6 Tips for Surviving A Long Haul Flight


Over the past couple of years I have spent a lot of time on planes and in airports including two 24+ hour roundtrips to South Africa. After a while you get to know the ins and outs for how to handle such a long time in transit and how to make it as least painful as possible.

Here are some of my tips on how to handle a long haul flight:

1. Stay Hydrated
Plane air is horrible and makes you feel horrible. Before I board the plane I always buy a giant bottle of water to take with me. This helps to encourage me to drink while I'm on the plane (so I can I get my money's worth out of the overpriced airport water) and also stops me from being dependent on the beverage serving schedule of the flight attendants.

Another thing that makes a huge difference to how you feel when you get off the plane is to moisturize moisturize moisturize! Before I [attempt to] go to sleep I slather on a layer of Hydraluron followed by Origin's Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask. Don't forget the lip balm! I use Dr. Dan's Cortibalm (if you have crazy chapped and peeling lips like I used to have you MUST try this stuff).  Before landing I wipe off my face with a makeup wipe and apply some First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream and if I'm at my destination, just enough makeup to make it look like I didn't just spend the past god knows how many hours locked inside a tube in the air.

Meaning bring your own entertainment. Even though most flights have a ton of in flight movies and shows that you can now choose from it's always useful to come with backup. On one of my flights from London to San Francisco the entertainment systems were broken for most of the ten hour flight and I was very grateful that I had my iPad mini to keep me preoccupied.

Having some sort of entertainment also comes in handy if you have a long layover. I've learned that downloading a couple two hour shows to watch while you're stuck in the terminal makes the time pass a lot more quickly.

3. Wear Comfy Clothes
When I'm traveling for 24+ hours the last thing on my mind is fashion. Sometimes I envy the girls with the cute dress or jeans with knee high boots but it's something that I know just won't work for me...especially since I tend to avoid jeans at all cost in my day to day life. My rule of thumb is comfy layers that you can easily take on and off.

I generally wear a light t-shirt, sports bra, jacket and pack a super light pullover that can easily be packed away if it's not needed. On the bottom I'll wear yoga pants, leggings, or any type of lightweight stretchy fabric. Definitely make sure to wear full length pants. One time I wore cropped leggings and my ankles were freezing the entire flight!

Shoes can be tricky. You want something that can be taken off easily for security and for bathroom breaks in the plane that will also be comfy enough to walk all around various airports in. Once I wore Toms which seemed like a great idea until I learned that Toms + hours in the airport create the perfect conditions for stinky, smelly feet. My last flight I wore my Nike Free 5.0 running shoes which ended up being perfect since I can walk all day in them without getting sore feet and they look cute.

Oh and bring some fuzzy socks for the plane in case your footsies get cold!

4. Pick Your Seat
Where you are sitting can make our break a flight and most airlines let you pre select your seat up to a month before your flight. Everyone has their opinion in the widow vs. aisle debate but all agree that the middle seat is a no go. Personally I'm an aisle kind of girl. I prefer having a tiny bit of extra room to stretch my legs and the freedom to get up and go to the bathroom etc. without disturbing my neighbors.

What I'll usually do is choose my seat right after I've booked my ticket to ensure I get my beloved aisle seat (I prefer the seats on the side of the plane).  I try to pick a seat that does not have any other seats next to it taken or the seats in the middle of the row taken. That way if nobody ends up booking them you can move into them and use them to curl up in. There's no real way to predict this since you never know how booked the flight is until you're on the plane but my last flight to South Africa I got lucky and managed to get the two seats by the window to myself the entire way there which is a complete game changer.

5. Pack for the Plane
After you've been on enough long flights you quickly learn what to pack in your carryon and how to pack it. For me the worst thing is having to rummage through the overhead bins mid flight or scramble to get everything I will need for the flight organized while everyone else is boarding the plane.

I usually carry on two bags: a rolling backpack and a cross body purse.  In the rolling backpack I place all of the things I likely won't need to access during my flight...laptop, DSLR, chargers, electronics change of clothes etc. The rolling backpack is also great because it's easy to lug around while on a layover, but once I'm at my final destination with my larger suitcase I can carry the backpack like normal. In my purse I pack all of the things that I will need while on the plane including my iPad, headphones, toiletries, passport, wallet, etc.

Trust me, if you plan ahead like this it makes everything a lot less stressful.

6. Attempt some zzzz's
You know the person who falls asleep right after the plane takes off and seems to be in a complete slumber the entire flight...that person is definitely not me. Knowing that I won't be able to sleep for an extended period of time is usually the worst part of long haul flights for me. I used to not be able to sleep a wink on planes but I've trained myself to become a little bit better at it.

The best thing I have done so far is to try to keep to my normal pre-slumber routine.  When they serve beverages I'll have a glass of wine, but make sure to accompany it with a glass of water to help combat dehydration. When dinner is served I will turn on a movie. By the time that my movie is done the lights in the plane usually have been turned off. I'll head to the restroom and brush my teeth. When I get back to my seat I'll wipe my face, put on my moisturizer, and then cuddle up and try to sleep a bit. It's never a very deep sleep but it's definitely better than nothing.

Don't be embarrassed to sleep in the airport terminals. Sure, there may be a family starting at you while you snore and drool curled up on one of the benches, but just an extra hour of shut eye can make a huge difference. Just make sure that you stay close to your belongings (I usually use mine as a pillow) and set an alarm so that you don't oversleep.

I hope that some of these tips help you if you're planning for an upcoming flight. If you have any advice of your own leave it in the comments!

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