Top tips for longhaul travel


A friend of mine is going on her first longhaul trip solo, she messaged me at the weekend asking for my tips as I am a seasoned traveller. So I wrote her a list based on my experiences. It then occurred to me that it might be useful to other longhaul novices, so here it is:

Things to take:

A pashmina or a wrap, aircraft blankets smell, no matter how often they are cleaned. Also, on some low cost airlines, they only load a minimal number of blankets, another reason to take your own wrap.

A lightweight cotton eye mask, very useful if you want to sleep and the passenger next to you has the window blind open or is watching a movie. 

Face wipes and a toothbrush and toothpaste so you can freshen up before you arrive. It will make you feel better, and of course, minty breath is always preferable to the alternative. Even if you do look like you have not slept for a week, you do not need to smell like it!

A light moisturiser and small tube of hand cream, recycled aircraft air is very dehydrating.

Refillable water bottles are great, usually the crew will be happier to fill up your water bottle than give you a whole bottle from their stores. It means you can have a drink whenever you want, and not just when being offered. Also, most airports now have water refill stations/water fountains.


I always take my own earphones, like the blankets, I am never sure how well they are cleaned.

A charger and local adapter for your phone. Most modern aircraft that operate the longhaul flights, have USB sockets so you can make sure your phone still has charge when you disembark. And let's not talk about flight delays.

Flight socks - maybe not sexy, but then neither are swollen ankles. Plus, it is no fun spending the first four days on your Maldivian Island paradise being unable to do up your sandals! - I speak from experience :-( 


DVT - as well as the flight socks, get up and walk around from time to time.

Tissues - for you, or in case the person next to you sniffs a lot and did not think to bring any!

Special meals - don't forgot to order one if you have dietary requirements! Apart from getting something that you may actually eat, having a special meal means you usually get served first, particulalry useful just before landing as you can pop to the loo and freshen up when everyone else is still being served.

Toilet tips - NEVER, and I mean never ever, go to the toilet without your shoes on! There is no need and you have no idea what all that liquid is on the floor! And no, socks are not enough.

Toilet tip two - take a small bottle of hand sanitiser for when you get back to your seat after using the loo. Not everyone washes their hands and the door handles and surfaces are a breeding ground for germs!

Drink - lots of water, and avoid fizzy drinks and alcohol, both of which are dehydrating. Don't worry if you need to go to the loo a crazy number of times, no-one is counting, well, apart from the passenger who has the seat by the loo! You will probably never see them again anyway.

If you can, pack some clean underwear and a top in your hand luggage as sometimes hold luggage gets lost! You may also fancy wearing something that you have not just travelled in for upteen hours when you meet your friends/family loved ones at the other end.

When you arrive at your destination - Try to adjust to the local time as soon as possible. As a a rule I aim for a 9pm (local time) bedtime. If need be, plan a full day of activities on the day you arrive, just to keep you awake. I once went out on the America's Cup Yacht in Sydney an hour after I checked in at my hotel, having flown through from London. After that,  I went whale watching! It is a wonder I did not fall overboard I was so tired, but it did keep me awake!

And finally, have a scanned copy of your passport and an utility bill showing your name and address, somewhere accessible, you could email them to yourself. I keep scanned copies of my clients passports, for two reasons, 1. To make sure their flights are booked in the names EXACTLY as shown in their passports, and 2. In case they ever lose their passport + phone/laptop, I can email it to them, or their hotel for printing, and they can file an online application for a new passport with the local consulate asap. It makes the whole process much faster for the client - again, I speak from experience.

Just a few tips, based on my personal experience. I hope you find them useful.

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Janet xx

Janet Mactavish