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How To Survive A Long-Haul Flight


by Ophelie Farnsworth



Long-haul flights can be daunting, especially when you’re faced with spending hours upon hours in a cramped airplane seat. However, with the right mindset and a few travel tips, you can not only survive but also make the most of your long-haul journey. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or it’s your first time on a long-haul flight, this article will provide you with valuable insights and strategies to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience.


Preparing for a long-haul flight begins before you even step foot on the plane. It involves careful planning and thoughtful decision-making to set yourself up for success. From booking the right seat and dressing comfortably to staying hydrated and managing jet lag, we’ll cover everything you need to know to make your long-haul flight a breeze.


In this article, we will delve into the various aspects of surviving a long-haul flight. We’ll discuss the importance of booking the right seat that suits your needs and preferences. We’ll also provide tips on how to dress comfortably for the journey, considering the fluctuating cabin temperatures and the extended duration of the flight.


Staying hydrated during a long-haul flight is essential for your well-being. We’ll explore ways to ensure you remain hydrated throughout the journey and discuss the best practices around eating and snacking while in the air. Additionally, we’ll explore entertainment options to keep you engaged and entertained during the flight.


Preparing for the Flight

Proper preparation is key to surviving a long-haul flight. Start by ensuring you have all the necessary travel documents, such as your passport and visa, depending on your destination. Check the requirements well in advance to avoid any last-minute surprises.


Next, consider packing essential items in your carry-on bag. This includes your medications, toiletries, a change of clothes, and any valuables you prefer to keep with you. It’s also a good idea to have a travel pillow, earplugs, and an eye mask for added comfort during the flight.


If possible, try to check-in online to save time at the airport. Additionally, arrive at the airport with plenty of time before your flight to avoid any unnecessary stress. This will give you a chance to relax and acclimate to the airport environment before boarding.


Lastly, consider downloading important travel apps on your smartphone. These can include flight tracking apps, travel guides, and language translation tools. These apps will come in handy and make your journey more convenient and enjoyable.


By preparing in advance, you’ll alleviate unnecessary stress and ensure a smooth start to your long-haul flight experience.


Booking the Right Seat

When it comes to surviving a long-haul flight, choosing the right seat can make all the difference. Consider your personal preferences and needs when selecting your seat.


If you value extra legroom, opt for an exit row or a bulkhead seat. These seats usually offer more space for you to stretch your legs. However, keep in mind that these seats may also have limited under-seat storage or no seatback pockets, so plan accordingly for your carry-on items.


If you’re a light sleeper or easily disturbed by noise, choosing a seat away from the galley or lavatories can help minimize disturbances. On the other hand, if you prefer easy access to the restroom or frequently get up during the flight, an aisle seat might be more suitable for you.


For those who enjoy the view, consider selecting a window seat. You’ll have the opportunity to gaze out at the clouds and the scenery below, which can add a sense of tranquility and make the flight more enjoyable.


If you’re traveling with a companion or prefer extra privacy, consider choosing seats in a row with a vacant middle seat. This can give you more personal space and the opportunity to spread out during the flight.


Keep in mind that seat availability can vary depending on the airline and the aircraft. It’s advisable to check the seating layout and availability when booking your flight. This information is typically provided on the airline’s website or on third-party booking platforms.


By selecting the right seat that aligns with your preferences and needs, you’ll significantly enhance your comfort and overall experience during the long-haul flight.


Dressing Comfortably

Choosing the right attire can greatly contribute to your comfort during a long-haul flight. Opt for loose-fitting, breathable clothing that allows for ease of movement. Avoid tight-fitting or restrictive garments that may cause discomfort during the journey.


Layering is key when it comes to dressing for long flights. Cabin temperatures can vary throughout the flight, so having layers allows you to adjust accordingly. A lightweight sweater or jacket is a good option to have on hand. You can easily remove or add layers as needed.


Comfortable footwear is essential for a long-haul flight. Opt for shoes that are slip-on or easy to take off, as you may need to remove them during security checks or to stretch your feet. Consider wearing socks as well to keep your feet cozy and to avoid walking barefoot on the airplane floor.


When it comes to accessories, choose minimal jewelry to avoid discomfort or possible loss. Avoid wearing belts with metal buckles that may trigger security alarms during the screening process. Instead, opt for a comfortable and adjustable belt.


Additionally, consider wearing compression socks to promote blood circulation and reduce the risk of swelling in your legs and feet. These socks can be especially beneficial during long periods of sitting.


Lastly, don’t forget to pack a lightweight and versatile scarf. It can serve multiple purposes, like keeping you warm, providing neck support, or even acting as a cover for your eyes to help block out light during rest periods.


