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  • Writer's pictureNiki

10 Tips to Survive Your Long-Haul Flight

I am super appreciative that we even have the possibility of flying overseas but I am still waiting for the day that I can snap my fingers or possibly click my heels 3 times and arrive at my destination.

Can you relate?

I was not looking forward to the 15-hour flight from LAX to SYD (after already flying 4.5 hours from ORD to LAX) but I successfully did my research prior to flying and prepared myself so that at the end of the first long-haul experience, I wasn’t dreading the return flight!

Girl in an airport showcasing her comfy outfit (sweatshirt, joggers, and tennis shoes) ready for her long-haul flight.

Here are my top 10 tips to help you survive and thrive on your next long-haul flight:

1. Get Comfy

Trying to predict the inflight air temperature is like trying win the lottery - dang near impossible. I recommend wearing loose-fitting clothes and layer up; you’ll go through all ranges of temperatures. I also choose to wear compression socks but I have a love-hate relationship with them. A “TMI” fact about me is that my feet are the first thing to get hot so having socks that go up to my knees isn’t ideal. I suggest chatting with your doctor to see if compression socks are a necessity for your trip.

2. Adjust to Your New Timezone

Once you board your plane, change your phone time to the timezone of where you will be landing. This will begin to “trick” your brain into thinking you are tired or hungry based on the time when you look at your phone. It will also make your transition into your new destination a bit easier.

3. Stick to Your Routine

Stick to your normal nightly and morning routines and match the times in which you start these with your new timezone. Once I felt it was time for bed, I went to the bathroom to brush and my teeth, take my contacts out, and wash my face. In the morning, I did the same and tried to freshen up a fit further with deodorant and body spray. All of these items were stored in my “personal item” bag kept under the seat.

Pro Tip: Store the perfect amount of face wash in an old contact case; you’ll have a spot for both morning and night.

4. Hydrate

Drink Water! I am the worst at staying hydrated so do as I say, not as I do. Just because you aren’t moving around the entire time, doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need water. In fact, drinking more water will trigger you to use the restroom more requiring you to get up and move your body.

We use this collapsible water bottle. It's best for those who don't mind room temp water and are looking for the most flexible packing option.

5. Entertainment

Download enough movies, tv shows, music, and books to your portable device to cover the entire flight as a backup in case there are any issues with the onboard entertainment. Can you just imagine sitting there for 15+ hours with NOTHING? It has happened before; don’t let it happen to you. This also goes without saying, make sure your devices are fully charged before boarding. Most airlines will have options for you to charge on board but there is always the possibility that it won’t work.

I prefer to bring my Kindle and before I travel I make sure to stock up on free e-books from my local library.

6. Sleep Accessories

I am super picky when it comes to my sleeping environment. Realistically I can’t sleep for more than an hour at a time and even then it’s not very “good sleep”. However, these are the items that truly make the experience even tolerable for me: eyepatch, neck pillow, ear plugs, foot hammock (I am 5’7” and love this!), and sleep sheet. The latter is actually used for lining a sleeping bag, but I have found that I love to travel with it to use as a portable blanket and to use at hotels. It helps me sleep better knowing that the sheet touching my face is something I have washed. Lastly, in desperate times I will take a Melatonin or Sleeping Aid but please ensure you consult your Doctor before doing so.

7. Pack Snacks
Fritos, donuts, dot's Pretzels, sour patch kids, starbursts, buncha crunch
We aimed for fun over healthy. :)

The amount of food that will be included on a flight will vary based on length and airline. The quality will also vary and being 30,000 feet up in the air you don’t have the luxury of ordering UberEats if your meal is less than ideal, so pack alternatives that don’t require refrigeration. Also please be mindful of the smell your snacks might produce - I’m talking to you Funyuns & Slim Jims!

8. Headphones

Pack headphones that can connect to the airplane TVs or buy a converter so that you can use your Bluetooth earbuds. Most airlines will provide headphones for those who need them but they are usually cheaply made. I even took it a step further and found a pair of oldschool headphones (not earbuds) for $5 at Walmart. After a couple of hours of using earbuds my ears would start to hurt, but with these, I didn’t have any pain!

9. Choose your Seat Wisely
Girl sleeping in fetal position across the middle and window seat of a plane.
Lucked out with an empty middle seat!

It goes without saying, that if you have the miles or points to upgrade to first class, this is the time to do it. For everyone else ballin’ on a budget in economy, choosing your seat for a long-haul flight is SO important. Even if you are a person who goes to the restroom often, I do not recommend being within 3 rows of the bathroom/flight attendant station. There are ALWAYS people coming and going and 1 or 2 people waiting; those that are waiting are usually too close for comfort to the people still sitting in their seats. I also do not recommend selecting a seat that is behind premium economy or any upgraded seat that has a farther recline because that will take up more of your space. After booking, continue to sporadically check the seat map prior to departure to see if you’ll have seat mates or if there is an empty row you could move to last minute.

10. Be Kind.

Every single person on the flight wants to be as comfortable as possible and wants to arrive at their destination safely. No parent is going to purposefully have their child cry the entire flight. No flight attendant or pilot is going to purposefully cause a delay. Certain circumstances are simply out of our control, so let’s do our part and pack our patience.

What tips would you add to this list?


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