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Surviving Long Haul Flights: Tips and Tricks from a World Traveller

Surviving Long Haul Flights: Tips and Tricks from a World Traveller

For those of us travelling in style what’s the trick to surviving long haul flights? And by style, I mean those long haul flights around the world in economy seating. These long flights from the UK to Sydney or New York to Dubai can consist of uncomfortable of cramping legs and no sleep. Let’s face it the space you get on these long haul flights is more often than not lacking. There’s usually always someone nearby coughing and it’s impossible to get warm. Long haul flying isn’t my favourite thing in the world but I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that sitting on a plane for 24 hours is a small price I’m willing to pay to reach beautiful destinations. That said, I believe there are definitely a few things you can do to make long haul flying easier including what you bring in your carry on bag!

Surviving Long Haul Flights – Tips For BEFORE the Airport

The enjoyment of flying starts at home. Not in the airport or the taxi, home. Before even setting off to the airport make sure you are organised! This is one of my biggest tips to surviving long haul flights. I’m a planner so I like to plan and be organised and when it comes to long haul flying if you aren’t organised then you’re already setting yourself up for failure.

Before I even leave home I make sure I’m as prepared as I can be which means, knowing the flight times, which terminal we depart from, what time the taxi needs to pick up us, how far away the park and ride is from the actual airport, is my suitcase weighed and within the limit? Have I got all of my carry-on essentials in my bag? Not around the bag or to quickly pick-up on my way to the airport. These simple things sound so easy but so travellers fall at the first hurdle. If you’ve not weighed your bag prior to take-off then how can you be surprised if you get stopped at the check-in?

In my experience of flying if all goes well on the ground it’s a lot more likely that I’m going to enjoy my flight. So before we even talk about which carry on essentials you must-have for your next long haul flight make sure you’ve figured out all of the following before even leaving the house to reach the airport:

Before Setting off to the Airport Check:

  • Passports/Travel Documents are in the carry-on
  • You have the correct VISA for the country you’re travelling too
  • Luggage is weighed and under the weight restrict for the airline
  • Carry-on Luggage is within the weight and size limits
  • Everything is packed the night or day before. EVERYTHING
  • Know the exact flight time/departure terminal
  • Know the other logistics like, taxi times, make sure you make time for extra traffic if driving make sure you know where the airport parking is, what time the shuttle services are.
  • Devices are charged
  • Podcasts and Movies downloaded
  • Kindle books downloaded

Being organised can do wonders for your mental health and I feel so much less anxiety before a long haul flights knowing that I’m already organised.

Surviving Long Haul Flights Tips For In the Airport

Before getting the big bag of long haul carry-on essentials lets talk about making life easier in the airport. Airports can be stressful. I have no idea about you but every time I go through security ir passport control I feel like a criminal or fraud – the human is wild right?! But once we are through those gates and into the departure lounge we can sit back and relax. Here are 5 top tips to making your experience at the airport before a long haul flight as smooth as possible:

  1. Arrive with plenty of time – no matter where I’m going I always leave 2 hours for domestic flights and 3 hours for international, just do it.
  2. Preparing any liquids into plastic bags before the airport!
  3. Make sure all electronics like laptops are easily available to easily remove from your carry-on luggage at security.
  4. Get a security fast pass – I’ve never done this my parents swear by it and being avid travellers themselves my mum and stepdad know a thing or two about airports! They pay from 5-10 GBP each trip and fast track through the ques!
  5. Find out your gate number as soon as possible and before it shows keep checking the board for updates. If you’re sat down situate yourself near a board which will tell you the gate number. It’s no good checking half an hour prior to take-off and realise your flight departs from the gate furthest away. These days airport terminals are BIG!

If you’re really snazzy or have the budget then why not book a lounge? You can get deals on Group On a lot for airport lounges! Although, I’ll a little bit more about airport lounges in the Tips for on a Layover Section of this post!

airport boarding list
Keep an eye on that gate number!

