Last updated on December 8th, 2023 at 10:44 am
Don’t let the fear of long hours stop you from taking the dream holiday of yours. Here’s how you survive a long haul flight with these 9 effective tips.
Dreaming of taking a holiday in an exotic country but the thought of doing the long haul flight is holding you back? I get it. But don’t let the fear of long hours hold you back. You can easily survive a long haul flight when you equip yourself with the right knowledge and things to do.
After traveling 40+ hours for a trip and many 20+ hours long haul flights around the world in economy class (yes), I’ve tried and tested many ways to survive or even thrive during such journey.
This guide is created for people who are planning to fly long haul flight for the first time or looking for effective tips to make their long haul flight more comfortable unless you’re already flying first class.
Here’s my step-by-step guide to survive a long haul flight:
- 1 1. Set the right mindset
- 2 2. Go for the aisle seat or emergency exit seat
- 3 3. Pack your essential kit
- 4 4. Wear the right clothes, bring your travel pillow!
- 5 5. Stretch and move around regularly
- 6 6. Stay clean and moisturized
- 7 6. Stay hydrated and say no to alcohol
- 8 8. Be entertained or sleep
- 9 9. Book a room at the airport hotel
- 10 Got other travel tips to survive a long haul flight?
1. Set the right mindset
Ask yourself WHY do you want to take this trip.
For every long haul flight that I’ve taken (whether I was a young traveler or an experienced frequent traveler today), I always get excited about my trip because I look forward to the place that I’ll be exploring, the people (or myself) whom I’ll be spending my time with, and the things that I’ll be doing.
Setting the right mindset prior to your flight is half the battle won. It gets you really amped up and look forward to the end goal, which is the destination that you’ll be traveling to.
2. Go for the aisle seat or emergency exit seat
While the window seat gives you the incredible views and an extra “wall” to lean on, it can feel claustrophobic during the long haul flight.
Also, the odds of sitting with passengers who are physically bigger than you is high when you’re an Asian female traveler like myself.
It is the most troublesome when you want to use the washroom – especially when you’re traveling by yourself and seated in the window seat of a 3-passenger row.
My go-to seat choices when flying economy class are:
- Aisle seat in the middle row (if the plane has 3 seat columns)
- Aisle seat away from the bassinet (away from potential crying babies)
- Emergency exit seat (preferably not facing the toilet)
I use Seatguru.com for my plane’s seat map and to get information about the in-flight amenities.
If you did not select or purchase a seat when you book the flight, be sure to set an alarm to check-in online as soon as the online check-in system is open 24 hours prior to your flight departure.
This will be the last chance to pick one of the best seats to survive a long haul flight.
3. Pack your essential kit
I rely on this list of frequently used items for my own essential kit. You can refer to this list to add or remove items that would be useful for yourself:
- Sanitizing Wipes
- To wipe down my seat
- Toothbrush, Toothpaste and Floss
- Most airlines will provide a toothbrush kit but I prefer using my own set
- Micellar Wet Wipes
- Lip Balm
- Medical Graded Facial Masks
- Beauty Facial Masks
- Female Hygiene Items (sanitary pads, tampons)
- Mini First Aid Kit
- Bandaid / Plasters
- Antiseptic Cream
- Alcohol wipes
- Vitamin C
- Tissue Paper
- Tech items
- Ear buds
- Noise cancellation earbuds
- Bluetooth device
- Phone Charger
- Portable Air Purifier
- Water Bottle / Thermal Water Bottle
- Travel Pillow
- Eye Mask
- Makeup Kit
- Mini Hairbrush
- Hair Claw / Hair Band
- Extra set of comfy clothes and a small quick-dry towel
4. Wear the right clothes, bring your travel pillow!
Wear comfy in layers so that you can remove or add on a layer when you’re feeling warm or cold during the flight. Remember to bring along your travel pillow which will help you to sleep better.
5. Stretch and move around regularly
When you booked yourself an aisle or emergency exit seat, you’ll find it so easy to get up and move around regularly.
