As exciting as traveling is, sometimes the only way to get to a destination is on a 10-hour, 14-hour, 17-hour flight. With no escape, planes can sometimes feel nothing short of captivity. The bad news? There’s usually a return trip, too.
Not all airlines are created equal; in fact, long-haul travel may be where you find the greatest differentiation between airlines. You will want to concern yourself mainly with three things:
Here are my 12 tips for surviving long-haul flights.
1. Check in early
You have a greater chance of getting a window or aisle seat if you check in before others. So always check in 24 hours in advance. Not 12 hours, 24 hours! Set an alarm if necessary. By checking in early you will make sure to get the best seat as possible. On a long flight, I suggest you book window seats so you can rest your head on the bulkhead.
2.Hydrate & Bring Snacks
If you step off of a plane and feel like crap, it’s not because you’re sick, but probably because you’re dehydrated. Not drinking and retaining enough water can make you feel fatigue, headaches, nausea, and more, and airplanes are the perfect environment for draining you of all moisture so definitely stay hydrated prior and during your flight.( Dehydration can contribute to the development of blood clots)
If you follow my Instagram stories TravelFreQk you always see me filling up empty containers with water at the airports prior to my flights and also saving $3-$5 on a bottled water.
So always bring an empty bottle or container to fill up after going through the security checkpoint. (You can also ask the flight attendants to fill it up for you as often as desired.)
On a long flight, you want to be able to eat according to your own schedule, not the flight crew’s, so pack plenty of snacks.
Bonus Travel Hack:
*If you are flying airlines such as WOW Airlines or Norwegian Airlines that charge you for meals, simply bring your own meal.
Example; Go to Subway or somewhere, grab a footlong sandwich, have them hold the mayo/mustard and just get the packets instead(keeping your sandwich from getting soggy) while grabbing a large bag of chips and bringing them with you to the airport and “Wallah” two cheap meals for your flight.
And you can do the same for salads(dressing on the side) and you will already have your bottled water you filled up with at the airport versus paying $43 for the Norwegian Airlines meal plan.
3. Dress Comfortable
We all like to dress to impress, but when you’re heading off on a long-haul flight, you also need to ensure that you’re dressing for maximum comfort.
The temperature inside the plane isn’t comfortable for everyone. While you might be actually freezing, the other person seated a few rows from you might find it too warm.
Since you may never how the temperature on your plane will be, it is imperative to be prepared in advance by wearing the right clothes.
Wearing layers is highly recommended so that you can easily adjust to the temperature changes inside the plane. It may be hot one minute and cool the next.(Loose-fitting clothes are highly recommended)
4. Compression Socks
I highly recommend them!
Wearing compression stockings during long-haul flights may reduce the risk of blood clots in the legs by more than 12 times, a new study shows.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a potentially dangerous type of blood clot that develops in the deep veins of the legs, torso, or arm. These clots can grow, break off, and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs and cause a life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism.
Compression socks steadily squeeze your legs, helping your veins and leg muscles move blood more efficiently. They offer a safe, simple and inexpensive way to keep blood from stagnating. (Unfortunately, I’ve heard of several travelers losing their lives to this.)
5. Eye Mask, Ear Plugs, Neck Pillow
If you’re on a long-haul flight, and you don’t want to set yourself up for jet lag, you’re going to need to get some sleep. Problem is, between children crying and your neighbor’s reading light, it’s hard to drift off.
Two simple solutions I recommend;
1. Eye masks help you create an ideal sleeping environment by blocking out all the light.
2. The mighty roar of an airplane’s engine is calming white-noise to some, but it can be slightly irritating to others.
Such noises can make it quite difficult for you to relax or sleep during your flight. That is why noise-cancellation headphones or earplugs come in handy during long-haul flights. These important devices will help block out any irritating noises and further block out any sounds that are likely to keep you awake during your flight.
3. Neck pillows is another way to increase comfort on planes is by using a neck or travel pillow.
I prefer the inflatable ones so I don’t have to deal with it once I get to my destination.
