How to Survive Long-Haul Flights

The general rule of thumb is that any flight that is more than 6 hours can be considered a long-haul flight. Let’s be real, flying for more than 6 hours is killer. If you’re unprepared for the journey it can be even more daunting. Not all long-haul flights have to be miserable and uncomfortable! Between my boyfriend and I, we have experienced 14 long-haul flights combined. They suck, but here are some tips that we both think make the flight a little more bearable!

Request a special meal when booking your flight

Usually on a long-haul flight, you will get a complementary meal or meals depending on the length. Ordering a special one, like lactose free or vegetarian, will basically guarantee you to get your meal first. I do it every time #noshame.

Make sure your devices are charged / bring a portable charger

I know, I know – this one is the most obvious but double check! Sometimes there will be charging ports or outlets on the flight, but in case they are broken it is good to have your stuff all juiced up and a back-up plan!

Get some entertainment! Use your smartphone or tablet to your advantage

There will be some form of in-flight entertainment, but in case all their in-flight movies are not your cup of tea is it best to have your own. Not to mention sometimes the entertainment system could malfunction and fail so it is good to have something in reserve.
Download some movies, games, even some podcasts to keep things entertaining! Books (reading, puzzle, coloring) are a blessing here too, no charger needed!

Bring a neck pillow

It can be annoying to lug around if you have multiple or long layovers, but it’s totally worth it.

Stay hydrated!

Staying hydrated in general is a must-do, but it is even more important to stay aware of this during a long flight. The lack of humidity and dry air on the plane can easily cause dehydration, which can lead to other things like discomfort and fatigue. Using hydrating moisturizer for your skin will help it stay hydrated from the outside, and drinking water will hydrate you from the inside. This is super important so definitely make sure you drink lots of water!

Get up and walk about or do in-seat exercises

I’m going to be honest, I never take my own advice here and I regret it every time. During the 14ish hour flight between California and Sydney, I usually get up once to use the restroom. For days after traveling my legs hurt sooo badly! My boyfriend gets up a fair few times and doesn’t have leg aches for days.

Moving around can stop these aches, possible blood clots, and possible swelling. Getting up now and then will help your circulation. There are also some in-seat exercises that you can do without disturbing your seat-mates.

Take your own snacks

On most flights, you will get a meal and/or there will be food for purchase. But bringing your own snacks can save you some money and it is totally fine to take food through security. Bring snacks that are easy to stow and that you know can help you feel less hungry. Things like almonds, and health bars are good snacks to take! Definitely don’t bring cheese puffs, trust me! Also, make sure whatever snack you bring is not considered a gel. Hummus, for instance, will not make it past security. Something dry and sealed is more likely to make it through.

Wear noise canceling headphones or ear plugs

This isn’t even because there may be crying babies or loud travelers, but planes are awfully loud and sometimes the roar of engines can’t be ignored. You would think after 8 hours the sound of the plane would be like white noise, but for me it’s as if it gets louder by the hour.

Wear layers and comfortable clothing

Being in a plane for a long time totally stinks, so wearing clothes that you’re happy and comfortable in for a long time is a must. With that in mind, it can get cold on the plane and if you don’t bring an extra blanket, the ones provided may not keep you warm. Wearing layers can help you adjust your temperature as you fly!

There’s a lot of speculation about what footwear is best while flying, and the etiquette of taking your shoes off is subjective. When you’re flying for long periods of time, it is best to wear shoes you are comfortable in that can easily slip on and off (in case of swelling). Some airlines offer complimentary slippers but if not as long as your feet don’t stink, I think taking your shoes off is okay. Just be respectful of your seat-mates!

Bring an eye mask

Sometimes the person next to you will keep their light on, or have their screen brightness all the way up, or if you’re not in the window someone could leave the blind all the way open. Planes are already uncomfortable and the lights could really stop you from being able to fall asleep. Using an eye mask will block the lights and help you sleep. Just make sure your stuff is secure!

Get to know your seat-mates!

It’s always a good idea to be polite and get to know those you’ll be sitting next to. Conversation can make the time pass, and if you’re not sitting in the aisle seat I think it makes it less awkward to wake them up to use the restroom!

Make your carry-on your survival pack

While this can vary by airline, usually you will have an option for a personal item and a carry-on. Even if you are only allowed one, keep your survival pack by your feet!

When I fly I have a backpack full of essentials I will need during the flight. Mine is usually packed with some of the things I’ve listed above. Since I am small, I am able to keep my bag at my feet without compromising my leg room. This is actually a really important factor to remember when packing your bag. Anything under your seat is going to give you less leg room and cramped living space for 6+ hours.

Inside my pack there’s my passport, travel documents, a pen, eye mask, headphones, hand cream, chargers, face moisturizer, lip balm, band-aids, hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes, portable battery, deodorant, gum, feminine hygiene products, toothbrush and toothpaste, tissues, snacks, an extra pair of clothes, laptop, and a book or two.

Like I said, I’m small and so it’s not an issue for me to have so many things at my feet. There will be things that you do not deem essential and that’s totally okay! Anything that is important to keep with you and not checked, but not super important that you need it constantly on your person can always be stowed in an overhead compartment. For something like an extra pair of clothes, I suggest stowing it above. Honestly though, you would be surprised how nice it feels to brush your teeth or even change your shirt during a really long flight!


What are some of your long-haul flight tips & essentials? Comment down below!


About Jaymiee

Jaymiee is a writer for Long Distance Diaries. She is a graduate with her BS in Marketing, and has been in a very long distance relationship for over six years.