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For the Love of Wanderlust’s Guide to Surviving Long Haul Flights

Each journey has to begin somewhere. While a big part of the trip is getting there, there’s one thing that I wish I could do without: long haul flights. Luckily, I have some tips on surviving those dreaded long haul flights. I’m not someone who is deathly afraid of flights, but they do make me anxious (especially if there’s a lot of turbulence). The thing I hate most about these long haul flights, though, is being stuck in a seat for hours and hours. Our upcoming flight is going to be just over 16 hours. Typing that makes me cringe. However, it also makes me reflect on just how to make the most + best of those long hours. 

Get Organized for Long Haul Flights

For me, surviving a long haul flight starts well before I get to the airport. Nothing can better prepare you than getting your carry-on lined up and stocked with necessities. For me, it’s all about comfort and entertainment. I always like to carry a sweater or jacket with me because I always get so cold on flights. Then, it’s all about the snacks/water. I never forget to bring an empty water bottle in my carry-on along with a couple of my favorite snacks. (Twizzlers are a favorite because they don’t melt or make a mess.) Entertainment means having a journal, a book and my laptop. I always take the opportunity to get as much work done as possible. It’s hard to not feel inspired on a plane. I mean, it is the first step of the adventure after all. Of course, I keep my phone stocked with podcasts, music and games to help pass the time. Lastly, those things that make you feel human: toothbrush, dry shampoo, moisturizer, etc. You know, just those comfort items that make you feel normal. If you get this ready the night before or morning of your flight, you’ll feel better prepared for your flight.

Dress for Comfort for Long Haul Flights

I always see people who look fabulous on flights, and think, ‘Damn, I wish I looked that good,’ but every flight that I’ve been on where I prioritized fashion over comfort, I have 100% regretted it. I’m not saying wear pjs or anything like that, but I’ve found that leggings or another type of some-what stylish cotton pant (think elephant pants or harem pants) is the way to go! I’m also a big fan of wearing a top that’s flow and not too constricting and shoes that are easy to slip on and off – but be courteous with those bare feet, people. I also like to bring a pair of cushy socks to slip on to keep my toes warm.

Make the Most of Your Airport Time Before Long Haul Flights

I like to take full advantage of all that I can inside an airport. I like to take long walks if I have enough time. It’s nice to really get your blood flowing before you know you’re going to sit for quite some time. Plus, some airports have art exhibits and other interesting things to look at. I also like to take advantage of the charger stations. Although most planes now have chargers, it’s nice to get on a plane fully charged and prepared. I also like to use the restroom just before getting on my flight.

Stay Hydrated Before, During and After Long Haul Flights

The humidity of the air in plane cabins is significantly lower than normal air. Because of this, it’s very easy for people to become dehydrated. The easiest way to combat this is to drink plenty of water. This brings me back to that empty water bottle – you can’t bring water bottles full of water through security, and buying them in the airport is super expensive. So, I bring a bottle through and fill them up from drinking fountains.

Have a Long Haul Flight Ritual

Do something that is a treat to you. Something calming, something fun. Just something positive that you associate with a long haul flight. My long haul flight ritual is treating myself to a gin + tonic. It helps calm my nerves and feels more like a celebration. It doesn’t have to be an alcoholic beverage; make it a Starbucks drink, a smoothie or anything! Just something gets you in the mood for a flight.

Get As Much Sleep As Possible

Sleeping pills are not for me because they make me extremely groggy for well over a day and I hate that feeling. However, I do try to get as much sleep as possible. I try to get a window seat because then I have a wall to lean against. I also don’t have to get up very often, so I’m less likely to get disturbed by my neighbors.

Make a To Do List of Things to Accomplish if You Can’t Sleep

I really like to make the most of my time on airplanes. I like to make a list of my priorities with a nice mix of work and relaxation. First, I make out my must-finish list of work projects. This can be anything from writing posts, making outlines, editing a certain amount of photos or planning an adventure for your upcoming arrival. Then, when I get to my seat, I check out the in-flight entertainment and plan a schedule accordingly.

Don’t Miss Meals, If You Can Help It

I hate missing meals for multiple reasons. Even though the food isn’t exactly top notch, it’s still a meal you’ve paid for. Plus, I tend to get a bit hangry if I go too long without a meal. It’s best for everyone if I get that in-flight meal. For many people sleep trumps food, but that’s not the case for me. Feed me and we’ll be BFFs.

Stretch Those Legs on Long Haul Flights

Since I’m a window-seat lover, I tend to forget to take my own advice. If the people sitting next to me get up, though, I take advantage of not having to disrupt others to get my blood flowing again. Simple things like getting a few steps in can really make a huge difference.

Don’t Forget Your Neighbors Are Trying to Survive These Long Haul Flights Too

I think flights would go a lot smoother if people would just be a little more considerate. Don’t forget the good ol’ golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Basically, it comes down to respect. Before you do something that benefits you, think about how that will impact those around you.

Long haul flights are a necessary part of international travel. They’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but hopefully these tips will help you survive your next long haul flight. Remember, these are just my personal tips so they may not be right for you. What do you all do to survive those long haul flights? 

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  • Reply
    Erma Brown
    September 10, 2017 at 10:02 pm

    Paige, you and Matt have a safe flight and stay safe and have Fun!!
    Love You!!
    G-ma and G-pa

  • Reply
    September 11, 2017 at 4:02 am

    Great tips Paige! They’ll definitely keep me happy on flights until teleportation is a thing! haa!

  • Reply
    September 11, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    As a frequent flyer I’m always looking for tips to make my flying a bit easier. Great post and some good tips 🙂

  • Reply
    January 16, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    Drinking lots of fluids is a very good tip! I used to avoid it because I hate having to constantly get up to use the ladies room, but I noticed I felt so much better the more fluids I took in during flights. I also try to eat the meals even when I’m not hungry 🙂

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