Skip the jet lag - the best way to fly to Australia

There’s no escaping it, flying to Australia from Europe or the US is a killer. Whenever people talk about traveling to Australia,  it’s almost always followed up by a caveat that although they’re really excited, they’re absolutely dreading the flight.

The first time I visited Australia, I thought the best way of making the journey bearable was to book the shortest flight possible. What a mistake.

I flew the route from London to Melbourne via Doha which takes just over 21 hours (assuming you don’t miss the connection for which they generously allow 50 minutes). When I arrived in Australia dosed up on bad airline food and last years Hollywood B-movies, I barely knew what day it was. I was so exhausted and disorientated that I couldn’t sleep for the next 3 nights. I survived on a diet of strong long blacks and daytime naps.

There is a better way though. As I write this I’m sat on a flight from Singapore to Brisbane - and I feel great. 

What’s the secret?  Yesterday I took an evening flight from London to Singapore with my friend Michaela. When we arrived in Singapore, we headed into the city for a bite to eat and a stroll around before getting a solid 7 hours of sleep at an airport hotel.  Even though the journey is longer,  allows you to make the most of your time in Australia as you don’t lose the first couple of days to jet-lag. Also, who can complain about an evening in a exotic new city?

How to arrive in Australia without jet lag:

  1. Book a flight with an overnight layover. An night flight is best, and the layover should be roughly two thirds of the way to Australia. For example, if you’re flying from Europe, a stopover of 15 hours somewhere like Singapore, Bangkok, or Hong Kong is ideal.
  2. Before you fly, pack a change of clothes and a toothbrush into your hand luggage. You won’t see your checked luggage until you arrive at your final destination.
  3. As soon as you board your flight, set your watch to the local time of your layover city.
  4. Check into an airport hotel, go grab some food to eat and get a great nights sleep.
  5. Get up, grab some breakfast and remember to set your watch to the time of your destination.

Let me know if this works for you! 

Update: So, after being in Brisbane for 3 days I have to admit that the first night's sleep was horrible... I made the mistake of sleeping on the flight as well as on the lay-over! Either way, breaking up the journey helped me adjust to Australia time a lot faster than on previous trips, and who wouldn't want to spend an evening in Singapore?

Never pay for an observation deck again - how to get that amazing view for free

Observation decks suck. I really can’t stand them. They’re expensive, they almost always have horrendous queues and are often crowded beyond belief. 

A crowd scrambles to join the queue for the queue in the Empire State building.

A crowd scrambles to join the queue for the queue in the Empire State building.

A perfect example of this is the Empire State building in New York. In order to get to the observation deck you have to work your way through four queues, take multiple lifts, partake in a cheesy theme-park style photo shoot and finally lug yourself up several flights of stairs. When you do eventually get the the observation deck it’s a scrum to secure a fleeting view of Manhattan’s skyline. Observation decks simply aren’t worth it.

So, how do you avoid observation decks and get that amazing view for free? It’s simple, next time you visit a skyscraper, don’t pay to visit the observation deck, check if the skyscraper has a bar. Skyscraper bars are awesome - they are almost always higher than the observation deck and generally free to enter. So instead of forking out a huge wad of cash for a view you can spend that money on a tasty cocktail or overpriced beer with the view thrown in for free.

I first discovered this in Boston while waiting in line to visit to the Prudential Center Skywalk. The Skywalk on the 50th floor costs $16 and a cocktail at the restaurant on the floor above costs a mere $11.

I initially thought this must just be a fluke, but so far pretty much every tall building I’ve been too since has a similar set up. So far this year I’ve pulled this trick off at The Shard in London, The ICC tower in Hong Kong,  and the Bitexco Tower in Ho Chi Minh.  

Here's to drinks with a view!

Cocktails at Ozone on the 118th floor of the ICC Tower Hong Kong

And the accompanying view