How to survive long haul flights

You're all packed, ready to go off on your next adventure, your long awaited holiday. You get to the airport, say your goodbyes, grab some snacks and a cheeky magazine, board the plane....and then face 12+ in a confined space, with hundreds of strangers, hurtling across the sky. 

The thing about long haul is no matter how excited you are for the destination, the journey itself is uncomfortable at most, and downright boring at least. 

Without the opportunity to buy you all business class seats, or have the advanced technology to send you at the speed of light, here are our best tips to survive your long haul flights in a little more comfort and style. 

Pick your favourite seats well in advance

Seat selection is crucial when flying economy. There will often be a window of opportunity to select your seats before you fly, so check with your carrier and get snapping up the good spots – especially if you’re flying as a group! If you know you like to move around, nab some extra leg room, or get up to go to the bathroom a lot – go for the aisle. If you want some extra privacy and plan on sleeping loads, nestle up against a window. Try to stay away from the noisy, lit up areas of the galleys and bathrooms and if its within your means, check out the option to go for the extended leg room seats – they save your sore muscles and cramping calves.

Or you can always try…

Ask for the upgrade

So this hasn’t worked once...but a second option has countless times for solo travellers: If you ask for the upgrade and get declined, next ask if perhaps there is a seat that has a free seat available next to you. If you get lucky, you'll end up with the extra room to spread out. If you don’t ask, you don’t receive!

Pre-flight exercise/Post-flight stretch out

When you’re going to be sitting on your butt for upwards of 10+ hours you will want to have a good shake out before boarding. Try to fit a sweat session, run or even long walk before the flight to get your body moving before heading off to your next destination. When you arrive, you will undoubtedly feel a touch out of whack or jetlagged, the best thing to do is slow, gentle exercise, like a yoga or Pilates session, to help ease stiff muscles and reitronduce some movement into the body.

Check out this pre-flight stretch routine

Hydration is crucial

It’s the most preached flying advice, ever, but it's key to surviving this journey. You need to hydrate before you fly, while you fly, and after you fly. Try to boost up your hydration levels from around 2 days before so your body begins the flight in a fully hydrated state. Pack your own empty water bottle, so you can fill up post security and pre-boarding, then nicely ask the on board crew to fill up your bottle so you can keep those liquids up.

You’ve also probably heard its best to avoid alcohol and coffee in-flight as they are diuretic and dehydrate the body further. However, if you can’t resist (and we often can’t) try to ensure for every 1 non-H20 beverage you consume, you chase it up with 2 waters.

   Cover Image PC: Instagram/ @sarahekoenig

 Cover Image PC: Instagram/@sarahekoenig

Sound blocking headphones

If long-haul travel is a constant companion, you need to invest in some good quality, sound blocking headphones. From the inccessent whir of the plane, to the screaming baby six rows down, or the gentle snores from the guy next to you – planes are noisy and you will definitely want to block it out. Airplane headphones aren’t the best for high quality sound, so if you are watching a movie, or chilling out to your favourite tunes its best to plug in your own. You can thank us later. 

Ear plugs

Again, the noise thing. When it comes time to sleep, you want to create as relaxing environment as possible within the confines of your seat. Time to BYO ear plugs. They will help block out the noise around you and lead to a hopefully more peaceful nap.

Pack your own snacks

Airplane food is notoriously bad and is often packed out with preservatives and who knows what else. Plus, what happens when snack cravings kick in and the food trolley is no where in sight. Be prepared and pack your own snacks. Look for nourishing and nutritious snacks that will keep you satiated and hunger hormones balanced as you fly. Fatty nuts or some nut butter, fresh fruit or chopped veggies, protein bars or bliss balls all make for great and easy snacks to pre-pack into your carry-on!

Supplements

How many times have you arrived on holiday only to be knocked out by a cold. Planes can be filled with extra germs and your best bet is to boost your own natural guards with some extra supplements. Activated charcoal tablets can work wonders for bloated belly’s which puff up due to the high altitude changes. Probiotics are perfect to protect against bacteria and viruses. Plus keeping loaded up on immunity supplements such as Vitamin C, Zinc, Olive Leaf Extract will keep the lurgy at bay. 

Melatonin

If you need to get some sleep en-route and don't want to knock yourself out with sleeping tablets, you may want to consider Melatonin. Completely natural and non-addictive, melatonin is a hormonal supplement that already naturally occurs in the body, so taking it can trigger your sleeping patterns. Generally, it works best if you take it over a longer duration of time, such as the 3 day lead up to your flight, as it will begin to balance your circadian rhythms and can also assist with jet lag.

Move

During the flight it is important to move around the cabin, taking a few laps up and down the aisles to the toilets, do a few in-seat stretches and try to get some activity through your body. Not only does this help to loosen out stiff muscles, but it is crucial to stimulating your bodies circulatory systems, to send fresh, oxygenated blood around the body, reduce the stagnation of your lymph fluid draining to the lower limbs and lower the risk of blood clots and DVT.

Swap your in-flight entertainment

Arguably the best part about flying is having the forced time to chill out and watch all the movies. Try to swap between mediums though so as to give your eyes a break from the lights of the screen and move between movies and a great book or magazine.

Neck Pillows

Game. Changer. One of these will literally take you from trying to figure out how to rest your head against your hand, which hurts your elbow on the arm rest, while trying to avoid being any closer to that stranger next to you – to being able to get some extra shut eye from the comfort of neck support. Much like your pillows at home, you need to test out a few at the shops beforehand so you know what firmness you like, because the only thing worse than not having a neck pillow, is having a neck pillow which you hate and you end up lugging around not using.

Pack your beauty kit

To feel your best, pack a kit of all your favourite, nourishing and moisturising beauty products. The lack of fresh air up in the sky is ultra drying, so you want to replenish your skin and pack it with moisture to arrive feeling more fresh than fried. Essential oil water sprays are great for refreshing tired skin, fatty acid oils are perfect for a protective layer, your favourite eye cream to reduce the puffiness and of course, a juicy lip balm! Some hand cream also goes a long way to help you feel less wrinkled.

If you do wear makeup, bring along some wipes to fly with a clear face – you don’t want that to be sitting on your skin the whole way…it’s a recipe for congestion! And then pack your essentials to reapply before landing. Plus the wipes double as a way to have a mini-wash halfway through!

Check out our favourite beauty essentials for flying

Comfortable Clothes

This is a time for comfort. If you want to wear something nice to/from the airport [handy hack if you want to try and sweettalk your way to an upgrade] then make sure you pack all your comfies into your carry on. Athleisure and soft tracksuits are made for flying! You don’t want to be wearing anything that constricts your abdomen –bloating is a byproduct of flying due to the changes in air pressure– digs, rubs or itches up in the air, so have your leggings, comfy sweats and baggy layers aplenty!

Essential extras in case of emergency

There is absolutely nothing worse than arriving at your destination, only to find your baggage has not. To keep calm in case of emergency, pack some extra essentials that could tide you over a day or two until you can either get your baggage back, or have time to get to the shops for supplies. Keep it minimal, some extra underwear, one change of clothes and any medications/supplements you may need.

Do you have any other handy long haul travel tips? Let us know in the comments below or on our social channels!