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Florida Guide > Planning your Trip

Surviving a long haul flight

You’ve booked your holiday of a lifetime to Florida and have probably spent months in anticipation. What you may not be looking forward to with glee is the prospect of a long haul flight, especially if it’s your first time and especially if you have young children travelling with you.

However, there are a lot of things you can do to make things go more smoothly and the time can be spent a great deal better if you think things through before you fly.

If you’re travelling in anything other than economy class, you’re going to find it very comfortable. Indeed, that’s probably why you spent the money in the first place! But don’t worry, if you need or choose to fly economy, there are lots of things you can do to improve the flight.

Firstly, research your airlines. Each airline will tell you the seat pitch they use so try to get the largest seat pitch you can within your budget. Believe me, even people with short legs will appreciate the extra space on a long haul flight.

Secondly, do what you can to book your exact seats. You need to bear in mind that the airlines can change this at their whim, but generally you get what you’ve booked. Also, make sure you get to the airport as early as you can so that you can take advantage of any extra leg rooms seats (which you can’t book in advance because as these tend to be exit row seats, they have to see for themselves that you’re fit and healthy before they can allocate these). The extra money, if you can afford it, is well worth the cost, especially if you have long legs like me! Arriving early is never a problem. It means you don’t have any stress if you encounter that unexpected traffic jam on the way to the airport and there are plenty of things to do at the airport once you’ve cleared through security so you won’t be hanging around kicking your heels. We generally wait for breakfast until we get to the airport and then browse for some books to read (buying them airside means you don’t have to fit them into limited size and limited weight hand luggage). After that, you hit the duty free shops and before you know it, you’ll be boarding your flight. We’ve arrived up to 5 hours before our flight departure time and have never had to spend time twiddling our thumbs, and we are regular travellers.

I think there are two things you can take with you to make the journey much better. These are flight socks (well worth the effort, despite the obvious lack of fashion and style! ) and your own earphones – the ones the airlines provide are generally low tech and you’ll almost certainly get a better quality of sound if you take your own.

Once you’ve boarded and you’re on your way, you then need to cope with the amount of time you are in your seat. The first rule is - don’t stay in your seat all the time. Get up for regular walks around the airplane. Even queuing for the toilet can seem better than being stuck in your seat! It gives you a change of scenery and a much welcome fresh circulation of blood around your system. Make sure that you dress for the journey in comfortable clothes and shoes as this will help you feel more relaxed.

Take advantage of the films and entertainment on offer, it’s generally very good and time really does fly by when you become engrossed in a movie. Staring out of the window can become quite boring after a while! Try to sleep if you can so that you arrive refreshed and ready for your onward journey from the airport.

If you are travelling with children, there will be on board entertainment for them as well but why not bring some books or crayons and paper to keep them entertained or their favourite cuddly toy or blanket to snuggle up to.

Be sure to drink plenty of water, and although your holiday has already started and you may naturally want to celebrate this by having an alcoholic drink or two, remember that alcohol will dehydrate you and the affects of alcohol at altitude are more significant than on the ground. Also bear in mind that by the time you land, you will be quite tired and will still have to drive to your destination and so a clear and sober mind will be very important.

But most of all, think of the flight as part of the adventure, part of the holiday, rather than something to be endured. You will spend almost 24 hours of your holiday either at an airport or in the air and if you stay positive, you’ll find that it can be a very enjoyable thing to do.

We aim to provide accurate and useful information, but if you feel anything provided here is not accurate or out of date, please email us with the address of the page concerned and any comments so we can amend as necessary.

Page added on: 25 November 2007
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