View from an airplane window showing the wing against a backdrop of a sunset sky, with clouds and lit-up cityscape below—an enchanting end to surviving a long-haul flight.
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Surviving a Long-Haul Flight: Top Tips from An Expert Traveler

Are you wondering how to survive a long-haul flight? Don’t let jet lag ruin your trip! As a seasoned traveler, I’ve picked up some valuable tips to keep you refreshed and ready to go upon arrival.

From packing your carry-on to adjusting your sleep schedule, every small detail can impact your travel experience.

Whether in business or economy class, these flight hacks will help you make the most of your journey. So buckle up and prepare to conquer your next flight like a pro with these tips!

Airplane for an International long-haul flight in the configuaration of 2-3-2 rows.

Planning Your Long-Haul Flight

When planning your long-haul flight, considering the timing and your seat choice can make a substantial difference in your travel comfort and overall experience on international flights.

Day Vs. Night Travel

Choosing between day and night travel impacts how you’ll handle jet lag. Night travel can align better with your sleep schedule, especially on overnight flights, making it a good idea to book these if you wish to arrive feeling rested.

Don’t be distracted by the airline’s offer of food and drinks.

Eating before the flight is best, and trying to sleep as soon as the plane takes off. The flight attendants usually let you sleep and do not wake you for service.

However, a day flight might suit you better if you have trouble sleeping on planes. It will allow you to stay awake and adjust better to the changes in time.

If you are flying during the day and arriving at night, do not sleep on the flight—plan to have lots of entertainment for yourself so you don’t sleep. When you arrive, try to sleep immediately to help you better adjust to the time change.

Seat Selection Strategy

The right seat is crucial, especially in economy class, where space is premium.

  • Aisle seat: Easier access to the lavatories and the ability to stretch your legs without disturbing others.
  • Window seat: Offers a view and a wall to rest against, reducing disturbances from fellow passengers moving around.

For the best seats, consider the following:

  • Front of the plane: Pros: Quick to deplane and potentially quieter. Cons: Close to the lavatories, which can cause disturbance and smells.
  • Exit row: Pros: Extra legroom. Cons: Seats may not recline. Storage may be limited.
  • Bulkhead: Pros: More legroom with no seat reclining into your space. Cons: Less storage space. Seats have a hard armrest to house the entertainment screen.

Whatever your preference, select a seat at the time of reservation. You don’t want to get caught in the middle seat for a long-haul flight.

It’s also a good idea to befriend your flight attendants, as a courteous relationship can make your journey more pleasant.

Packing Essentials for A Long-Haul Flight

Packing certain essentials can make all the difference when embarking on a long-haul flight. Here’s how you can ensure comfort and convenience on your journey.

Comfortable Attire

You want to stay comfortable, so it’s essential to dress appropriately. Pack a pair of compression socks to keep your circulation flowing well. opt for comfortable clothes; think soft, stretchy, and layerable pieces that will help you adjust to changing temperatures.

  • Top: A breathable, short or long-sleeve tee
  • Bottoms: Loose-fitting joggers or leggings
  • Layers: A cozy sweater or cardigan Men: lightweight jacket or fleece.
  • Socks: Compression socks to reduce swelling
  • Trainers: Wear comfortable shoes to walk through the airport.

Must-Have Items

To elevate your flying experience, a few key items should be in your carry-on:

  • Noise-Canceling Headphones: Block out the engine hum and chatter, giving you peace or entertainment.
  • Reusable Water Bottle: Stay hydrated by filling it up after security checks.
  • Neck Pillow: For better sleep support.
  • Eye Mask: To signal your body it’s bedtime, even when the cabin lights are on.
  • Snacks: Bring your favorites to curb hunger and avoid relying solely on plane food.
  • A survival kit with hair and skin items. Make a small kit with lip balm, eye drops, hand lotion, a face wipe, a nail file, hair tie, and a small comb. Also, include a few essential pain meds in the kit. The recycled air can dry out your skin and eyes.
  • Travel blanket: Although most airlines provide one, I use my own. It’s lightweight and packs up nicely. I also use it in the hotel room.
  • Thin slippers: Fit Kicks are always in my travel bag. They are great for bathroom trips and serve a dual purpose if you need water shoes. Another idea is to reuse the hotel slippers.

