Do you have a long haul flight coming up? You know…something longer than 7 or 8 hours? A long haul flight can be brutal on your mind and body. That is, unless you are properly prepared. Here are 13 Long Haul Flight Tips designed to help you survive your next super lengthy flight!
Many years ago my wife and I took a trip to Israel (and Jordan). After a short layover in Canada we spent 10+ hours on a plane. It was excruciating. Back then, I had no real experience as a traveler, and no experience at all with long haul flights.
I was a total newb to long flights.
But now, as a more seasoned traveler I’ve ironed the wrinkles out of my longer flights. With the tips I share here you flight will definitely be survivable…and perhaps even enjoyable.
So let’s dig in!
The 13 Best Long Haul Flight Tips
I want to hear from you. When you are done reading this list of long haul flight tips, join the conversation by leaving us a comment, below, or tweet us!
Long Haul Flight Tips #1: Sleep (good luck)
For me, it’s very hard to sleep on a plane. I can’t get comfortable and the noise of the engines, and fellow passengers (even on a red-eye) make it challenging to doze off. Aside from a take-off nap, I am usually wide eyed (and exhausted..lol) on my flights.
What’s a takeoff nap, you ask? It’s when you drop into your airplane seat after meeting with customer’s all day and lightly fall half asleep before the plane even leaves the ground. Then, you are wide awake when that 10,000 ft bell dings…
But, for a long haul flight, sleep remains a great strategy to occupy your time on a long haul flight. If you can sleep, you should. It will knock out a potentially decent sized portion of the flight and help deal with any potential jet lag (check out my article on how to get over jet lag).
Some people even recommend taking something to assist your sleeping, but be careful, and consult your doctor.
You can read my review of the FX-Viktaria Headphones here.
And while I never take one on shorter flights, a longer flight definitely justifies a travel pillow.
Of course, if you are a major baller…you could get that first class lie-flat seat which would definitely make it easier.
If you are looking for an entire “kit” of travel sleep gear you might like this package from Everlasting Comfort. Pretty sweet.
Long Haul Flight Tips #2: Download movies/TV shows to binge watch!
This is my favorite strategy to deal with long haul flights. You could binge watch an entire season or two of Ray Donovan on a long haul flight. And time usually flies when you are watching a good show.
Bring your tablet or phone fully charged and loaded with good content. You can’t stream Netflix or Amazon Prime over most airline wifi’s, so you need to download your content before hand. I usually bring two devices (both phones – because i am not a tablet guy) with lots of content (I always have a backup in case one gives me issues, or I run out of battery).
Speaking of power, make sure you charge your devices before hand. No need to have phone lose it’s juice over the Atlantic in the middle of Season 4 of Justified. Most long haul flights have power access in your seat so you can likely recharge, but don’t count on it.
Always bring a fully charged backup portable power charger.
And if you are traveling with someone, share the single device and watch the show together (get a headphone splitter if you don’t want to have only one ear picking up the gun battle in Tom Cruise’s latest Mission Impossible film (what is up to now? Mission Impossible 17???)
Long Haul Flight Tips #3: Read a great book or 3 (ref my book article)
My second favorite tip to survive long haul flights is to read. I alternate between reading books on my Kindle and physical books. While the Kindle is nice because it can store MANY more books than I can practically bring, there is still something nice about bringing a physical book.
Occasionally I will also bring a real book to read. It’s a nice break from starting at a screen, and gives my battery a break.
Pro tip: don’t buy your books (or anything really…) at the airport. You are going to overpay. Instead, buy them used on Amazon or check one out at your library.
PS…if you are looking for interesting books to read while traveling check out my article 47 Best Travel Books of all Time – the Ultimate List of Books to Read while Traveling.
Long Haul Flight Tips #4: Write (update your blog, write a poem, etc!)
Ever since I’ve been running a travel blog this has been a go-to activity for me while traveling. It’s a little less practical on shorter flights (and if I didn’t get the upgrade, it’s impractical to bring out my laptop). But on a longer flight (and one where I may have a little more room in my seat) I will get the laptop out and start working on something.
Maybe it’s blog maintenance related (like in my article A Daily Blogging Checklist – 10 Things to Do Every Day for your Blog) or maybe it’s draft of a new article I am working on. It can kill a lot of time.
I also have started carrying a fancy traveler’s notebook with me and will jot down my travel blog ideas or even write a few lines of poetry in it (yes, I am a poet too, when I am not saving the world one business travel flight at a time or blogging about where to eat in Brentwood, TN for Dinner).
