We all want to see and do everything in the world, but sometimes the flight between where you are and where you want to go can be a major deterrent. Being prepared and learning a few tips on how to survive a long haul flight will make that journey much, much smoother for you.
Pick the Right Seat
Not all airplane seats are created equal. You don’t want to find yourself booking a window seat only to get to the seat and find that there’s no actual window there, or snag an exit row seat only to find that there’s limited recline. Check out SeatGuru, plug in your flight information, and it’ll pull up information on each and every seat in that specific aircraft, so you can be confident you’re getting the best possible seat available to you.
Layer Up, and Dress Comfortable
Temps can fluctuate like crazy on planes. You might be near an emergency exit and be quite cold, or you can be in a middle seat between two people, schvitzing. Layer up in breathable, stretchy, loose clothing so you’re not constricted in any way, and can handle any temps that the long journey throws your way. A good travel scarf to top off any outfit is an essential for a long haul, giving you a little extra warmth when needed, and doubling as a blanket or pillow in a pinch.
Move About the Plane
When that ding sounds at 10,000 feet and the seat belt signs go dark, get up and MOVE. Long haul flights have a tendency to make feet swell, so the more you move, the more you keep that blood flowing, and the swelling at bay.
Make use of the open areas near the restrooms to do a little plane yoga. Stretch your quads and hip flexors. Stretch out your back and shoulders. I’m someone who doesn’t sleep well on planes, and am very prone to swelling due to circulation issues, so I get up every hour, on the hour to do a lap of the plane and a little plane yoga. That’s probably a little extreme for most people, but whatever you do, don’t remain seated the entire duration of the flight.
Keep your Personal Item as Small as Possible
I know you want to have every possible luxury with you in your seat, but those luxuries take up precious space. Keep only what you absolutely need with you at your seat, and keep the rest in your carry-on in the overhead. That frees up as much foot room as possible for you, and when that two-by-three-foot space is your home for the next 10-15 hours, every inch counts.
Flying can be incredibly dehydrating, so do your body and skin a solid and drink lots of water. Bring along a water bottle and some flavoring if it’ll help you drink more water. I like to throw a lemon wedge into my Hydroflask, and fill it up once we get to the airport for a little natural flavoring.
Invest in a Good On-Board Kit.
The right tools can make a long-haul MUCH more bearable – check out my list of on-board must-haves here. For the purposes of surviving a long-haul, the key pieces are generally centered around comfort. Invest in an eye mask that doesn’t put pressure on your eyes, noise cancelling headphones to silence the noise around you, and a good, versatile travel pillow.
Pack Your Own Snacks
While airplane food has improved some over the years, one thing still remains. The sodium. Sodium doesn’t help the dehydration or circulation issues that you face on planes already, so pack a few light lower-sodium snacks so you can still get a gnosh in when you want without tripling your recommended sodium intake for the day.
Skip the Caffeine
If you’re someone who sometimes struggles to fall asleep on planes, or suffers from any kind of anxiety, it’s probably best to skip the caffeine. Caffeine can not only keep you up, but potentially make you feel a little agitated or anxious. Not what you want in an already stressful, crowded space.
Lighten Up Your Meals
The heavier the meal, the tougher it is to digest, and the more your body is working to digest, the less comfortable you are. You’re not doing much moving during the flight, so keep your meals as light as you can.
There is nothing that makes time pass faster than getting into a good movie. Plan to have backups to spare, in case there’s no in-flight entertainment systems. Download some episodes of your favorite show, an audiobook, some podcasts ahead of time, just in case. Consider the content as well – if you suffer from anxiety at all, you might want to skip anything that’ll get your pulse racing.
There’s not a person in this world who enjoys them, but being armed with some tips and gear can help you survive a long-haul flight with ease. Happy travels!
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