Travelling around the globe can require being on some long flights. Being from Australia, I’ve come to terms with the fact that most countries I travel to will be at least 10 hours flight away. Same goes if you’re on the other side of the world and want to visit us 'down under'.
Sitting in economy for such a long stretch of time is what’s led me to write this post. Here are a few things you can do to make the trip more bearable.
1. Check your seats before you fly
2. Select your seat
If you sleep well and don’t need the bathroom often, a window seat might be best for you. If you need the toilet and like to stretch your legs often, then an aisle seats would be perfect.
It may cost you extra to choose a seat depending on your airline and whether you're a frequent flyer or not, but if you want the comfort it may be well worth it.
3. Book a special meal
Most airlines offer complimentary alternate choices to their regular meals. There are plenty of choices on most airlines including gluten free, vegetarian and vegan, but keep in mind that you do need to pre-book the meal on the airline’s website in advance.
You’ll also be served first which is always a bonus!
4. Be respectful to your neighbours
5. Shower before you fly
You’ll always feel more comfortable and relaxed when you’re freshly showered. Some airports have public showers, so if this sounds like something you’d like then bring some flip flops & a small towel in your hand-luggage.
6. Stretch before and during the flight
Before the flight, take about 10-15 mins to stretch out those arms, neck, back and legs. You won't have this opportunity for another WHOLE day.
While you’re on the plane, make sure to take a few breaks from sitting and walk around the plane. Airlines usually have a list of exercises you can do, even while seated, and you can find these in the pocket in front of you with the food menu.
7. Get hydrated
Being hydrated will help with the condition of your skin, reduce stress and ease muscle discomfort during the flight. It's also one of the best ways to stay comfortable and calm during long flights.
If you hydrate before you get on the plane you’ll have a better chance of staying hydrated during the long flight. Bring some electrolyte powder/tablets or coconut water, otherwise, diluted fruit juice in water also works.
21 Tips to Survive a Long-Haul Flight
8. Pack a change of clothes
Choose a few extra loose, warm and comfortable items to pack in your carry-on; a change of clothes will help you feel fresh when you land at the end of your journey.
9. Be nice to the flight attendants
Flight attendants have a hard job serving a few hundred people at once. So once you're on the flight be considerate and understanding. Also, flight attendants will be your source of food and drink for the duration of the flight, so don’t bite the hand that feeds you!
10. Use anti-bacterial wipes
As you’re going to be spending nearly a day of your life in one seat, give your arm rests, tray table & screen a clean. I’m not a germaphobe, but sometimes the cleaners don’t detail the seat as much as they should due to time. It will help you get settled into the space as your own and give it a sense of comfort.
11. Sleep with an inflatable travel pillow
Inflatable pillows don't take up space when deflated, as opposed to the beanbag ones, and they allow you to adjust and inflate the pillow to "your" size. They’re easy to set up, to deflate and to store.
For those with back pain, you can use the airline pillow to place behind your back to relieve pressure on your lower back.
12. Bring some extra warm clothes
Planes can get very cold, especially on such long flights, so if you’re a cold-body like me, ensure you rug up. Being warm calms your body and mind and makes it easier to sleep when your muscles are relaxed.
Also, bring a long-sleeved thermal top, leggings/ loose slacks, an over-sized hooded jumper (a large hood doubles as an eye-mask) and invest in a good pair of DVT socks. The floor of the plane gets extremely cold and having warm feet will keep you comfortable and help you sleep.
If you don’t have a fear of turbulence while flying, choose a seat up the back of the plane. It seems to be warmer than in the middle.
13. Be wary in the bathrooms
Whenever you need to change clothes in the bathroom, use those toilet seat liners or paper towels and line the floor with a few layers BEFORE you put your naked feet or socks on them. Always wear your shoes when you go to the toilet, ALWAYS; stepping in an unknown, wet substance with your socks on in a public toilet has to be one of the worst feelings.
14. Wear comfortable shoes
Your feet will swell on the flight and they’ll likely be cold so take flat shoes with enough room for thick socks. Comfy sneakers or flat ankle boots that aren’t tight across the toes are a perfect choice.
21 Tips to Survive a Long-Haul Flight
15. Wear earplugs
16. Download your favourite music
Whatever makes you calm, relaxed, happy - get it. If it's Gregorian chants, Hawaiian ukulele, bluegrass, ska, metal, guided meditations or nature sounds.......get lots of it and have it ready for you to listen. You will need to go to your happy place, and music is the best way to help you get there. 🙂
17. Carry a thermos
18. Relax with tea
A cup of tea can be very calming, especially if it’s part of your home routine and you bring your own tea-bags. The familiarity of something from home and something warming is very comforting.
Peppermint tea is fantastic for digestion, green tea is a good alternative to coffee as it has less caffeine and herbal blends with chamomile and fruit are also calming and hydrating.
19. Pack a handy bag of toiletries
Having your own toiletries on hand is critical to making a long-haul flight comfortable; replicating your home routine wherever you are can be very calming. Just by brushing your teeth when you wake up or by having a “shower” with wipes, you are giving yourself a sense of familiarity that can help ease the stress and discomfort of the long journey.
My essential kit usually looks like this:
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Personal/ facial wipes
- Panty liners
- Lavender essential oil
- Aroma spray: air freshener
- Dry shampoo
20. Bring your own snacks
It’s a long flight and you can’t be sure of whether you’ll enjoy the meal you’re given. The time differences can also clash with when you feel hungry so bringing your own food will help you keep your energy up.
Most airlines provide free snacks on long-haul flights including muesli bars, chocolates, soft drinks, cheese & crackers and fruit. But if you want more choice, bring your own.
21. Indulge in entertainment
Bring your favourite author's book, ebook reader, movies on your laptop, your music collection, your journal, crappy magazines, colouring book. No in-flight selection is good enough for you to solely depend on for 20+ hours.
Most of these tips also work for very long train rides, like the 44-hour trip I took from Beijing to Tibet. Read more about that journey here.
I hope the tips I've learned from my travel experiences have helped you figure out what essentials you need on your trip.
If you have any tips or questions, please let me know in the comments section. I'd love to hear more from my fellow travellers. 🙂
This post first appeared on The Adventure and has been republished with permission.