Surviving a Long-Haul Flight

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If you’ve got big plans to go to that amazing destination that’s on your bucket list, chances are its going to require a long flight. Personally, I love long flights.  But for some, long flights are the absolute worst!  They don’t have to be though,  long flights can be really comfortable and a breeze to get through as long as your are prepared.

Here are a few tips to get you prepared for your long flight:

Wear Comfortable Clothes
Nobody wants to be stuck in restrictive clothing on a long haul flight.  So be sure to wear loose and comfortable clothes that you won’t mind being in for 10+ hours.   My go to outfit for travel is leggings, a long sleeve t-shirt, and a long cardigan.  It gets cold in the cabin so it’s important to dress in several loose layers so that you are as comfortable as possible during your flight.  

Make sure your footwear is loose and not too snug since your feet may swell at high altitudes.   Those hideous slide sandals everyone is wearing these days are perfect plane shoes and they definitely come in handy when going through security.

Oh yea… and wear compression socks to help with your blood circulation.  When purchasing your compression socks, be sure to get the right size because if they are too small, they can be painful to wear.  I’ve gotten the wrong size before and ended up with painful bruises on my legs. 

Reserve a Comfortable Seat
Mannnnnnnnnnnnn! I remember when I was flying back from Sydney two years ago, I picked the worst possible seat ever.  I misunderstood what I was seeing on the seating chart and selected the seats in the middle of the plane, so there were four people sitting with me.  I got an aisle seat, but the woman next to me ordered a beer every time the flight attendant offered beverage services.  Needless to say, I got up six times during our 15-hour flight to let her go to the bathroom.  I tried to switch seats with her but she refused.  The lesson I learned, pick a seat you can be comfortable in and not have to move around much.  I’ve gotten a window seat on just about every long-haul flight I’ve taken since then.

A few other seating tips:

  • If you want to avoid children, don’t sit at the front of the plane.  The front of the plane is typically provisioned for families with small children and infants on international flights.
  • If you feel you’ll want to move around a lot, be sure to get an aisle seat. 
  • For more leg room, opt to sit in an exit row.  Be sure that you understand the responsibility that comes along with being seated in an exit row before you select your seat.

Prepare for Sleep
If you’re on a long haul flight, most likely you will be on a plane for half a day or more.   For this reason alone, you’ll want to make sure you are as comfortable as possible.  Be sure to pack a light blanket (I’m scared to use the blankets provided on planes), ear plugs, an eye mask and make sure you invest in a really good neck pillow. 

You may also want to consider buying some form of a sleeping aid in case you find yourself having trouble sleeping.  My go to is Zzzquil, they have a medicated version, as well as, an all-natural vegan supplement. 

Bring Your Own Snacks
You’re guaranteed to get a meal on a long-haul flight.  However, you may not get food when you really want it.  On my most recent flight, I had pasta for breakfast and hash browns w/ tofu scramble for dinner.   You may find yourself attempting to sooth the pains of hunger and silence the loud growls of your stomach.  I always try to pack a few snacks for the flight just in case I find myself getting hungry while waiting for the food trolley to come down the aisle.   When packing snacks, opt for foods that can easily fit in your carry-on luggage and can be reached easily like cereal bars, trail mix, or granola.

Stay Hydrated
The air in the cabin is very dry and there is a high chance that you may become dehydrated during your flight.  It may be a good idea to bring an empty water bottle on the plane with you so that you can fill up when the food and beverage trolley comes around.  This way, you can stay hydrated in between food breaks.  You should also make sure that your skin is hydrated as well, so be sure to bring some form of moisturizer with you.  Avoid using sprays like rose water and hydration sprays as the cabin air mixed with the sprays makes the skin even drier.

Charge Up
Make sure all of your electronic devices are charged up.  While many airlines offer outlets to plug up electronics, it’s been my experience that the outlets don’t provide the best power.  The last time I plugged my phone up to a USB port on a plane, my phone was at 26%. Cut to a few hours later, my phone was still on 26%.   You don’t want to find yourself bored on the flight because you forgot to charge up your iPad.

Select a Good Airline
This probably should have been the first tip.  There is nothing worse than an uncomfortable international flight.  So, be sure to research airlines before booking your ticket.  The cheapest airline may not always be the right choice; depending on your needs.  I selected Ethiopia Airlines for my flight to South Africa and I quickly regretted my decision after boarding.  

While there were awesome food choices, there was no Wi-Fi, the legroom in each row was less than any other airline had flown before, and the seats were old and raggedy.

The mistake I made was going with the airline that had the cheapest rate, without researching the airline.  Lesson learned.

By following these guidelines, you are sure to have a comfortable experience during your long haul flight.    Have you taken a long flight before?  How did you survive?




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