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How To Survive A Long-Haul Flight


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Joli Ables



Long-haul flights can be both exciting and daunting, especially when you have to endure hours of sitting in a cramped space. However, with the right preparation and a few travel tips, you can make your long-haul journey more bearable and even enjoyable. From choosing the right seat to finding ways to stay comfortable and entertained, this comprehensive guide will help you survive a long-haul flight with ease.


First and foremost, it’s essential to plan and prepare ahead of time. Research the airline and flight options to find the best fit for your needs. Look for flights with convenient layovers if you have the option, as it provides an opportunity to stretch your legs and break up the journey. Additionally, consider booking a seat with extra legroom or opting for a premium economy class for added comfort.


Now, let’s dive into the essential tips to help you survive the long hours in the air.


Choose the Right Seat

One of the most important aspects of surviving a long-haul flight is selecting the right seat. The seat you choose can greatly impact your comfort and overall experience during the journey. Here are some tips to help you make the best seat selection:

  • Aisle or Window: Decide whether you prefer an aisle seat or a window seat. The window seat allows you to lean against the wall for more support and offers a view, while the aisle seat provides easy access to the restroom and allows you to stretch your legs without disturbing fellow passengers.
  • Exit Rows: If legroom is a top priority, consider opting for an exit row seat. These seats usually offer more space for stretching your legs, but keep in mind that there may be restrictions, such as not being able to store personal items at your feet during takeoff and landing.
  • Avoid Proximity to Restrooms: While proximity to restrooms might seem convenient, it can also be noisy and potentially bothersome. If you’re a light sleeper or prefer a quieter environment, choose a seat away from the restrooms.
  • Avoid Bulkhead Seats: While bulkhead seats provide extra legroom due to no seats in front of them, they may also lack under-seat storage and restrict foot space due to the presence of a wall or partition. Consider these factors before choosing a bulkhead seat.
  • Check Seat Reviews: Before making your seat selection, check online seat reviews or use seat map websites to get insights from previous travelers. This can help you identify the best seats in terms of comfort, legroom, and proximity to amenities.

Remember, seat choices may vary depending on the airline and aircraft type. Be sure to check the seating arrangement when booking your flight and select the seat that best suits your preferences and needs.


Pack Wisely

Packing wisely for a long-haul flight can make a significant difference in your comfort and convenience during the journey. Here are some essential tips to help you pack smart:

  • Travel Essentials: Pack a small carry-on bag with all your travel essentials, including your passport, travel documents, medications, and any valuable items you want to keep close to you.
  • Comfort Items: Bring items that will enhance your comfort during the flight, such as a neck pillow, eye mask, earplugs, and a cozy blanket. These items can help you relax and get some much-needed rest during the flight.
  • In-Flight Entertainment: Consider bringing your own entertainment options, such as a tablet, e-reader, or portable gaming device. Load it up with your favorite movies, books, or games to keep yourself entertained throughout the flight.
  • Snacks and Water: Pack some light, non-perishable snacks to keep you energized during the flight. Opt for healthy options like nuts, granola bars, or dried fruit. Additionally, bring an empty water bottle to refill after passing through security to stay hydrated during the flight.
  • Change of Clothes: A change of clothes can come in handy during long-haul flights. Pack a fresh set of comfortable clothes, including clean underwear and socks, to change into halfway through the journey.
  • Electronic Gadgets: Don’t forget to pack your chargers and adapters for your electronic devices. You’ll want to keep your devices powered up and ready to use during the flight.
  • Toiletries: Bring travel-sized toiletries such as toothpaste, a toothbrush, face wipes, and a small bottle of moisturizer. These essentials will help you freshen up during the flight.

Remember to pack efficiently and keep your carry-on bag organized. By packing wisely, you’ll have everything you need readily available, ensuring a smooth and comfortable journey.


Dress Comfortably

Choosing the right clothing can greatly contribute to your comfort during a long-haul flight. Here are some tips for dressing comfortably:

  • Layer Up: Airplane cabins can be unpredictable in terms of temperature. Dress in layers, so you can easily add or remove clothing to stay comfortable throughout the flight.
  • Loose-Fitting Clothing: Opt for loose-fitting, breathable clothing made from natural fibers like cotton or linen. Avoid tight clothes or fabrics that restrict movement, as they can make you feel uncomfortable during the long journey.
  • Comfortable Shoes: Choose footwear that is comfortable and easy to slip on and off, as you may need to remove your shoes during security checks or during the flight to relax your feet. Avoid wearing shoes with heels or tight-fitting shoes that can restrict blood circulation.
  • Socks and Compression Sleeves: Wearing compression socks or sleeves can help improve circulation and reduce the risk of swelling in your feet and legs during a long flight.
  • Avoid Jewelry and Accessories: Minimize the amount of jewelry and accessories you wear, as they can become uncomfortable or cause inconvenience during security checks or when trying to rest.
  • Bring a Scarf or Wrap: Carry a lightweight scarf or wrap that can double as a blanket or extra layer if you get chilly during the flight.

