Surviving Long Haul Flights by Travel Bloggers
I hate flying. There I said it. It never feels like it gets easier or any less stressful, it just plain sucks. Don’t get me wrong, I will fly anywhere with little hesitation if it meant another adventure across the globe, I just don’t like the transit part. A couple of hours on a plane are easy enough, we can all deal with some minor discomforts but what do you do on those long haul flights?
I selfishly asked my fellow travel bloggers for help and they came back with some great tips for surviving those long flights.
Surviving Long Haul Flights
Before The Flight
“Aim to keep things consistent each time (like you would before going to sleep for eight hours). I make sure to stop eating or drinking two hours before boarding so I can go to the toilet once before getting on the plane, then I don’t need to worry about getting up mid-flight. Before checking in, I make sure there are four things in my carry-on: A clean pair of socks, underwear, my hoodie, and hat-scarf. The socks go on once I’m seated on the plane, underwear is replaced before going through immigration, and my hoody and hat-scarf are my comfort clothes giving me the best chance of getting a good sleep.”
“Dress appropriately and comfortably. I love to wear sweatpants, a t-shirt and a sweatshirt jacket. Since the temperature on airplanes can change a lot depending on the AC, it might get cold (especially in the night), so bringing a jacket or a scarf is an absolute must and I prefer to dress in layers. If it’s a low-budget airline, I bring another sweater to use as a pillow in case those aren’t provided.”
“I always pack a face cloth for long-haul flights. Along with a really nice botanical face wash and often an essential oil such as lavender oil it is really refreshing to wash my face with the cloth and facial wash. The essential oil (just one drop) is perfect on the cloth, rolled up and used as an eye mask.”
“Take Advantage of the sleepy time. When the lights are off on the plane and everyone is asleep, take some time to get up and walk about. The aisles aren’t crowded and you can stretch your legs. A lot of the time you can grab some fruit, small snacks and water at the galley if you’re hungry. This is why I always enjoy the aisle seat, because I can get up whenever I please without disturbing people (plus I can stretch my legs).”
“Pack a toothbrush and toothpaste! Brushing my teeth always seems to trigger the routine of ending my day before sleeping and starting my day the next morning fresh. So when the flight messes up my timezones this simple routine of brushing my teeth helps. Plus, it’s nice to have fresh breath for the person who is sitting beside me!”
“Borrow the Blanket and Pillow– If you have a long layover between flights, borrow the pillow and blanket from your first flight. That way, you can actually take a power nap in the terminal before the next leg of your journey. Simply return the pillow and blanket on your second flight, and you’re all set.”
“Use ear plugs, they reduce the noise of the engine and enable you to sleep better. It doesn’t completely cancel out the noise but it certainly helps. I find it better than noise cancelling headphones as I find them quite bulky and they easily slip when you move your head. Ear plugs are discreet and fit comfortably inside your ears and I wouldn’t travel without them. They are also a cheap, effective way of noise cancellation and a great option compared to expensive noise cancelling headphone options currently available.”
-Sally from Our 3 Kids V the world
Have Kids? Check out this post on how to survive long haul flights with young kids.
Compression socks help with blood flow, reduce leg and foot swelling, as well as reduces the risk of blood clots in your legs. The socks are comfortable as they are made out of breathable, moisture wicking material and are knee length high. We’ve worn the socks for over 10 hour flights and our legs feel refreshed when departing the plane. Consider taking a pair on your next journey.
-Leanne from The Globetrotter GP
Want to learn about Malaria prevention while abroad? check out Leanne’s Blog Post
“Keep your blood flowing. You don’t need a yoga studio to stretch out, you can pump your cells even while sitting. Try stretching your feet at regular intervals throughout your journey. Turn your feet up, down, left, right and in circles from your ankles. Give your thighs a little light punch as well to get the juices moving. Take an aisle seat so you can walk up and down the narrow path to the bathroom area. I then do a few stretches there like bending my back to touch my toes, little marches on the spot and if no one is waiting for the toilet, a little upward dog for my back. Go before meals to miss the crowds!”
Callan from Singapore N Beyond
“Chewing on gum or candy will help you deal with build up in ear pressure, especially during take off and landing. Try not to fall asleep during those times either, as it can result in a lot of pressure to build in your head. While in the air, drinking water, chewing, or yawning will help alleviate things. These are all good ways to open up the Eustachian tubes. Of course you could also go with the classic “Valsalva maneuver” where you plug your nose and mouth, then blow out. Don’t do this too forcefully as it can cause damage to your ears.”
“When it comes to surviving long haul flights I always find it fun to get to know the person sat next to me. Aeroplanes are these unique, fascinating environments where all manner of different people get thrown together. You never know who you’ll find yourself talking to and it can be an interesting way to pass the time. It gets you in the mind set of talking and getting to know strangers/fellow travellers, an approach that will come in handy wherever you’re going.”
“Plan a huge list of blogging work that needs to be done. Time and time again I’ve found the best way to make it through a long haul flight is to stay busy. For travel bloggers a long haul flight is the perfect time to get stuck in the zone and complete your pending tasks.
Most flights still do not have Wi-Fi onboard; therefore, you want to make a huge list of your offline activities such as content writing and photo editing. Video editing is also a great activity, which requires many hours, but it will also drain your computer battery quick.”
“Remember to download films, TV series, Ebooks, and audiobooks on your laptop or mobile phones. You will never know if the airports where you will be connecting to have free accessible WiFi. I also recommend you to pack a big but super lightweight scarf, this can be used as your blanket. The best temporary remedy when sleeping on the airports and during your flight. Save some money by bringing some high energy foods with you that don’t take up much luggage space as well.”
-Mary from Move To Vietnam
Help the Jet Lag
“Don’t snack the whole way; instead, schedule meals in accordance with the time zone you are heading for. For example, when we travelled to the US recently we left the UK at 1pm but immediately we changed our watches to US time (8am) and had breakfast. We held on for lunch and when we arrived we were hungry and ready for dinner. I’ve used this trick a few times now and it never fails. My stomach is my body clock!”
Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake. I know it can be tempting to drink two big glasses of red wine on an international flight when it’s included with your meal… but it only dehydrates you further and can interrupt your already fragile sleep cycle. Same goes for caffeine – drinking coffee before trying to fall asleep is a recipe for failure. I try to say no to both, except for a cup of coffee at the end of the flight if I’m arriving at my destination in the morning. And if I do have a drink, I stick to one glass of red wine and then try to fall asleep. For every coffee or alcoholic beverage you have, make yourself have twice that amount of water — you’ll need it, as flights are so dehydrating.
Allison from Eternal Arrival
“Take the opportunity for a stopover. Often the cheaper long haul flights, or very long haul flights, require a transit. Take the opportunity to explore somewhere new and spend a few days in the transit city as a stopover. This is a fantastic opportunity to absorb a new culture and get a fresh stamp in your passport, as well as experience a more gradual adjustment to your destination timezone. Often airlines offer a stopover at no extra cost to the flights and all you need to pay for is the train/taxi/bus into the city and your hotel (just ensure you have the correct visa). The Middle East and South East Asia are often popular choices for a stopover. Our favourite has to be Bangkok with Thai Airways.”
-Jenny from TraveLynn Family
So there you have it, travel bloggers share their insights into how they survive those long haul flights. We may not all be able to afford that fancy first class seat but we sure as hell can make our time a little easier. It’s never easy to sit in a plane for hours, but I can tell you that it has always been worth it for me. Enjoy your travels!