Travel Tips

James Conkie
Exchange to Fatih University, Turkey
Semester 2, 2015


My exchange experience is taking place in Istanbul Turkey, however on my way to Turkey I decided to stop by Old London Town to visit one of my best friends who had been living in London for a year or so now. This meant a 14 hour flight from Melbourne to a mystical and magical place called Doha International Airport. From Doha it was another 7 hours to London; now this flight although 21 hours in total is manageable assuming you have prepared yourself with multiple sources of entertainment and comfort (one of those neck pillow things), however on top of the 21 hours of sitting on a plane I got stuck with 10 hours to burn at Doha airport (which after 2 hours was no longer mystical or magical).

After experiencing 31 hours in transit I feel that I have developed a particular set of skills, this particular set of skills have allowed me to combat all forms of boredom and discomfort: both international and domestic.

Travel tips – surviving long haul flights:

  1. First things first, ever since I first flew on a plane or caught a v-line train for that matter it has been tradition that I eat a hungry jack’s large whopper meal. I personally wouldn’t normally eat fast food in Melbourne unless I out and about on a weekend with a few drinks, but there is something exciting, delicious and upon deeper consideration something scientific about fast food and slow travel. This is due to the simple scientific fact that the rapid eating of heavily sugared foods will temporarily comatose an individual. After the meal you are no longer counting minutes, in fact you aren’t counting anything because you are catatonic. The cause of this time consuming condition being my old friend the large whopper meal. Although this may not sound appealing your greatest enemy on long haul flights is time, anything to distract you from that is good news….and besides the burgers are better at hungry jacks.
  2. You’re going to need a lot of different sources of entertainment; I’m talking multiple books, music, something to draw and write in, someone to talk to (but more importantly someone who is not talking at you the entire flight), food, sleep and of course movies. Now I don’t know about you but I personally find it a little bit hard to get back into reading after I’ve just watched an action packed movie, so whether you use this or not this is roughly the order I like to use my entertainment devices: Music for take-off because it heightens excitement and evokes daydreaming of the trip ahead. Next is a bit of quiet thinking or perhaps a chat to your friendly neighbours. Next a bit of reading to quiet your thoughts and end any bit of unwanted conversation. Next you’re feeling sleepy but you like the idea of falling asleep to a movie, make sure you choose a boring movie. Next you wake up to food and you put on a movie you actually want to watch. This cycle continues until you’re told to put on your seatbelts.
  3. When burning time at an airport it is never a good idea to stay stationary in one spot. You need to explore. I wasted 2 hours with boredom before I realised that there was a movie watching station, with desktop computers, internet, Wii games and then next to that was a toy shop where they let me play with a remote control helicopter. You need to explore the airport and have routines based around eating than sitting than walking around. Where you position yourself for your sitting down time (which is the majority of the time) at an airport is extremely important. You want to find a good people watching spot that isn’t to close so that their bags are hitting you as they are rushing for their plane.
  4. Making friends: this can be dangerous because although you want someone to have a chat to you don’t want to be forcing small talk for 7 hours. Choose your chatting partners wisely!
  5. Drinking on the plane: Drinking on the plane can be fun and it certainly helps to speed up time, however you have to consider that due to high altitude you get double as drunk as you normally would. So be careful. With this principal in mind the same is said for feeling hung-over; you feel double as hung-over. There is nothing worse than getting off a plane in a place you don’t know your way around and trying to navigate this new place when you’re hung over. My advice would be to stick to one or two drinks just after take-off, cheers yourself for the adventure you are about to embark on and enjoy the rest of your flight.
  6. This is by far the most important tip and it is regarding your arrival at your destination. Always be prepared!! Know how to get to your accommodation, have maps, phone numbers, directions, screenshots of maps and directions, a charged phone, money and alternative forms of transport if your original transport falls through. Planes rarely arrive or depart on time (from my experiences). My plane to London arrived 2 hours late and I was just lucky enough to get the last train to Bethnal green otherwise I would have had to spend a lot of money on a cab. My plane to Istanbul arrived 2 and half hours late, so I missed my bus and ended up having to get a 1 hour cab ride to my accommodation. Make sure you’re prepared because it can up a bit of a headache and make your pockets a little lighter which no one but the cab driver wants.

Although these tips may not be that helpful they serve to reflect my own personal experience of a very long flight. Thanks for Reading.