Surviving Long Haul Flights – In-flight Essentials!

What you pack in your carry-on luggage makes all the difference to how great or morbid your long haul flight maybe! These days with the advances in technology you’re allowed to use most devices on a plane which makes entertaining yourself a whole lot easier. We always fly with a bag of carry-on essentials whilst the other bag has the in-flight ‘goodies’ inside. Bring a travel blogger means a lot of tech, none of which I want to put in my checked bag so one of the carry-ons we take always has, the cameras, tripod, laptop and Ipad inside. Before we know it we already have one full carry-on bag!

So because there’s two of us we pack the other bag full of the good stuff! From beauty to eating the best things that keep us sane and feeling fresh during a long haul flight are found in this bag! So what exactly do we have in this ‘goodie’ bag?

Carry-On Contents!

  • Headphones – no matter how far we are travelling my headphones are always the first item in my carry-on. During most flights, I’m plugged in whether that’s to a movie or podcast I rarely have my headphones out.
  • Pillow – I can’t deal with neck pillows and find them so uncomfortable so I prefer to take a bean bag pillow. If you have no idea what I’m talking about then take a look here.
  • Empty Hot Water Bottle – Did you know you ask the cabin crew for some hot bottle? Simply fill up your bottle to keep yourself warm – I’m always freezing during long haul flights which makes surviving them even worse!
  • Blanket – a small blanket never goes a miss because the ones you get in economy seating, let’s be honest, are crap.
  • Water Bottle – Take your empty water bottle and make sure you ask for freshwater during the flight. Staying hydrated will work wonders for your skin and how your feeling by the end of a long haul flight!
  • Earplugs – Need I really explain why?
  • Hard Boiled Sweets – To suck on during landing to avoid the altitude pressure from affecting your ears!

Beauty Items for the Carry-On Luggage

One of the best ways to leave a long haul flight feeling good is to bring a few beauty essentials on board with you! I have a few tricks which leave me feeling so much fresher once I that plane:

  • Fly with no makeup on – I don’t often sleep very well on long haul flights so I’m often rubbing my eyes and having no makeup on just feels so much nicer than having a face full for what could be 24 hours!
  • Wet Wipes – I hate wet wipes. They’re bad for the environment and not great for the skin but I do make an exception when flying. I buy a tiny packet of 25 which lasts almost one year. Give your face a wipe a few times during the flight to help your face feeling fresh.
  • Moisturiser, Cleanser and Toner – Pretty self-explanatory. If you think you can cleanse and tone on the plane then give it go but for me, that’s a little too much work BUT I do use them during the layover at the airport.
  • Rose Water Face Mist – Just makes your face feel nice!
  • Warming Eye Mask – There are so many different brands out there now but I swear by a heated eye mask. Simply lay over the eyes and feel beautiful as the mask starts to heat up – helps a lot with trying to sleep on the plane! Spacemask is one of my favourite brands – take a look here!
  • Toothbrush – Take your toothbrush and brush your teeth on the plane – it works wonders!
  • Lip Balm – Planes are horrible places for the skin. The air is just circulating and it’s so so dry so keep those lips hydrated with some balm!
  • Flight Socks – So worth it!

The Best Snacks to Survive a Long Haul Flight

With so many goodies on the menu, it can be so tempting to overindulge on long haul flights but the best thing for your body is to say no! These days most long haul airlines give out snacks and meals as part of the seat ticket and by all means, take full advantage. But, if you find yourself peckish in-between then have sure you have a healthier option in your carry-on. Most airports have somewhere you can pick up some nibbles from before boarding so grab some nuts and dried fruit as a go-to snack rather than chocolate or sweets! And don’t forget to drink lots of water and no alcohol! Don’t get me wrong I enjoy a cocktail or two but not on a plane.

the inside of a plane

Surviving a Long Haul Flight – Airport Layovers

The majority of long haul flights will have a layover of some sort. The longest flight I’ve taken so far was from the UK to Brisbane Australia. It was one of the most exciting flights of my life honestly, I just could not wait to arrive! But that flight was certainly the definition of ‘long haul’. We had a layover in Abu-Dubai which was supposed to be about 5-6 hours but ended up only being 3 which quickly turned into literally 2 hours. But to secure cheaper flights more and more travellers are being faced with longer airport layovers, so how you make them as fun and as stressfree as possible?

