air miles, priority check-in, priority boarding and the ability to book a premium seat before anyone else. Go one step up and you get the above plus a free premium seat – on some airlines - an extra bag and entry to the Business Class lounge for international flights.
Join one airline’s loyalty program then look at the other airlines affiliated to it. American Airlines for example is affiliated to British Airways and Iberia amongst others. Always just use one loyalty number whichever airline within the group (such as One World) you’re booking, to ensure you rise through the ranks as quickly as possible.
2. Have a four wheel lightweight cabin bag plus a tote that sits on top via a 'smart' sleeve or strap. This just makes getting around the airport and to your seat much easier. I prefer a cabin bag with a laptop compartment in the front which means you don’t have to open your bag to go through security. By the way this probably won’t work for some of the budget airlines, but you can get packing for a full weekend away on a mainstream airline in one of these if you get it right.
3. A lightweight tote with a sleeve that slips on top of the handles of your cabin bag works in so many ways and not just for travel. My favourite is by Liphault – Selfridges have the best range online. These not only look good, hold far more than you think they will, and stay attached to your cabin bag but I sit my normal smaller tote/handbag inside plus my shoes once we’ve taken off, slip it under the seat in front and use it as a foot rest particularly at night.
You may get strange looks when you leave the plane with an extra bag (which you’ve removed from your Liphault tote just before landing) but frankly who cares?
4. Invest in a good pair of noise cancelling headphones – my headphones of choice for travel are by Bose. Nothing cancels out the sound of that yelling baby completely but you’ll almost get there. Make sure you carry a spare battery with you at all times. I usually also have pair of every-day in ear headphones with me in the case as well to start off and land with so I can be all packed up and ready and yes that probably makes me obsessive but where travel is concerned I like to be totally organised.
You may think ‘ouch those are so expensive’ but if you’re travelling a lot they’re definitely worth the money.
5. The all essential portable charger. I am never to be found without one of these. On some long haul flights all you’ll need is the cable to charge your smartphone/tablet, on other planes, in economy, there’s no power source other than what you bring so don’t take the risk. This one by Anker packs 6700 mAh which is enough for a couple of smartphone charges and one iPad charge. Make sure you’ve charged up your power bank first and don’t forget the cable…………..
6. Get a good, supportive neck pillow. This one above, the BCozzy chin supporting travel neck pillow is quite simply the best I have every come across and it’s worth every penny so ditch the chap ones – which don’t do the job anyway, and invest in one of these.
Having also spilt coffee all over mine on one flight recently I can tell you it washes and dries to perfection in a machine (dry it on a low heat though). For night flights and when you want to take a nap you need something that’ll keep you stable no matter how close the person sitting beside you is. This one is brilliant. You’ll find my full review here.
7. Buy some travel socks. I always put my feet up on my bag – see above – and move around the plane a few times and I don’t find I have a problem putting my shoes back on, however, I would never suggest wearing footwear that is high or restricting. Sneakers are my footwear of choice. So when I sit down I take them off, slip them into my tote and my feet into some travel socks. So much more comfortable for a long flight. I’ll confess I haven’t yet tried compression socks. I probably will in the near future.
8. Pack an Eye Mask
To keep out the light while you’re taking a nap. It makes such a difference. I keep mine in my headphone case.
9. Take your own travel blanket. This may sound like overkill but I assure you it isn’t. Those economy airline blankets are dreadfully thin and will not keep you warm. If you’re anywhere in the US look out for XpresSpa and buy (or order) one of their fleece travel blankets – they’re divinely soft and will keep you snug. Alternatively buy a fleece blanket from Mountain Warehouse – expand your carryon if necessary. You definitely won’t feel the plane chill and frankly if you’re on a long flight that’s the worst.
10. If you don’t want to get off the plane looking as if you’ve just got off a plane then invest in Trish McEvoy’s brilliant Makeup Planner, which you can fill with powder foundation, bronzer, blush and much more, a mini pack of facial cleansing wipes and a tube of Bobbi Brown BB Cream SPF 35 which is my current favourite for doing everything from moisturising and protecting to sheer coverage. These are all excellent for when you arrive as well, of course.
A tip for those who do a lot of long haul travelling is to keep all of this together when you’re at home, preferably ready to go in your wheelie so that all you need to do is get up and go. This really is long haul travel made so much easier, and you can even arrive looking as fresh as a daisy…..well, hopfully.
Updated 10th January 2019