Long haul flights are exhausting and often very uncomfortable, but preparing for the journey can make it go so much more smoothly.
If you are not a very experienced traveller though, you may forget the journey does not just end as soon as you land in the airport. Often, there is a lengthy bus or car ride after, and then all the settling down and unpacking once you reach your destination.
I learnt about the importance of planning ahead the hard way when I flew to Cape Town.
The transit time from London was a total of 18 hours (because I couldn’t afford a direct flight), far longer than anything I had experiences beforehand. It involved two planes – one to Istanbul and another to Cape Town, with a pit stop in Johannesburg for a refuel.
The last thing you want to happen when you are facing an 18 hour journey is a delay, but that is exactly what happened. The first flight was delayed by an hour and a half, and suddenly the two-hour layover in Istanbul did not seem quite as comfortable.
We just made it, and had to run onto the other plane. It waited for us, but it did not wait for our luggage…
There is nothing like arriving at the house of a person you don’t know and having nothing to change into! So it was not ideal for me to come out on the other side in Cape Town and find out my suitcase was still back in Istanbul, 12 hours away from me. Suddenly, my mind raced back to all those articles I ready about carrying a change of clothes.
So here is my advice, and I will stick to it religiously myself from now on: always, ALWAYS carry a change of clothes with you when you fly with multiple connections! Because your luggage will never be the priority for an airline running a tight schedule.
And underwear. Definitely always carry a change of underwear. Oh, and a bikini, if you’re going somewhere as lovely as South Africa.
Luckily, my trip did not carry on the way it started…