Top Tips for Long Flights

Top tips for staying comfortable and making a long flight *FLY* by ;)


The Traveling Shopaholic

6/19/20237 min read

Traveling can be draining. Those long flights can be especially tiring. I remember feeling (and looking) like a zombie stepping off of my 16 hour flight to Dubai and can I make this better?! It's important to set yourself up for success on those long haul flights to ensure you arrive ready to explore. Here are some top tips from followers to stay comfortable and healthy on those lengthy flights!

1) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

  • This is step one and arguably the most important step to staying healthy and comfortable. Airplanes have lower humidity (most resources say less than 20%) and the human body is estimated to lose around 1.5-2L of water on a 10 hour flight. It is crucial to drink plenty of water on these long flights. Aim for at least 8 oz per hour. This also means avoiding too much alcohol and caffeine (boo...but both are dehydrating). Bring your own water bottle (my favorite- read my review here) and always take the water that the kind flight attendants offer when they come around! If you're not a plain water drinker, you could also try these popular electrolyte packets.

2) Find a Neck Pillow that works for you

  • Nothing worse than that dreaded head bob to wake you up in a jolt after you've finally managed to fall asleep! A quality and comfortable neck pillow can make all of the difference if you're trying to catch a few zzzzz's on a long flight. It took some trial and error for me, but I found my favorite neck pillow.

  • Followers of the Facebook group also rave about this version.

3) Wear Compression Socks

  • I (and most of my healthcare colleagues) wear compression socks daily on the job. They can be very helpful for travel as well (comfort, reduce swelling, help prevent blood clots etc. This article explains the science and reasoning behind compression socks. I don’t remember a flight over 3 hours that I haven’t worn these babies! I have tried several, I like Bombas and this brand best. (Note: Depending on age, medical conditions etc, it may be beneficial to seek a professional fitting for the socks. Always talk to your medical provider for guidance)

4) Wear a Comfortable Eye Mask

  • Along with a neck pillow, I have found that a comfortable and quality eye mask can make all the difference when trying to sleep on long flights. The key is to block out all of the light but not have it place too much pressure on the eyes. I have tried many! This is my go to eye mask.

5) Wear Comfortable Clothing, Dress in Layers

  • Does anyone else have their "plane outfit"? You know...the items you wear on almost every flight? I definitely do. To me, comfort is key on these long flights, but it's also easy to look put together while still being cozy if that's your jam. I tend to wear a pair of black leggings (they add a little bit of compression too!), a longer, breathable t-shirt, zip up hoodie and my go to multi-use scarf that I've had for YEARS and is one of my absolute favorite travel items. Recently I have added my Scottevest vest over the top as an added layer but also to keep important items close in all of the pockets (read my review of my favorite vest here)

6) Use Noise Cancelling Headphones

  • Planes are LOUD...whether it's the noise of the engine or that bebe behind you that continues to scream, there's rarely silence on these planes :) Noise cancelling headphones are KEY! There are so many amazing options out there. Here is a rundown of some favorites.

7) Download movies/podcasts etc

  • I have an ongoing list of shows, movies, podcasts and books to watch/listen to...what better time to disconnect from the world and dive in?! Make sure you download a variety of materials before you head to the airport and then you'll have options! Most of these airplanes have extensive entertainment systems built into the seats now, but I have been unlucky enough to be on a couple of flights where that system wasn't working. This is something I look forward to. I have been known to binge an entire season of a show on one long haul flight haha! There are phone holders designed to hold your phone up while you watch a program, but there is also this free hack that works as well!

8) Portable Charger-Never Leave Home Without It

  • Piggy backing off of the above issue...there have been occasions that i've been on a plane where the seat power source doesn't work. How will I watch/listen to all of those programs I downloaded without my phone dying? Fear not...this wasn't an issue, because I had my favorite portable charger along (my full review here). Just make sure you've charged up the charger before your flight'll be useless!

