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32 Tips for Making a Long-haul Flight More Comfortable

These hacks will help you enjoy the journey — and feel better on arrival.

Whether you're taking a seven-hour trip across the pond to Europe or embarking on the nearly 19-hour odyssey from New York City to Singapore, a long-haul flight can be boring, uncomfortable, and exhausting. The nuisances of time-consuming air travel can range in severity from mildly inconvenient (annoying seat mates, let's say) to the downright dangerous (developing a blood clot on a plane is no joke). Luckily, there are some easy ways to make a big journey more bearable. Here are 32 of our favorite tips for long flights.

Book your flight early for good seats.

This should go without saying. The earlier you book, the better your chances of scoring your favorite seat, whether it's at the window, so you can watch the scenery, or at the aisle, with easiest access to the lavatory. It's just that simple.

Consider a seat in the back of the plane.

Your favorite seat probably isn't in the back of the plane. It's noisy back there, tends to have little leg room, and means you're the last off the plane when it lands. However, there are perks to choosing a back seat. If you're flying with an airline like Southwest that doesn't have assigned seats, you might have better luck claiming a row to yourself or at least an empty seat next to you in the back. Also, being in the back lets you watch which rows don't fill up ahead of you, so you can claim one of the emptier ones after everyone is seated.

Use those air miles to upgrade.

If you've got 'em, flaunt 'em. You'll thank yourself when you're reclining in a first-class seat, sipping Champagne and pretending to like caviar. And if you don't have the miles, this might be the time to splurge for a superior first- or business-class seat. Even upgrading to premium economy will give you priority check-in, extra legroom, and comfortable seats.

Or angle for a free upgrade.

It's worth a go, isn't it? Arrive early, dress nicely, travel alone, and put on your most winning smile for the best chance at success. Your odds of scoring a last-minute upgrade are better if you have elite status with the airline.

Adjust your sleep pattern before your flight.

In the days before your flight, adjust your sleep patterns (a few 4 a.m. or 7 p.m. bedtimes should do it, depending on what time of day you'll be flying). If your flight is during the day, be well rested before you fly. If it's a red-eye, arrive at the airport tired. Trust us on this, though: staying awake for 24 hours before your trip to balance out jet lag just doesn't work.

Check in early.

The last thing you need before your long-haul journey is to panic your way through a busy airport, arriving at the gate sweaty and frazzled — or, worse, to miss your flight.

De-stress before you board.

You don't want to spend your whole flight buzzing about all the things you have to do or what you might have forgotten. Carve out some time before your trip to sit down with a nice breakfast. Go to the gym. Read a book. Go for a walk. It's important to relax before it's time to fly.

Margot Cavin/Travel + Leisure

Don't overpack your personal item.

You'll need more for a long-haul flight than you would for a short one, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea to overfill your bag with unnecessary extras. Keep only the essentials in your personal item so they're always easy to find and within reach.

Bring your own pillow.

A travel pillow is a staple carry-on item for long-distance travelers. Almost every airport sells them, and looking a little ridiculous with one around your neck is a small price to pay for arriving at your destination without a crick.

Wear noise-canceling headphones.

Noise-canceling headphones help block out annoying airplane clatter and loud passengers, so you can zone out with a riveting podcast or a favorite playlist. If you don't have them, a pair of good old-fashioned earplugs will also help.

Buckle your seat belt over your blanket.

If you plan to sleep with a blanket during your flight, make sure your buckled seat belt is still visible. In case of turbulence, the seat belt light will turn on, and flight attendants may come around the cabin to check that everyone is buckled up. If you're buckled beneath your blanket where they can't see it, they will wake you up to check.

Pack an eye mask.

An eye mask is especially useful if you're flying during the day, or if you want to catch some shut-eye before the cabin lights are dimmed.

Dress comfortably.

Keep it loose and comfortable — you're not here to impress anyone. Also remember to bring layers for when it gets cold. A cardigan or sweatshirt is always good to have on hand.

Try to relax.

Do whatever it takes — meditate, listen to some calming music, do some breathing exercises. Not only will it help you sleep more easily, but it's also good for your psyche in general.

Bring a travel blanket, not a regular blanket.

Don't bring anything too thick (remember, it has to fit in your carry-on), but make sure it's enough to keep you warm when the plane's air-conditioning is going full blast.

