How to Survive a Long Haul Flight!

The idea of a long international flight can be tough to swallow – even when a beautiful destination and an amazing adventure is what awaits you on the other side. And, unfortunately, long haul flights can be unavoidable depending on where you’re going – for example, from the U.S. to anywhere in Asia, or Australia to anywhere in Europe. Luckily there are a few sure fire ways to make the time go by faster and the flight as comfortable as possible:

1. Load up on your favorite snacks 

You’re guaranteed at least one or two meals (plus drinks) but – let’s face it – it’s airplane food. Unless you’re sitting in business or first class (in which case you really don’t need to be reading this post), you’re probably going to be craving something more palatable. And when you’re sitting for hours on end, every little treat makes a difference. You can always grab these at any of the airport stores, but if you have the time and the space in your hand luggage, buy the snacks before you head to the airport – that way you get exactly what you want and you don’t get ripped off by airport prices!

2. Bring your own headphones

Most airlines now provide complementary headphones on long haul flights, which is great if you’ve forgotten your own! But bringing your usual ones is always better. You’ll feel more comfortable with the buds you're used to, which is important when you…

3. Take advantage of the in-flight entertainment

Unless you’re on a super old plane or a flying with a discount airline, you’ll likely have an individual entertainment unit (read: a TV all to yourself!). And most airlines try to provide a range of entertainment options – usually movies, sometimes TV. JetBlue, for example, provides satellite television so it literally feels like watching TV at home. Take the time to veg and catch up on your programming. If you usually are pretty up-to-date on the latest movies and TV shows, you’ll probably run out of stuff to watch – which is why you should…

4. Preload your favorite TV shows (on your phone, iPad or laptop) and have a marathon

While most long-haul flights nowadays have in-flight wifi, you usually have to pay for it. Plus, these services don’t always let you stream videos fast enough to watch your favorite shows (Netflix and fly, anyone?). If you are or ever have been a college student – or anyone on a budget, for that matter – you probably have a handful of go-to streaming sites. Before you leave for the airport, pre-load episodes in your browser and they’ll be ready to watch when you’re settled on the plane. Worried that your battery won’t last? Check with your airline or on SeatGuru if your plane will have outlets to keep your battery charged throughout the flight.

5. Catch up on your reading

This one might seem obvious given that books have been the age-old go-to for in-flight entertainment but reading no longer refers only to books. Similar to how you can preload shows/movies on your laptop or tablet, you can preload webpages of interesting articles you’ve bookmarked!

6. Get sh!t done (aka be productive)

This might be checking work emails (save replies to your outbox and send them later), getting ahead on a homework assignment or prepping for an upcoming meeting/presentation. For me it’s usually writing blog posts or editing photos (I’m actually on the plane now as I write this). It might not be the most fun way to spend your flight – but you’re stuck sitting for numerous hours anyway, why not be productive? That way you have peace of mind and won’t spend any of your vacation worrying about sending that one last email before your out-of-office message goes up!

7. Get up, stretch, and walk around

This is especially important if you’re in a middle or window seat, which can feel restricting. About 6 hours in, you’ll probably have run through items 1-6 above. Even though it doesn’t seem like it would make that big of a difference, giving yourself a short ‘change in scenery’ can make a difference. Plus, getting up will help loosen up your leg muscles, boost your circulation, and help relieve stiffness.

8. Give yourself a mini spa treatment

You’d be amazed what a little freshening up can do for your mood and comfort. Most drugstores (e.g. CVS, Walgreens, Duane Reade, Rite Aid) sell travel-size facial or cleansing wipes, hand sanitizer, and lotion. Grab some and put them in your carry-on. When the stuffy cabin air starts to get to you, give yourself a refresher – the facial wipe will help cool your skin down and remove any oil/dirt you feel building up. The lotion will help keep your hands and face feeling smooth. And the hand sanitizer is just for good measure – because more than 100 passengers + 10 plus hours = disgusting lavatories!!

9. Don’t be afraid to ask for amenities

Need a blanket? Feeling thirsty? Want an eye mask? Most major airlines provide these things now but, if they don’t, don’t be afraid to ask. Flight attendants might not walk around the cabin as often (especially if it’s a red eye and they’re trying not to disturb people) so don’t hesitate to walk to the gallery (where they all congregate) and ask for what you need. Also, most international flights have complementary alcoholic beverages – treat yourself to a drink or two and enjoy (but don’t get sloppy)!

10. Get some zZzz's

When all else fails, try to sleep! This might seem like another obvious one but don’t forget to be strategic about your sleep schedule. Depending on which time zone you’re headed to, you actually might want to avoid sleep in order to pre-empt jetlag.