Essentials & Tips for Tolerating Travel!

London to LA - my favourite flight!!
Long distance comes along with a whole lot of annoyances, and one of them is flights. The further apart you are the bigger deal these are – for Taylor and me, the flight to each other is ten whole hours, and that’s if you get one without stops!!

Whether you’re headed to or away from your beloved, flights aren’t particularly fun – the flight home is sad for obvious reasons, and even on the way over, when I’m sitting in my tiny designated area, I sometimes feel like I won’t survive from the overdose of anticipation and excitement for our imminent reunion, which you have no choice but to swallow down and wait out!

But if you’re on a flight you might as well make the experience as pleasant as possible. Here are my top tips for how to do this! (I will also be cross-posting this article on my new men’s fashion and butch lifestyle blog, Butch Is Beautiful, so please check that out!)

1) Watch movies - long ones!

Pretty much my emotions after finishing the movie and
having nine hours left on a plane!

The first time I went to see Taylor I made a terrible error. The flight had The Lion King on the inflight entertainment menu, which I hadn’t seen in years, and being a bit of a Disney lover, I decided to watch it to make the time go by. However, kids’ movies are extremely short! The Lion King is only about an hour long!! Needless to say, it barely made any time go by. On my flight over this time, I made sure to pick reeeally long movies – I watched Twelve Years A Slave and Captain Phillips, both of which are about three hours. They are both great movies so six hours was gone by before I even really noticed it!

2) Bring a travel pillow

A great and obvious way to make time fly by is to sleep. However, this is easier said than done. If you’re like me, you find sleeping on planes impossible. The main reason I find it hard is because I can’t sleep with my head dropping about like the slowly wilting flower from Beauty and the Beast – and if I do manage to nod off in this position, it will only be about half an hour before I wake up in chronic pain.

For my recent trip to CA, I decided I didn’t want my normal crippled neck and researched carry on pillows. I stumbled across the JPillow which is an AMAZING invention! (Others agree with me – it won British Invention of the Year 2012/13). It looks super strange (and I personally think somewhat disturbingly phallic…) BUT it’s comfy as anything! You slot the pillow around your head and rest your chin on the extended part. They even come in leopard print, so you can look somewhat stylish while squishing your head to your chest.

One problem I did have with this pillow is it is quite large so I didn’t want to wear it when I wasn’t sleeping or relaxing. It was also irritating to hold on my lap. I didn’t want to put it on the floor, for obvious reasons: I was going to rest my face on it!! To solve this issue, I recommend bringing a plastic bag to put it in, and then you can just pop it under the seat in front without fear of it getting gummed up with anything nasty.

3) Find a foot rest

Only ever actually been used in my living room!!!

For my recent flights, I bought an inflatable travel foot rest from amazon, which I thought was a really great idea! I hate not propping my feet on something so it was a dream come true for me finding this. I have to admit that I did not end up using it, but I still wanted to provide it as a suggestion! The reason I didn’t use it was solely because that the overhead bins were full on both my flights so I ended up having to put my backpack under the seat in front and I actually was just able to comfortably rest my feet on my backpack. If you don’t want to spend money on a foot rest but like something to rest your feet on, this is also a good option!

4) Bring a new book, by a favourite author

Sadly I've read all of these now but this
series is my fave!!

A book is obvious, but personally I like to start a new book at the beginning of a flight. Settling into your seat and getting to start reading is nice, and you also know you’ll have enough reading material for the whole flight. You don’t want to be stuck with some rubbish though, so I definitely recommend bringing a new book by an author you love and trust to provide you with something wonderful. My personal go-to is Sophie Kinsella – I’ve never read a book by her which I haven’t found impossible to put down, so she definitely makes ten hours to kill look inviting!

5) Bring snacks - filling ones!

Taylor first encouraged me to bring snacks on planes, as she is great at being organised and packing snacks. The first flight she recommended I do this for, I brought a massive pack of Reese’s peanut butter cups, though not the best buy from a nutritional perspective! Having something yummy to enjoy is great but I also recommend something which is going to fill your rumbling belly after you could barely eat anything from the *ahem* disgusting inflight meal (seriously, my meal on my return flight was rice and a few bits of broccoli – what’s up with that??)

Yummy!! The far right is my fave!

Bringing a healthy snack that doesn’t need to refrigerated can be hard though, especially if you’re like me and don’t like plain nuts! The best thing I have found are Merchant Gourmet’s pre-packed grain mixes. As far as I know these are only sold in the UK, but if you’re travelling from there I highly recommend bringing one, and maybe even packing an extra if you have a return flight. They are easily accessible – I just buy them in Tesco -, under £4 and come in very flat packaging. They also amazingly do not have to be refrigerated, and despite their misleading name, Meals In Minutes, do not have to be heated either. My favourite is Cous Cous Tomato and although I buy these to put in salads and sandwiches when I'm at home in the UK, they can absolutely be eaten just on their own. Don’t forget to save your spoon or fork from your inflight meal though – you can’t eat this with your hands!