But even if you’re seated at the window or middle seat, make it a point to stretch, take a walk and use the toilet. Please don’t hold your bladder for longer than 8 hours.
When you get up and move around regularly, your body will feel more relaxed.
Stretches and massages that you can do seated:
You can stretch your neck, lift up your arms (be careful not to hit your neighbor), as well as massage your calves, arms and the back of your neck to feel more comfortable during the flight.
6. Stay clean and moisturized
You might not hear this often but staying clean is not just about sanitizing your seat area but it’s also about keeping your body clean and fresh. This is a tip that you don’t normally hear:
I always bring along a pack of micellar wet wipes to clean my limbs, neck and body whenever I make a trip to the toilet. I’d also brush my teeth after every meal. It is a breath of fresh air literally and figuratively.
When you keep yourself clean, you’ll feel more comfortable during the long haul flight.
Next, be sure to keep your face and hands moisturized after washing them too.
The air is extremely dry and it’s merciless on your skin during the flight journey. Once, I’ve got random cuts on my hands just because my hands got too dry and I accidentally brushed it against a hard and mildly sharp surface that peeled off my skin.
Not fun. So remember to moisturize!
6. Stay hydrated and say no to alcohol
Sounds like common sense to survive a long haul flight?
It’s not just about drinking enough water, bringing along your filled water bottle but it’s also about skipping the alcohol to survive a long haul flight.
Most people believe that drinking alcohol helps them to relax and feel better during the flight. But if you ask smart, frequent travelers, most of them will recommend skipping alcohol.
Alcohol dehydrates you. And when you’re on a flight, the controlled air is far lower than 35% humidity and such low humidity dehydrates you even quicker.
With such low humidity, it also dry out your nasal passages, making your catch airborne viruses like common cold easily. One way to keep your nasal passages from drying out is to wear a mask. It’s also a good way to keep your face feeling hydrated without drying out.
Alcohol also messes up your sleep. So if you’re planning to feel good and refresh during a long haul flight, skip the alcohol.
8. Be entertained or sleep
This is your best time binge on movies, get some work done (if your work isn’t confidential) or try to sleep to survive a long haul flight.
Travel hack: Use this time to adjust yourself to the destination timezone.
Depending on the arrival time at my destination, I’ll choose to either keep myself awake by binging on movies, doing some housekeeping on my phone or wear my neck pillow and get some sleep.
This hack has been very effective for me and I generally have no problem adjusting immediately to the new timezone.
If you’re sensitive to light, you can try using this eye mask for a total black-out experience.
For me, I’m more sensitive to sound, so I’d wear noise-cancelling earbuds even when I’m not sleeping. It helps me to recharge better when I’m not drowning in noises.
9. Book a room at the airport hotel
Got a layover that is at least 6 hours? Do yourself a favor and book a 4-hour room at the airport hotel in the transit area. If you’re doing an overnight transit, book a full day room.
Unless you’ve first class lounge privileges that allow you to book a private space to rest and etc, this method is way better than hanging out at the airport lounge or sleeping at the public space where your belongings may be vulnerable to theft when you’re traveling alone.
Having your own hotel room means you get to have 100% peace, safety and privacy.
Pre-pack some snacks before your flight, keep some extra snacks from your previous flight or grab a to-go meal before you check-in to the room and you’re set.
You can take a shower or two anytime you like, take a nap with or without clothes on, video call your loved ones without prying eyes and eavesdroppers and whatever you can think of.
This is the most underrated travel tip that you don’t hear often but I got to try it for myself and I’d say that this is the BEST tip amongst all:
Book yourself a room to stay at the airport hotel if your layover is at least 6 hours and you still have another minimum 10+ hours flight to go.
I FEEL LIKE A BRAND NEW PERSON after doing that.
If your layover is less than 6 hours and you think you need a break, nobody is stopping you if you want to book a 4-hour room for a 2-hour stay as long as your budget allows.
Otherwise, at least freshen up yourself by taking a shower at the airport shower room or use the pack of body wet wipes. It’s the least you could do to feel better and be ready for the last leg.
Got other travel tips to survive a long haul flight?
Comment below or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.