Maybe you are not a travel blogger. That’s ok, write whatever you want! Do some Christmas Cards, or a To-Do list. You name it.
Long Haul Flight Tips #5: People watch
There are a lot of interesting people in this world. People watching is fun to do any day of the week. Need to kill 10-15 minutes on your long haul flight. Stare at your fellow passengers.
Not like in a stalky-creepy way…but more discreetly. Maybe they have a good system of their own to survive the long haul flight. Maybe they are just interesting looking.
Again though….don’t be a creep.
Long Haul Flight Tips #6: Enage w/ your passengers
I don’t really like to talk to people while I am traveling. When my wife travels with me she inevitably gets to know her seatmate’s life story…which, personally, I want none of.
But lately I’ve been challenging myself to be more engaging with my fellow travelers. It’s forced me out of my comfort zone and I’ve started to meet some interesting people (like the one time I met the business manager of Insane Clown Posse – he was a really nice nerdy looking dude).
Pro Advice: don’t be the loud talker when everyone is trying to sleep or I will give you the stinky eye. And don’t bug the hell out of the person when they clearly want to watch the next episode of Mad Men.
You can kill some time in a meaningful way by engaging with your passengers on a long haul flight. Hey, if you are gonna sit next to someone for 12 hours…you might want to introduce yourself.
Long Haul Flight Tips #7: Read the airline magazine in your seat pocket
Every plane I’ve ever been on has a magazine or two in the seat back pocket. If you are cool with risking catching Mumps or something from the inevitable germs, peruse it. It can kill some time and there are actually some interesting things in some of the magazines.
If you are really bored out of your mind, grab the Skymall mag..and prepare to be amazed at the weird stuff you can buy in there!
Long Haul Flight Tips #8: Walk around / stretch
I have to do this on any flight longer than 4 hours. My back locks up, and it’s misery. I usually coincide this stretching with a visit to bathroom. But don’t rush to the potty and back to your seat. Take the long way to bathroom. Stand in a line if you have to. Stretch afterwards (or before…lol).
It’s a change of scenery, will loosen your body up, is good for circulation, etc.
Speaking of staying healthy while you travel, you might like my article How to Stay Healthy When Traveling.
Long Haul Flight Tips #9: Eat
Most long haul flights serve food. Yeah, it’s probably crappy unless you got the upgrade, but it’s still food. And taking 30 minutes to leisurely eat your meal can shave a little bit more time off the clock on your flight.
Don’t forget to bring some snacks too. In fact, I’ve built a list of 9 Healthy Travel Snacks. Check it!
Long Haul Flight Tips #10: Meditate / Pray
This is a great tip. If you are spiritual, prayer can be a great way to occupy your time. Confined to a seat for 9 hours…might as well talk to God (because I ain’t talking to you!).
I remember on our flight to Israel (via El Al), about midway through the flight several Orthodox Jews arose from their seat, put on their prayer shawls and started rhythmically praying. It was a little disorienting, but kudos to them for living their faith out. And…it occupied like 30 minutes (them praying and me watching!).
If prayer ain’t your thing…try meditation. It can help relax you, center you, and clear your mind of any lingering thing that may hold you back from enjoying your destination.
Long Haul Flight Tips #11: Stay Hydrated
Not only is this a healthy thing to do, it will eat up some travel time with all the trips you have to take the bathroom. #Gamechanger
Seriously, though, stay hydrated while you travel – it can improve your bodies immune system, help you fight jet lag, and keep your joints and bowels lubricated.
Staying hydrated is a KEY step in fighting jet lag as I talk about in my article on how to fight jet lag.
Long Haul Flight Tips #12: Keep your backpack handy and full of all your stuff for easy access.
I use an Ogio Metro backpack. Fits pretty easily under my seat for easy access and I can stuff it full of all my chargers, snacks, headphones, books, you name it.
Whatever your preferred carryon backpack is, keep it handy
Long Haul Flight Tips #13: Bring your medicine, painkillers, etc
I get a lot of headaches. I also get muscle aches like the rest of us. I’ve learned that I need to keep my Aleve handy when I travel…like in my pocket.
I also bring some Dayquil, some meds for the tummy, cough drops, and any other medical “stuff” I might need during the flight.
And especially don’t forget any prescription meds you might need!
If these long haul flight tips don’t get through your 14 hour flight to New Zealand…I got nothing for you. You are just gonna have to suck it up, buttercup.
Seriously, though, we’d love to hear from you. What’s your favorite long haul flight tip? Drop us a comment below!
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