So a whole bunch of you want to know my top tips for long haul flights? Well, I’ll start with a little story…

I look back on my first long-haul flight many moons ago with equal amounts of pleasure and pain. It was the 15-hour leg from Brisbane to Los Angeles and I was about as prepared as a girl-scout on steroids. Or so I thought. I had my spotted travel pillow and my foam earplugs. I had every late-90s technological gadget you could think of packed away in my little Samsonite carry-on. Still, seven hours later I was bored out of my brains. I was the kind of bored that only constant fidgets with overactive imaginations would understand. I’d practically given the in-flight entertainment system an aneurism from all the episodes of Buffy I’d been watching and people were beginning to think I had Restless Leg Syndrome from repeatedly walking up and down the aisle.

Sleeping was never an option for me. Shit no. This was a luxury for those lucky schleps in first class who didn’t have a tween shoving a foot into the back of their chairs at 40-minute intervals. No legroom and annoying children did not a good slumber make.

But boredom and sleep deprivation weren’t the only things keeping me from enjoying my inaugural trans-pacific plane experience. Other enlightening things that happened on my first long-haul flight, and numerous ones thereafter, have provided fodder for the pre-plane-planning arsenal I adopt today.

So here are six unconventional tips for long haul flights you can adopt next time you’re imprisoned in a large metal tube for an ungodly amount of time.

Do order a special meal

Picture this: it’s an hour into your flight and you’re starving. You paid good money for this ride and you’re going to milk it for all its worth. But the vinos aren’t cutting it and you’ve just noticed a couple of people dotted around the cabin already have their meals. Light bulb moment! Order a special meal in advance or wait decades to be fed. With a simple tick of a box when booking your flight (or up to 24 hours prior to boarding) you can be one of the chosen ones too! I always go for the GF option because I’m actually Gluten Free, but hey, there’s no harm in going Vego for the day. It’s worth noting that your tray won’t be taken away any earlier though. Oh well, you can’t win everything.

Do bring mini-toiletries with you in a see-through case

In the days of airline wars and budget-cuts, some carriers are becoming increasingly stingy with the overnight essentials. Now I’m not going to name names, but a select few have done away with the complimentary wet-packs completely. Epic fail.

Why play Russian-roulette with your face? In the interest of sparing yourself utter disappointment upon realising there’s nothing to stop your teeth from growing fur or your next-door-neighbours reading light making you go blind, it’s best you pack a toothbrush, some toothpaste, sleeping mask and deodorant. And remember, no more than 100ml’s per bottle.

Do bring spare knickers

You probably think this goes without saying but you’d be surprised to know just how many people forget to pack that extra pair of unmentionables in their carry-on. Frankly, I think those people are disgusting. And shame on them for not changing your undies daily like a normal person would.

Do wear shoes when you’re going to the loo

Never, I repeat NEVER, use the plane toilets without wearing shoes. Don’t tiptoe into the cubicle.  Don’t wear socks. Just make the effort to slip some proper, loose shoes on when you need to do your business. I’m not knocking Flight Attendants – they do a pretty bang-up job keeping the toilets squeaky clean – but they can’t be hyper vigilant the ENTIRE time. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: those splashes on the floor? Yeah, they’re not from the basin… that shit is nasty. So, um, if you don’t want to walk in someone else’s pee then wear shoes.

Do absolutely everything you can to get an upgrade

Use frequent flyer miles, check-in early, sit near a baby, dress smart or sleep with the Pilot if you have too! If you manage to land an upgrade into business or first class you’ll pretty much have the best day of your life. Not only is the food better (and the alcohol a lot more free-flowing), you’ll have one of those fancy lie-flat beds and quite possibly the best sleep of your life.

Do pick your seat in advance

If you don’t manage to get an upgrade (I feel for you), then make sure you login to your online booking up to 72 hours before the flight (for most airlines) and choose your seat. Choosing the right seat can mean the difference between having to jump over people to get to the aisle or the amount of recline your seat has. A great starting point in finding everything there is to know about aircraft seating is seatguru.com. You can actually search specific flights (including carriers and models) and see real people’s feedback on different seats, entertainment systems and service.

AMW xx
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This article by Stefanie Acworth was originally published on The Vine.