The most daunting travel many of us face is the prospect of a long (8+ hours) flight — or series of flights — that will eventually land us in an entirely foreign country, or return us to our own.
Herewith — gathered from both personal experience, and some rich crowdsourcing — a few critical tips and tricks for those intrinsically hellish 14-hour long-haul flights.
No kids. Nothing raises your blood pressure and makes every slight setback (one-hour delay, no more chicken meals, etc.) a major issue faster than traveling with kids. That said, once you've flown with kids, short-haul flying without them is a piece of cake. And long-hauling is doable. But if at all possible, leave the kids at home. (Note: If you absolutely must take kids with you, you must also absolutely slip them some kids' Benadryl.)
- Plan, dummy. The Interwebs make it easy to plan. So take some time completely obsessing about the trip to do so. Pick the best Airline (in-seat entertainment; choose your own adventure). Route. Layover.
- Go first class. People who fly first class from, say, New York to Boston, are rich, pompous asshats, or frequent flyers with miles to burn. People who fly first class from, say, New York to Sydney are smart people we all envy. And if you can't swing first class, at least do some homework and get yourself a good seat.
- Choose drugs. Escape and relaxation are key on the long-haul. But alcohol, like altitude, dehydrates you — which makes life worse on the back-end of any long flight. Less so with many drugs — including, but not limited to, those that help you sleep. So bum an Ambien from a friend, save a Percoset from that root canal, roll a hobo for his Valium.
- Singapore Airlines. The best around. The US fliers are the hoopties of the service industry. Singapore Air is top shelf. If they fly to your destination, make it happen.
- Gear up. Be prepared. Load offline movies and content onto the iPad or phone. Charge everything. Bring your own comfortable headphones. Book; magazines; good snacks; plug adapters; layers of clothing; earplugs, eyeshade, toothbrush. Eat wisely: carbs before bed, protein to wake up with (even if it's a power bar).
- Location, location, location. Get an aisle seat, so you're not locked in. Hydrate enough so you have to get up and pee often. While you're at it, roam the aisles, stand against a bulhead, stretch your legs, your back. Exercise. Then watch another movie and go back sleep.
There you go, people. Now go. Go! Just don't take my goddamn aisle seat.