Long Haul Flight Essentials

 
When I jet off to the other side of the world in just over a few day’s time I will be spending approximately 23 hours on two different planes; this is not including the 4 hour stop over in South Korea.  Up until now the longest flight I have ever been on is a 4 hour flight and I have certainly never been on a flight with TV screens in the headrest, so this is going to be an interesting experience right from the start.  In preparation I have been doing lots of research on Pinterest and asking friends about essentials I need to take on long haul flights.  Below is my personal list of hand luggage essentials to help me survive the long flights and leave the plane looking somewhat normal.

Books and Magazines

This was an obvious one from the start.  I’m planning to take Vanity Fair and a lighthearted read to break it up.  I will also be taking a magazine or two for when I need a break from heavy reading. My magazine of choice at the moment is Women’s Health as I find the articles really interesting and inspiring, although I am rubbish at following up on fitness techniques.  I will be taking my Lonely Planet Guide to Australia and some post it notes and a pen for any last minute planning and searching of good places to eat etc and I am bound to buy another book (or two) at the airport.

  
 Eye Mask, Neck Pillow and Ear Plugs

Every article I read and every person I speak to has told me I needed to take these to make my flight as comfortable as possible.  I have two night flights – one leaving the evening of the day I fly and then I arrive in Sydney in the AM – therefore it is essential that I sleep on the last flight in particular to stop me feeling crazy jet lagged and to adjust my body clock as quickly as possible.  I favour a bean bag style neck pillow as opposed to an inflatable one and luckily my friend is going to lend me hers.   I have my eye on this eye mask, which was a satin back and comes with free ear plugs, although I might buy some foam ones as well. 

 
Beauty

It is so important to look after your skin on a long haul flight, especially because of the re ventilated (is that how I want to describe it) air circulating which can make your skin really tight and dry.  As it is a night flight and I highly doubt I will go a day without make up, I have my eye on these Yes To face wipes for the trips, followed by Clarins HyrdaQuench to keep my skin lovely and soft.  I have picked up a mini hand cream to keep my hands soft as well as some Burt’s Bees Lip Balm as I can’t forget about my lips.  I am going to take a mini roll on deodorant and a teeny bottle of Batiste Dry Shampoo to keep me feeling normal. Of course no trip will be complete without a dozen hair bands and grips so I can go from lovely hair down to tying it up in a messy bun when it becomes a little too skanky and in need of a wash.   I have accepted that I am no going to leave this flight, or indeed travel around Australia looking like some kind of cat walk model, so I am prepared for this.

Health

Beauty leads nicely to health and I am going to do everything I can to prevent myself from picking up any nasty germs floating about in that aeroplane air system.  I feel this cute little bottle of hand sanitiser is going to become one of my best friends, coupled with mini antibacterial wipes I should hopefully fend off any germs.  I am also determined to arrive and suffer from as little jet lag as possible, at least on the way there, so my friend suggested these Nytol Herbal Sleeping Tablets that I am planning to use on the second flight to make sure I definitely sleep. 

Fashion 

One of my biggest dilemmas has been deciding what to wear on my journey as I want to be as comfortable as possible, warm and wear any bulky clothes so that they don’t have to go in my luggage.  With this in mind I have decided on comfy black leggings, a t-shirt dress and oversized jumper, I will top this off with a tartan cape type thing I have (incase it is a tad chilly over there) and a hat because I love a good hat.  This might look a tad at odds with my geeky backpack hand luggage, but I don’t think I can realistically do backpacking any other way. 

All of this stuff, as well as the stuff I’m planning to pack in my bigger bag is currently lying on the bedroom floor in some kind of divided piles ready for packing tomorrow.  I can’t believe I have finished school and my trip is finally here. 

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Am I Brave? 

This is a question that has been at the forefront of my mind this week, mainly because of comments some of my work colleagues and family members have made to me regarding my upcoming trip to Australia.  My work colleagues in particular, both women who are only about twenty years older than myself, keep telling me they think I’m incredibly brave for choosing to travel alone and, although I don’t really agree with them, it certainly got me thinking about my reasons for travelling alone and why I’m actually really glad I am going alone.