Get Out and Explore!

If you have a layover for let’s say 16-24 hours then get outside of the airport if you can. A lot of countries have transport visas or layover visas so before you go do some research about the requirements and the nearby destinations. You never know what beautiful places could be waiting for you just around the corner – just arrive back at the airport with plenty of time before your next check-in time!

This post by Ali from Travel Made Simple is extremely useful for information on leaving the airport during a layover!

Surviving Long Haul Flights – Rent a Bed in the Airport

A lot of airports these days have little areas where you can sleep! I know in Dubai and Singapore you can hire a little pod to sleep in for a few hours. It’s a great way to pass the time and get some rest as well because we all know sleeping on a plane just isn’t the same as sleeping anywhere else!

Check out the Dubai Sleeping Pods Here!

Airport Lounge

If you have the budget the go all out and book an airport lounge. I’ve never actually done this but I think I will for our next big flight. My mum took advantage of an airport lounge on her way back from Australia and she said it was perfect. She had a shower and tucked into the amazing food on offer. Make sure you frequently check deal websites such a Group On or Wowcher for cheaper airport lounges.

Other Things You Can Do to Survive that Long Haul Flight

  • Yoga – We had a lady get up and do some yoga on the aisle. My confidence would never let me do so but she was killing it and I bet she felt lovely afterwards.
  • Keep MOVING – Not many us will fancy stretching or doing yoga in the aisle but moving around in flight is so important. Moving will reduce the risk of blot clots and swelling to the body!
  • Meditate – Use and app or just do some controlled breathing to music, no-one needs ever know!
  • Wear comfy clothes! – never ever wear restricting or uncomfortable clothes for flying!
  • Board LAST – It never ceases to amaze me how many people stand up and queue to get on that plane! Just stay seated relax for longer and don’t step on that plane until you really need to.

After reading this post about how to survive long haul flights there is no excuse not to be feeling your best during the flight! But what about after?

After the Flight

My number one tip for after a flight is to get out into that fresh air! I always like to be organised as well and make sure I know exactly how I’m getting from the airport to my onward destination. There is no point feeling fresh and relaxed after a flight if you’re going to get all stressed in the airport soon after landing. Of course, the only time this is an exception is if you lose your luggage!!!

I really hope you enjoyed this little post on surviving long haul flights. As travellers, we often spend a lot of time in the air so it’s good if we can feel our best doing so! I always book flights using Sky Scanner for the best deals! Sky Scanner now tell you which airlines are eco-friendly which is amazing to achieving more of a sustainable planet. Sometimes flying is inevitable but if we all choose an airline that’s making an effort to put out fewer emissions! Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post if you did please let me know! I would also love it if you could share this with your friends!

Where to Stay in New York for the First Time

Where to Stay in New York for the First Time

New York City is magical. New York is hyped up by travellers all over the world and it’s one of the ‘hypes’ I completely believe in. I’m a true New York lover. If given the chance I would move there tomorrow, but maybe that would ruin the magic? Perhaps I’ll just stick to visiting more often. Prior to arriving in New York City for the first time, the mission was on to find somewhere to stay. I actually visited New York with mum for her 50th birthday present. That meant I was paying for the flights and hotel. As a newly qualified nurse, my mission was to find somewhere central. 

The thoughts that filled my mind were would I be able to find this in the famous city that is New York? I didn’t have much knowledge of how central you need to be in New York, I had no idea. I was up for the challenge and after this post, you’ll find out whether or not if it was a success.

