How To Survive A Long Haul Flight

Surviving A Long Flight

Nobody likes spending an entire day and night getting to their destination, but sadly, this has become a reality with flight schedules and layovers. Some flights can take up to fifteen hours in which you are expected to remain seated for most of the time wedged in a space so small and uncomfortable that you are unable to relax, let alone sleep. If you are about to embark on a long haul flight with a couple of hundred strangers, some of whom display an appalling lack of decency as soon as the seat belt sign is switched off, you may want to arm yourself with as many tips as possible to survive the ordeal. Although it is impossible to avoid some of the hazards of long haul flights, there are certain things you can do to ensure that you have a smooth flight and arrive at your best tour destination somewhat relaxed with your sanity and dignity intact.


Book your seat well in advance to give yourself more options. Seats at the front of the aircraft and those next to emergency exits have more leg room which will allow you to stretch your legs out, but don’t take this option of you are not prepared or able to comply with the requirements of opening an emergency door if necessary. If the plane is not fully booked request a seat with a spare seat beside it. Alternatively, if there are spare seats available after all the passengers have boarded, ask the air hostess if you can move so that you have more room to spread out. An isle or window seat is a personal preference and each has its own problems. If you take an isle seat you won’t have to climb over a sleeping passenger when you need to use the toilet or stretch your legs, but a window seat offers more privacy and peace. Some airlines charge extra for bulkhead or exit seats, but it is worth it, especially if you are tall.

Air Miles

Build up air miles with your favorite airliner and alliances to boost your chances of an upgrade to first or business class.

Lounge Access

Pay for the privilege of using the airport lounge where you can relax and enjoy free refreshments while waiting for your flight. You will be glad you did if the plane has been delayed and it is invaluable for trips that involve hours of layovers while in transit.


It cannot be overstressed how important it is to stay hydrated, so buy a bottle of water in the departure area before you board the plane. Cut out or restrict your alcohol intake as it is extremely dehydrating and will disrupt your chances of falling asleep. Aim to drink between 2 – 3 liters of pure water in a 24-hour period while traveling. Mineral water and herbal teas are also good.

Different Time Zones

Flying from the USA to Europe means that you will be traveling back in time and setting your clock to the local time of your final destination as soon as you have boarded the plane will help you to start adjusting to the new time zone. The sooner you start tricking your mind into believing that it is in fact nighttime and not early afternoon, the more relaxed you will be on arrival.


Set a timer according to your medication schedule to ensure that you take your doses at the right times, regardless of the change in time zone, to avoid stressing about it.


Invest in good quality noise-canceling earplugs and an eye mask in good quality soft fabric like silk. If you have problems sleeping on a plane, ask your doctor or pharmacy for sleep aids. Natural herbal supplements like Valerian may help you sleep or get a prescription for melatonin which is great for avoiding jet lag. Ear plugs will also take care of blocking out the sound from noisy passengers who insist on talking to each other while others are trying to sleep.


Planes are super grimy and full of germs and the longer the flight the more disgusting they become. Hand sanitizer used regularly will protect you to some extent, but don’t forget to wipe down the tray table, your seat buckle and the seat pockets with anti-bacterial wipes before you touch them.


We have all heard horror stories of people developing deep vein thrombosis from sitting down for hours on a long haul flight, so get up and move around regularly at least every two hours. If you visit the toilet try doing a few laps down the length of the plane before returning to your seat. Every so often go to the back of the plane and do some stretches which are essential for keeping the blood circulating and preventing sore muscles. If you have time in between your connecting flights spend most of it walking to loosen up. Most flights have video guides to help you do exercises while being seated and you may want to follow along to keep your muscles moving and flexible.


Flying is stressful but a long haul flight also gives you the ideal opportunity and lots of time to practice relaxation techniques such as meditation. Stock up on what works for you by downloading apps or podcasts ahead of time.

Skin and Hair

The recycled air on an aircraft is super drying on your skin and hair. Pack a rich moisturizer in a tube and a nourishing lip balm. If you are brave enough, use a sheet face mask to keep your skin hydrated and cool while running the risk of scaring your fellow passengers. Use eye drops and a saline nasal spray every couple of hours to keep your eyes and nose moist. Remember the restrictions imposed on carry-on liquids, so pack these items appropriately in sealed plastic bags.


Even though you would like to arrive at your destination looking fresh and stylish, don’t make the mistake of wearing an uncomfortable outfit that will get wrinkled during the flight. Wear loose clothing in stretchy fabrics like silk, jersey, or cotton that is still stylish but super comfortable. Well-cut wide-legged pants and soft flowing tops work well. It can get very cold during the night so take an extra jumper or an over-sized wrap. Wear comfortable shoes that you can easily slip on over a pair of warm woolen socks when you want to walk around.

Last but not least, be friendly and courteous to fellow passengers and treat them with respect, even if there may be some individuals on the flight who lack decent manners, and you will have a more enjoyable flight.

Also learn more about the Airport Travel Tips to make your journey easy.