Top Tips for Surviving Long Haul Flights

June 26, 2017
Sonja Bolger
6 min read

The longest flight in the world right now is 17 hours and 30 minutes between Doha, Qatar, and Auckland, New Zealand. But with recent announcements of a possible flight route between Los Angeles and Singapore that would stretch to 18 hours, it seems like long haul flights are only going to become more common, and, well, longer!

Even a much shorter flight than these two can leave you feeling off, affecting the beginning of your vacation and making you feel worse at the end. If you’re taking a wellness vacation or going on a yoga retreat, why get yourself off to a rocky start with a bad in-flight experience? So what can you do to improve your chances of keeping that vacation buzz and staying well on a long haul flight?

So what can you do to improve your chances of keeping that vacation buzz and staying well on a long haul flight?

Tips for Surviving Long Haul Flights

Before the flight

Check the airline reviews

If there are multiple carriers flying long haul to your destination, and price either isn’t an issue or is comparable, then check out the reviews of the airline. What entertainment and meal options do they offer? Do they have any extra perks that will improve your flying experience?

Choose your seat

When you’re booking or checking in, choose your seat for the flight carefully. The back of the plane can be noisier and colder, and although we know many parents try their best, you may not want to sit too close to the front of the plane as this is often where children are seated.

Choosing the window seat on a long haul flight means you can lean again the wall and possibly sleep more comfortably, however it can be a pain if you want to get up and move around more, which we also recommend! Choosing the aisle seat of the middle section could mean you’re less disturbed by other passengers during the flight, as they can always exit at the other end of the row.


Upgrading on a long haul flight can cost a significant amount of money, but sometimes the airline offers a special deal closer to the flight date if not enough people have booked business or first class. It can be worth calling the airline to ask ahead of the flight, as you may have more chance than asking at the check-in desk. It’s difficult to obtain a free upgrade, but you may be lucky enough to secure a discount!

Wear comfortable clothes

If you’re wondering what to wear on a long haul flight, then loose fitting clothing is usually best. That doesn’t mean you need to wear leggings, you can also consider wide leg pants or sweatpants. If you must wear jeans, take a look at leggings so they don’t dig in at the waistline. Bring layers in case the plane is cold.

Consider wearing flight socks, especially if it’s a really long flight. These compression socks can help to prevent deep vein thrombosis and they keep your feet warm if you slip off your shoes to help you sleep. Wear shoes that you can easily take on and off as you need to.

A large scarf of pashmina can work well as a wrap, blanket, or extra pillow.

Consider taking a good pillow for your neck, not just the cheapest you can find!

Tips for Surviving Long Haul Flights

Be prepared to sleep

Some airlines offer pack with items like eye masks and socks to help you sleep, but it’s a good idea to bring your own just in case. If you fly long haul enough then you can collect them anyway! Consider noise canceling headphones to cut out the sounds of the plane and chatter. Have somewhere to stash your jewelry, like a small makeup bag.

Don’t pack too much carry on luggage

Most airlines allow two carry-on items for long haul flights. Don’t overpack and feel like you need to bring an extra suitcase on board if your things will fit in your luggage. Bring a soft bag big enough to hold everything you want to have at hand but that fit comfortably under the seat in front while leaving room for your feet.

But do pack essentials

Although you’re usually provided with food fairly often on a long haul flight, bring a few snacks just in case. Try not to just bring sugary items but think about nuts and dried fruit instead. Be aware of the customs laws at your intended destination, however, and ditch anything on the plane or as soon as you get off that isn’t allowed.

Bring makeup or cleaning wipes to refresh yourself before or just after you land, and lip balm and a light moisturizer to combat the dryness from the air on the plane. Don’t forget to pack your toothbrush and a little toothpaste to help you feel fresher during the flight.

Although some newer planes have USB chargers, not all do so take a portable charger for your phone or tablet so that you won’t run out of battery before you arrive.

Board already rested

Don’t think that skimping on sleep in the days before the flight will help you get a better sleeping during the long haul plane ride. Chances are it will be the opposite and you’ll be so tired and restless you find it difficult to get comfortable.

Tips for Surviving Long Haul Flights


Move around

If you’re only a long haul flight it can be tempting to stay in your seat using the in-flight entertainment and sleeping, only getting up if you need to use the restroom. However, it’s important that you move around often to keep your circulation going. If you do get up, walk around the plane a little to stretch your legs. When you’re seated, move your feet and stretch your muscles.

Stay hydrated

The air on planes can be very dry, so make sure you stay hydrated on a long flight. Bring an empty water bottle and ask the air hostesses to fill it, and always accept water offered.

Make friends

If your flight is during the day, then you may be able to chat with the people next to you a little. Be aware that some people prefer to keep to themselves on a long haul flight, but it’s nice to say hello as you sit down and engage in a few pleasantries. You can judge the mood from there!

Avoid alcohol in-flight

Yes, flying long haul often means the offer of free alcohol. This doesn’t mean you need to accept it! You may think it helps you sleep, but often you’ll feel worse when you reach your destination. Drinking alcohol on long haul flights can make your jet lag worse.

Use the in-flight entertainment

Take advantage of the movies to help pass the time during your flight. When you want to be awake, watch movies you haven’t seen, or put on programs you have before to help you try and sleep.


Take a book or e-reader with you. Watching endless movies and tv programs can get boring after awhile! You can also download films or series to your tablet in case there’s nothing you’re interested in on the in-flight entertainment.

Tips for Surviving Long Haul Flights

After a long haul flight

Get in the timezone

Try to get into the rhythm of your destination straight away, even if it means staying up for most of the day when you haven’t slept. If you have to, have a 20-minute nap but be sure to set the alarms or have someone wake you up.

If it’s night when you arrive, prepare yourself for bed and rest even if you don’t feel tired.

Eat meals at the local time.

Keep hydrating

Don’t stop drinking water just because you’re off the plane, you may still be dehydrated. Make sure you get enough water in the next few days.

Tips for Surviving Long Haul Flights

Long haul flights aren’t the best experience, but they do help us to travel to amazing destinations around the world and have exciting travel adventures. So next time you need to know how to survive a long haul flight, check out this list!