Overall, dressing comfortably for a long-haul flight will make a significant difference in your overall well-being and enjoyment throughout the journey.


Staying Hydrated

Staying hydrated during a long-haul flight is crucial for your well-being. The dry cabin air can cause dehydration, leading to fatigue, headache, and dry skin. Follow these tips to stay hydrated throughout your journey.


First and foremost, bring a refillable water bottle with you. Once you pass through security, fill it up at a water fountain or ask a flight attendant to fill it for you. This way, you’ll have easy access to water throughout the flight and can sip on it regularly.


Avoid excessive intake of caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, as they can further dehydrate your body. Stick to water, herbal tea, or natural fruit juices to quench your thirst instead.


Consider using a hydrating mist or facial spray to keep your skin moisturized during the flight. You can also apply a hydrating lotion or lip balm to prevent dryness.


In-flight meals may not always be hydrating enough, so it’s a good idea to pack some hydrating snacks, such as sliced fruits, vegetables, or hydrating beverages like coconut water or electrolyte-rich drinks.


Additionally, you can use a nasal spray or saline solution to keep your nasal passages moisturized, as the dry air can cause discomfort and congestion.


Try to avoid using commercial skincare or makeup products during the flight, as they can further dehydrate your skin. Opt for minimal or natural skincare options instead.


Remember to also listen to your body and drink water when you feel thirsty. Don’t wait until you’re excessively thirsty, as this can be a sign of dehydration.


By staying hydrated throughout the flight, you’ll feel more energized and refreshed upon reaching your destination.


Eating and Snacking

Proper nutrition is essential during a long-haul flight to keep your energy levels up and your body functioning optimally. Here are some tips for eating and snacking while in the air:


Choose light and nutritious meals from the in-flight menu. Opt for dishes that are balanced, including lean protein, whole grains, and vegetables. Avoid heavy, greasy, or overly processed foods that can leave you feeling lethargic.


If you have dietary restrictions or specific food preferences, consider pre-ordering a special meal when you book your flight. This ensures that you’ll have a meal that suits your needs and allows you to have more control over what you consume.


Snacking is a great way to keep your energy levels stable throughout the flight. Pack some healthy snacks such as nuts, dried fruits, granola bars, or fresh fruits and vegetables. Having these nutritious options on hand will help you avoid the temptation of unhealthy snacks offered on the plane.


Avoid overindulging in sugary snacks or beverages as they can cause energy crashes and disrupt your sleep. Opt for water, herbal tea, or natural fruit juices instead.


Pay attention to portion sizes to avoid feeling uncomfortably full. In an environment where you may be prone to boredom or stress, it’s easy to mindlessly consume more food than you need. Practice mindful eating by listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.


If you have any specific dietary concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the airline in advance. They may be able to accommodate your needs or provide more information about the available food options.


Overall, choosing nutritious meals and snacks during your long-haul flight will help you feel nourished and maintain your energy levels throughout the journey.


Entertainment Options

Keeping yourself entertained during a long-haul flight is essential to pass the time and make the journey more enjoyable. Here are some entertainment options to consider:


1. Bring a good book or e-reader: Choose a captivating novel, an informative non-fiction book, or your favorite genre to immerse yourself in during the flight. Alternatively, bring an e-reader loaded with a variety of books to suit your mood and preferences.


2. Watch movies or TV shows: Most long-haul flights offer personal entertainment systems with a wide selection of movies and TV shows. Take advantage of this by watching new releases, classics, or your favorite series.


3. Listen to music or podcasts: Create a playlist of your favorite songs, albums, or podcasts to enjoy during the flight. Music can be a great way to relax or uplift your mood, while podcasts can be informative and entertaining.


4. Play games: Many airlines provide in-flight gaming options on their entertainment systems. Whether you prefer classic games like Sudoku or trivia, or you have a favorite mobile game on your device, gaming can be a fun way to pass the time.


5. Engage in creative activities: Bring a sketchbook or a coloring book and colored pencils to indulge in some artistic expression. These activities can be calming and meditative, helping you relax during the flight.


6. Engage with fellow travelers: Strike up a conversation with your seatmate or other passengers if you’re comfortable doing so. You never know what interesting stories and connections you might make.


7. Use technology: Stay connected by using your smartphone or tablet to browse the internet, catch up on emails, or connect with friends and family through messaging or video calls.


Remember to bring your own headphones for a more immersive experience. Noise-canceling headphones are especially useful for blocking out cabin noise and ensuring a more enjoyable entertainment experience.


By planning ahead and having a variety of entertainment options at your disposal, you’ll be able to stay engaged and entertained throughout your long-haul flight.