Download movies onto your tablet or laptop for backup.

In-flight entertainment systems are not always reliable. They sometimes fail, and when they do, you'll be glad to have something to do, watch, or listen to in reserve.

Charge your electronic devices.

The last thing you need is for your iPad to run out of juice one hour into an 11-hour flight. This is especially true if your in-flight entertainment system isn't working.

Load up on podcasts.

Listening to podcasts uses up less battery life than watching a movie, and they can be more entertaining than music. You can get through an entire flight on podcasts alone.

Stay healthy.

Sitting in a cramped metal tube for the better part of a day (or more) is not good for you. Fight off dehydration and blood clotting — your two biggest enemies in the sky — by regularly drinking water, stretching, and walking around the cabin.

Bring what you need to freshen up.

This is for everyone else's sake as much as your own. Bring toiletries in your carry-on so you can brush your teeth, throw on some deodorant, or even change your clothes in the lavatory. Also, try to stick to your bedtime routine. Wash your face in the bathroom before you go to sleep.

Get creative.

You rarely get the chance to sit down for such a long time, more or less distraction-free, so why not make the most of it? Bring a notebook, a sketchpad, or whatever else you need to exercise the right side of your brain. Switching activities throughout the flight instead of focusing on just one thing will also keep you feeling fresh.

Be productive.

If you have your laptop with you, this might be a good opportunity to catch up on any busywork that needs doing. Everyone else on your flight will think you're a sophisticated jet-setting businessperson. Never mind the Netflix tab you have open.

Befriend the crew.

Simply not being horrible to the flight crew is a given, but you could always go one step further and make an active effort to be nice. Not only will you up your chances of preferential treatment, but you'll also be doing something lovely for the folks who look after you up there.

Pack extra snacks.

Airline food is not often plentiful, even on long-haul flights, and it's important to stay nourished. No need to overdo it, of course, but no one was ever sorry to find a couple pieces of forgotten fruit or granola bars in their carry-on. Make sure the food you bring is not messy, but nutritious and easy on the stomach so you'll feel your best when you land.

Moisturize your skin.

The dry, recycled air on a plane has a way of making your skin look and feel parched and lackluster. In addition to drinking plenty of water, slather on a bit of extra moisturizer. In fact, use your thickest night cream — the one you reserve for winter. And reapply it throughout the flight.

Elevate your feet.

Sitting with your legs bent and feet on the floor for a long time can cause pain and swelling in your feet and ankles as the fluid in your body naturally flows downward. If you can, prop your feet up on a special contraption like a portable footrest, or even your underseat carry-on if it's hardy enough.

Wear compression socks.

Compression socks help minimize swelling on and after your flight by increasing blood circulation. At a minimum, they can keep you more comfortable, but more importantly, reduce the risk of developing blood clots during a long flight.

Pack a nasal spray.

Have you ever noticed a generally icky and dry feeling in your sinuses while flying? That feeling is caused by a shift in air pressure and the low humidity in the cabin. Experts recommend using a decongestant nasal spray in each nostril before takeoff and descent to alleviate those symptoms.

Adjust your watch.

It's important to acclimatize yourself to the time zone you're flying into. As soon as you get on the plane, change your watch to the local time of your destination, then alter your routine accordingly.

Be selective about your drink choices.

Some passengers enjoy a glass of wine or beer (often free on international flights) to accompany their in-flight meals and entertainment. That said, you probably shouldn't treat booze as a way to fight boredom or cope with your flight. You'll end up using those tiny bathrooms far more frequently than you'd like, plus alcohol is dehydrating and could mess up your sleep pattern. Soda can have a similar effect because of the caffeine, and the bubbles can make you feel gassy and bloated.

Bring your best conversation.

Many people dread sitting next to a chatty seatmate, but don't be afraid to strike up a conversation with your neighbor if the opportunity arises. You could be seated next to a genuinely interesting and friendly fellow traveler, and talking makes the time go faster.

Pack lots of activities for your kids.

Traveling with children? Make sure you have plenty of activities to keep them entertained throughout the flight. Bring the gaming systems, iPads preloaded with their favorite shows (and headphones), and coloring and sticker books. Plus, don't forget their favorite snacks.