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Researching Where to Stay in New York for the First Time

As soon as we decide on a new destination for our next adventures we head straight to google. One the flights are booked and the departure date looming I’m researching all over the web. I want to know the best things to do in my upcoming trip spot and the best places to stay. As a newbie to New York, I needed to understand where would be best for us to stay. In central Manhattan? Brooklyn? Near the airport? The only way to find out these crucial answers was to hit up travel sites like Trip Advisor, Booking.com and Expedia. I don’t know about you but sometimes I find these sites a little vague when it comes to giving out important information about a location. That’s when I personally turn to blogs ( a bit like you are doing now!).

Travel bloggers get it. They know that the reader wants real honest information about their subject. Basically, I needed someone to tell me where to stay in New York for the first time and why. Prior to my research, I’d only heard about how expensive it is to stay in central New York. I’d also heard that if you’ve only got a few days then you want to be central! One blogger says to stay in Times Square, another Brooklyn. Whilst another says stay further out of the city and travel in on the subway for cheaper rooms!

The whole thing is utterly mind-boggling! Sometimes researching a place can be hard work which is why I’m writing this post! I want to share my experience of staying in New York as the first-timer. In turn, I hope it will help you make an informed decision about where to stay in New York for the first time. I hope to answer the why’s of choosing a location to stay in New York so that you can have the most incredible trip to the big apple!

Should you stay in or out of Manhattan?

The biggest question that I wanted answering on my venture to find budget accommodation in New York City was do I need to stay in or out of Manhattan? After visiting New York for four nights and five nights I believe that to get the most out of your stay, you should stay in Manhattan. New York is one big city. During the first visit, it can be daunting. There are so many sights to see, places to explore and so much to eat! I can’t think of anything worse than starting the day miles away from the accommodation. That said, it’s only my opinion.

The one great thing about New York is that transport is amazing. So, if you are staying out of the city, then you will be able to get around on the subway quickly. We choose to stay in Manhattan so that we didn’t have to pay for the subway excessively.  It helps with the budget if you use your own two feet – they cost nothing! So when deciding where to stay in New York for the first time I’d say look to be as central as you can.

Can you Find Budget Accommodation in Central New York?

I know what you’re thinking. How can you possibly stay in central New York if you’re on a budget? Well, it is possible but it all depends on what you class as ‘budget’. You’ll be lucky to find a hotel stay in central New York for under 100 GBP a night. This is considered cheap in New York. So when we found a hotel stay around the corner from Grand Central Station I was ecstatic. I’ll go into more details on our accommodation shortly but we basically managed to find a 4-star hotel near Grand Central for 112 GBP a night. When I had first budgeted for New York I had expected to spend nearer to 700 GBP on a hotel so I couldn’t have been happier. This may not be considered ‘budget’ for some readers but for us it was great. So how did I manage to find it?


    
        Booking.com

Should you Book in Advance when booking accommodation for New York?

Straight up, I don’t like leaving things last minute. I like to have my trip booked in advance so I know exactly what I’m doing and where I’m staying. Call me a control freak but the thought of not finding a decent hotel at a decent price gives me the creepers! I booked our accommodation in New York for almost 7 months prior to our arrival. I honestly believed, at first, that this was key to snagging this budget accommodation in an amazing location! Don’t forget that websites like Booking.com and Expedia usually have a 24-hour cancellation policy. So you can usually cancel for free if you find something cheaper – which is EXACTLY what I did for this trip!

As our departure date drew nearer I remember receiving an email from Expedia giving some deals on accommodation for New York. I usually just skim and ignore these emails. But now, I am SO glad I didn’t. There in black and white was Expedia offering our hotel for those dates for 30 GBP cheaper A NIGHT! So, in the end, I ended up cancelling one booking and making another just three weeks before we arrived! I stopped looking after that! So when you’re doing some research on where to stay in New York for the first time make sure you keep your options open. Pick a good cancellation policy so you can switch if you find a better deal! 

