21 (Useful) Long-Haul Flight Tips To Improve Your Trip

21 (Useful) Long-Haul Flight Tips To Improve Your Trip

By Dr. Shoaib Muhammad , published on September 21, 2023
Dr Shoaib Muhammad,MD

In my experience, long-haul lights bring about a mix of dread and excitement. On the one hand, you know you're about to land somewhere new and exciting.

On the other, you know it involves sitting in a tube that's flying at 30,000 ft for up to 12 hours.

The possibilities of palm trees and screaming babies on the seat next to yours can make an odd mix of emotions.

But don't worry, I've got a series of long-haul flight tips for you that'll help with the noise, and just about every other problem you could have.

Preparing for Long-Haul Flights

With the right preparation, these tips can be more manageable, even fun. So let's start with the preparation. 

1. Bring Entertainment

Download TV shows and films. It can be tempting just to think something like "I'll be fine with just a book, it won't be that long".

I get it. When you're busy, it's a chore to download media.

But if you download them, you'll be glad you have your media on that flight. Bring a nice book, too. Choose something captivating. Time flies when you're absorbed in an appealing story.

2. Bring Extra Batteries

Charge your gadgets. There's nothing worse than a dying battery during a flight so be sure to charge your devices before going on board.

Pack a charger and USB C to USB 2.0 converters. Many planes have USB ports these days and some even have regular plugs like the ones in your house.

Most airlines will let you take chargers and battery packs in the cabin but not in your checked luggage.

preparation tips for long haul flights3. Arrive Early at the Airport

Arriving at the airport on time can reduce stress. An hour is usually enough to settle and relax before your long-haul voyage.

It can be tempting to drink alcohol at the airport to help relax a little but, as we'll touch on later in the article, this can make your flight less comfortable overall. So it's best to avoid.

4. Plan for Extra Leg Room

Get plenty of legroom. When you make your reservation, choose seats that give you enough space.

It's worth the extra investment because it can make a world of difference on long flights.

Especially if you're tall, don't be tempted to pass on the upsell that most airlines offer for the emergency exit seats that have lots of room.

Master the Art of Sleep on a Long-Haul Flight

Flying long-haul soon? Peaceful sleep is vital for feeling refreshed. Here's your guide to achieving it.

5. Choose The Right Travel Pillow

Take a supportive memory foam pillow that can mould to the shape of your neck and offer extra comfort.

Naturally, we're biased here but we do have one of the best-selling travel pillows in the world, so we know that they help with those flights.

6. Find a Good Eye Mask

A padded eye mask can effectively block out light and prevent distractions. Make sure it fits snugly to ensure no light seeps through.

These sleeping aids are scientifically proven to help and inexpensive to buy. Definitely worth considering. 

7. Plan Ahead To Avoid Jet Lag

Adjust your watch to the time zone of your destination as soon as you board the plane.

Try to adjust your sleep schedule before you fly by sleeping a little later depending on where you're headed. Find our guide on avoiding jet lag here.

8. Invest In Noise-Cancelling Audio

Good quality earphones or headphones can make a difference. These devices effectively block out the hum of the plane and other distracting noises (screaming babies included).

Alternatively, if you're not a fan of technology, using traditional earplugs can provide benefits.

sleep and comfort tips for long haul flights

9. Create a Bedtime Atmosphere

To create a bedtime atmosphere during a long-haul flight, mimic your night-time routine.

Something simple, such as brushing your teeth before settling down can signal to your brain that it's time to unwind and relax.

10. Get Yourself Some Earplugs

If you haven't opted for noise-cancelling equipment, foam earplugs can be your best friend. They're lightweight, easy to carry with you and highly effective at muffling sounds.

Make Long-Haul Flights More Comfortable

Long-haul flights can test your patience. With a mindset to make your flight as comfortable as possible, you can follow some easy and practical tips to enjoy your air travel.

11. Dress for Comfort

Forget about looking good and prioritise comfort instead. Opt for clothes made from breathable fabrics like cotton.

Layer up to adapt to changing temperatures on the plane. You can easily remove layers as needed.

12. Taking Care of Your Back

Bring along a lumbar support cushion as it can make a difference during long flights. Regularly change your position by moving, stretching and even rotating your ankles.

See this post if you're travelling with back pain.

13. Buckle Your Seat Belt Over Your Blanket

Fasten your seat belt over your blanket so that the cabin crew knows you're strapped in. Sounds like a small point, but that way, they won't disturb you unnecessarily.

Pack a high-quality neck pillow and an eye mask to further enhance your sleeping experience.

14. Care For Your Legs And Feet

To ensure leg and foot comfort during the flight, wear flight socks to prevent swelling and reduce the risk of vein thrombosis.

Tips For a Healthier Long-Haul Flight Experience

While a long-haul flight can be a start to a great adventure, it can also take a toll on your body and mind.

Here are some tips to help you stay in shape during those hours in the air.

15. Watch Your Drink Choices

Beware of alcohol's effects. As I mentioned before, it may seem like a comforting choice, but of course, alcohol can actually dehydrate you.

The dry air on planes, coupled with the altitude can amplify its effects. It can leave you feeling exhausted on arrival and hungover during the flight.

Don’t overdose on caffeine either. That cup of coffee might give you a boost but remember, like alcohol, caffeine can also contribute to dehydration.

Consider switching it up with tea or simply drinking water to stay properly hydrated.

16. Do Stretches & Exercises

Sitting in one position for hours isn't great for your blood circulation. Remember to take breaks and stretch every now and then.

Engaging in exercises can make a difference, such as moving and making circles with your ankles, rolling your shoulders, and stretching your neck. It's not entirely about being comfortable.

Moving around can help reduce the risk of health issues like blood clots on very long-haul flights. See here for some exercises that can be done at your seat.

17. Keep Hygiene a Priority

Airports and aeroplanes are busy with thousands of travellers. Stay ahead when it comes to preventing infections and carry hand wash or travel wipes with you.

Clean hands are essential in preventing illnesses. Before you eat or touch your face, always ensure that your hands are clean.

sleep and comfort tips for long haul flights

18. Consider Adjusting the Air Vents

The underrated air vents can be quite helpful. You can adjust the vent to direct airflow in front of your face. This may help divert some germs.

They also play a role in climate control, ensuring you remain at a pleasant temperature, throughout your journey.

19. Ensure A Great Flight Experience By Fueling Your Body

Prioritise light and healthy foods. Opt for salads, fruits, lean proteins, and grains. Heavy or spicy meals can unsettle your stomach during air travel.

Boost your body's resilience on flights with these strategies. Take vitamin C for immune support as planes expose you to various germs.

Consider magnesium supplements to help relax muscles and alleviate discomfort from cramped seating.

Remember to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplements.

20. Start a Meditation Habit

Regular meditation is proven to reduce stress and increase your mental capacity to handle stressful environments. So this one's especially important if you're dreading your upcoming flight. 

The process is very simple.

You sit down, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. When you noticed thoughts coming in, (which will happen a lot) just bring your attention back to your breath. And repeat that process. That's the practice.

Even 10 minutes a day will settle that mind of yours down and put you in much better shape to handle the upcoming flight. Not to mention other stressful situations. 

21. Gear Up For The In-Flight Experience

Everyone's different. So, as a final step, I encourage you to spend some time considering your personal preferences and make a list of other things that will make you comfortable.

Safe travels, dear reader.