How to fly long haul

Part and parcel of being an "expat" (a.k.a. WASP immigrant) is an obligation to sporadically return to the Motherland.  For me this is usually due to visas expiring, although this time I found myself in the UK for family obligations.  I've done this back and forth a few times now, first from California and now from Sydney, Australia, so I reckon I've got a few tips to share in terms of flying long haul.
  • Be sure to start having anxiety dreams about missing your flight at least two weeks before departure.  It helps if the dream encompasses everything from showing up and realising you didn't bring any luggage, to arriving at the gate as the plane leaves without you.  This will ensure you are so panicked about forgetting something that you will be extra prepared!
  • If possible, try and to move house immediately after you return from your long-distance trip.  Having to pack away everything you own anyway will help you decide what you really need to bring.  And staying on a friend's sofa or at a hostel when you return will prolong the excitement and uncertainty of being on holiday!
Home sweet home
  • Have you booked this trip to coincide with the end of your visa?  You probably should have checked those dates before you locked in the flight, because immigration don't really like the idea of 1 day bridging visas, and airlines don't really like the idea of refunding your flight just because you technically shouldn't be in the country that day.
  • When it comes to actually packing, don't overthink it.  If possible, do it on the day you leave, especially if you have a hangover from last night's leaving drinks, because hungover you knows what's really important - comfortable clothing, in shades of black and grey that don't hurt your eyes.  You may forget to bring a swimsuit or beach towel this method, but honestly how much time are you honestly going to spend on the beach in California?
Also, Converse are not ideal for mountain climbing.  Nearly died.
  • Bring the most emotional of your loved ones to the airport to say goodbye, and be sure to remind them that you don't know when you'll be back.  Watching the people you care about cry is the only way to be sure how much they love you.
  • Airport Duty Free is the ideal opportunity to try every single product available.  Cleanse, tone and moisturise with Clinique testers, and apply expensive age-defying cream even though you're definitely too young to need it.  Put on several different perfumes, so that instead of being seated next to a smelly person on the plane, you will be the smelly person.  And six different kinds of perfume is better than B.O. right?
Also do this at every Sephora you see when travelling
  • Don't worry about how expensive booze is in the airport bar, just get as many drinks in as you can before boarding.  Also, every time the flight attendant asks you if you want a drink, make sure it's alcoholic just to get your money's worth.  Yes you will probably end up severely dehydrated but on the plus side, you're more likely to sleep.
  • Stay awake the whole time watching movies.  The whole time.  You will be so exhausted on arrival that you will sleep until the next morning, even if that is 17 hours away.
Full disclosure, I have horrendous jet lag right now.  But hopefully these tips will be useful for your next long-haul trip!  And if not, sometimes we learn best the hard way.  Now I'm going back to sleep for the next 28 hours/until the sweet release of death embraces me.

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