Surviving the Long Haul
If you’re in it for the long haul there is no one magic answer that works for everyone. When considering the effects of that oldest of travelling companions; Jet-lag: the pioneers of leisure aviation that have gone before us have devised a constantly evolving set of coping strategies, but which ones might work for you? Will you sleep, read, write or enjoy a movie marathon courtesy of the in flight entertainment system? Here are a few things for you to consider before you strap in, ensure your seats are in the upright position and any thoughts of work are stowed neatly in the overhead locker.
Breaking things up into manageable portions isn’t just for teething toddlers and mergers and acquisition agents! If you’re travelling over to down under, having a stop in Asia can give your body (or more importantly, your children) a rest and add a completely different filter to future memories and holiday pics. Booking your holiday with Flight Centre means that not only are you certain to get a good deal but you also gain the advantage of dealing with, on a personal basis, an expert (and often devilishly handsome) travel consultant, who could advise you on things such as when travelling to the USA you could have a stop in a different European city in each direction of your journey. Perhaps a spot of sales shopping in Paris on the way out and a gentle trip round the meandering canals of Amsterdam on the way back? It’s your holiday after all – you’ve waited long enough for it, ensure you make the most of it.
Flying into time
Before becoming a travel consultant the term “flying into time”, for me, conjured images of science fiction movies: of star ship Captains and the chance to play a round of scrabble with Napoleon. Since my initiation, however I have learned that flying into time simply means flying across a line of latitude in a westerly direction, so that the clocks at the destination are behind those of the origin, sometimes making the seemingly impossible possible (at local times: arriving before you’ve left). If you understand international time differences, you can use them to your advantage, balancing your body clock by choosing when to sleep, when to eat and when to call it a day, or a night according to the time in your destination. It’s always worth looking into departure times (and scheduled arrival times) with your travel consultant, if you prefer to sleep on flights, or have the kids with you then it may be best to choose an evening flight.
Some people can’t sleep on planes; I am one of them, even on 15 hour trans-global journeys. If you’ve followed all of the advice to help you drift off, from counting sheep to counting empty bottles of red wine and still can’t drift off, the only resolution left is to occupy the mind: positively embrace wakefulness through the onboard entertainment of the major airlines. There exists a great variation in the quality and quantity of the attention distracters offered by the airlines, for example: Emirates are widely acknowledged to have some of the best onboard entertainment in the sky with their top of the range I.C.E. system and Air New Zealand offers onboard wine tasting. So if the aviation insomnia gremlins tend to pay you a visit, consult your Flight Centre consultant for the best methods of keeping them at bay on your particular routing. When you arrive, the adrenalin harvested from the excitement of walking into a completely different world to the one you left but hours before usually keeps you going till nightfall.
When choosing the airline you wish to take you from point A to point ahhhh – most people will instantly identify price as the most important factor. Of course cost is a worthwhile consideration; but there are some things that you can’t put a price on – like functioning knee caps by the grace of a generous seat pitch. Emirates and Malaysian airlines have an additional 2 inches of space in their economy cabins when compared to most of the other airlines, and for those of us blessed with a long pair of pins this can make the world of difference. As mentioned above some airlines excel in entertainment options and others in dining and comfort. Cathay Pacific for example has ergonomically designed seats to cradle you from lift off to touch down.
The ultimate resolution is to upgrade: First and Business Class are unparalleled in providing comfort in the sky. If you really, really, really dislike air travel, then these options give you a ‘third way’ (to going or not going): a lie flat bed and a comfortable place to sleep. We can’t all afford these options but premium economy is available with some airlines (BA, Virgin, Cathay Pacific, EVA and Air New Zealand to name a few – Air New Zealand also have an option to upgrade their economy seats into lay down sky couches) and this comes with considerable amounts of extra leg room and seat recline angle. The price isn’t always as high as you might expect for an upgrade, speak to your Flight Centre consultant who can advise you on how to get the best deal. You can even upgrade on individual legs of the journey to make sure you get some shut eye on a night flight at a cheaper price than a full journey upgrade.
Long haul travel doesn’t have to be a chore if you’re prepared, and even if none of the above works for you – just close your eyes and think of…… wherever you’re headed!
Miles Buckeridge has recently joined the Flight Centre UAE family after several years with Flight Centre UK. His love of travel has taken him all over Europe, Asia and Australia where he was chased across the Great Barrier Reef by a sea turtle.