We have been abroad for almost 18 months (infant talk :-)). We are just babies in this game but we have matured as travelers…….A LOT! We learned some good and some expensive lessons about living on the road. Lessons like, wtf is onward travel, how to find and use secure ATMs, “budget” Airbnb traps ….and we will share all of them with you through our blogs.
We just spent 36 hours traveling across the globe from Thailand to America. Of course we took the least expensive route. We enjoy a slow trot across the globe since we are not location dependent. We exited Southeast Asia through Singapore (and had a great time tripping in their airport) and we entered America from San Francisco. The longest continuous flight is from Singapore to New Jersey and it is clocked at 18.5 hours. Our flight from SIN to SFO was 15 hours. We thought we would post something about how to enjoy long-haul flights and trips riding in coach. For this trip we spent 36 hours in route and 19 hours actually flying (Chiang Mai – Bangkok – Singapore – San Fran). Here is what we believe to be the best way to handle long-haul coach flights.
How To Enjoy a Long-haul Flight
- First: Book with a great airline if you can. We booked our long-haul flight with Singapore airlines which was rated The #1 Customer Service Airline in 2018. We found a special on Google flights that included an 8 hr layover in Singapore but it was well worth it. The attendants were courteous and attentive, we had 2″ more leg room that other carriers (which makes a big difference) and the flight itself was smooth as butter. Did I mention that Singapore Changi Airport is a 5⭐ Airport and according to Skytrax it is also ‘The World’s Best Airport‘. We thought it would be fun to hang out in there….and it was!
- Bribes: Spend $5 before your flight and bring the flight crew some Hershey kisses or some trinkets. Give them to the Crew leader and then pay attention to what favor looks like. They will be in a competition to serve you….. in coach! They may even seat you in a better seat……
- Better Together (hack): If you’re traveling with a companion, you most likely want to enjoy your flight sitting next to them. Bonus, if neither of you have to sit in the middle. Since we booked together, we were able to choose our seats at the same time. We chose our row and picked the aisle and window seats. This left the middle up for grabs…but really, who chooses to sit in the middle of a long haul flight. We crossed our fingers and prayed that neither the airline nor any individual would book that middle seat. It was a bit risky – but worth it to us. Had someone joined us in our row, we would offer them the aisle or window seat so that we could ‘sit together.’ Win-win? As it turns out, we ended up with a row to ourselves on our last long haul flight.
- The Sickness: I cannot overstate this -Bring some Airborn or goldenseal or echinacea or zinc tablets… whatever you use to fight viruses with #BringIt! Unfortunately, I did not bring anything on this trip and an old lady sneezed directly on the back of my neck and delivered the death blow virus to me. Two days after we got to San Fran I was sick AF. It came on slow and I had time to deal with it had I had the correct supplies, but I did not……
- Hydration: Your first thought will be “Oh, I don’t wanna run back and forth to the the bathroom on an Airplane”, but look-a-here! On a long haul flight you are steadily breathing thin air and your body will respond. You will get dehydrated, you will get super chapped, Dave Chapelle, crackhead lips and you will start to feel like crud. You are essentially flying in an air desert where the humidity is uber low (10-20%). Spending half of a day in these conditions will leave you feeling nauseous, headachey, and extremely fatigued. Drink water and green tea before during and after the flight. You will not run back and forth to the bathroom, your body will absorb the much needed hydration. Also, SN – try not to overdue the coffee and alcohol, they are both suck water from your body.
- Eat your carbs, they are the happy food. Seriously they are responsible for the feel good hormone serotonin. The insulin (which carbs create) also helps the body to transition sleep schedules and it this helps prevent jet-lag. So eat that oatmeal, rice, noodles…. in reasonable portions. I suspend my usual diet while I am in the air so I can enjoy the fullness of my trip but, I also bring protein rich snacks. They help me to feel full between meals; protein bars, almonds, jerky… It is all about balance. Try not to overeat because you digest at a very slow rate when you are riding at an altitude of 38,000 feet.
- Wear loose clothes (especially around the waist) and wear layers! Layers help you adjust to the cabin temperatures and loose clothes aid in comfort and the digestion of your meals. Gas can be a serious situation when you fly the friendly skies. As cabin pressure falls, gas starts to expand. As a result, you can feel some serious pressure in your stomach or digestive tract. The gas situation can get real on long-hauls… If you often have problems with your stomach or digestion do the airplane and yourself a favor and eat light, probiotic foods before flying (yogurt, pickles, granola, nuts, pineapples, bananas and water).
- Stretch your legs. Get up and walk the cabin your body will thank you for helping the blood circulate.
- Enjoy your entertainment. Hopefully you followed the first tip and your airline has a stock of movies, music and entertainment for you. If not make sure you load up your Audible account, download some new video games on your phone, download your playlists, and download your Netflix shows, crossword puzzles….. Make sure everything is available offline. Entertainment is 60% of the haul.
- Sleep: Whatever it takes for you to get sound sleep do it! On long haul flights your body is going through hemispheric extremes, atmospheric extremes and possibly emotional extremes (if you have anxieties about where you are going or if you have aversions to flights). Get a facial mask to relax, some noise isolation headphones, some soft music whatever it takes for you to get some shuteye do it!
If you are taking a long-haul flight soon Nomadic Wander wishes you the best! Enjoy your adventure!