Sleeping Tips

Getting some quality sleep during a long-haul flight can make a significant difference in how you feel upon arrival. Follow these tips to help you get a restful sleep during your journey:


1. Bring a neck pillow and a blanket: These can provide extra comfort and support while you sleep. Opt for inflatable or memory foam neck pillows for maximum comfort. Airlines often provide blankets, but it’s always a good idea to bring your own for added warmth and comfort.


2. Wear comfortable sleepwear: Change into loose-fitting, comfortable clothes specifically designated for sleep. This can signal to your body that it’s time to relax and rest.


3. Use a sleep mask and earplugs: Block out any light or noise disturbances with a sleep mask and earplugs. This will create a more conducive environment for sleep.


4. Adjust your seat and position: Experiment with different seating positions and adjust your seat to find the most comfortable position for sleeping. Recline your seat slightly and use a pillow or cushion to support your lower back.


5. Avoid caffeine and stimulants: Avoid consuming caffeinated beverages or foods that may interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Opt for herbal tea or warm milk if you need something relaxing before bed.


6. Establish a sleep routine: Try to mimic your usual bedtime routine as closely as possible. This can include activities such as reading a book, listening to calming music, or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation.


7. Use sleep aids if necessary: If you have trouble falling asleep on planes, consider using natural sleep aids such as melatonin or herbal supplements. However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional beforehand to ensure they are safe for you to use.


Remember, everyone’s sleep preferences and needs are different. Experiment with these tips to find what works best for you and make adjustments as needed. Getting some restful sleep will help you arrive at your destination feeling more refreshed and rejuvenated.


Stretching and Moving Around

During a long-haul flight, it’s important to prioritize movement and stretching to avoid discomfort and promote blood circulation. Here are some tips to help you stay active during the journey:


1. Take regular walks: Get up from your seat and take short walks up and down the aisle whenever possible. This will help improve blood circulation and prevent muscle stiffness.


2. Stretch in your seat: Even when you’re seated, there are several stretches you can do to loosen up your muscles. Take a few minutes every hour to stretch your neck, shoulders, arms, and legs. Consider doing ankle rolls, shoulder shrugs, and neck rotations.


3. Do in-seat exercises: Engage in simple exercises that can be done while seated, such as leg lifts, foot pumps, and calf raises. These exercises help to stimulate blood flow and reduce muscle fatigue.


4. Use yoga and stretching techniques: Practice some basic yoga poses or stretches in the back of the plane or in the galley, if permitted. These can help release tension and re-energize your body.


5. Consider using aids for movement: Use an inflatable exercise ball or a small resistance band to perform additional exercises while in your seat. These aids can provide resistance and help activate different muscle groups.


6. Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help prevent dehydration and reduce the risk of muscle cramps or stiffness. Aim to drink water regularly throughout the flight.


Remember to be mindful of the other passengers and follow the instructions of the cabin crew. If you’re unsure about certain exercises or movements, it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before your flight.


By incorporating regular stretching, movement, and exercises into your travel routine, you’ll feel more comfortable and refreshed throughout the long-haul flight.


Managing Jet Lag

Jet lag can significantly impact your energy levels and overall well-being when traveling across different time zones. However, there are several strategies you can implement to minimize its effects:


1. Adjust your sleep schedule before the flight: Gradually shift your sleep and wake times a few days before your journey to align with your destination’s time zone. This will help your body adjust more easily to the new schedule.


2. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after the flight to combat dehydration, as it can exacerbate the symptoms of jet lag.


3. Adjust to the local time upon arrival: As soon as you reach your destination, adjust your activities, including eating and sleeping, to align with the local time. This helps reset your body’s internal clock.


4. Get exposure to natural light: Spend time outdoors in natural light, especially during the daylight hours at your destination. This helps regulate your body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that controls sleep and wake cycles.


5. Take short naps strategically: If you’re feeling excessively tired upon arrival, take short power naps of around 20-30 minutes during the day to help combat fatigue. Avoid napping for longer periods, as it can make it harder to adjust to the local time.


6. Limit caffeine and alcohol intake: Both caffeine and alcohol can disrupt your sleep patterns and worsen the symptoms of jet lag. It’s best to avoid or minimize their consumption during your travel and in the first few days at your destination.


7. Consider melatonin supplements: Consult with a healthcare professional before your trip about the use of melatonin supplements, as they can help regulate sleep patterns and alleviate symptoms of jet lag. It’s important to take them at the appropriate time recommended by a professional.


Remember, everyone’s experience with jet lag is different, and it may take a few days for your body to fully adjust. Be patient with yourself and give your body the time it needs to acclimate to the new time zone.


