Long haul flying has always been a substantial part of my life as a pianist.  No long haul flight is easy to weather, put getting prepared for air travel before flying has enabled me to arrive feeling fresh and ready to play concerts and/or rehearsals even on arrival day. 

Let me share some of my newest and most favorite discoveries just in time for the travel season:

Leaving Cape Town International Airport

Leaving Cape Town International Airport

Before Flying

1. Packing:

Take a moment some days before you travel to make or download a packing list. This takes the stress out of the travel day. 

After everything is checked off as being packed, it feels assuring to know that nothing important gets left behind. 

I categorize my packing list into groups. ‘Essentials’ include passport, currency and scores. ‘Travel medication’ includes a list of all possible remedies I typically need. ‘Shoes’ and ‘clothes’ each have their category. 

My latest discovery is using travel pods. I love packing my clothes separately, knowing that they stay in place and clean and being able to unpack super fast in the hotel. I love these pods. They come in lots of colors, and the pods are built to last.

Meet my luggage!

Meet my luggage!

2. Get Charged:

The day before a flight I charge all my electronics including the phone, backup battery (life saver!), and page turn pedal. This is usually also a good time to download my inflight entertainment. 

3. Stay Hydrated:

On the way to the airport I love to drink a lot of water. I usually take the empty water bottle through security, and I get refills in the airport at filtered water stations. I ask for a refill on the plane as the service cart comes through. It saves trips to the service area in the back of the plane when I awake from sleeping, and it encourages me to drink more water.

4. Get situated:

Getting a good seat can make all the difference. Most airlines allow for a choice of seat within 24 hours of departure (airport time). Check the airline website, find your trip using the e-ticket code or reservation number and select a seat. For long haul flights some travelers prefer window seats. Consider choosing the side of the airline you are more likely to want to rest on. If you like to sleep on your right side, choose the right side of the aircraft. 

I use SeatGuru to view the seat configuration and to find out what seats are good, and I always ask for upgrades at check in and at the gate. Sometimes luck is on my side.

5. Relax and Lounge:

An oasis from the constant announcements and overly crowded terminals, a lounge stay can make for a much improved travel experience. Many airlines allow one-time access for a fee. In some cases purchasing a pass on the airline site is cheaper, and can be done even at the reception desk of the lounge. I splurge for lounge stays for anything more than a four hour lay over. The food is usually quite healthy, drinks are free and the ‘lounging’ set up offers relaxing sofas.  

On the Plane

6. Your Friend, the Flight Attendant:

Being nice to the flight attendants pays off. The crew is often as stressed about the 17 hours ahead as the passengers are, so trying to establish a friendly connection not only nice but also worth while. Benefits I have experienced have included snacks from the first class cabin, re-seating to a better area, and herbal tea from the crew-only stash. It really works.

7. Travel Kit:

I bring a travel kit on all flights long and short. The kit is tiny. It includes things I might need right in my seat like hand lotion, an eye mask and my ear plugs, a must since the cabin interior can reach up to 105 decibels, which I don’t like to do to my sensitive ears.

8. Entertainment:

I love following the flight path!

I love following the flight path!

I can’t wait to binge watch on planes, especially since I usually do not have time for it. As soon as I have settled into my seat, I put on my @Bose, get into my me-time mode and get engrossed in the latest show. This keeps my mind of the embarkation process, and makes it easy to stay relaxed as the plane fills up with nervous passegers. 

My latest discovery for later hours on the plane are podcasts. It makes it easier to fall asleep on long haul flights, since there is no visual stimulation keeping me up. 

Find more details about packing here.