How to survive a 23 hour journey.


My goodness, I’ve missed travelling. I’m writing this from on board a flight from Dubai to London, having just done the Melbourne to Dubai leg of my journey in this same very seat. It was so kind of past-me to keep the seat warm. Though she probably farted in it. Yep, she definitely did. There’s a reason I call these things flying-farty-tin-boxes.

Anyway, that’s enough of that. Going for long periods of travel like this solo means I’m left alone with my thoughts for probably far too long, which is quite wonderful but also slightly maddening.

I’ve been fortunate enough in my life to have such times rather often. I’ve travelled for as long as I can remember, I’m pretty sure at some point I would have been that crying baby they shove up at the front of the cabin. For this, I apologise. But the world is a terrifying place when the air is stale and your ears feel like they’re going to explode. Even as an adult I wince at the discomfort.

Thankfully I have formed a set of unspoken rules for myself when I travel, a few life hacks that are probably not all completely sensible but they make for an easy and lazy long-haul journey. Disclaimer that most of these tips are born from a Hong Kong/Melbourne to London kind of journey, a flight-path well travelled by yours truly.

ONE: Be tired.

This one usually kicks in when I’m booking the flights. If you can avoid it, never do a long-haul day flight. You’ll stay up the whole time and watch fifteen movies and have a blast but then jetlag will come and kick you in the gnads and it’ll wreck you for the next few days. I’m not the kind of person that can force myself to sleep when I’m awake, so I always opt for a flight as close to midnight as possible. I like to think I am the ideal passenger – I rock up, take my seat, and pass out as soon as we take off. Forget dinner, I’m out long before the seatbelt light has gone off.

TWO: Be intoxicated (…within reason)

If you can drink, alcohol CAN be your best friend in times like this. Ahead of this particular journey, I hit up my second home, Strike Bowling Bar in Melbourne Central (that non-sponsored promo hey?). I had some food and drinks, then some more drinks and a game of laser tag and bowling. Side note, playing laser tag before a 12+ hour flight is not the wisest idea. Thank goodness for deodorant.

But the drinks definitely helped me fall asleep. I have ‘within reason’ up there for two reasons. Firstly, do not take this tip as the go-ahead to be that drunken douchebag on the plane. Nobody will have a good time if that happens, least of all you. Secondly, alcohol is a diuretic. The last thing you want is to be tipsy, tired, and needing to tinkle. Especially if like me you seem to always get locked into the non-window non-aisle seats. That said, I could do with a bit of magic right now…

THREE: Bring shorts

This is where my inner lazy shines through as what people have called both genius and stupid. Jeans are no fun to sleep in, and thus I have made it a habit to bring PJ shorts on my journeys. I have my Australian boxer shorts in my bag right now, though I’ll admit I was too tired to go put them on during the last flight.

Those in first class get complimentary PJ’s (sometimes), so why not bring your own? For the price of your dignity on the walk to the bathroom and back, you too can live in moderate luxury on the plane. Well, as much luxury as a long-haul flight where someone may drift and sleep on your shoulder repeatedly can be.

FOUR: Be hydrated (but only just)

Dehydration on a plane is killer. But being too hydrated is also killer. Who wants to go to the teeny cubicle with the world’s loudest vacuum sound seven times in a flight? Not me, that’s for sure. So instead, I drink probably just under the amount I should. I mean, sure, it’s probably not the smartest decision to not drink heaps of water. But when it means I don’t have to get up, it’s a choice I’m willing to live with. Just make sure to make it up and chug some water once you’ve started the descent to land, or once you’re through the long lines at customs. I have stuffed up on the timing in both of these situations, which I can safely say is not a mistake I wish to repeat.

FIVE: iBreakfast.

Ahhh, plane food. I’ve had fantastic meals, and I’ve had meals where I needed to put quotation marks around the “food” that I was served up when I described it to friends. Either way, my tip here is to skip the coffee or tea and get apple juice. I realize this bias is here because I’m not much of a coffee drinker and I have to be in a particular mood for tea, but hear me out.

Sugar! That’s literally it. I think the sugar hit helps get through the dreaded-day-one of a holiday, where jetlag is snatching at your heels and all you want is the comforting embrace of a pillow and blanket. The juice is not enough to make you crash, but enough to wake you up from the certainly-not-the-best sleep from the journey. Plus, tea (and probably coffee?) is a diuretic. It’s like a cruel joke to serve half the plane something that will need to make them pee an hour before telling them they have to return to their seat and hold it in for an agonizing thirty minutes. Don’t be a sucker, treat yo’self to some juice. Mmmmmm.

SIX: Groove on the move

Plane media archives are a wonderful thing. Sure, there are the latest blockbusters and albums, but I always seem to find nostalgic gems that have me lip-synching and grooving in my seat (probably to my seat-neighbours confusion). On this flight so far I have listened to the entirety of Avril Lavigne’s The Best Damn Thing, and am currently on Gwen Stefani’s The Sweet Escape. Wind it up! *NSync is up next; my inner 15 year old is having a blast.

Anywho. That’s all I got for now. Time for another nap. Happy travelling, and Merry Christmas! (I don’t know why either.)


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