Remember, the goal is to prioritize comfort when selecting your travel attire. Choose clothing that allows you to move freely, maintain a comfortable body temperature, and reduces the likelihood of discomfort during the long-haul journey.


Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated during a long-haul flight is crucial for your well-being and overall comfort. The cabin air on airplanes tends to be dry, which can lead to dehydration. Here are some tips to help you stay hydrated throughout your journey:

  • Drink Plenty of Water: Make it a point to drink water regularly throughout the flight. Bring an empty water bottle and ask the flight attendant to fill it up, or take advantage of the beverage service provided by the airline.
  • Avoid Alcohol and Caffeinated Drinks: While it may be tempting to indulge in alcoholic beverages or caffeinated drinks, such as coffee or tea, they can contribute to dehydration. It’s best to limit your consumption of these drinks during the flight.
  • Moisturize Your Skin: Apply a good quality moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated. Consider using a hydrating facial mist or a lip balm as well to prevent excessive dryness.
  • Avoid Excessive Salt and Sugary Foods: Consuming high amounts of salt and sugary foods can dehydrate your body. Opt for healthier snacks that have a high water content, such as fruits and vegetables.
  • Use a Hydrating Mist or Eye Drops: Carry a hydrating mist or eye drops to refresh your face and eyes during the flight. This can help combat the dryness caused by the cabin air.

Remember, staying hydrated not only helps you avoid discomfort but can also help reduce the symptoms of jet lag. By keeping your body hydrated, you will feel more refreshed and energized upon arrival at your destination.


Move and Stretch

Moving and stretching during a long-haul flight is essential to prevent stiffness, improve circulation, and reduce the risk of developing blood clots. Here are some tips to help you stay active and limber during the journey:

  • Walk Around: Take advantage of any opportunities to walk up and down the aisle of the plane. Aim to get up and move around at least once every hour to stretch your legs and improve blood circulation.
  • Seated Exercises: While seated, perform simple exercises to keep your muscles engaged and prevent stiffness. This can include ankle rolls, shoulder rolls, and neck stretches. Also, consider doing seated leg exercises by lifting your feet off the ground and contracting your leg muscles.
  • Use Compression Gear: Consider wearing compression socks or stockings during the flight. These can help improve circulation and reduce the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots.
  • Yoga and Stretching: If there is enough space, you can perform simple yoga poses or stretches in the galley or at the back of the plane. Stretching your body can help relieve tension, improve flexibility, and promote relaxation.

Remember, even small movements and stretches can make a significant difference in how your body feels during and after a long-haul flight. Incorporate these simple exercises into your routine to keep your body active and prevent muscle stiffness.


Entertainment Options

Long-haul flights can sometimes feel monotonous, so having a variety of entertainment options can help keep you engaged and entertained throughout the journey. Here are some ideas to keep yourself entertained:

  • Bring a Book or e-Reader: Pack a good book or load up your e-reader with a selection of interesting titles. Engaging in a captivating story can help pass the time and make the flight more enjoyable.
  • Download Movies or TV Shows: Use your tablet or smartphone to download movies or TV shows before the flight. Make sure to choose content that you find entertaining and can keep you engaged for an extended period.
  • Listen to Music or Podcasts: Create a playlist of your favorite songs or download podcasts on topics that interest you. Music and podcasts can help relax your mind and provide a personal form of entertainment.
  • Play Games: Bring a handheld gaming device or download games on your phone to keep yourself entertained. Puzzle games, card games, or strategy games can be enjoyable and help pass the time.
  • Watch In-Flight Entertainment: Most long-haul flights offer a range of movies, TV shows, and other entertainment options on the seatback screens. Explore the in-flight entertainment system and find something that captures your interest.

Remember to bring headphones or earphones to enjoy your entertainment without disturbing others. Additionally, ensure that your electronic devices are fully charged or bring a portable charger to keep them powered up throughout the flight.


By having a variety of entertainment options at your disposal, you can create a personalized entertainment experience to make the long-haul flight more engaging and enjoyable.


Sleep Strategies

Getting quality sleep during a long-haul flight can help you arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and ready to go. However, it can be challenging to sleep comfortably in a cramped airplane seat. Here are some sleep strategies to help you get some rest during the flight:

  • Choose the Right Seat: As mentioned earlier, selecting the right seat can make a significant difference in your comfort level. If sleep is a priority, consider opting for a window seat, which allows you to lean against the wall for support.
  • Use a Neck Pillow and Eye Mask: Invest in a good quality neck pillow and eye mask to block out light and provide support for your neck. These accessories can help you relax and get more comfortable, making it easier to fall asleep.
  • Adjust Your Seat Position: Experiment with different seat positions to find the most comfortable one for sleep. Recline your seat slightly and use a blanket or a jacket to create additional cushioning for your back and neck.
  • Use Relaxation Techniques: Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation to help calm your mind and promote sleep. Listening to calm music or soothing sounds can also help create a relaxing environment conducive to sleep.
  • Avoid Caffeine and Large Meals: Limit your caffeine intake before and during the flight as it can interfere with your sleep. Also, avoid consuming heavy or spicy meals that can cause discomfort and disrupt your sleep.
  • Consider Sleep aids: If you have trouble sleeping on planes, you can consult with your doctor about taking mild sleep aids or natural supplements to aid in sleep. However, it’s important to use them responsibly and according to the recommended dosage.

