In any case, the majority of the time, we're off to witness some spectacular diving, or adventure of sorts, in some far and away destination that is only reachable by a very, very long flight. That, or (and is often worse) a series of shorter flights all strung together into a seemingly endless array of waiting, boarding, flying, deplaning, running to the next gate, waiting, boarding...you get the idea. Whatever your itinerary, here are my tips on how best to survive, and maybe enjoy, your long haul to paradise.
First, a list - mental or otherwise - is in order. The worst thing that can happen is you are an hour into your 13 hour flight and you realize your computer battery is low, and your charger is...you guessed it, in your checked luggage. Yep, done it. Or forgetting your headphones?! Yikes, that's a killer. A list is the perfect way for you to jot down forget-me-nots days or even weeks ahead of time, as they come to you. Better that than the last-minute run to an in-airport store for some highway robbery pricing just to get what you've forgotten.
Think about the "what-ifs". What if the aircraft you are on doesn't have an in-seat power supply? Yes, I am well aware that you can often check the amenities available on your upcoming aircraft, but as a flight attendant, I've been on many a flight where tailswaps have happened and what you thought you were on, suddenly you are most definitely not. Further, what if the flight gets seriously delayed or even cancelled, leaving you to now be stuck in some in-between airport you had no intention of spedning time in other than a quick change of plane? There are many, many more what-ifs that I'm sure come to mind, so let it wander as you proactively work to prevent major inconvenience when something goes awry.
Remember that what you think you'll want to be doing during all of those unexciting hours sandwiched in your seat, might be entirely different than what you are actually going to end up doing once there. Be dynamic and prepared for change! Think you'll be watching movies the whole trek? Please refer back to the start of this post. Think you'll be working diligently on a presentation or report you've put off until the last possible moment? Please refer back to the start of this post. Overall, give yourself a variety of options so that if Plan A and B aren't really options, you're prepared and ready to go with Plan C.
Temperatures vary - HUGE. Not only do different flight crews set the internal temps of the aircraft, there's also external temps you're dealing with immediately before you board and after you deplane. Not to mention, you'll be almost wholly inactive for the duration of your flight(s), meaning your body temperature is likely to drop, circulation decreases and you can become very chilled when you thought you'd be just fine. In terms of packing, I ALWAYS wear pants (for more reasons than just temperature), wear tennis shoes OR flip flops - though the other is always in my carry -on in case of an emergency or big change in temp, etc. Next up, I always have a sweater or big scarf to stave off the cold temps, and socks. Socks are a godsend! Remember that your circulation is actively going down, and wearing socks can certainly make you more comfortable, helping you to warm up those toes and increase blood flow throughout your body.
Don't forget the SNACKS! Yes, I am food driven, but who isn't?! Being hungry on a long flight will keep you watching every mile flown on the map, agitated and unable to focus on what you'd rather be doing. Plan ahead and bring a variety of items. I try to rely on healthier snacks (trail mix, Larabars, nuts, jerky) to keep me going and keep me out of the airport convenience stores where you'll pay a high price for not planning ahead. Just as important as your snacks? WATER! Bring your reusable water bottle in your carry-on. Between the fill stations common in many airports now and your friendly flight attendants onboard, you'll have lots of access to water, keeping yourself hydrated all the while you're traveling. Even better, you'll have a convenient bottle to take with you once you reach your destination, in case a day of adventure leaves fresh water largely out of reach.
Don't forget a little TLC for yourself! I also always pack a small personal care kit filled with a travel toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, facial cleaning cloths, deodorant, a small brush, hairbands, a nail file, gum or mints, antibacterial wipes (you really have no idea what I've seen be put on those tray tables) chapstick and hand lotion. All the things you end up in desperate need of on long flights.
Lastly, and most importantly, BE POSITIVE. We all know travel is stressful, you may have already had a very long day, lines are long and slow to move, other travelers are grouchy or rude, and you really can't imagine what those customer service agents have already had to deal with in their own day. The best thing you can do (short of bringing treats for the service agents and flight attendants) is to be an easygoing, low-maintenance, friendly and understanding traveler. By being a positive traveler, those around you might just end up with an improved mood and a better overall travel experience, too! Positivity can be infectious, and that's one thing you actually want to have spread on a plane and in an airport!
Hope this has been helpful!