How to Survive the Long Haul

Long flights can be a challenge for the body and the mind, but they don’t have to be. We asked two frequent flyers who split their time between North America and Asia for five top tips on how to make the most of your time in the air.

1. Show up fresh

“I always take an extra-long shower before I go on a long haul. Not only does it make the experience more pleasant for my seatmates, it also means I’m landing fresh. Since I never know if I’ll have time to go to my hotel upon arrival – especially on busy work trips to Asia – I always ask my flight attendant for a hot towel right before landing. I use it to give my face a light pat, and then I freshen up with a facial mist.”

– Deborah Lau-Yu

2. Get it done

“Switching my phone to airplane mode and being unplugged from the Internet means I know I won’t get distracted by e-mails, texts or phone calls. I plan ahead and organize my workload before I leave for the airport so that I can dig right in when I get on the flight. I like to start with creative work before moving onto the grittier tasks I’ve been putting off, because the initial pressure change tends to put me in an imaginative mood.”

– Xavier Girard Lachaîne

3. Set the mood

“I choose my reading material to complement my travels: leadership books for a personal trip so that I can better digest concepts without the constant stress of work, and fiction for a business trip so that I can take my mind off work when needed.”

– Deborah Lau-Yu

“I usually download a few albums for inspiration before taking off. My next long haul is from Tokyo to New York, where I’ll be shooting with Canadian musician Kaytranada. I plan on listening to his music on the flight to get in the mood and help spark a few more ideas for the creative direction.”

– Xavier Girard Lachaîne

4. Make it personal

“This is the time to catch up with myself. I bring a notebook, a journal and a sketchbook to draw and illustrate without focusing on work. I also use that time to journal and reflect on the bigger picture: what just happened, what’s coming next, etc. Some of my best ideas happen on these flights.”

– Deborah Lau-Yu

5. Get your beauty rest

“Making sure I get quality sleep on long flights between Japan and North America is a top priority – there’s nothing worse than showing up to a 14-hour photo shoot completely exhausted. I always travel with a comfortable neck pillow – my favourite is from Muji and comes with a strap and a washable cover. If I’m flying Economy, I try to book a window seat in the exit row for the extra legroom and the view. Staring at the clouds leaves me in a meditative state, and the next thing I know, I’m fast asleep.”

– Xavier Girard Lachaîne

Our frequent flyers:

Deborah Lau-Yu and her partner Raymond Yu run Palettera, a three-pronged luxury branding, event production and stationery company. You may know them as the organizers of the annual Fête Chinoise.

Xavier Girard Lachaîne is a Canadian photographer based in Tokyo and a contributor to Air Canada enRoute, Bon Appétit and GQ.