6. Choose your seat wisely
If you will be sleeping for most of your flight, you may want to consider choosing a seat that is next to the window. This way, you can use a pillow to lean against the window to get some sleep. Also, you don’t have to worry about blocking your seatmates and having them wake you up when they need to go use the restroom.
But if you want to remain awake for most of your flight (or tend to use the restroom often), you might prefer to choose an aisle seat so that it is easier for you to stand up and stretch out your legs easily.
Lastly, consider the row where you are sitting. Being in a back row sometimes inhibits your ability to recline your seat (a huge problem for sleeping) and sitting near the lavatories or galley tends to be quite noisy. (Check out SeatGuru.com or SeatExpert.com for your best seating options, download the apps as well.)
7. Sleep Aid
Everyone has their preferred method for falling asleep, but planes provide extra discomfort, making relaxation even more difficult. Melatonin pills are good sources for over-the-counter, natural medicines to replace a prescription sleep aid. Other holistic remedies like Yogi Bedtime Tea bags or Natural Vitality Natural Calm also work wonders for relaxation.
*Consult your doctor first before taking anything and test it out prior to your trip.
I personally stay away from sleeping aids in case of any type of emergency.
8. Bring your own entertainment
Having enough entertainment can help make even the longest flight quite fun. Even though most airlines now provide extensive in-flight entertainment options that are free of charge (including movies, games, tv shows), you may prefer to bring your own.
Staying entertained during your long flight is going to be critical. As such, bring enough magazines, downloaded movies, games, and books prior to boarding. If you are traveling with someone, you may even want to bring a portable game such as a deck of cards that both of you can play together to pass time.
Lastly, even laptops can feel crowded on a cramped plane, and some destinations they are not allowed on board. So tablets or smartphones are highly recommended, for those who want to bring their entertainment on a plane.
9. Stay healthy
While you might have heard that breathing planes’ recycled air can expose you to bugs, you’re actually more likely to get sick from touching your armrests, seatbelt, tray table or in-flight magazine, so it’s a good idea to wipe down these surfaces with sanitizing wipes.
Try to get up and walk every couple of hours. We realize that can be easier said than done, with people and carts going up and down the isles, but stand up and stretch, or if you are stuck in your seat do things like calf raises, arm circles, neck rolls, shoulder raises, ankle circles and knee lifts, which will all help with your circulation and therefore less bloating and swelling.
10. Power Up
Yes, it’s the 21st century and some of us travel with more electronic devices than we do changes of underwear. However, not all airlines have caught up and you won’t always find a USB charging port at your seat. Or, at all. So, if you think you’re going to run out of juice on your essential travel gadget, make sure you put a few portable chargers in your carry-on.
However; most international flights seem to have them but they don’t always charge that fast using your USB so charge up all electronics prior to departure in case you are on a flight with no in-flight entertainment or charging ports.
11. Bring Your Meds & Eye Drops
When packing your luggage please be sure to carry any prescription medication or over the counter drugs you may need on the flight with you and do not put them in your check luggage.
If you wear contacts do not forget to bring your eye drops on board, again planes can get really dry.
12. Upgrade (If You Can)
While coach, business, and first-class amenities vary greatly from one airline to the next, it’s safe to say that if you can advance through the cabin ranks, your body will thank you.
When traveling long-haul, you have no better friend on the planet than your frequent flier miles.
And you might find this hard to believe, but simply asking for a free upgrade works from time to time especially if you are dressed the part and very polite.
If the flight is relatively empty, your chances are slim. Even though seats in business class may also be empty, the airlines don’t usually upgrade people for no reason. If the flight is full, your chances are better. Airlines carefully plan how much they oversell flights, and their inventory departments are not upset if people need to be upgraded to accommodate everybody on the flight. Therefore, on a full flight, the airlines sometimes are forced to upgrade people so keep that in mind.
When traveling I always recommend wearing something showing your affiliation to an organization, schools, company, Military affiliation and etc.
It could be a fellow FAMU, Spelman, Duke alum, or fellow Military veteran checking you in.
I’ve received two free upgrades from the gate agents simply glancing at my bracelet and saying “Oh you’re an Omega?”
And I can’t stress enough on just being nice and pleasant even without wanting anything, it will always benefit you not in just travel but in life.