What Are the Best Tips for Surviving a Long-Haul Flight?

M.C. Huguelet

When it comes to long plane journeys, the familiar saying that getting there is half the fun often does not hold true. While a long-haul flight may not be most people’s idea of a good time, a few tips can make it easier to bear. First, travelers who wish to make time fly and also want to arrive at their destination feeling refreshed should make sleeping their main objective during their long-haul flight. To combat boredom when sleep is not possible, they should bring a range of activities with which they can distract themselves. Finally, travelers should take care to look after their health on a long-haul flight.

Because airplane food choices are limited, pack nuts or other healthy non-perishable snacks to tote along on the flight.
Because airplane food choices are limited, pack nuts or other healthy non-perishable snacks to tote along on the flight.

Most people know that catching up on sleep is one of the best ways to while away the hours on a long-haul flight, but nodding off can be difficult in the uncomfortable, noisy atmosphere of a plane. To increase the chances of becoming comfortable enough to sleep, travelers should try to select seats that offer ample leg room, such as those normally found in exit rows. Further, they should dress in comfortable clothing that is layered so it can be adjusted according to a plane’s temperature. Travel accessories like eye masks, noise-cancelling headphones, and neck pillows may also help a traveler get some shut-eye, but it should be noted that overstuffing one’s carry-on bag with unnecessary accessories can result in compromised leg room.

Traveling gifts may include noise-canceling earphones.
Traveling gifts may include noise-canceling earphones.

Even with the best intentions, some travelers may find that they are simply unable to sleep for much of a long-haul flight. Compounding this problem, they may discover that the in-flight entertainment offered on their flight is of little interest. Travelers should prepare for this possibility by keeping an assortment of distracting activities at their fingertips. They might, for instance, pack reading material, a book of puzzles, and a laptop that has been preloaded with several television shows or movies. Stocking carry-ons with a diverse assortment of distractions allows travelers to move on to a new activity if they begin to grow restless.

A neck pillow helps the traveler get some much-needed sleep when on a long-haul flight.
A neck pillow helps the traveler get some much-needed sleep when on a long-haul flight.

Lastly, during a long-haul flight, travelers should always take care to keep themselves healthy. The dry air found inside planes can quickly lead to dehydration. Consequently, travelers should make an effort to sip on non-caffeinated beverages throughout the duration of their flight. Long plane journeys can increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or blood clots which form deep within the legs. To minimize the risk of DVT, travelers may wish to wear compression stockings during their flight, and should promote circulation by intermittently walking around the cabin or moving the lower legs while seated.

An eye mask can make a long-haul flight better.
An eye mask can make a long-haul flight better.
Compression stockings can minimize the risk of deep vein thrombosis on long flights.
Compression stockings can minimize the risk of deep vein thrombosis on long flights.
Sitting in an exit row often offers more leg room, which can be useful on a long-haul flight.
Sitting in an exit row often offers more leg room, which can be useful on a long-haul flight.
Listening to music on an MP3 player can help plane flights go faster.
Listening to music on an MP3 player can help plane flights go faster.

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Discussion Comments

Wisedly33

I've heard deep vein thrombosis is one of the biggest concerns of a long-haul flight. Walking around the cabin definitely helps, and many airlines provide information brochures that include exercises travelers can do in their seats to help prevent DVT.

I've seen the brochures and information packets and the exercises include rotating your ankles, moving them up and down and from side to side, raising and lowering your legs, etc.

Compression socks might not be a bad idea, but I'd also like to have something warm for my feet. I think every time I've flown, my feet got *cold*!

I'm also told staying hydrated on a long haul flight is helpful, too, since the cabin air is recirculated.

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