Remember, comfort and preparation are your allies on long-haul flights. Packing these items will help you feel fresh and relaxed at your destination.

Staying Hydrated and Full During a Long-Haul Flight

During long-haul flights, keeping your body hydrated is crucial. The air inside the cabin is very dry, so drinking plenty of water is important. Aim to consume at least one cup (8 ounces) every hour or two.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can lead to dehydration. Instead, prioritize water or juices. Most airlines provide complimentary beverages, but you can also bring a refillable water bottle to fill up at the airport after passing security.

Airplane food has evolved for meals, but it might not always suit your taste or dietary needs. It’s best to eat a healthy meal before boarding.

Finally, pack some nutritious snacks like nuts, protein bars, or fruit to keep you full longer. If you take medications or have dietary restrictions, plan your meals and snacks accordingly.

Following these tips will make you feel much better at your destination!

Remember: Hydration and nutrition are key to a more pleasant journey.

Avoiding Jet Lag During a Long-Haul Flight

Jet lag can significantly affect your travel experience, but with the right strategies, you can minimize its impact on your body clock or circadian rhythm, especially during overnight flights.

Sleep Aids and Strategies

  • Adapt Pre-Flight: A few days before your trip, adjust your sleep schedule to align with your destination’s time zone. If it’s an overnight flight, try sleeping on the plane.
  • Select Your Seat Wisely: Choose a window seat for better control over your exposed light, which helps manage your circadian rhythm.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your flight to avoid dehydration, a common exacerbator of jet lag.
  • Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine: Their diuretic effects can worsen dehydration and disrupt your sleep pattern.
  • Use Sleep Aids: To block out cabin noise and light, consider eye masks, earplugs, or noise-canceling headphones. You can also use a sleep aid such as melatonin or Tylenol PM.
  • Avoid Staying Stationary: Move around the cabin or perform in-seat exercises periodically to prevent deep vein thrombosis, a health risk on long flights.

Entertainment for Surviving a Long-Haul Flight

Various entertainment options are crucial to keep yourself engaged and alleviate the monotony when embarking on a lengthy flight. Most airplanes have an in-flight entertainment system that includes a diverse selection of movies and TV shows. Here’s how you can make the most of it:

  • Explore the In-flight Entertainment: As soon as you settle into your seat, get familiar with the entertainment system. Browse through the content library and add your favorites to your playlist. Remember to pack headphones that can be used with the airline’s system. My personal favorite is Airfly to connect my Airpods.
  • Download Before You Fly: Relying solely on the in-flight choices may not always align with your preferences. Before your trip, upload movies and TV shows onto your tablet or laptop. This preemptive step ensures access to your favorite media, regardless of Wi-Fi availability.
  • Consider Streaming Services: If the flight offers WiFi, consider signing up for a streaming service trial. Some airlines may offer exclusive affiliate links for passengers to enjoy extra content at no cost.
  • Use a Kindle: Download books or audiobooks before boarding. A Kindle allows you to travel without carrying multiple books with you.

Remember, screen brightness and volume can affect your neighbors’ comfort, so be considerate. Listening to music or diving into an audiobook can be wonderfully refreshing alternatives if your eyes need a break from the screen. Happy viewing!

Health and Comfort During a Long Flight

In this section, you’ll learn practical tips to enhance your comfort and reduce the risk of health problems while traveling on a long-haul flight.

Managing In-Flight Comfort

To ensure you’re as comfortable as possible during your flight, dress in layers with loose-fitting, breathable clothing. Your body temperature may fluctuate, and layers allow you to adjust easily. Choosing comfortable footwear is equally important, considering the potential for foot swelling.