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12 Tips (and Carry-On Essentials) for Surviving a Long-Haul Flight

Thanks to the miracle of human flight, we can now fly direct from Newark, New Jersey, to Singapore in just under 19 hours. That also means people spend nearly an entire day of their lives off the ground, in cruising altitude limbo, only to land with the kind of jet-lag that eclipses exhaustion. For any serious traveler, long-haul flights are a necessary evil. How do they do it? Here, 12 tips for surviving—even enjoying—a day in the air.

Senior Editor, Jetsetter | @lindseytravels | lindseytravels.com

See recent posts by Lindsey Olander

I’m no stranger to long-haul flights. You know them: those epic, day-long journeys through the clouds that get you from one side of the globe to the other. You might even say I sniff them out on purpose. I’ve flown from New York City straight to Australia’s Northern Territory, which requires connections in Los Angeles and Sydney, twice . Compared to that 25-hour haul (excluding layovers), my 15-hour journey to Johannesburg felt like a breeze. Unless you’re being pampered in First Class, long-haul flights are no picnic, but there are a few tricks to making the experience a bit more bearable. Here’s what I’ve learned, in 12 easy steps.

Wale jumping out of the ocean

Photo courtesy of World Expeditions/Great Walks of Australia

1. Buy your ticket as early as possible

Waiting and hoping for that $20 price drop, more often than not, is not worth the trouble. Not only does buying early give you peace of mind in the weeks and months leading up to your departure, it increases the likelihood that enough seats remain open for you to pick where you want to sit—whether you prefer to cuddle up to a window, have easy access to the aisle, or stretch your legs in an exit row. Wait until the last minute and chances are good that you (and your elbows) will be sandwiched into a dreaded middle seat. Frequent flyer? The time to cash those miles in on an upgrade is now.

RELATED: 8 Effective Tips for Getting a Free Airline Upgrade

2. Wear your most comfortable outfit

That fitted blouse and skin-tight pair of jeans might make you feel like you’re 20 again, but trust us—after sitting (and attempting to sleep) in them for 15 hours, you’ll never want to look at that outfit again. When it comes to long-distance travel, stick to a “comfy-chic” dress code of neutral, loose-fitting layers you can move around in. Besides keeping cozy on a flight, you’ll also guard against deep vein thrombosis—a serious condition that’s aggravated when you sit in cramped positions for long periods of time. Experts also recommend wearing compression socks, which reduce swelling and decrease the risk of blood clots. Another must for the ladies: your favorite pashmina/scarf, which does triple-duty as a stylish accessory, an extra layer for beating cabin chills, and, when folded, an extra pillow to lean on.

RELATED: JS Editors’ Favorite Comfy Outfits for Spring Travel

Uluru rock in the Australian Outback

3. Invest in a good travel pillow, earplugs, and sleep mask

We get it: the excitement of opening up your own little long-haul care package is tempting—The tiny toothpaste! The woolly socks! The ear plugs you always forget!—but even on the best international carriers, these tiny conveniences never quite live up to their potential. (We can’t count how many times we’ve suffered through broken sleep-mask bands, pillows that instantly deflate, and ear plugs that never quite stay in.) Embarking on a 12+ hour flight? It’s time to invest in the right pair of moldable plugs that will stay in your ears, a silky (even cute!) sleep mask you’ll hardly feel you’re wearing, and a quality neck pillow—one that provides comfort while also keeping your spine aligned, so you don’t wake up with a crick in your neck. Memory foam works wonders.

slip silk eye mask pink

RELATED: The Travel Pillow You Need for Your Next Flight

Girl wearing a neck pillow on a plane

4. Pack your own headphones

Just picture it: you’re reaching cruising altitude and have that perfect movie lined up on your in-flight entertainment console. You dig for the headphones provided in your seat-back pocket, pop them on, and then it hits you—thanks to those roaring engines and crying toddler in the next row, you can’t hear a thing Tom Hanks is talking about onscreen. Solution: bring your own noise-canceling headphones. Besides being more comfortable than those “one-size-fits-none” plastic contraptions, they aid in blocking out white noise.