 This is quite clearly the exact opposite to what I will look like when I travel, but I like to pretend I could look this glamorous and effortless…even though I won’t be taking any high heels…or a bag like that. 

Jealousy

This is an obvious reason. I couldn’t stand to watch any type of holiday programme, in fact I still feel this way and I had friends who always seemed to be going off on amazing holidays (with their other halves, but I’ll get to that) and I was stuck at home just faffing about.  Now at the fear of sounding like a spoilt brat, I know I am incredibly lucky to have such a lovely and supportive family and circle of friends and to have had the upbringing and education I have had, but I grew up with one parent who – and I’m trying to be very diplomatic about how I put this – saw travelling or gap years as a waste of time, so whilst I was living under said parent’s roof I genuinely felt I couldn’t just go and do what I wanted to, so I never did.  So whilst I am interested and excited for my friends who jetted off to wonderful new places, there was always a teeny part of me that was a little jealous and wanted to have some of the same amazing experiences. 

I booked the tickets at a low point

So now I have half convinced you I am a spoilt brat, the above statement will have you thinking I’m a sad, lonely spoilt brat, but let me explain.  I had decided in the summer holidays that I needed to travel outside of Europe before I turned 30 and I had settled on Australia because I always said I would go and I have a friend there, but when my flatmate said she was moving I was a little worried I would never actually be able to afford the trip.  Couple this disappointment with a cold, autumnal night, a blip on the dating front (or a long break with the boyfriend) and a stressful job and before you know it you have booked flights on a plane.  

These are very superficial reasons for booking a trip alone, but the more I think about it I have lots of reasons why I’m glad I have chosen to travel alone.

I can do exactly what I want

I love my friends and family and I love experiencing different and exciting new things with them, but it’s so lovely to think that I can do exactly what I want in Australia and I don’t have to compromise.  If I want to visit every zoo on the East Coast there is no one to stop me (I mention zoos because I am currently dragging boyfriend to any zoo within a 100mile radius), if I want to just sit on a beach all day not talking to anyone I can.  If I decide to change my plans and mosey off in a different direction, I don’t have to consult anyone. The only downside is I’m not exactly amazing at making decisions but I’m hoping this will iron itself out for the trip.  

It’s empowering

I’m already fairly independent; at 16 I opted to attend a completely different sixth form from my friends in a town a few miles away; I moved away for university and for my job, both in cities where I knew no one and I have lived alone, so this is just an extension of me proving to myself I can do this and I can cope on my own.  I believe you can’t be truly happy until you are happy being alone and know you can survive on your own therefore this is just an extension of this belief.  I love the thought that in decades time I can look back and say ‘yes I did that all by myself’…with a little help from people guiding me in the right direction and to the best places to visit.

It is taking me way out of my comfort zone 

For someone who does a job that requires a certain amount of confidence I’m not always great at meeting new people. In fact I prefer to stay out of the limelight until I know the people I am with relatively well and then I open up a bit more.  I know that with no more than a week in some places, I can’t really afford to be my usual self, unless I do want to spend the majority of the time on my own, so maybe I’ll come back feeling more confident in certain social situations.  I feel certain people I know will laugh at this paragraph, especially those who have known me for years as maybe I don’t always give off this impression, but I know inside I often feel like a twat ha! 

I can read 

Now I am fully aware that I spend most of my spare time reading anyway, but without the distractions of TV and the Internet I am sure I will get the chance to read even more.  But then again, I will have so much to explore that maybe I won’t. 

I’m sure there are many more reasons why travelling alone is a good idea, but I can’t think of them right now. I’m not big on these inspirational posters and comments, but I do like the following one and I think it sums up my attitude to the whole thing:

  

Booked Australian Tours

According to an Internet countdown timer I created it is just over 9 weeks until I get on that plane at Heathrow and start a 24 hour trip to Sydney, Australia.  This is both incredibly exciting, a tad surreal and also a bit scary as I currently have nowhere to stay when I am out there.  My Australian friend, who conveniently works for Australian Youth Hostels assures me that he will organise all accommodation for me in June as it needs to be within a certain time period for the best prices, so I’m not panicking just yet.  Instead I’m choosing to focus on what organised trips I would like to do when I am out there.  I have a rough plan of how long I am staying in each place and what I would like to do there and this includes some day trips organised by various companies.  I have booked one already and I’m debating booking the second one soon.  