  • Seating: Reserve a seat with ample legroom if possible.
  • Pillows: A neck pillow can provide support during sleep.
  • Blankets: Bring a small, travel-sized blanket for warmth.

Preventing Health Issues

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a risk caused by prolonged immobility on long flights. You can take steps to minimize the chance of developing DVT and other health issues.

  • Movement: Walk around the cabin or perform in-seat exercises every two hours.
  • Hydration: Drink water regularly to stay hydrated.
  • Compression Socks: Wear compression socks to promote circulation and reduce the risk of blood clots.

Post-Flight Strategies

After completing a long journey, it’s critical to manage jet lag and help your body adjust. Here’s what you can do:

Rest and Hydration

  • Rehydrate: Drink plenty of water to rehydrate after the dry cabin air.
  • Rest: Take a short nap if needed, but avoid long naps during the day to adjust quicker to the new time zone. It is best to keep moving until late after dinnertime.

Adjusting Your Internal Clock

  • Natural Light: Expose yourself to natural light to help reset your internal clock.
  • Mealtimes: Align mealtimes with your new destination’s schedule to aid circadian rhythm synchronization.

Light Exercise

  • Indulge in light stretching or a brief walk to improve blood circulation and enhance energy levels.

Managing Sleep

  • Bedtime Routine: Create a relaxing routine to signal your body it’s time for rest.
  • Melatonin: Consider taking melatonin supplements, if necessary, to help regulate your sleep cycle.

By following these strategies, you’ll be on your way to overcoming jet lag and feeling like yourself after your long-haul flight. Remember, your body needs time to adjust, so be patient and give yourself some grace during this transition period.

Final Thoughts on Surviving a Long-Haul Flight

  • Preparation for a long flight begins with strategic packing and knowing airline regulations.
  • Maintaining your well-being in flight involves hydration, nourishment, and physical activity.
  • Rest helps manage time and mitigate jet lag upon arrival.
  • Plan for entertainment for yourself. It will pass the time quicker.
Woman walking with a suitcase and a passport.

FAQ for Surviving a Long-Haul Flight

What are the best ways to stay comfortable during a long flight in economy class?

Choose an aisle seat for easier mobility to enhance your comfort on a long flight. Wear loose clothing, use a neck pillow, and bring a blanket for better rest. Adjust seat positions when possible and stand or walk periodically to avoid stiffness.

How can someone manage anxiety during extended flights?

To manage flight anxiety, engage in deep breathing exercises or meditation techniques. Distract yourself with in-flight entertainment, a good book, or calming music. To stay grounded, consider a conversation with a seatmate or flight staff.

What essentials should one pack for a long-haul flight to ensure comfort and convenience?

Ensure your carry-on includes noise-canceling headphones, a comfortable eye mask, and earplugs for restful sleep. Pack healthy snacks, a refillable water bottle, and skincare products like moisturizer and lip balm to counteract dry cabin air.

What strategies help make a 15-hour flight feel more bearable?

Breaking the journey into segments can make a 15-hour flight more tolerable. Plan activities for each segment, including reading, movies, work, or sleep. Stretching exercises and frequent walks can also help pass the time and maintain circulation.

How can travelers stay healthy and hydrated on long flights?

Drink plenty of water before and during the flight to stay hydrated. Opt for in-flight meals that are low in sodium and rich in vegetables and fruits. Take vitamins if necessary and use hand sanitizer to keep germs at bay.

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  1. Great tips! I used to work as a long haul flight attendant and instead of compression socks I’d urge anyone to keep moving as well. Stand up from time to time and make a little round.

  2. For me, the main problem in long-haul flights is falling asleep, especially if flying in the economy class, so I think that taking melatonin might be a handy solution ! Thanks for the helpful tips!

  3. Helpful tips. I usually don’t sleep well on a flight, but have never brought something for it. I always bring a book (or 2 or3) with me. Because the air flight entertainment system has failed me, either broken, or non-existent or paid.

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