RELATED: 10 Best Noise-Canceling Headphones for Travel

Girl listening to a phone on a plane

5. Take the smallest personal item you can

No matter how tall or short you are, when it comes to sitting in the same seat for hours on end, every inch of leg room is sacred. Don’t limit yours with a needlessly large personal item, which you’ll be forced to stow under the seat in front of you if you’ve also brought a carry-on onboard. Opt for a bag that’s versatile and soft, so you can squash it down if need be.

long haul travel tips

6. Bring your own snacks, or buy some before boarding

One of the beauties of long-haul flights is how well you’re fed—often, at least two full meals and a mid-flight snack to curb your cravings are provided. But what about when the lights are out, flight attendants are nowhere to be found, and hunger pangs strike? What then? Be prepared with your own munchies and a bottle of water—especially if you’re the type that craves salt.

RELATED: Your Must-Have Carry-On Packing List

Two sandwitches

7. Be friendly to and respectful of your seatmate—you’re both in this together

This might be self-explanatory, but be nice. Learn the rules of the air: unless you’re in the middle seat, hogging an interior armrest is a jerk move. Before reclining your chair, glance back to make sure it won’t disrupt anyone, and whatever you do, don’t do it during meal service. Also, whether you’re on the window or the aisle, expect—especially during long hauls—that everyone is going to have to use the lavatory at least a few times. Be forgiving and courteous, and you might even make a new friend in the process.

RELATED: 7 Super Affordable Jet Lag Remedies

8. DON’T wear makeup; DO moisturize

This ain’t no beauty contest. Your skin has enough to deal with at 30,000 feet (dry cabin air; decreased blood flow) without throwing pore-clogging products into the mix. Instead, apply a serum and moisturizer to keep your skin aglow (just make sure they’re less than 100ml and can pass through security), apply eyedrops to counteract irritation, and dab on some chapstick before your lips dry out.

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask

9. Choose your in-flight food (and drinks) carefully

That cheesy chicken parmesan wafting down the center aisle might smell delectable, but you may want to reconsider. Heavy meals keep you awake, and are more difficult to digest when all you’ll be doing for the next 15 hours is sitting, sitting, and sitting some more. If you can, avoid foods and drinks high on sugar, salt, or caffeine. The same goes for alcohol. While it can act as a sedative for anxious fliers, it is also extremely dehydrating. Instead, try an herbal tea, which induces drowsiness without the consequences of liquor.

View of New York City skyline from a plane

10. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Because planes are constantly replenishing cabin air with the air outside, the levels of humidity inside plane cabins are comparable to what you’d find in a desert—bone dry. The effects are two-fold: the extreme dryness dulls the skin, and, if not addressed, dehydration leads to worsened jet lag. It’s vital to drink plenty of water—approximately 8 ounces per hour, according to some experts.

11. Brush your teeth

Do you struggle with sleeping in the air? We feel you. Blocking out those roaring engines, crying babies, and your neighbor’s reading light is hard enough, but getting your body’s sleep clock to adjust to new timezones is a talent that still eludes many. A helpful tip: brush your teeth before nodding off—and, if you want, gargle mouthwash and wash your face. These simple but effective habits help trick your body into thinking it’s sleep time.

RELATED: 6 Tips for Sleeping Well on a Plane

Bright colored toothbrushes

12. Get up every few hours to keep the blood flowing

Pressurized cabins spell less oxygen for passengers and, over periods of time, symptoms due to lower blood oxygen levels that include fatigue, headaches, swollen limbs, and dehydration. The best solution? Stretch. Walk up and down the aisle to boost blood flow and practice some non-intrusive exercises in your seat, like rolling your shoulders and rotating your ankles.

What to Wear on a Long-Haul Flight

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Insulated Water Bottle

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Long Haul Flights Essentials Tips For How to Survive Long Flights by JetSettingFools.com

Long Haul Flight Essentials: 30 Tips To Survive Long Flights

Welcome to JetSetting Fools, here you will find our best travel tips for destinations worldwide. Some of the links on this site are Affiliate Links and if you use them to make a purchase, we may earn a commission. For more information, read our Disclosure Policy .

Long haul flights are a source of angst for many travelers. However, with the right essentials for a long-haul flight, even a 15-hour plane ride can be pleasant – or, dare I say, fun . We love long flights (and actually prefer them over short stints in the air), but only because when we board the plane, we are armed with our Long-Haul Flights Essentials that makes traveling by plane a breeze!

