5 Travel Tips to Survive a Long Haul Flight

Good morning my wonder friends and greetings from Mexico! Last Saturday I finally arrived to my ancestral homeland after a long 10 hour flight from Spain. “10 hours? HOLY GUACAMOLE!!! How did you manage to survive that???” a friend recently asked me.

Well, the secret about surviving long haul flights (flights that are 6 to 12 hours in duration) is all about preparing yourself both mentally and physically. After all, boredom and fatigue are concepts created by humans and it’s up to you to defy and overcome them.

Flights.com recently asked me to share some of my best travel tips to survive a long haul flight and here’s my top 5. Are you ready?

Mount Everest Scenic Flight of Wonders

Mount Everest Scenic Flight of Wonders

Travel Tips to Survive a Long Haul Flight #01: Do your research and choose your flight wisely

The number one tip to survive a long haul flight is to always be wise when selecting the flight that you will end up taking. In my experience, traveling by night is the best for long haul flights since your internal biological clock will be predisposed to sleep off for the complete duration of the trip (if you have a very early flight, click here to read my tips to sleep at the airport).

If you’re flying economy and you want to sleep for the entire flight, a window seat is your best choice but if you’re one of those persons who needs to go to the toilet every few hours, an aisle seat will do wonders for you.

Finally, you should definitely do your best to avoid a middle seat since those are hell on earth. I mean, can you imagine flying with an overweight passenger to your left and a crying toddler to your right for more than 10 hours? I’m sure there’s a support group somewhere for travelers that suffer from PTSD after flights like those!

Not the type of cow I was thinking of!

Not the type of cow I was thinking of!

Travel Tips to Survive a Long Haul Flight #02: Stock up on snacks and entertainment before arriving to the airport

Airport shops are notoriously known for ripping off travelers with overly inflated prices (10 USD for a small chocolate bar? REALLY?) so your best choice is to stock up on snacks before even arriving to the airport. When it comes to entertainment (aka PLAN B in case you’re unable to fall asleep), nothing is better than a physical book for you to read during your flight.

Remember that your main goal today is to fall asleep so you don’t feel the strain of the flight so don’t buy a serious book and instead opt for what I like to call “popcorn reading” (think of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code but less awful).

PS. Please do humanity a favor and don’t buy one of those “trendy” flight accessories such as the ostrich pillow (click here to see some of the worst ones). No, it won’t make you seem cool. If anything, it will make the rest of the passengers want to throw you out of the emergency hatch.

The view of the Blue Mosque from Hagia Sophia

The view of the Blue Mosque from Hagia Sophia

Travel Tips to Survive a Long Haul Flight #03: Befriend the flight attendant (even if she’s not your type) 

In the eyes of a flight attendant, nothing is worse than the nth guy trying to flirt with her with a compliment that she has heard at least 100 times this week (please, don’t say any of these 12 horrible things). Nevertheless, nothing is more refreshing to her than a traveller who shows genuine interest in asking her about her unique lifestyle.

Next time you go to the toilet, be sure to chat up a little bit with the flight attendant by asking her questions such as “what’s the favourite country you’ve ever been to?”, “what inspired you to take a job in the flying industry?” or “what’s your favourite restaurant in ________”.

Trust me when I say that even if she doesn’t give you any upgrade or freebies (although most of the time she will), you will gain something more important: a true friendship plus the satisfaction that you made her day a little bit better by treating her with the respect that she deserves.

Sirgiya Rock as seen from the skies

Sigiriya Rock as seen from the skies

Travel Tips to Survive a Long Haul Flight #04: Avoid drinking caffeine based drinks and order red wine instead 

For some reason, some travelers in long haul flights seem to think that coffee (and Coca-Cola) are the ideal drinks to have alongside their meal and well, they couldn’t be more wrong since they will end up feeling edgy (plus dehydrated) all the time.

In my experience, a glass of red wine is the best companion before your journey to the lands of Morpheus. Be sure to bring a bottle of water (you can bring an empty one trough security and then fill it before boarding) and you’re all set for a naptastic time!

