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Long Haul Travel - Top Ten Tips For Avoiding The Blues

Fiona Harper - 3rd September 2013

Australia is beautiful, but a long way from many enticing destinations. Long haul flights and transit downtimes, inevitable. Don't take the gloss off your dream holiday. Fiona has 10 sure fire tips to bring back the shine and avoid the traveller blues.

Holidays are one of life's undeniable pleasures, particularly when an enticing destination looms as a longed-for dream break. The downside however can be the travelling part, which may take the gloss off a holiday even before it gets started. Even more so if your holiday lures you far beyond home shores.

There are sure fire ways though to avoid the traveller blues: here's my top ten travel tips

Planes or trains:
I absolutely adore train travel: there's something intrinsically relaxing about the constant gentle motion. Long haul trains are particularly enjoyable if they come with a bed and an ensuite bathroom, no matter how tiny. But even short haul train travel can be splendid fun, offering room to move around (you can usually walk the entire length of the train), plus there are plenty of visual diversions beyond panoramic windows. The extra room on offer is a boon for families, allowing young children to spread out and move around.

Take your Seat:
Book your seating in advance to optimise your enforced confinement. Most airlines allow online seat booking at least 24 hours prior to departure. Websites like Seat Guru or Seat Plans offer sound advice on which seats are better or worse than others. Things like proximity to toilets, seats that offer more or less legroom than usual or seats that don't recline can make a big difference if you're confined to one seat for up to 15 hours.

Avoid dehydration:
Flying in a pressurised cabin dehydrates the body so it's essential to drink plenty of water. Experts advise to avoid alcohol but I think that rule can be relaxed enough to enjoy a glass of celebratory bubbles after departure. One glass can't hurt surely! Pop an Evian mineral water spritzer (comes in 100ml travel size) in your carryon to refresh your face mid-flight as well as travel sized face and body moisturiser.

Trust your travel agent:
Like a fabulous hairdresser discovered by word of mouth recommendations, a good travel agent is worth investing time and your hard earned dollars with. Utilise their years of experience fine tuning complex itineraries to get the best deal, particularly if your holiday involves more than two flights. When things go wrong, the advantage of being able to liaise with a trusted ally back home to sort things out is worth any miniscule savings you may make by trying to book everything yourself.

Jetlag – the travellers' curse:
Try and avoid night time air travel (unless you're travelling business or first class) so that you don't actively lose a night's sleep. On arrival, no matter the duration of your flight or the time of your departure, try and stay awake until mid-evening before going to bed. Avoid mentally comparing local and home time zone, making all your decisions (for eating, sleeping and touring) based on local time.

Breaking a long haul journey with a stopover, even if it's just a night in an airport hotel, can do wonders, allowing you to shower, change your clothes have a proper meal (of your choice!) and sleep in a real bed. Check with your travel agent if a free stopover is included in Asian hubs like Singapore, Bangkok or Hong Kong.

Save your neck:
Yes, neck pillows are daggy (I think of them of them as cattle class collars) but they are worth the indignity for their ability to avoid neck pain if you're travelling in economy class.

In-flight entertainment:
Treat your time inflight as an indulgent period to read a treasured book, write a postponed letter to grandparents, zone out to favourite music, or fast track foreign language skills to learn some handy phrases of your destinations language. Movie buffs would do well to avoid the latest releases months before departure so you'll have some anticipated movie time on the plane.

Lost luggage:
Don't assume that your luggage will arrive at your destination at the same time as you do. Wear comfortable shoes and dress in layers that can be added to or peeled off as required. Pack your carryon luggage with all the essentials that your family needs for the first 24 or 48 hours. Things like medication, a change of clothes for everyone, toiletries, snacks, wipes, toys, books, gadget chargers and all travel details (itinerary, travel agent and insurance contacts etc).

My Secret Weapon: the humble sarong:
Catching a power nap whilst on the move is often all that's required to reinvigorate tired bodies. I always travel with a plain black sarong that I wear as a scarf. I use it to drape over my head to block out light (and noise too by inserting earplugs), creating a mental cocoon of privacy that allows me to rest during down time in transit. It also doubles as an evening wrap in cold climates and a beach towel in the tropics. Don't leave home with out your sarong.


Fiona Harper is a freelance travel writer specialising in travel boating and lifestyle genres. When not on the road checking out divine holiday destinations, she can usually be found bunkered down in a tropical location working on her next writing project.

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