Why Long Haul Flight Essentials are a Travel Necessity

Preparing for Australia: Spending the entire day at the airport isn't so bad with passes to the Club and views of the planes

Any plane journey over 6 hours is considered a long haul flight – and 6-plus hours is a long time to sit in a seat surrounded by strangers. While first class seats are, without a doubt, the most comfortable way to travel, the high price is a hindrance for most passengers.

Don’t fret! Travelers can experience comfort in economy seating by packing the essentials for a long haul flight.

We are covering the details of our Long Flight Essentials List that covers everything from clothing to entertainment – and even a few little luxuries – that will make the experience just a touch better.

Creating a List of Travel Essentials for Long-Haul Flights

To be honest, it took me some time to hone my skills to create a master list of essentials for long haul flights. On my first plane ride from the United States to Europe, I had made no effort to seek out long-haul flight tips…and I was woefully unprepared. It was a miserable plane trip – and when we landed in Paris I was grumpy and jet-lagged.

Determined not to make that mistake again, on subsequent plane trips I sought out the best long-haul flight tips and refined my list of flight essentials. The more we flew, the better prepared I was.

Now, as a full-time traveler, I don’t even think about how to survive a long-haul flight. With my travel hacks for long flights, I only look forward to enjoying the ride.

How To Survive Long Haul Flights

Sunrise on Leg 3 of our Epic Travel Day

Surviving a long-haul flight is not a difficult task if you have the right travel essentials for long flights. What I have learned in my travels is that long haul flight survival is not just limited to what you bring on long flights. It is equally important to consider what to wear on a long-haul flight.

It is these 2 things together – what to wear and what to bring – that ultimately make up our list of Long-Haul Flights Essentials.

Our list highlights the long haul essentials that you will want for your plane trip. Want a printed list? Get your FREE Printable Long Haul Flight Essentials list here !

Pro Tip: With only a few variations, this list can be used for long haul bus travel as well!

How To Survive Long Flights


Deciding what to wear on a long-haul flight is one of the key elements to enjoying the journey – so before we get to our list of Must Haves for Long Flights, let’s talk about clothing first.

Comfort Clothing: Long Flights Essentials

As you prepare for your plane journey, above all, your long-haul flight outfit must be comfortable. That said, outfits for long haul flights can be stylish – but comfort comes first (and, if you are most comfy wearing pajamas on a red-eye flight, some airlines provide them in First Class!).

Outfit Tips for Long Haul Flight

Because what you wear has such a big impact on your comfort, we have quite a few outfit tips for a long haul flight.

#1 Wear Layers

Wearing layers is one of the top tips on how to survive long flights in economy – or in any seat on the plane, to be truthful! Planes can be hot…and planes can be cold, and then hot again. And you, as a passenger, have no control over the thermostat.

Therefore, one of the best travel hacks for long flights is to wear layered clothing so that you are able to stay comfortable regardless of the stifling heat or cold air con. 

#2 Elastic Waistband or Loose Dress Tips for Long Flights

It is common for most people to experience some swelling while flying – especially on long haul flights – so it is best to combat the swelling by wearing loose-fitting clothing or pants that offer a little stretch.

I prefer dresses on airplanes – over shirts and pants – because they are not binding. However, if you wear pants, I recommend that your long-haul flight pants have an elastic waistband for more comfort.

#3 Long Flight Hack for Women: Dress and Leggings Combo

One of the best Long Flight Hacks for outfits for women is to wear a loose dress – and leggings under the dress. The stretchy material of leggings makes it easy to move around the plane, stow luggage in the overhead compartment and get situated in your seat.

Furthermore, wearing leggings under a dress can help to keep you warm if the plane is frigidly cold…but if it gets too hot on the plane (which is often does during a flight), you can remove your leggings layer (possibly without even getting up from your seat!) to help you regulate your body temperature.

#4 Wear Things for a Long Flight that Add Style

An easy way to create a stylish long-haul flight outfit without sacrificing comfort is to add a simple accessory. Dress up your casual clothing with a colorful scarf or jewelry (but avoid rings that may feel too tight with swelling).

BONUS TIP: My Best Outfit for Long Haul Flight

I, personally, like to wear a loose-fitting dress as my long-haul travel outfit. Typically, when I fly I wear a loose casual dress (preferably with short sleeves). To complete my outfit, I layer it with leggings under the dress, a thin hoodie over the dress and sandals or slip on shoes.

