25 tips to help you make it through your next long-haul flight like a travel pro

By November 3, 2017Travel

Traveling is great. The new sites to explore, adventures to experience, and people to meet are just a few reasons to jump on a plane and see the world. But do you know what’s not great? The long plane ride it takes to get there. So if you’re excited for an upcoming trip but not for the long-haul flight to and from your destination, take a few minutes to read some of our tips and conquer those seemingly endless hours.  

Make long-haul flights easier with these great tips! Photo: iStock.

Make long-haul flights easier with these great tips! Photo: iStock.


1. Wear comfortable clothes

This is a must for long flights. There’s enough discomfort caused by a plane ride without adding to it with too-tight or stiff attire. If you’re flying for business you may be required to dress professionally, but you don’t have to dress in pajamas and sweatpants to be comfortable. Just try and wear loose-fitting, breathable clothes that allow you to stretch and move around with ease. If you have to step off the plane looking formal, bring a change of clothes so you can be comfortable for a majority of the flight.


2. Set your watch for the new time zone

Long flights usually mean big time zone changes. Sometimes you may skip or go back several hours and completely throw off your body’s schedule. When you board the plane, change all your clocks to reflect your destination’s time zone and then sleep and stay awake based on your new schedule. Even adjusting your meal times on the plane can help. You’ll land feeling far more alert and adjusted if you prepare before you arrive.


3. Drink LOTS of water

If there’s one thing you do on this list, make it this one. The lack of moisture in an airplane is almost desert-like and will dry you out like a raisin. Give your body what it needs and drink as much water as you can. Bring a water bottle that you can fill up at your gate (after security) or when the flight attendants make their rounds. Buying a sports drink with electrolytes can also help. The wonders it will do for your body will be worth all those extra bathroom breaks.


4. Bring noise-canceling headphones or earplugs

If noise has ever made it difficult for you to sleep, you’ll want to have something that can help cancel out the airplane noise. The crying baby across the aisle, that touchy-feely couple in front of you, the intoxicated woman talking way too loudly behind you, and the continuous roar of the plane’s engine is enough to make anyone go crazy. Block it all out and sleep in peace.


5. Get up and stretch

Speaking of breaks, make sure you take a few. Stretch in your seat and even walk around every couple of hours if you can. Getting your blood pumping will help fight off tight muscles, cramps, and general stir craziness. It can also keep your circulation flowing, preventing potentially serious medical side-effects.


6. Avoid alcohol and caffeine

It’s sad but true: alcohol and caffeine are not your friends on long flights. A small glass of wine won’t hurt, but drinking too much will easily lead to dehydration and grogginess that will do anything but help your jet lag. Drinking too much also increases your chance of getting sick and there aren’t many places worse to be sick than an airplane bathroom. Caffeine will dehydrate you and, surprise, keep you awake for all those long hours. If you’re craving something hot, see if the staff has any green tea, which has actually been known to help prevent the onset of jet lag.


7. Pack snacks

Sure you’ll be fed by the airline, but it’s a long time to survive off of peanuts and TV dinner-style meals. Bring your favorite snacks so you’re not dependent on the in-flight meal schedule. If you happen to not like what they’re offering or are still hungry after eating, you’ll thank yourself for packing a little extra something. Protein-rich snacks like nuts, peanut butter, and protein bars are best for keeping you full and energized.


8. Don’t eat too much

This may sound contradictory, but light snacking is different than stuffing your face. It’s actually harder to digest in the air, so while you want to eat consistently to avoid hunger and fatigue, filling up like you might at home can leave you feeling overly full and bloated. Listen to your body and stop eating when you are no longer hungry.


9. Bring lotion and Chap Stick

Even if you’re drinking plenty of water your body will still feel the effects of the pressurized, high altitude air. Prevent chapped lips and dry hands with plenty of lotion and Chap Stick. However, be careful about bringing anything with a strong scent. Airplanes are tight quarters and some people are extremely sensitive to smells.


10. Wear layers

It can be difficult to predict the temperature on the plane and it can often fluctuate between freezing and hot throughout the duration of the flight. Prepare for whatever comes by wearing layers. Even if it’s cold or hot wherever you’re going, try wearing a shirt, sweater, scarf, and jacket. This way you can bundle up if you get cold but also easily take off layers if you start overheating.


11. Bring a neck pillow

The airline usually provides a little pillow and blanket, but unless you want to wake up to throbbing neck pain they’re not great for a long plane ride. Save yourself the constant shifting and discomfort and bring your own neck pillow. Many travel pillows can be folded or uninflated to fit easily in your carry-on. Your neck will thank you.


