If you’ve ever had a flight that’s been more than five hours long, you know that time can feel as though it is standing still. You take a nap that seems like it’s been hours long, only to wake up and realize it’s been 25 minutes. Ugh!
Coming from someone who has been on a straight flight for 16 hours solo, a solid seven hour train ride, to transferring flights that have been over 22 hours in total, I’ve come up with a few simple go-to rules for making long haul travel a bit less strenuous on my body and my mind.
Next time you’re on a flight, remember some of these tips to make your journey a bit more enjoyable.
Read more: How to Create the Perfect Travel Itinerary
Respect People’s Space And Be Nice
If you’re going to be on a long flight, you more than likely won’t get a row to yourself and you’ll have a buddy, or two in your row for hours on end. I usually start off by saying hello and asking a simple question like, “How are you?” and if I have a window seat, I apologize in advance for any future bathroom trips I need to make. By breaking the ice, you’ll more than likely have that person crack a smile, or even laugh and accept the fact that they may get woken up in order for me to pee.
Be Nice To Flight Attendants…ALWAYS
This point ties in with the above one in a way. Flight attendants are there to make you feel at ease and do their job, so please, be nice to them. Out of a plane full of people, there are probably a few shitty personalities mixed in with everyone and like everyone else, sometimes flight attendants will have a bad day, we’re only human, right? So by being nice, you’ll make their job easier, which will make your long flight WAY more comfortable. Also, flight attendants have told me that they are definitely prone to helping nicer people much faster than some jerk who is being rude and obnoxious.
Shower Before Your Flight
This may seem like a no-brainer, but a lot of people don’t shower the day of their flight because they are thinking, “Well, I’m just going to sit on a plane and I don’t care.” Ok, but EVERYONE around you DOES care when they get a whiff of your scent ten hours into a flight. Just do everyone a favour, please shower before leaving your house for the airport.
Get Up, Walk, Stretch It Out
After being on a flight for hours on end, your legs, ankles and back will be sore and tense. By getting up and walking around the cabin, you’ll keep the blood flowing and risk getting dizzy, sore and not to mention, stop you from getting blood clots.
Wear Compression Stockings
As “old lady” as this seems, compression stockings have become my BFF on long haul flights. I have the full length stockings for both legs. They also help prevent those dreaded blood clots that I mentioned above. These blood clots form deep inside the legs, so they’re called “deep vein thromboses,” or DVT’s for short. When I went to Thailand last year, I didn’t think to wear them and let me tell you, my left leg and ankle swelled up SO much, that the swelling didn’t go away until after I had returned home. My ankle was so swollen from flying, not to mention the heat and humidity in Thailand didn’t help the situation, that I had to wear my one sandal on the last hole of the strap. It was so uncomfortable and my newly acquired club foot looked horrible! Wah!
Buy a travel pillow for your neck
I consider myself an expert on sleeping on public transportation of any kind, BUT I have had people comment on how the hell I manged to sleep in the position my head and neck was in during the time of my slumber. I’ve literally been called Gumby because of the way my neck somehow manages to distort in such a way. I don’t feel it at the time, but later when I wake up, I feel as though I’ve been clothes-lined by a linebacker. The travel pillow that looks like a half donut is honestly, the best thing to have while on a flight. It keeps your head from moving around like a bobblehead doll and will help from pain upon wakening. They cost about $20, so they wont break the bank. Best little travel investment.
Noise cancelling headphones
Crying babies and snoring passengers. Enough said!
Bring a sweater, or long sleeve shirt, even during summer flights
Planes are notorious for jacking the AC up on full blast, even during winter flights. Coming from someone who likes the cooler weather, I always wear a long sleeve shirt on a flight, or my trusty leather jacket. After sitting for hours on end, your blood flow isn’t what it would be on the ground, so pack a sweater, or a long sleeve shirt to stay cozy. You can layer it, so when you arrive at your destination, depending on the weather, you can remove it. Nothing is worse than sitting through a 12 hour flight while freezing your ass off. There’s a reason why on long haul flights they always provide those thin blankets.
Bring your own Thermos and teabags from home
Nobody wants to pay ridiculous airport prices for a tea before a flight, so if you have your favourite tea with you and an empty Thermos, a flight attendant will more than happily provide you with some boiling water. Drinking a warm cup of tea will also relax you during the flight, not to mention keep you warm and cozy.
Bring your own snacks
Again, airport prices for a pack of cashews is insane. I always, always, always make sure to hit up the bulk food store at home before flying to save money while on the road, or to munch on during a long haul flight. If you bring packaged granola bars, or protein bars, they make for a quick snack when you may not want to opt for junk such as chips or candy. When I was on a seven hour train ride in Norway, I made sure to have snacks such as protein bars, nuts, or even pretzels to tide me over until reaching my destination. Sometimes, you’ll have to bite the bullet and buy a $6 bottle of water on a Norwegian train, but whatever. *Sigh*
Whether it’s a book to read, a crossword, or games books, a deck of cards, a portable gaming device, or even a journal to write in, you’ll want to keep yourself busy during the time when you are unable to doze off. Chances are that reading or writing may even make you feel drowsy and help you fall asleep for a few hours.
Don’t get me wrong, I will dress semi-fashionably for a flight, but not uncomfortably. I will wear leggings and a big, comfy sweater and boots over sweatpants, I’ll even bring hard bottomed slippers in my carry on for a really long flight, but when I see women wearing high heels I’m just thinking, “Oh man, your poor legs and feet!” Nothing is worse than being uncomfortable for hours on end, but hey, to each their own. If you’re comfortable in sky high heels for 12 hours, than you do you, girlfriend!
Pack a toiletry bag to freshen up during the flight and before landing
After flying for hours on end, you may be feeling like a sack of trash, maybe even smell like one too? Freshening up during the flight, or before landing will make you feel human again and nothing feels better than being clean. I always pack a tiny travel toothbrush in my toiletry bag for flying, along with a tiny toothpaste and even a TSA approved sized bottle of mouthwash. If you brush your teeth after a meal on a flight, you’ll feel 100 times better. I promise. Some other things I bring on a flight in my toiletry bag include a small stick of deodorant, Cottenelle wipes, hand sanitizer and moisturizer and I love, love, love Evian H2O facial mist. You can purchase all of these products in TSA approved sizes.
Do you have any tips to share? How do you guys deal with a long haul flight? Let me know in the comments below. xo