Pro Tip: Read more about travel footwear in our article breaking down the Best Travel Shoes !

Subscribe for a free Long Haul Flights Checklist


Qantas Long Flight Airplane, Brisbane, AU

Now that you know what to wear, let’s chat about long flight carry on essentials. These are all of the long-haul flight accessories that you will want to pack in your hand luggage – things that will make surviving long-haul flights a lot easier!

Additional Clothes for Long Haul Flight

We already discussed the best outfits for long-haul flights, but there are a few more clothing items you should bring on your flight. In addition to the clothes that I wear as my outfit for long haul flight, I also pack a wrap, clean underwear and compression socks in my luggage that goes under the seat in front of me.

#5 Top Tips for Long Haul Flight Clothes: Bring a Wrap

My wrap is one of the most versatile items I travel with – and it is one of my must-haves for long haul flights. In flight, I can use it as a pillow, blanket, scarf, head cover or seat cover. It is one of the favorite items on my Packing List !

#6 What To Pack for a Long Haul Flight: Underwear

Packing clean underwear in a long-haul flight carry on is one of the hacks I picked up as a novice traveler. If you are going to check luggage (and the majority of your clothing), then packing a pair of underwear into your carry on luggage assures that you will have a clean pair…even if your checked luggage gets lost by the airline. 

However, I often change into the clean pair of underwear in the plane bathroom before touching down (or in the airport bathroom on arrival). It just feels so much cleaner to start off in a city with a fresh pair! 

Pro Travel Tips: Use my Packing Hacks for tips on the best way to pack – and get our top advice on ensuring your luggage doesn’t get lost by the airline!

#7 Extra Outfit: Best Long Flight Hacks

While a fresh pair of panties is one of my carry on essentials for long flights, for ultra long flights that are 12+ hour journeys, I like to pack a complete outfit change.

Donning a clean shirt, pants and undergarments feels so much better at the end of a long flight! I also advise freshening up – and I share my list of essential toiletries for long-haul flights a bit later in the article.  

#8 Compression Socks are Long Flight Must Haves

It makes sense to pack socks for long haul flights for when cabin temperatures are too cold. However, regardless of the temperature, I think wearing compression socks is a necessity.

As unattractive as the long-haul flight socks may be, they have substantial health benefits, like reducing swelling and preventing blood clots (both of which can more easily occur on long haul flights). Plus, they will keep your feet warm.

Pro Tip: I wait to put my compression socks on until right before I board the plane. This way, I am wearing a clean pair of socks for the journey – and I even use a wet wipe (more about those later) to clean my toes before I put the clean socks on my feet. 

#9 What To Take on Long Flights: Slippers

I think slippers are one of the Ultra Long Haul Flight Must Haves. Cozy plane slippers that have a rubber sole and are machine washable are ideal.

This way, you can keep your feet warm while on the plane – and you can still get up and walk around in the slippers during the flight. Plus, because of the rubber sole, you can wear them into the plane bathroom.

Airplane Essentials for Long Flights to Stay Healthy

Let me start off by saying that I am not a doctor, it is best to seek health advice for long haul flights from your medical provider. Bearing that in mind, there are a few things that I do for the benefit of my personal health while traveling on airplanes (and when traveling, in general).

Hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes and a small medical kit are items that are in my long-haul flight hand luggage (and I use the wipes before I even sit in my seat!). Disposable toothbrushes come in handy on flights to keep your teeth and mouth clean as well.

Additionally, even though most planes are equipped with HEPA air filters that are tested to be 99% effective against viruses, a face covering may still be required for travel, so it’s a good idea to pack at least one (but it’s better to have two).

Top Tip: Find out more in our article, How To Stay Healthy While Traveling .

#10 What To Take on Long Flights: Antibacterial Sanitizer and Wipes

Traveling with antibacterial sanitizer and wipes just makes good sense – and it is one of our top Long Haul Flight Health Tips, too.

In fact, anti-bacterial hand sanitizer and wipes are plane essentials for long flights.

We have always used wet wipes to clean and disinfect our seats. Not only do we wipe down the entire seat and head rest, but we make sure to clean the arm rests, seat buckles, touch screen, seat back pocket and the tray table.

Pro Tip : Invest in a Long Flight Survival Kit that includes everything you need! An airplane germ-fighting kit is a great gift for travelers who will be taking long flights. For more travel gift tips, use our Top Unique Gifts for Travelers !