6) Wear slip-on shoes

I always pretty much scoffed at people who wore loafers or slip-ons on planes, but I did it for the first time on my flight back from California and it was amazing! Having slip-on shoes is the best when it comes to planes! Let’s just be real, that area you get to sit in is miniscule – there really is barely room to bend and tie your laces. It makes getting up to go to the bathroom considerably less commitment if you’ve been sitting in your seat with your shoes off. It also saves you time at the end of the flight in that mad scramble to get off the plane, which is especially needed if you’re in an aisle seat with other passengers desperate to get past you!

The only time slip-ons were a mixed blessing for me was going through security. We were all made to take our shoes off – which was great in a way, because it took me two seconds to get them on and off! However, I was wearing boat shoes without socks – walking through the scanner barefoot was totally ick! To solve this, I’d just recommend carrying anti-bacterial wipes to give yourself a rub down, which are good to take on a plane anyway.

On this topic you’re going sockless, definitely pop a pair in your hand luggage. Planes can be super chilly and no-one needs cold feet! If you’re in your slip-ons and just packing socks this can even be advantageous, as you can bring much snugglier, thicker socks than you would want to wear with your shoes.

7) Have a refillable water bottle

You may think you don’t need a water bottle on a plane as you can get water off the flight attendants, but I definitely think a water bottle is a must. There is nothing worse than being dehydrated on a flight, and the flight attendants are not always coming around so you want to stock up when you can. Fill your bottle before boarding AFTER GOING THROUGH SECURITY.

Personally, once I’m on the flight, I empty the water the flight attendants give me into my bottle. Having the bottle be resealable is so much more convenient than drinking from those little plastic cups – you can just put it in the pocket of the seat in front rather than always having to have your tray down. There is also normally water available to pour for yourself at the back of the plane – so much nicer to go once with your bottle and stock up than always be getting up and down with your tiny little disposable cup, especially if you’re not in an aisle seat.

8) Pack a travel jewellery case

I was always scared of my jewellery getting knotted or breaking, so my travelling with jewellery solution has always been wearing ALL OF IT on the plane. Needless to say, this doesn’t make for maximum comfort, especially if you’re like me and into chunkier accessories. It can also be a nightmare at security when you’re often asked to remove jewellery. The best solution to this is to buy a jewellery roll.

They are a great invention, and are specially designed to carry your jewellery. Mine is from Laura Ashley (which I weirdly love for home furnishings and little accessories!), it’s super cute and is currently £12.60 on sale (the full price was only £18). Considering what a great investment this is, that’s very inexpensive. It has a load of different places to stow your jewels, including a space with little piercings to pack each earring, two zip pockets for delicate items (I keep my watch in the bigger one and cufflinks and tie clips in the small one!) and a rung for bracelets or necklaces to all hang next to each other. It rolls up compactly and can slot into your hand luggage – easy peasy!

9) Put together a mini survival kit!

I really recommend packing a small make-up bag or pencil case with some essential items. Personally I carry one of these with me at all times! However, they are especially vital on flights because you don’t want to be having to get to your carry-on luggage all the time, particularly if it’s in an overhead bin. A little pack like this can be just stowed in the back of the seat in front of you – much easier than stuffing lots of little items in loose and risking leaving something behind!

What essentials am I talking though? I recommend putting in a pen in case you have to fill out a landing card or visa form for arrival, your passport for the same purpose, a chapstick of your choice, an anti-bacterial gel for when you need to eat (ain’t no-one got time for waiting in that bathroom line to wash your hands!), travel sized deodorant (especially desired if you’re meeting your significant other off the plane!), tissues for any spillages, pain killers for that travel-induced-headache and a charger cord (my American Airlines plane had a plug in the back of the seat in front – you don’t want to miss out on any charging opportunities!)

10) Wear a hoody with a front pouch - for smuggling things!

My last ootp (outfit of the plane!) - my fun Disney hoody
complete with smuggling pouch!
This is less shady than it sounds! Personally, I always redo my make-up before I get off planes. Yes, I am that annoying person who occupies the bathroom for 20 minutes. It can be bad enough enduring the glares as you leave the bathroom after spending ages in there but heading towards it clutching a make-up bag means everyone knows your evil intentions before they even happen.

Wearing a hoody with a front pouch is the perfect solution. You can stow your make-up bag in there and make way less enemies. This also works for other items too. Personally, being a bit of a germaphobe, I quite often bring anti-bacterial wipes into aeroplane bathrooms, but I don’t necessarily want everyone on the flight to know that! Also works well if you need to carry sanitary items in with you – if you feel comfortable rocking down the aeroplane aisle holding a pack of tampons then congratulations, you’re much cooler and more confident than I am!

What things can you not do without on a long flight? Let me know in the comments and don't forget to check out my other blog!