How to survive a long-haul flight

At least the views are pretty on long flights!

At least the views are pretty on long flights!

Let me preface this post by saying that I know this is a first-world problem. If you’re getting on a long-haul flight, you’re probably going somewhere really exciting, but that doesn’t change the fact that these flights can be terrible if you aren’t prepared. I define a long-haul flight as a flight over eight hours, but some people classify it as anything over 6 hours or maybe even less. As I get ready to head back to Madrid, I decided to jot down some tips and tricks that have helped me survive long flights over the years. Here they are!

Before you fly

Sea bass on Turkish airlines. SEA BASS!

Sea bass on Turkish airlines. SEA BASS!

Sorry America, but if you’re getting ready to fly internationally, book your long-haul flight with a foreign airline. In my experience, foreign airlines have better customer service, better in-flight entertainment, and tastier food that they serve quite often. I’ve flown Turkish airlines twice (each flight was over 11 hours) and on each flight they fed us full meals at least twice.  Also, I was shocked to discover that you can go online before your flight and order a specific type of meal, which is great if you have allergies or dietary restrictions. Recently, I selected the seafood meal option and I received a main course of sea bass with roasted potatoes, a side salad with baby shrimp, bread and dessert. TAKE THAT DELTA! Airlines like Emirates, Qatar and Fiji Airways are also known for their incredible in-flight experience.

The first-class cabin experience on Emirates Airlines a.k.a. my travel goal in life

The first-class cabin experience on Emirates Airlines a.k.a. my travel goal in life

There are also tons of ways to prepare for a long haul flight before you actually board. There was a time when airlines could be trusted to provide some basic comforts but no more. Yes, I know I said that international airlines do it better, but you really shouldn’t depend on the airline for anything…just in case. In your carry on, bring a travel pillow, blanket, thick socks and an eye mask. I always feel like an asshole when I wear an eye mask but it’s worth it to be able to sleep on a flight when you know you’ll be fighting jet lag when you land. I’m also a big fan of sleeping pills on flights (I’m never a fan of drugs any other time!). I’m such a scaredy cat when it comes to sleeping pills so I only take over-the-counter pills and still only take half the suggested dosage. My favorite brand is the generic brand from Costo because the pills are about the size of a black-eyed pea and even though I only take half the pill, it still packs a punch.

Other items to pack in your carry on:

– a change of comfy, loose clothing or pajamas

– toothbrush and toothpaste

a large bottle of water (purchased after going through security)

– ear plugs or headphones

– kindle/ipad/books/entertainment

During the flight

Airplanes are extreme environments. The air is thinner and dryer, it’s usually very cold and the air pressure can make your hands and feet swell.  If you aren’t already dressed in comfortable clothes, change into a loose top or sweater and leggings. Leggings keep your legs compressed, helping to improve circulation and keep you warm. If you’re a lucky duck that can fall asleep easily on flights, try to set an alarm after six or seven hours to get up and walk the aisles and stretch. It’s also very important to stay hydrated, so chug that water bottle you bought or ask the stewardess for water every couple of hours.

My travel uniform: boots, stretchy pants, roomie top and infinity scarf

My long-haul flight uniform: boots, stretchy pants, roomie top and infinity scarf

One thing I’ve noticed about international flights is that they are PACKED with children. This seems to be a constant at anytime of the year, but is especially true over the holidays. If ear buds aren’t doing the trick, invest in a set of noise-cancelling headphones so you can drown out any wails from babies and toddlers. To avoid looking like you’ve just gone through hell, an hour before landing, splash your face with some water and apply a rich moisturizer and eye cream. My hair also gets super dry on flights so I like to put some coconut oil in my hair (especially on the ends) right before landing.

For more tips and products to help you survive your next long-haul flight, check out a post I wrote for A Luxury Travel Blog:

6 Products to help you survive a long haul flight

Happy travels!

Do you have your own secrets for surviving international flights? What’s the longest flight you’ve ever had? Let me know below!

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One Response

  1. Liz says:

    THAT CABIN EXISTS? New travel goal as well, holy crap!

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