Remember, everyone’s sleeping preferences may vary, so it’s crucial to experiment with different strategies to find what works best for you. By incorporating these sleep strategies, you increase the likelihood of getting some rest and arriving at your destination feeling refreshed.


Time Management

Managing your time efficiently during a long-haul flight can help you make the most of your journey and arrive at your destination feeling well-prepared. Here are some time management tips to consider:

  • Set Your Watch to the Destination Time: Upon boarding the plane, set your watch to the local time of your destination. This will help you mentally adjust to the new time zone and plan your activities accordingly.
  • Plan Your Activities: Break down your flight time into segments and plan different activities for each segment. This could include watching a movie during the first few hours, working or reading during the middle of the flight, and resting or sleeping towards the end.
  • Stay Organized with a Travel Itinerary: Create a travel itinerary that includes important information such as connecting flights, layover durations, and arrival times. This will help you stay organized and ensure smooth transitions during your journey.
  • Stay Productive: If you have work or tasks that need to be accomplished during the flight, use the quiet and uninterrupted time to complete them. Dealing with emails, writing reports, or catching up on reading can be productive ways to make the most of your time in the air.
  • Adjust to the New Time Zone: If you’re traveling to a different time zone, try to adjust your sleep and meal times on the flight to align with the new time zone. This can help reduce the effects of jet lag and make your transition smoother upon arrival.
  • Utilize In-Flight Wi-Fi: If your flight offers Wi-Fi connectivity, take advantage of it to stay connected with family, friends, or work responsibilities. However, be mindful of the cost and set boundaries to avoid spending too much time online.

By managing your time effectively during the flight, you can ensure that you have a productive and enjoyable journey, making the most of the available hours in the air.


Handling Jet Lag

Dealing with jet lag is a common challenge when traveling long distances across multiple time zones. Jet lag can leave you feeling fatigued, disoriented, and impact your overall well-being. Here are some strategies to help you combat jet lag:

  • Adjust Your Sleep Schedule Before Departure: Gradually shift your sleep schedule a few days before your trip to better align with the destination’s time zone. Start adjusting your bedtime and wake-up time incrementally to help your body adapt to the new schedule.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after the flight to stay hydrated and combat the dehydrating effects of air travel.
  • Expose Yourself to Natural Light: Upon arrival at your destination, spend time outdoors and expose yourself to natural light. Natural light helps regulate your circadian rhythm and can aid in adjusting to the new time zone.
  • Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine: Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages and caffeinated drinks, as they can disrupt your sleep patterns and exacerbate the effects of jet lag.
  • Take Short Naps: While it may be tempting to take a long nap upon arrival, try to limit your napping to shorter durations and avoid napping too close to your regular bedtime. This will help regulate your sleep-wake cycle and adjust to the new time zone.
  • Stay Active: Engage in light exercise or take a walk to boost your energy levels and combat fatigue. Physical activity helps stimulate blood circulation and promotes alertness.
  • Consider Melatonin or Sleep Aids: If necessary, consult with your doctor about the use of melatonin or sleep aids to help regulate your sleep patterns and assist in adjusting to the new time zone. However, it’s essential to use them responsibly and according to the recommended dosage.

Remember, everyone’s response to jet lag can vary, so it may take a few days for your body to fully adjust to the new time zone. Be patient with yourself and allow your body the necessary time to adapt. By implementing these strategies, you can minimize the effects of jet lag and make your transition smoother.



Surviving a long-haul flight doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. With careful planning and these helpful travel tips, you can make your journey more comfortable, enjoyable, and productive. From choosing the right seat to managing your time effectively and combating jet lag, these strategies will help you make the most of your long-haul flight.


By selecting the right seat, packing wisely, and dressing comfortably, you can ensure physical comfort throughout the flight. Staying hydrated, moving and stretching regularly, and finding entertainment options will help keep you mentally and physically engaged during the journey. Implementing sleep strategies, managing your time efficiently, and handling jet lag effectively will contribute to a smoother transition and help you adjust to the new time zone.


Remember, each person’s preferences and needs may vary, so feel free to adapt these tips to suit your own travel style. Whether you’re traveling for business or leisure, applying these travel tips will make your long-haul flight a more pleasant and enjoyable experience.


Bon voyage and happy travels!