9) Try a Foot sling

  • This is an item I haven't personally used, but people seem to go nuts for this foot sling that hangs over the tray table and provides an elevated space to rest your feet. It seems like this works best for shorter individuals, which is why I haven't tested it yet. Reviewers say it was easy to install/use, folds up and packs neatly without adding too much weight or bulk. Fair warning...some airlines/flights don't allow these, so it's best to check ahead of time.

10) Stay Fresh

I hate that gross feeling after a long flight. You're tired, your breath stinks, you're probably dehydrated (or not, because you read #1!). I have started using these tools to combat that gross feeling you have after landing.

  • Before I even board the plane, I do some sort of skincare (even a rinse with cold water and applying moisturizer can help!)

  • As a healthcare provider (and therefore, germaphobe), I wipe down my seat, tray table, belt buckle, arm rests etc etc with one of these sanitizing wipes. I also constantly use hand sanitizer to stay healthy!

  • I always brush my teeth after I eat the plane meal or snack and just prior to when I'll attempt to sleep (these are great for quick on the go use. Click here to read more about recommended dental products for travel).

  • I always take out my contacts and switch to glasses (I keep my hard case in one of my pockets so I avoid crushing them)

  • I also use one of these wipes just to freshen up when I land.

  • Some readers swear by sheet masks and a facial mist to wake up and rehydrate the skin as well.

11) Sleep As Much As You Can

  • Seems obvious, but it can be quite the challenge! Along with the tools listed above (eye mask, neck pillow, noise cancelling headphones etc...) some people elect to take a sleep aid supplement or medication. Sometimes this includes a prescription medication like Ambien or over the counter medications like Tylenol/ibuprofen PM, Unisom, Benadryl or a supplement like melatonin. ALWAYS discuss supplements or medications with your medical provider before you take anything.

12) Bring Your Own Snacks

  • I have semi unique dietary preference (plant based/vegan), so there aren't always snacks/foods that work for me on the go! Even if you don't have any dietary preferences/needs, sometimes that airport/plane food isn't super tasty or maybe it's not enough to keep you full. I always have a little stash of snacks for moments where I need just a little something extra. Things like nut mixes, trail mix, fruit leathers, dried fruit or protein bars are my go to snacks!

13) Stretch and Move

  • Avoid cramps and restlessness by moving around a bit. Performing "ABC's" with your feet can help get the blood moving and prevent blood clots as well as getting up to move around the cabin every so often. While seated, there are some other helpful stretches that you can perform to stay limber and relaxed.

14) Practice relaxation techniques/meditate

  • Apps like Calm and Headspace can help mellow you out in preparation for sleeping on a plane or just to pass the time and relax. These techniques could be especially helpful for nervous or anxious flyers. There are also several airlines that are including meditation practices in their in flight entertainment console (Delta, British Airways and Jetblue are a few examples!) Read about the benefits of meditation while traveling here.

15) Pick the Right Seat

  • One day, I would LOVE to experience a first class long haul flight....if only we could all be so lucky to have those lux lay flat seats and amenity kits (*dream bubble pops up above my head*) Alas, for those of us that are back in Economy, try to research the type of plane you'll be on and check out websites like Seat Guru to figure out what might be the best seat option in your section. Aside from that, exit row seats offer extended leg room (this is my go to if available as I'm almost 6ft tall!) as do bulkhead seats. However, you can't typically keep your bags in front of you in bulkhead and depending on the section/plane, you may also be faced with a baby bassinet or near a bathroom (read: light, lots of activity and occasional odors...). Then, are you an aisle type or window person to use as a lean to? Lastly....if you do find yourself in the dreaded middle seat, refer to the above tools to help you stay comfortable (and sane).

16) Have an "Airplane Kit" in Your Seat

  • One of my favorite little tips/hacks for these long flights is to have my plane kit by my side from the time I depart until I land! So convenient. Read about what I keep in my kit HERE.

There you have it! Hoping you have found some useful and practical tips to keep you comfortable and relaxed on your next long haul flight.

Bon Voyage!

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