How to Survive a Long Haul Flight
I hate flying. I have a slight fear of flying, specifically turbulence - which makes the entire experience a lot more uncomfortable for me. But more than that, I hate the cramped conditions, loud engine roar and food; the entire experience is enough to deter me from flying all together.
I have had my fair share of flying uncomfortably. My dad worked for an airline so I grew up flying and getting any left over seats the airline had available. Even to this day, my husband and I still use my dads perks to fly standby. Although this is a risky way to fly, it does give us the chance to get business or first class which is completely worth the gamble. Although we have been pretty lucky in the past, last September my husband and I took the risk and flew to Tokyo hoping we could get upgraded. We barely made it on the flight to Tokyo and ended up sitting in coach both ways for 14.5 hours. It was beyond brutal. To make things easier for you, I thought I would share some tips and tricks I've learned over the years that makes a long flight more bearable.
Book Tickets Early
This is kind of a no-brainer. The earlier you book that flight, the better your chances of securing your favorite seat. Tip: Try and select a seat near the back of plane. Typically most people try snagging one near the front of the plane which could potentially allow you an empty seat next to you.
If Possible Use Air Miles
If you have them, use them. I promise you it will be well worth shelling out those miles for a long distance trip - especially if you are able to get a first class or business seat. You'll thank me later when you're flying in comfort and style.
Try for a Free Upgrade
It's worth a shot and you can't loose anything trying. Try and get to the gate early, dress a little nicer and flash them a smile. A little kindness goes a long way, especially when you're a gate agent who deals with angry passengers daily. You never know, you may catch someone in a good mood willing to upgrade you from coach to economy plus. And those extra few inches makes a worlds difference!
Check in Early
That last thing you need to worry about before a long flight is worrying about missing your flight. Getting to the airport early ensures you will have enough time to check-in, maneuver your way around the airport [especially if it's an airport you're unfamiliar with] and get to your gate with plenty of time to spare.
Relax and De-Stress Before
Since you're at the airport early, you'll have time to find a sit down restaurant and grab something to eat. This is a great time to relax - possibly reading a book or listening to music. Also, this is a great time to walk around and stretch your legs. You'll be sitting for a while and you'll definitely want to make sure you get in as much walking before you're stuck in your seat.
Bring Your Own Pillow
I've seen many other people bring their own pillows onto flights. If you do plan on doing this, make sure you bring a small pillow. Large ones can take up a lot of space and can be slightly obnoxious. A pillow helps keep your head from falling to the side when dozing off. If you don't want to bring a physical pillow you can buy one of those neck pillows. I know, I know the look stupid, but its a small price to pay for comfort.
Invest in Some Noise-Cancelling Headphones
I know they can be a little pricey, but they are well worth it. If you don't have the money to fork over $150+, bring some high-quality earplugs instead.
Pack an Eyemask
I ALWAYS bring an eyemask when I travel. They help when flying during the day to keep the light out from windows or from people with reading lights on. I'll pop my noise-cancelling headphones on, slip on my eyemask and I'll be comfortable enough to catch some sleep.
This is an absolute must. Wear loose fitting and comfortable clothes. I'll typically dress in layers so I can remove a sweater or jacket if I get too hot. Tip: I always bring an extra set of clothes, pajamas and underwear in my carry-on. You can never be too prepared.
Stock Your Table Up With Movies
Most airlines provide in-flight entertainment with the use of headrest screens, but sometimes they aren't reliable. I was on a flight once where my monitor wasn't working and the flight attendant told me there wasn't anything they could do. Make sure to stock up your tablet with plenty of movies and TV shows to watch at your convenience. Tip: For those of you who have Netflix, the Netflix app as a download feature that allows you to download movies and TV shows to watch when on airplane mode.
Charge Your Devices
The last thing you need is for you tablet or phone to die when on a long flight. Some airplanes have in seat chargers, but many do not. So make sure you have all your devices fully charged before takeoff.
DRINK LOTS OF WATER. I cannot stress this enough. A lot of people don't drink enough water when flying and instead go for alcohol (since most of the time it's free on international flights). As tempting as this is, I highly advise against this. With the lack of moisture and humidity in the cabin, you can become seriously dehydrated.
Going along with staying hydrated, make sure to get up and walk around every few hours or so. If you aren't able to walk around, make sure to at least stretch in your seat. This will help fight against deep-vein thrombosis which is caused from Sitting in a cramped position for a long period of time.
Pack Extra Snacks
"What's the deal with airline food?" But seriously, I won't sugar coat it - airline food is the absolute worst. I've had some of the worst meals of my life at 39,000 ft. This is why I always pack a snack bag. When your food sucks and you're starving, having a backup snack bag is the best way to stay nourished.
Sit Back and Try and Relax
I'm the last person to tell you this, but once you're on the plane and in the air there's nothing else to do. You'll be on the airplane until those wheels touchdown at your final destination so try and relax until then. Close your eyes, take deep breaths, hunker down into your seat and try and catch some sleep.
Combat Jet Lag
Once you've landed, the fun doesn't end there. You'll have to deal with jet lag. I always have a hard time adjusting to new time zones and it is a struggle for me. The best thing you can do is to try and busy yourself and DO NOT GO TO SLEEP. As much as you want to, resist! It can have dire consequences and ultimately make it harder for you to adjust. Try and stay up as late as you can (we made it to 9PM when we were in Poland) and go to sleep then.
I really hope these tips help you deal with long flights, because the last thing we want to feel is both overwhelmed and uncomfortable. Just imagine yourself in the place you're going and how much fun you'll have and you'll be there in no time!
When I travel internationally I use Miers Labs No Jet Lag Homeopathic Jet Lag Remedy. I've taken this stuff on every international trip I've been on since 2007 and it really helps. I don't know if it's a placebo or not, but it keeps me awake and makes me feel not as tired. I've included a link if you're interested in trying it.