How to Survive Long Haul Flights

This past December I was on my longest flight yet – 10.5 hours. To some of you, I’m sure that’s nothing; however, to many of you, that can seem daunting!

Long haul flights might seem intimidating, but they should NEVER stop you from traveling! I promise it will not be as bad as you think, especially if you are prepared.


This long haul flight was actually a surprise to me. My original flight got canceled due to a strike by Icelandair employees, but they were kind enough to reroute us. This resulted in a much longer flight. I have to admit, I was a little worried when I first heard how long this flight was going to be. I was prepared for a flight that was about 4 hours shorter. It ended up being the best flight of my life.

Bring a pillow and possibly a small blanket

For me, some kind of a pillow is an absolute must. Even if you do not plan on sleeping during your flight, chances are your headrest isn’t going to be the most comfortable thing in the world. A pillow can make all of the difference when you are sitting for hours. I also find that a small blanket can be nice, especially if you are trying to get some rest during your flight.

Bring some of your own snacks

If you are on a long haul fight, chances are you are going to be served a meal and probably a snack or two. On the off chance that you are not crazy about the food selections on board, it is so nice to have a little food with you that you know you’ll enjoy! Being hungry on a flight can make you miserable.

Bring headphones and entertainment

Headphones are sometime supplied free of charge, but it is always nice to have your own pair with you. Most flights have in flight entertainment including  movies and tv shows, so it is nice to be able to take advantage of those with your headphones. Noise cancelling headphones are also a great option. If there is a certain show you are wanting to catch up on or a podcast you like, it might  not be a bad idea to download those to your phone before taking off!


Get up and move around

While bathrooms on planes are not the most pleasant to visit, I recommend getting up and walking at least a couple of times during your flight. This can help you blood circulation. Plus, it’s nice to get up and stretch when your stuck in a small seat for several hours.

Bring an eye mask

If you are looking to get some sleep, an eye mask can help tremendously. Even though the cabin lights will be off during a night flight, an eye mask can help to block out the light anyone around you who might be using their reading light.

Bring your charger or a battery pack

If you plan on using your phone for anything during the flight, it would be a good idea to have a way to charge it. A lot of planes have usb ports, so you can charge your phone that way. Another useful option is to bring a battery pack to give your phone enough power until you can make it to your destination.


Dress in layers

We all know that it can get cold (and hot) in planes. The best way to prepare for this is to dress in layers. You don’t want to be stuck in a tank top and be freezing for 10 hours. You also don’t want to be wearing a thick sweater on those not so chilly flights. This can help make you so much more comfortable!

Bring chapstick

Please bring chapstick! The air is quite dry inside of planes and this can lead to chapped lips in no time. I actually didn’t remember to bring any with me, but a company was actually giving some away in the train station on our way to the airport! I was so happy. This can prevent your lips from uncomfortable cracking.

Get a window seat

Window seats are the best if you plan on sleeping on your flight. It is so nice to be able to put your pillow up against the wall and lean on it. This also helps to ensure that you don’t end up falling asleep on the stranger sitting next to you!


So there you have it! These are the best tips I have learned from my long haul flight experiences. I thoroughly enjoyed my first long flight. I watched several movies, had pretty good food, and even took a nap! I hope these tips help you feel more prepared for your next far away flight destination!

Do you have any great flight tips to add? Let me know!



29 thoughts on “How to Survive Long Haul Flights

  1. All excellent advice! I prefer an aisle seat so I don’t need to disturb anyone when I get up for a stroll. Also, I’m tall and have long legs, so I can stretch them out into the aisle when I start feeling cramped. The only things I would add to your list are an absorbing book—mysteries are always good—and a supply of challenging puzzles. They make the time fly!

  2. On two recent long haul flights – one Air Canada, the other Air Transat – I was relying on the airline catering. Both said that there would be food for sale on board. What they did not say was that if you are sitting towards the back of the ‘plane (which means you bought a bargain ticket) the choice of food by the time the cart gets to you might well be very limited indeed. If indeed there is anything at all. The fact that the on board menu lists several attractive choices does not mean that the airline expects to have any left over by the end of the flight. In fact tight cost controls and “environmental” policies mean that there is every incentive for them to follow a minimum waste policy. For those in the back – tough luck. I suggest that when you get through security and you are walking through the terminal to the gate, pick up food to go from one of the restaurants/cafes on the way. Of course, if you are flying out at 6am, which means 5am boarding and 3am to check in, then the chances that anything at all will be open or well stocked are pretty slim too.

    • This is so true! I’ve heard of several people getting on early morning flights find that there are no restaurants or shops open. Thanks for the info about those airlines and how their on board catering actually works!

  3. Great tips. I’m kind of crazy when I do long distance flights. I always have a toothbrush with me and some face mist/lotion so I can feel refreshed when I get off the flight. Chapstick is also a must. One other thing I make sure to bring is a reusable water bottle so when the flight attendants come around, I ask them to fill it up instead of giving me those tiny throw away cups 🙂

  4. This is a great list! I never think to bring chapstick and I always end up regretting it! My one other suggestion would be water. They do not bring drinks around often enough!

  5. I have done several flights from LA to HK. Now that Netflix lets you download and play offline, spend some time the day before downloading a variety of stuff you might like to watch.
    I love reading, but after some time, I am just too tired and brain-numb to read.
    The chapstick is important. And a pillow. I was thinking about getting an inflatable camping pillow. I always get the window seat so I can lean against the wall and not be continually disturbed by people going back and forth down the aisle. All that said, I have never been very successful at sleeping on flights. I also like looking out the window.
    I always pack a hoodie. Sometimes flights are really cold.

    And my best advice, if you know that tomorrow you are getting on a long, long flight. Eat lightly for the day or so before that flight.

  6. Great points! The only one of these I’ve had issues with is the battery packs – some airlines I’ve flown with recently have heavily restricted carrying them in the cabin.

  7. Excellent advice. I always take chapstick and wipes, and lotion. Also, put a pair of slipper socks in your carryon, so you can take your shoes off. I usually put extra underwear (and my swimsuit if heading somewhere tropical) just incase checked luggage is lost. Great idea about the water bottle.
    Happy Travels everyone.

  8. Great tips! I’d also suggest making sure to download some content from Netflix or Hulu for offline viewing in case your flight doesn’t have WiFi

  9. 15 hour flight to Africa recently was not too bad because of my Bose noise-canceling headphones. I can’t imagine doing that flight while enduring that droning of the engines for all that time. People don’t realize how LOUD they are and what a drain on the nervous system that is. I don’t get nearly so jet-lagged as I used to when using the headphones. Also, having your own means you can enjoy music/videos/etc. immediately, not waiting for the attendants to hand them out. Plus, you have to wonder if those they hand out are really brand new! Other lifesavers on your list for me is having some of my own food. I refuse to eat rubbery chicken anymore!!!

  10. I also try to bring something with me to do, like knitting, writing, crocheting, doodling, journaling etc. Part of my struggle on long flights is I get bored so having something which can engage my mind is really helpful to pass the time. Of course a great show to binge on downloaded to my phone or iPad is a treat since I rarely get enough guilt-free time to this on the ground.

  11. I can’t get on a plane without some face moisturizer. During long haul flights I usually moisturize twice since it’s so dry.

    Audiobooks are my favorite form of long flight entertainment because it can get hard to focus after a while. I like to put on a good book and open up a small phone game for a few hours to give my eyes a break.

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