21 Ways to Survive a Long Haul Flight
Walking along the beach in Bali and gazing out over the expansive water was enough to make us dread our upcoming flight the next day.
A flight that would begin our 27 hour journey back to Philadelphia.
Flying home for the holidays sounded like a great idea – until it really sunk in that we would be in transit for longer then it takes most people to plan their entire trip.
Because this was not the first time, nor the last, that Trav and I would be embarking on such a long journey, we decided to make a list of all the things we do to make a 27 hour flight more
Hopefully, these tips help ease your anxiety the next time you’re preparing for a long haul flight!
Pre Flight Tips:
1. Book a Business or First Class Ticket.
If you have a enough miles or enough money to book a business or first class ticket, then this is the time to use it! Having a more comfortable seat will ensure you have a better sleep.
2. Book a flight for late afternoon or early evening.
We find this really helpful for getting lots of sleep on a flight and feeling more rested when we arrive at our destination.
3. Have a regular, laid back day the day of your flight. (If possible)
The first leg of our itinerary was a three hour flight to Taiwan with an hour and a half layover. We did not want to sleep on that first flight.
Therefore, the day we left Bali (our flight was at 5pm), we went to the beach, had lunch and sat by the pool. We felt really relaxed by the time we had to leave for the airport.
This way we were not that tired for our first leg of the trip.
4. Have your own entertainment queued up.
You never know what planes are equipped with, or even if the entertainment consoles are working. It is a good idea to have movies, tv shows and books downloaded on your devices before you leave for the airport!
5. Have an eye mask and ear plugs accessible in your carry on luggage.
Even if the airline provides an eye mask – bring your own.
6. Have a good pair of headphones.
The complimentary headphones are uncomfortable and don’t block any noise.
Trav’s Note: I love my Xiomi Pistons because they are 90% as good as super expensive earbuds at a tenth the price.
7. Make sure all of your items are easily accessible in your carry on.
We usually grab all of our necessary items and put them in the seat pocket or on the top of our small carry on bag under the seat.
8. Have a change of clothes.
On a long flight, it is nice to change into comfortable sweats or even pajamas. Then you can change back into your travel clothes once you arrive.
After traveling for such a long time, changing your clothes makes you feel a lot better equipped for the next part of your journey.
9. Have a toothbrush.
And toothpaste! For obvious reasons.
10. Have snacks.
27 hours with only airplane food to look forward to? No thank you!
Have some snacks or even a sandwich that can help tide you over until you land. A bottle of water is also a good idea.
During the Flight
11. Always scope out extra seats and ask to move if they are available.
Trav is obsessed with checking out how many people are boarding and what seats might become available and always asks the attendants if it is a full flight.
As silly as this may seem, it has worked to our advantage when we switch to a whole row all to ourselves.
12. Have reading material.
Movies are great for passing the time. But if you are ready to sleep, reading is a better way to calm your mind and prepare for a better, longer sleep.
13. Try to sleep at the normal time.
Our flight left Bali at 5pm and landed in Taipei three hours later and we did not sleep on that flight at all on purpose.
This way, we were ready to sleep longer on the 12 hour flight to San Francisco.
14. Take medicine.
A sleeping aid will ensure you fall asleep and stay asleep during the flight. Either Nyquil, Lunesta, melatonin will do the trick.
15. Don’t worry about waking up for meals.
Airplane food is terrible anyway – don’t bother. This is where those snacks come in handy!
Trav’s note: It’s not soooo bad, but it’s definitely not worth waking up for. Plus, you could ask for it later if you wanted.
16. DRINK WATER.
It is important to stay hydrated before, during, and after a flight. This will help you recover from jet lag after you land as well (here’s more tips to combat jet lag).
During a Layover
17. Have lounge access, if possible.
Having a quiet comfortable place to wait during a layover can enhance your airport experience and keep you calm and relaxed.
Also, the free food and booze doesn’t hurt either!
Trav’s Note: A lot of credit cards offer complimentary lounge access as a perk. If you’re interested in having us help you find the best travel credit card, fill out our free credit card consultation form.
18. Take advantage of airport amenities.
Airports are getting nicer and nicer each passing year. SFO has showers and Changi airport (Singapore) has a pool, botanical gardens, and even a complimentary movie theater.
19. DRINK WATER
Again, it is important to stay hydrated.
After Arriving at Your Destination
20. Stay awake until the normal bedtime at your destination.
This can prove quite difficult, but stay strong! If you can manage to stay up you will get over your jet lag much more quickly.
Fresh air, exercise and getting out of the house/hotel will keep you awake.
21. Have a reason to get up.
If you just can’t hack it and need to take a nap – then have a friend call or come to your house to make sure you wake up.
The more persistent the friend, the better (thanks Mike!).
If you are at the beginning of your trip, then plan a tour or meeting that forces you to wake up from your nap or even the next morning.
Hopefully our strategies can help improve any long trips you take in the future.
Do you have any secrets to enduring long haul flights? What was the best or worst flight you have ever had?
Further Reading (Posts Handpicked for You…By Us!)
None of that automatic “read more” stuff you’ll see everywhere else on the internet!
If you would like to hear more tips about our trips, you’ll love:
- Our Pre Travel Checklist- 24 Things to Do Before You Travel (with downloadable PDF)
- Pack Like a Pro: 22 Travel Essentials for Frequent Travelers