Blue Mountains

  

As I look at some of the google images for The Blue Mountains now I’m definitely starting to feel more excited about my trip.  I booked my trip pretty much as soon as I started planning my holiday as my friend said I absolutely had to go to The Blue Mountains.  As with any good trip planning, with the assistance of a friend who is amazing at planning, I did some research into the types of trips available, relying pretty heavily on my Lonely Planet Guide Book and their website and it was through them that I found the following aviator trip

There were various trip options available but I decided to pay slightly more as I know this will be a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity (such a cliche, I know) and in a very geeky way, I love a train ride and the scenery looks amazing.   So I’m off to The Blue Mountains and whilst I’m there I will be going on a Scenic railway, skywalk, cable car and tree top walk; I’m going to get all the views.

 
Although the sky rail does look slightly scary.  I’m pretty certain a wildlife park is thrown in there as well, to be honest my trip around Australia is basically just going to be me visiting zoos and wildlife parks.  My friends and family are going to love looking at my trip photos. 

Kuranda Railway Trip

Im planning to move north from Sydney, stopping in Newcastle, Brisbane and Cairns and the trip that has most caught my eye is this one to Kuranda near Cairns.  Again,I’m going to opt for the more expensive trip which includes a trip to a wildlife park to see – and hold – koalas and a one way trip on a scenic railway there and then another skyrail back. 

 

  

The trip includes stops at a local market and walks on a broadwalk to enjoy the rainforest from the ground too.  The best thing about starting to write about Australia is that I am becoming more excited at the though of my whole trip and whilst it might be boring to read about for anyone else, it is making me want to start properly planning and getting a move on.  

So I’m off to look at more Austraila information and I haven’t even thought about the 19 hours I’ll be spending in South Korea on the way home…eek! 

Australia Planning

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On a trip to Paris my friend and I were discussing things we wanted to do before we were 30, now I know I have a few years left, but judging how quickly a school year flies by I’m sure it will be here before I can blink *sob*. Top of my list was to travel outside of Europe and for a while I debated an American road trip with a friend of mine, but then I had a rethink. For years I have been saying I would one day make it to Australia; during my Masters I worked in an Australian bar and I have kept in touch with someone I worked with and I have always said I would visit one day. So I’m sure I hoped this new ‘Things to do Before I’m Thirty’ challenge would be the push I needed to book that plane ticket…luckily it was.

I began thinking about booking my flights last summer, I even bought The Lonely Planet Guide to inspire me. I have always avoided travel guides as they turn me into a green eyed monster as I am jealous of all the people who get to visit these exciting places so I knew that buying the book would be a big decider. For weeks I flicked through the travel guide, sticking post it notes on pages and places I knew I definitely wanted to visit, deciding travelling along the East Coast was the best way to spend my time. I even got a credit card so I could put the flights on that instead of relying on my saving skills. And then my flatmate decided she was moving to the Midlands.

When my flatmate said she was moving I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to afford to live alone and travel on my mini adventure. I knew I didn’t want to live with anyone else again; there’s something about living with people who aren’t your family, partner or friends that I just couldn’t cope with any longer – possibly the drink rings on the kitchen sides or the dried up contact lenses that occasionally fell out of the washing machine. I’m no saint to live with either to balance out the moaning. After much deliberation and poor maths skills on my part I just thought ‘sod it’ and booked the flights anyway. Yes it is a pain trying to pay all the bills, but let’s be cliched and say ‘you only live once’.

I booked my flights back in October and I have done some planning in preparation for my trip, but I could probably do with another good sit down to go over everything…and book somewhere for me to sleep when I’m over there. For months I was essentially just turning up in a strange country, but now I have a loose plan and a few months to go to make ensure I make the most of my time over there.

I’ll just get move number two of the past six months out of the way and then I will return to organising far more exciting Australia related things.