Congratulations, you’re going to France! Maybe you’re taking a well-deserved backpacking break at the end of the semester, maybe you’ve snagged yourself a job as an au pair, or maybe you’re headed on exchange. Or maybe you just finished your degree and bought a one-way ticket to Paris without a concrete plan. (That’s what I did!)
In any case, there aren’t many flight paths in the world that are longer than South-Eastern Australia to Western Europe. There’s no way around it: the journey is well worth it, but gruelling.
Here are some of the best tips for surviving 24+ hours of air travel:
1. Get straight into the time zone of your destination
The best way to combat jetlag is to get yourself into the mindset of your destination early on once you’re in the air. Change your phone and watch to the French time zone and, as much as possible, eat and sleep on French time. This strategy works best if you leave in the evening (meaning you’re tired and able to sleep on the plane) and arrive in the evening (ready to sleep again), but these tips work for any time. Also: pack some earplugs and eye mask to help you sleep.
2. Layers, layers, layers
When you fly from Australia to France, you don’t just change continents, hemispheres and time zones; you change seasons. Plus you’ll be stopping in a humid, equatorial location in Asia or the Middle East half way! (In my experience, in Malaysia and Qatar at least, there’s often an outdoor walkway and bus to take, so don’t assume you’ll be in air conditioned spaces the whole time during your layover.) On top of that, airplane air conditioning can be damn cold. So no matter what time of year it is, wear soft, comfortable clothes on your journey and pack a scarf, socks and jacket that you can throw on in the cold and rip off in the heat.
3. Move about
Fears of Deep Vein Thrombosis aside, the numb bum is an unfortunately common battle injury during the long-haul flight. If you stretch, roll your shoulders and ankles, get up and move around every couple of hours, you’ll not only avoid cramps and numbness, but feel at least a little bit more refreshed upon your arrival.
4. Stay hydrated
Flying is dehydrating. All that low humidity and high air conditioning can wreak havoc on your body. Make sure you drink plenty of water, and if your skin tends to dry out, some moisturiser or even eye drops. You can get mini versions at the supermarket that will fit in your cabin baggage.
5. Keep entertained
This one’s obvious, but the journey will pass quicker if you keep yourself occupied. Don’t just rely on the in-flight movies (although these are truly a godsend), make sure you travel with headphones and music and a book. Apps and magazines are also good time-killers.
Stick to these guidelines and your journey will be as pain-free as possible.
Bon courage !
By Gemma King.