The worst thing about living on the other side of the world from your family is the long haul flights getting home. Expensive, and painful. I'm heading off in a couple of days and have been asked a lot how I deal with the flights, so I thought I'd share my personal way of dealing.witch hazel salve and vaseline lip balm are things I carry with me every day anyway but I tend to go through a lot of it on a long haul flight when I'm being reduced to a dry husk of my former self!
Its good to have a snack as well for inbetween meals, some nuts or dry fruit are always good to have on hand. I also always take some Menthol sweets and vapour rub because I ALWAYS get a really blocked nose on flights and they kept to stop me from getting too bunged up. The tiny pot with the nurse is menthol rub I picked up in Hong Kong airport last time I went home.
A flight to New Zealand tends to naturally get split into at least 2 sections depending on route. In an effort to adjust to NZ time as soon as possible, I tend to spend the first half trying to stay awake and entertained. I always look up what movies are showing on the flights in advance (most airlines list this on their sites these days) which is a pretty good way to try and convince yourself you are excited about 15 hours in a tin can rather than look towards it with dread. Just quietly, I'm really looking forward to my flight to Shanghai, I have all the good movies on that flight. I'm taking some German homework and an easy to read fantasy novel is always handy. I always make sure I have at least one game on my phone I enjoy (Harry Potter Lego) for when I need to feel like I'm actually doing something. Also, a notebook so I can write notes (because I can't tweet I guess I need some kind of outlet especially if travelling by myself).
The second half of my flight is spent sleeping. I guess this is the part most people have trouble with when they fly because its the part I get asked most about. I've kind of got this down to a fine art - I always have a supply of Tylenol PM which I pick up in the states whenever I'm out that way. Obviously by the time I've got got to the airport, flown to Shanghai, spent 5 hours in Shanghai airport and got back on a plane, I will be cream crackered, but I really can't sleep sitting up at all so I tend to need a little help. I have a couple of natural products I tend to try before I hit the sedatives, Badger Sleep Balm is always good, or some Rescue Remedy. If I can't fall asleep naturally after that I take 2 tylenol with a glass of wine and boom, I'm out until breakfast.
The #1 tip is to keep drinking water for the whole flight. Not only does it keep you hydrated but it makes you need the bathroom, so it forces you to get out of your seat. I hate getting out of my seat on a flight which is really bad. If you need to pee, you gotta get out of your seat. Its that simple.
Don't wear make up, and wear the most comfortable clothes you own. Take a spare blanket for when it gets chilly on the plane. Be nice to the person sitting next to you. Take your own headphones.
And take mouth wash. No one wants to deal with your breath for the second leg of the flight.
EDIT:: One thing I had totally forgotten before I posted this/flew out is how much I am not able to handle not being in control of when I can get my next meal. Flying is the worst for this, you are dependent on the flight attendants serving you meals and its likely the food will be awful when it does finally arrive (Virgin and your cardboard sausages I'm talking to you here) - not to mention the layover time in a country you don't have any currency for (that bag of almonds came in handy I can tell you) -- I just found this blog post over on Sprouted Kitchen and I recommend reading it - I will be making packed lunches for future long hauls thats for sure.
Another thing I wanted to add was that if you want to get through security without holding everyone including yourself up, wear shoes that are easy to slip on/off, no belt and no large costume jewellery. There was a lady in front of me at Heathrow who looked like she was going to a wedding but was on the same flight schedule as me and not only did she hold ALL of the people up on both flights - she also looked ridiculous by the time she got to Auckland and could not have been comfortable at all. There is no point trying to look nice if you are going to sit on a plane for over 5 hours. Wear your PJs if you can!