11 Travel Hacks You Need To Know To Survive a Long-Haul Flight

Tips for surviving a long flight

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Tips for surviving a long flight
Cheapism / DALL-E 3

Long-Haul Luxuries

While traveling offers incredible opportunities to become immersed in new cultures, cuisines, and experiences, getting to these destinations can be daunting and exhausting. This is especially true if you have to hop on a long-haul flight that spans several time zones and continents. The discomfort and fatigue associated with extended periods in the air can detract from the anticipation of the adventure ahead. 

But by having the right strategies, you can transform the traveling part of your journey into a more enjoyable experience. Here are 11 essential tips for surviving long-haul flights and making them as comfortable as possible.

Airplane seat

1. Choose Your Seat Wisely

The seat you choose on a flight can significantly impact your flying experience. If you prefer more legroom, consider booking an exit row seat. For those who like to walk around or need to use the bathroom frequently, an aisle seat may be the better option. Some airlines and sites offer detailed seat maps to help you decide which seat is best. 

Young beautiful girl in a white hoodie posing. Warm oversized hoodie with an hood. Stylish trendy hipster bow. Trying on clothes in a store. Youth subculture. Fashion clothing advertising
Iuliia Pilipeichenko/istockphoto

2. Dress Comfortably

While traveling, it's best to wear loose, comfortable clothing and layers that you can easily remove in case the temperature aboard is too warm or too cold. Compression socks can help reduce the risk of blood clots and swelling in the legs. Be sure to also choose shoes that are warm, comfortable, and easy to remove and put back on. 

Woman drinks water during her flight in an airplane

3. Stay Hydrated

Cabin air is notoriously dry, so it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before and during the flight. Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine, as they can dehydrate you further and mess with your sleep. Bringing a refillable water bottle can be a convenient way to ensure you stay hydrated throughout your travels. 

Healthy Snacks
Ivan Bajic/istockphoto

4. Pack Snacks

Airplane food may not always cater to everyone's tastes or dietary needs — in fact, it's usually pretty gross after being reheated. To avoid this predicament, pack your own snacks that you know you'll enjoy. Opt for healthy, non-perishable snacks like nuts, dried fruits, and granola bars to keep your energy levels stable, and be sure to stash them in an easily accessible spot in your carry-on. 

Related: 10 Things You Should Never Eat on an Airplane

Girl leaving airplane's passenger cabin
Dobrila Vignjevic/istockphoto

5. Move Around Every Now and Then

Sitting in one position for too long can lead to stiffness, back pain, and overall discomfort. To avoid this, consider getting up from your seat to take occasional walks down the aisle every hour or so. Light stretching and leg exercises while in your seat can also help improve circulation to avoid muscle cramps and blood clots. 

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Girl uses a neck pillow and eye mask to sleep while traveling on an airplane
Close-up on a traveler watching a movie in an airplane using his tablet

7. Bring Entertainment

To avoid hours of mind-numbing boredom, be sure to load your device with movies, music, audiobooks, or podcasts that you enjoy before boarding the plane. While many airlines offer in-flight entertainment, having your own selection ensures you have access to content you like in case the plane's system is outdated, malfunctioning, or lacks options that interest you. 

Cosmetics permitted in hand luggage

8. Stay Fresh

Refreshing yourself during the flight can make a significant difference in how you feel upon arrival. Consider packing a small toiletry kit with essentials such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, face wipes, lotion, and lip balm. Freshening up is also a great way to reset your body and mind, especially before landing.

Get Some Sleep
Mladen Zivkovic/istockphoto

9. Adjust Your Sleep Schedule Before Departure

To avoid jet lag, consider adjusting your bedtime and wake-up time a few days prior to your trip by going to bed earlier and waking up earlier if you're traveling east, or doing the opposite if you're heading west. This gradual shift can help acclimate your body to the new time zone ahead of time and make the transition smoother once you arrive.

Young Man Listening To Music

10. Bring Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Investing in a quality pair of noise-cancelling headphones can transform your in-flight experience. By drowning out the constant hum of the aircraft and noise from fellow passengers (ahem, crying babies), you can relax or sleep more easily. Plus, they enhance the sound quality of your music or movies to make your personal entertainment more enjoyable. Just remember to charge them fully beforehand. 

Handsome Businessman Sleeping in Plane

11. Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation

Since long flights can be stressful, it’s important to find ways to relax your mind and body. Consider downloading apps that guide you through deep breathing, meditation, or gentle stretching. Listening to calming music or engaging in relaxation exercises can also help reduce anxiety and make your flight experience more enjoyable.