If you could be anywhere in the world right now, I bet your first option wouldn’t be squeezed into an airplane seat with 11 empty hours stretching out in front of you. Let’s face it; even to the most seasoned traveller, plane journeys just aren’t fun. But whilst I can’t quite transform your long haul jaunt into a luxury indulgence, I like to think I can make it significantly more bearable, and who knows, maybe even pleasant.
In the days leading up to your flight:
- Go and buy some cashmere socks. Right now. Do it. Preferably these ones. I promise you, you will never, ever, regret this.
- Invest in some quality headphones. You’ll need them 5 hours in when that baby in row 27 won’t stop crying and the man next to you is playing candy crush with the sound on and the couple returning from their honeymoon are having the mother of all rows across the aisle and the stewards have left the tannoy on while they gossip about what Janette did in Honolulu last week. All around you may be chaos, but in your ears, the world is a lullaby.
- Sign up for your airline’s frequent flyer programme. Even if you don’t fly frequently, these will put you in good stead to be upgraded and make you a generally more valued customer.
- Scout around for the perfect hand luggage bag. You want roomy but not bulky. Stylish but practical. Lightweight but durable. Something similar to this has always been my favourite and doubles up as a completely useable bag once you get wherever you’re going. If organisation is your thing you may even enjoy a handbag organiser.
- Get yourself a snazzy travel wallet to keep all your important documents in. This will save you faffing in sweaty mortification at that crucial moment with an angry mob behind you waiting to check in.
Pack like a pro:
- Behold; the ultimate plane attire, derived from years of research and testing. To the airport wear a cotton cami under a silk shirt with jeans and your heaviest boots/heeled shoes – this keeps them out of your luggage allowance. Pack gym leggings in your hand luggage along with a soft, loose and lightweight jumper such as this. Neither will take up much room, but both will allow you to change once on the plane, accompanied by your excellent new cashmere socks. Using this method you’ll look smart enough to be in public (and maybe get a free upgrade) whilst maximising comfort once you’re on board.
- Team the above with an oversized scarf or pashmina, because plane blankets are gross. This is also why you should bring your own excellent pillow – my personal favourite is this bad boy as it’s much comfier than regular travel pillows and can double up as an eye mask. As a bonus it’s also super chic…
- PACK YOUR TOOTHBRUSH AND TOOTHPASTE IN YOUR HAND LUGGAGE. I cannot stress this enough. Always greet your new destination with minty fresh pearly whites.
- Don’t wear perfume or anything overly scented, this is super bad for your skin in that awfully aerated environment.
- Never forget sunglasses. It’s probably fun to pretend you are an A-lister touching down for a press appearance from your personally chartered jet. I myself wouldn’t know, having never, ever tried that.
Here is the rest of your hand luggage packing list.
At the airport:
- Check in super early, this way you’re more likely to get an upgrade. Then spend all that free time you’ve got in a nice lounge or shopping in the terminal.
- Speaking of which, book into a lounge. I’m a huge advocate of airport lounges, especially when travelling alone. A jetset trip just doesn’t seem as indulgent when you’re sitting on a public bench with a cheese and pickle sandwich. A cheese and pickle sandwich in the lounge however…
- When checking in, pick a seat towards the back of the plane as these are usually left open and not automatically allocated on check in. Pick an aisle seat that has an empty window seat next to it. This way, you’re more likely to get 2 seats to yourself. Sure it’s a risk, but it usually always pays off. Nobody wants to be trapped against the window next to a stranger.
- Security is the worst part of the airport so make sure you maximise efficiency here. Electronics where you can easily grab them (preferably in one carrier/pouch like this). Jewellery removed. Liquids in an airport approved clear wallet. And remember you’ll probably be taking your shoes off so plan your hosiery accordingly.
- Once on the plane, be delightful to the cabin crew. And I mean delightful. They are in charge of your in-flight experience and all-round good people to have on side. They’ll also have endured their fair share of airplane twats – don’t be one of them.
Your in-flight schedule:
- When you get on, cleanse your face, even if it’s already cleansed. You are now out of the public eye anyway and planes are DIRTY. Don’t use face wipes. These are the devil.
- Now you’re clean, a plane is the perfect time to do a face mask as you’re just sitting there for the foreseeable. Apply a clear mask or simply a nourishing oil such as argan or coconut to avoid scaring anyone as they walk past. I like to do a facial massage like this when I’m applying as I get super puffy on long haul flights. Which brings me onto:
- Do not drink ANYTHING other than water. If you MUST deviate from water have tea, but coffee is not helpful here. I know you’re on holiday and YOLO etc. but you will regret this when you land, especially if flying through different time zones. Jetlag, artificial air, other people’s germs plus the pressure of high altitudes mean you will bloat, get spots and/or feel generally exhausted. Water is your best friend during this time. Water is bae. Alcohol is the absolute enemy. Alcohol is that douchebag ex who was good for a laugh but left your soul tattered and torn, taking years of recovery to be able to love again. You have been warned.
- Now watch a couple of films or enjoy whichever activity you have chosen to occupy your mind. Note: this should NEVER be catching up on emails or doing any form of work. Plane time is your time. Colouring books are much better for your eyes than a harsh screen, I love this one by Millie Marotta.
- Keep making fists with your toes, flexing your calves and rolling your ankles throughout the journey. Keep shoes off. I’ve never bought into those gross flight socks (despite my mother’s pleas) but as long as I don’t sit completely still the whole time I can significantly reduce the extent of my now-infamous sausage toes.
- Plane time can also be an optimal situation for painting your nails (again – just sitting there). That is, if you haven’t already enjoyed a special holiday mani-pedi. It’s important to stress here I mean exclusively fingernails. It’s never acceptable to get your bare naked feet out on an airplane. Ever.
- Depending on how long your flight is, moisturise again from the previous mask and then sleep. Unless your flight is through the day, in which case stay awake – you need to get bang into the swing of things as soon as you land.
- Before landing, you might like to change back into your smart clothes to channel your inner Alexa in arrivals. Conversely, you may also want to remain in your state of loungewear-induced zen. Either way, you definitely won’t be regretting those sunglasses.