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Having recently been to Japan, I experienced my first long-haul flight in almost a decade. As you might expect, the flight was one of the lesser enjoyable aspects of an otherwise amazing trip. However, as this was the first time I’d ever made such a long trip (14 hours on a plane – hurrah!) without any ‘grown ups’ – it was just my husband and me – I learnt some valuable lessons on how to make the journey a little bit more tolerable. Here are some things that I invested in for the journey back which made a world of difference.
Earplugs – £4 from Boots
No matter where you’re going to, no matter which class you choose to park your ass in, or how long the flight it, there is always a screaming child who will make it even harder for you to get some shut-eye. Yes, it may be a terribly grouchy thought – you’re supposed to love kids, and tolerate their screams of joy and anger, yet there’s just something about being stuck on a plane for 14 goddamn hours which makes you feel like responding to their tantrums by throwing one of your own. It’s probable that earplugs won’t completely eliminate the noise, but they will make it easier to shut it out.
Sleeping pills– £5.49 from Boots
I always get funny looks and disdainful comments when I mention that I pop the odd sleeping pill, but the truth is that they’re generally perfectly safe as long as you take them in moderation (and avoid the on-flight complimentary alcohol that the air hostesses bring round). I often get asked ‘can you even buy those?’ to which it’s tempting to sarcastically mention my ‘backstreet sleeping pill dealer’. Because they’re safe (providing you follow the instructions), you can buy them as over-the counter medication at pharmacies like Boots. Some words of wisdom – only use them on flights that are nine hours or more, as the effects last for at least eight.
Flight pillow – £7.43 from Amazon
Having seen them going for about £20 at the airport, I didn’t buy one of these pillows for the flight out. However, I did spot one in a Japanese shop called 3 coins for ¥300 (about £2.50 in today’s plummeting pound), and it really helped me feel a more comfortable on the flight. That’s an amazing price, but I have also found one for £7.43 on Amazon.
You used to be able to rely on the free grooming kits that you’d get in economy class for an eye mask, but it seems that they’ve cut back on those in recent years. However, if you’re gutsy enough, you can probably still ask a member of the cabin crew to provide you with one. They don’t seem to cost much anyway – so if you’re feeling shy and don’t want to ask, you can buy them for a few quid on the high-street. They’re incredibly handy if you don’t want to be at the mercy of other passengers’ reading lights, TV screens, and open window blinds.
How ever you choose to fly, you should always be sure to take care of yourself, and get as comfortable as possible – it’s going to be a turbulent ride!
*prices stated were correct at the time of writing
Maddy is a freelance illustrator who lives in Glasgow. She's recently graduated and is working hard to make ends meet. Self-employed? Read Maddy's experiences here.