By implementing these strategies, you can minimize the impact of jet lag and enjoy your trip to its fullest potential.


Dealing with Discomfort

Long flights can often lead to discomfort, but there are several ways to alleviate and manage the common discomforts that may arise:


1. Stay hydrated: Dehydration can exacerbate discomfort, so make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the flight. Avoid excessive consumption of caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, as they can contribute to dehydration.


2. Maintain good posture: Sitting for extended periods can cause stiffness and discomfort. Be mindful of your posture and make an effort to sit up straight, supporting your lower back with a pillow or cushion.


3. Adjust your seat and use cushions: Experiment with different seat positions to find the most comfortable one for you. Utilize any available cushions or blankets to provide additional support and cushioning for your back and neck.


4. Use compression socks: Sitting for long periods can cause swelling, particularly in the legs and feet. Consider wearing compression socks to improve blood circulation and reduce discomfort and swelling.


5. Practice relaxation techniques: Deep breathing exercises, meditation, or listening to calming music can help relax your mind and body, reducing stress and discomfort during the flight.


6. Bring comfort items: Pack items that provide comfort and relaxation, such as a travel pillow, blanket, or noise-canceling headphones. These items can help create a more soothing environment and enhance your overall comfort.


7. Take breaks and stretch: Make it a point to get up and move around periodically. Take short walks up and down the aisle to relieve muscle tension and stiffness. Perform simple stretches or exercises in your seat to keep your muscles active.


8. Use over-the-counter remedies: Consider keeping over-the-counter pain relievers or medications for motion sickness on hand if you’re prone to discomfort or travel-related ailments. However, always consult with a healthcare professional before taking any medication.


Remember, discomfort during long flights is common, but by implementing these strategies, you can significantly reduce its impact and make your journey more enjoyable.


Arrival and Recovery Tips

Once you arrive at your destination after a long-haul flight, it’s important to take steps to recover and adjust to your new surroundings. Follow these tips to ease the transition and improve your overall well-being:


1. Stay active upon arrival: Engage in light exercise or go for a brisk walk to help combat jet lag and stimulate blood circulation. This will also help you feel more energized and awake.


2. Get natural sunlight: Spend time outdoors and expose yourself to natural light. Natural sunlight helps regulate your body’s internal clock and promotes a healthy sleep-wake cycle.


3. Stay hydrated and eat well: Continue to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and replenish your body. Choose nutrient-rich foods and prioritize a balanced diet to support your overall well-being.


4. Take short naps strategically: If you’re feeling excessively tired upon arrival, take short power naps of around 20-30 minutes to help combat fatigue. Set an alarm to avoid oversleeping and disrupting your sleep schedule.


5. Gradually adjust your sleep schedule: Give your body time to adapt to the new time zone by gradually adjusting your sleep schedule. Stick to regular bedtimes and wake-up times to help establish a consistent sleep routine.


6. Limit exposure to screens before bed: The blue light emitted by electronic devices can interfere with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Minimize screen time before bed to promote better sleep quality.


7. Practice relaxation techniques: Engage in activities that help you relax and unwind, such as taking a warm bath, practicing yoga or meditation, or listening to calming music. These techniques can promote relaxation and aid in your recovery process.


8. Give yourself time to adjust: Be patient with yourself as it may take a few days for your body to fully adjust to the new time zone. Avoid overwhelming yourself with activities and allow yourself time to rest and acclimate.


Remember to prioritize self-care and listen to your body’s needs during the recovery process. By taking these steps, you’ll be able to bounce back more quickly and fully enjoy your time at your destination.



A long-haul flight may seem intimidating, but with a little preparation and the right strategies, you can make the experience not only bearable but also enjoyable. By following the tips outlined in this article, you’ll be able to navigate through the challenges of a long-haul flight and arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and ready to explore.


From booking the right seat and dressing comfortably to staying hydrated, eating well, and engaging in various forms of entertainment, there are numerous ways to enhance your comfort and overall experience during the flight. Additionally, paying attention to sleep, movement, and jet lag management will contribute to your well-being and help you adjust to the new time zone more smoothly.


Remember that everyone’s experience is unique, so feel free to tailor these tips to suit your personal preferences and needs. Listen to your body, stay flexible, and find what works best for you.


Embrace the opportunity to relax, read those books you’ve been meaning to dive into, watch movies guilt-free, and catch up on some much-deserved sleep. Use the time in the air to disconnect from the world and focus on self-care.


Lastly, keep in mind that the journey itself is part of the adventure. Embrace the excitement of exploring new places, meeting new people, and creating unforgettable memories. With these travel tips, your long-haul flight will become a smooth and enjoyable part of your travel experience.