12. Pack entertainment

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to sleep away all those long hours and even plane movies can get boring after a while. Pack things you enjoy and will help you pass the time. Maybe you have games on your phone, a good book you’ve been trying to finish, or want to journal about your trip. Whatever it is you like to do and helps you feel relaxed, bring it with you. It’s not often you get several hours with no obligations.


13. Bring an eye mask

Usually the airplane cabin is kept dim during designated times, but eye masks can give you total darkness that will help you get some much needed sleep and keep out distractions. Out of sight out of mind, right? It may not be the most fashionable thing to wear, but will also signal to those around you that you are trying to sleep so you are less likely to be disturbed.


14. Wear compression socks

High altitude and long hours of sitting can cause leg pain, swollen feet and ankles, and even blood clots. Help fight these symptoms with compression socks, which improve the blood flow in your legs. If you’ve ever had any issues with varicose veins or recently had surgery this is especially important. You can even talk to your doctor and ask to have compression socks prescribed.


15. Charge all your devices

Make sure every electronic you want to use is at 100% before you step onto the plane. There are usually plenty of outlets available at airport gates for you to get a last-minute charge on your devices. Unless you’ve upgraded to premium economy, few airplanes offer a way to charge electronics during the flight. Don’t let a dead battery prevent you from listening to music or playing games.


16. Bring a bribe

Yes, you read that right! But relax, it’s harmless. A little travel trick that is sure to make your flight more enjoyable is to bring a treat for the flight attendants serving you. Bringing chocolates or some other small token can go a long way toward brightening their long work shift. A happier flight attendant means that you and everyone around you will receive better service. You’ll be the most popular passenger on board!


17. Rest ahead of time

Many people actually try and tire themselves out prior to a long plane ride in the hopes of sleeping better on the plane, but this is exactly what you don’t want to do before a long flight. Make sure to be as rested as possible before getting on board. This will put you in a better mood and can actually make it easier for you to relax and get comfortable while on the plane.


18. Consider natural sleep aids

If you know you have trouble sleeping on planes it may be a good idea to bring along some sleeping aids; however, be careful what you bring and how strong it is. Some medication might put you to sleep, but you will be groggy upon arrival, making jet lag even worse than usual. Thankfully there are more natural aids, like melatonin, that won’t leave you in a fog and can help you catch some shut-eye on the long flight.


19. Try and get your preferred seat

Do you prefer a window seat? Or maybe you like sitting by the aisle? Regardless of your preference, unless a flight is absolutely packed, airline attendants can often ensure you are in your preferred seat if you ask about it at check-in. Don’t get stuck in the dreaded middle seat!


20. Don’t over pack

You want to be prepared, but you don’t want to be over packed. Bulky carry-ons limit your personal space and sifting through a stuffed backpack for one small item can be tedious and frustrating. Be smart about how you pack and make sure what you choose to bring is space efficient and fits within the airline guidelines. Even if it’s a long flight, it’s just one small part of your journey. Don’t let it take up a disproportionate amount of packing space.


21. Bring your everyday toiletries

There’s nothing quite like airplane grime, which seems to cling to even the most hygienic passenger. Fight it off by packing your favorite everyday toiletries. This may mean your preferred face wash, toothpaste, or soap. Sticking to your normal nightly routine as much as possible will make you feel fresh and clean during the long hours. Try and get travel size containers and remember that all liquids should be 3.4 oz. or less per security guidelines.


22. Don’t be afraid to talk to your neighbor

Most of us fear that overly chatty airplane seat buddy. Unless you’re traveling with a group, there’s no way of knowing whether your neighbor won’t say a word or will offer their life story. But chats with people from other places and walks of life can often be fascinating and a great way to pass the time. If you need to end the conversation and move on to something else just politely say so.


23. Secure your stuff

While it’s highly unlikely anyone will try and take any of your possessions, you will sleep better and stress less if you make sure to secure your valuables and personal information deep inside your bag or even on your person. Wearing a money belt is a great way to ensure important documents and money are safe and sound. You can put everything in there and rest assured that no one will find it without you knowing about it!


24. Keep it clean

The air in a plane is actually recycled throughout the flight. That means there is plenty of time for germs to spread. You can’t change this, but you can make some efforts to protect yourself. Thoroughly wash your hands each time you visit the restroom. A little hand sanitizer is also an easy way to keep clean without leaving your seat. You can even bring anti-bacterial wipes to keep your area clean.


25. Wear your seat belt

It’s not always the most comfortable, but wearing your seat belt is not only safe in case of unexpected turbulence, it can prevent a rough awakening if you’re asleep and a flight attendant asks all passengers to put on seat belts. Wear it on the outside of any blankets to make sure it’s visible at all times. Ultimately it does little to disrupt your comfort but a lot to ensure your safety.


With all these tips under your belt you are more than ready to take on that long flight. Call Jaya today and let us help you book your next adventure!

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