I'm back home after my fifth equator crossing (the third in a year). As long as the whole journey takes (flying plus travel to/from the airport and waiting for connections - approx. 24hours. Actual flying time between Vancouver and Sydney 13-16 hours) I actually don't mind it too much. You kind of have to get into a groove and have a system.
First of all you have to come to terms with the fact it's going to take as long as it takes and nothing you can do will make time go faster. The quicker you accept that you will be in a plane for at least 13 hours (more if you are flying from further east) the quicker you will be able to do things other than obsess about the minutes.
Research the entertainment options you will have on your plane. Most planes these days have individual seatback TVs - especially on the long flights. This is probably the best idea anyone has ever had. They load them with tonnes of movies, music and sometimes games. Go to the website of the airline you're flying with and check to see if they've posted what movies they'll have while you're flying. I like doing this because then I can reassure myself that I won't be bored stiff. I count all the movies I'd like to watch and make a mental list of the top ones I'd like to see.
Bring other things to do just in case there isn't anything you want to watch. Nintendo DS and games, a book or two, crossword puzzle, portable DVD player with your favourite watch again movie, knitting or other small portable craft project.
Sleep aides. My goal on these long haul flights is to sleep as much as I possibly can. I never travel without my eye mask, ear plugs and some sort of medicine to help me sleep. Some people are snickering at the thought of an eye mask and ear plugs but trust me, you will get a MUCH better sleep with just these two things alone - not having to hear the baby three rows up screaming for 10 hours? AWESOME. I've only taken an Rx sleeping pill on one of my long haul flights and it worked like a charm. Be aware of side effects though - sleep sex might not be so great if it happens in public! So besides that, I use Gravol most times. It lets you get a pretty decent chunk of sleep. I only took one Gravol this last flight and spent a good majority of it napping. A long haul flight isn't the best time to try a new medicine though so I'd suggest using something you're familiar with.
Travel pillow. Make sure you have one of these. My favourite by far is the contour twist pillow. The girl on the commercial doesn't make it look that comfortable but trust me, it's awesome. You can twist it to all sorts of shapes which makes it easy to get it into the perfect position. I usually have it folded up onto one side to lean my head onto - the inflatable ones don't seem to give enough support and can deflate and get sweaty/hot.
Slippers. I bring a pair of slippers or thick socks with me to put on basically as soon as I can. It can get pretty chilly on the plane and it's better than walking around barefoot or in your regular socks.
Snacks with no import restrictions. Pack a few granola bars or other sorts of portable snacks. Be aware of import restrictions in the country you're travelling to and either plan to eat it all or throw it away once you land. You generally won't need the snacks but it makes me feel better knowing that if I get snacky, I have something in my bag.
Order a special meal. On every flight I've been on, people with special meals get theirs first. If you don't like waiting or are worried your preference will be gone (especially if you're stuck at the back of the plane), save the stress and order a special meal. There's all sorts to choose from and generally they're all pretty good. The only downside to this is the dude in front of you may keep his chair reclined while you eat only to put his chair up as soon as he gets his meal (and you're done yours).
A few other things I pack but aren't 100% necessary: A facecloth in a ziploc bag (it's nice to get up and wash your face a few hours before you land and having it in a ziploc means you don't have to cart around a soggy cloth in your bag), toothbrush and toothpaste, brush and elastics (I usually re-do my hair before we land since it's usually a mess after 13+ hours), spare pair or two of undies (firstly, you just never know and secondly, just changing that one piece of clothing makes you feel not so grungy), small cosmetics bag (nail clippers, tweezers, small mirror, pain killers, lip balm, lotion, face wash).
This is how my typical long haul flight shapes up:
First three hours: Watch a movie and eat in-flight meal.
Middle 3 hours: Watch a movie and eat in-flight meal.
Last 3 hours: Watch a movie and eat in-flight meal.
So basically, as soon as the first meal is done, I try to sleep until they hand out the next meal and then repeat. On the way back I actually only managed to stay up long enough to watch one full movie. I ended up falling asleep through all the others I started.
So there you go! It's not so bad when you break it down into it's individual components. If you are able to sleep on a plane then you've got your biggest problem solved. It also helps if you don't mind watching movies!
Next post: Sneaky Glen and the awesome surprises.
Temperature: +10C (feels like +7C)