PS. When it comes to the food itself, I would suggest saving the dessert for later since sugar before bed will affect your sleeping patterns and it is best for you to eat it after you wake up. After all, you don’t want to have a nightmare about the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, do you? DO YOU?

Worry about weight during travels

Worry about weight during travels

Travel Tips to Survive a Long Haul Flight #05: Set your watch to the new time-zone and take a re-adjustment nap

Finally, it is time for you to change the time zone of  your watch and adjust your own mindset into thinking that you’re already at your destination. If you think Jet Lag is bad, let me tell you that Pre-Jet Lag is definitely worse since during the plane, you’re basically stuck between many time-zones at once (click here to read the top 10 busiest flight routes in the world).

Stop thinking in the local time of your origin and focus in the local time of your destination. Close your eyes and prepare yourself mentally by thinking of the many things that you will do once you arrive: long walks at the beach, fresh coconut water, exotic food at the street stands, huge pyramids filled with story, meeting up with friends and family you haven’t seen in years…

Before you know it, you’ll be already landing, my dear friend. Have you ever taken a long haul flight? How did you survive it? Share your thoughts and let me know what you think!!!

Until next time, my friends!

Disclaimer: This article was brought to you in collaboration with Flights.com. All opinions are my own.

5 Travel Tips for Long Flights

Pin to Pinterest?

4 Responses

  1. Zoë Levitsky

    Back in the 1990’s I spent a couple of summers in China. I had to endure 14 hour flights from the west coast of Canada to China and back. I came across a book by Dr. Charles Ehrert and Lynne Scanlon called “Overcoming Jet Lag” (1983). The idea was to trick your body into thinking it was night, or day, when it actually wasn’t and then “rebooting” your system with caffeine at breakfast time of your destination. I found it worked like a charm!

    I have simplified it over the years and basically, this it what it is: Four days before travelling stop all caffeine. (Sometimes withdrawal from caffeine can be annoying. If you must have it, have it late in the afternoon.) It is a FEAST day which means eating as much as you like (and more) with high protein breakfast and lunch and high carbohydrates for the evening meal. Two days before,eat lightly, being a “FAST day”, keep calories low (suggested in the book to be 800 calories). The day before the flight is a FEAST day again and the flight day is a FAST day. On the flight stay hydrated and try to sleep.

    My body seems a bit confused as I think it thinks the “fast days” were night-time and the “feast days” are daytime until I jolt it into the reality of the new time with caffeine. So, at breakfast destination time be sure to eat breakfast and get some caffeine into your system.

    The day you arrive is a FEAST day. The book outlines slightly different directions for for the number of time zones being crossed and for travelling east or west. I find this “diet” easier to follow when leaving home than on the return journey when I want to indulge in local food, alcohol specialties and coffee before getting on the plane.

    Then there is always “NO Jet-Lag™” homeopathic tablets from New Zealand to take. You chew them and the directions are very straight forward. They are easiest to use and, for me, the easiest for the return trips home. In Canada they are available in Pharmacies, some grocery store health food sections, Health Food Stores and Travel Specialty stores and I assume they are available Down-Under and elsewhere as well.

  2. DanielClaton

    I need to fly as cost-effective as possible, so the price counts. My advice:

    – Try to get an overnight fight.

    – Sit in the aisle near the rear of the aircraft, there you have access to refreshments all trip long. (No need to wait for flight attendants.)

    – Use a sleeping mask. Some airlines offer them complimentary and most often you are allowed to keep them.

    Just a general advice for travelling to China:

    Normaly, use on of the major hubs, flights there tend to be cheaper (but not always) If you have a journey of 7+ hours ahead of you by train then, take an overnight train, no matter when you arrive.

    When I arrived with Turkish in Guangzhou, I had an overnight flight and arrived 4 p.m. local time. Take the subway to the railway station, wait for the train and board it at 10 p.m. and sleep all night. When I finally awoke at my final destination, I was adjusted to the time zone and extremely well rested.