Our Budget Accommodation in New York City

On our first trip to New York, we were right in the middle of the city. The Club Quarters Hotel Grand Central is located just minutes from Grand Central Terminal. The Grand Central Terminal is the gateway to the whole of New York so this location was perfect the subway lines were literally on our doorstep! Within ten minutes you can reach Bryant Park, The New York public library and Times Square all with your own two feet! From then onwards you’re at Radio City, St Patricks Cathedral and the entrance to Central Park within another 15 minutes! Why pay for a subway pass when it’s all within walking distance of your hotel?! I would recommend staying anywhere near Grand Central, Bryant Park or anywhere between East 42nd and 48th street on Lexington Avenue.

Club Quarters Hotel Grand Central

This post isn’t a review of the hotel but I just wanted to give it a mention because it deserves it. In the end, I paid a mere 330 GBP to stay at this hotel for four nights. I’m not usually lucky but I felt it during this stay and not just because of the price. The check-in desk is 24 hours and all the staff were incredibly friendly. You do need to give a credit card deposit on arrival which is like a lot of places in big cities. Our double room was located on the 11th floor. The room was light with plenty of space. It came equipped with a comfy bed, television, two mirrors, ironing board, iron and en suite bathroom with a hairdryer, everything you need is there! I can’t give enough praise to the hotel when It comes to cleanliness. The rooms were cleaned daily and clean sheets and towels prompted.

The Rooftop Area in our hotel during our stay in New York City
The Rooftop Area!

I Love Extras!

What I liked most about this hotel were the extras! The hotel comes complete with a rooftop terrace where you can grab some snacks and hot drinks complimentary! Snacks included fresh fruit, crips, nuts, chocolate, sweets, in a morning I’d grab up us some fruit for the day out which helped us stay in the budget even more! Meaning we could spend more money on the good stuff – pizza slice anyone? The hotel also provided water dispenser on every floor which also had plastic bottled available. Obviously, it’s better to use your own recycle-able bottle rather than the plastic but handy if you lose or forget yours (this trip was in 2017 so they may not even do that anymore)!

Noise

The noise was limited in this hotel Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t silent but it was no way near as loud as it would be in Times Square. This location was perfect because we were central enough to get around but out of the major tourist areas where the noise is high. The big apple is the city that never sleeps and they weren’t exaggerating when they said that! Times Square is still at its busiest at 4 am! If you’re staying in a hotel even remotely overlooking Times Square you aren’t going to get any sleep! The Manhattan nights are already noisy enough with the laughter and chatter or passers-by and the endless sirens going in every direction! Don’t make it worse for yourself by trying to sleep in the noisiest part of the city!

The view from the rooftop at Club Quarters Hotel Grand Central
The view from the Rooftop!

Time of Year

Before wrapping it up just keep the time of year in mind. If you travel to New York in the holiday seasons then the accommodation is going to be more expensive. We actually stayed in New York during the 4th of July holiday period. I was surprised that hotels were cheaper and the streets quieter, I guess a lot of New Yorkers leave the city and head back to their families for the holiday. Or to the Hamptons maybe?!

Essentials for Any New York Trip!

    



By getting the location of your hotel right you'll enjoy your trip to New York so much more! My advice? Research, spend the time on Trip Advisor looking at exactly what and where you can stay for your money! And keep looking even when you have somewhere booked! Sites like Booking.com and Expedia often offer free cancellation until 48-24 hours before your departure date so if you find a better deal don't be afraid to cancel to make sure you get the most for your hard-earned cash! I hope that this guide gives you some helpful advice when it comes to deciding where to stay in New York for the first time! If you liked this post then you might enjoy some of my other New York Posts too:

Top 10 Amazing Things to Do in New York City

8 FREE Things to Do in New York City

If you did find this post helpful I would be forever grateful if you could share it with your friends and family! I wish you the most amazing trip to New York City - Where Dreams Come True!

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Happy and Healthy Travels as Always!

Alicia