#11 Mini First Aid Kit is a Must Have for Long Haul Flights

A small med kit is also part of our long-haul carry on essentials. In our kit, we carry travel-size tums (for Jet Bloat), anti-diarrheal (just in case), pain relievers (like aspirin) and a few Band-aids – because, in general, these are just good items to have on hand.

A few other items that might make your Just In Case list of long flight necessities are tissues , nose saline and eye drops.

Pro Tip: I used to wear contacts – and quickly learned that bringing a pair of glasses on board is one of the long haul flight travel essentials for contact wearers! In fact, it might be best to take your contacts out prior to boarding and plan on wearing your glasses for the duration of the long flight.

#12 Disposable Toothbrushes are Good Things to Take on a Long Flight

Keeping my teeth and mouth clean during a flight is important! That said, taking a toothbrush and toothpaste into a germ-filled plane bathroom is not ideal (and the water is usually not potable!).

Instead, I use a convenient disposable toothbrush – which is designed as a one-time use toothbrush to be used without water, so I can brush and toss. If my only row mate is my husband, I can even brush my teeth right in my seat!

Because I like my mouth to feel fresh, I use several throughout the flight (after meals, before I fall asleep, when I wake up and before I disembark).

Additionally, flossers are good things to bring on a long flight so that you can even better clean in between your teeth.

Long Haul Flight Beauty Essentials

Having a beauty regime on a flight is one of the best tips for long haul flights…one that your skin will thank you for! My top beauty essentials for long haul flights are simple: lip balm and moisturizer. I think they are the two best items for long flights to help your skin. That said, there are many beauty essentials for a long flight and I highlight those, as well.

#13 Long Haul Flight Tips for Skincare: Lip Balm and Moisturizer

The dry air on airplanes can wreak havoc on skin, which is why lip balm and moisturizer are necessities. I carry a small hand moisturizer that can be used on my face, too – and I apply both the lotion and the lip balm liberally throughout the flight.

#14 Hydration Beauty Travel Essentials Long Flight

A hydrating face mist – like the one by Mario Badescu – can help your skin feel fantastic, even on a long flight. The facial spray is infused with aloe, herbs and rosewater to aid in rejuvenating your skin.

Another popular facial mist is the Evian Water Spritz . The micro-droplet mist hydrates your skin with pure Evian water. As with all liquid products that you take on a plane, be sure to bring the TSA approved travel size! 

Dry sheet face masks (like the 111Skin Rose Gold Brightening Facial Mask ) or the Summer Fridays Jet Lag Face Mask cream are other long-haul flight skin care products that travelers use in-flight.

#15 Long Airplane Trip Essentials for Freshening Up

Some of the best items for long haul flights are the ones that revive and refresh you – even after a long redeye flight. We already talked about brushing teeth, but there are a few more things you can do to feel refreshed.

Waterless cleansing wipes ( like these !), underarm deodorant wipes and travel sized deodorant are freshening-up necessities for long flights.

Wondering what to bring on a long haul flight for your hair? Try a Dry Shampoo that will absorb oils and grease for a fresh-washed look. 

Bonus Travel Beauty Tips Long Flights: No Make Up

One of the top long-haul flight beauty tips that some travelers find difficult to get on board with is to fly without wearing makeup. But, trust me, your skin will appreciate it! A made-up face will not likely last the duration of the long flight anyway.

Rather than wearing any makeup in-flight, I stop at the airport bathroom on arrival and – after I change into fresh underwear and clothes – I can wash my face and apply minimal makeup (so be sure to keep that in your carry on luggage, too!)

Long Haul Flight Essentials by JetSettingFools.com

How To Survive Long Haul Flights in Economy Comfortably

Everyone knows that economy seats on a long flight are a bit uncomfortable (okay, maybe more than ‘a bit’). However, with the right economy essentials for a long haul flight, the ride can be so much more pleasant. As full-time travelers – with limited luggage space – these are not items that we personally use. However, I have to admit that when I notice my row mates using them, I am panged with jealousy.

#16 Airplane Hacks for Long Flights in Economy: A Seat Cushion

A memory foam seat cushion can make all the difference in a standard economy plane seat. This seat cushion is designed with travelers in mind – and is not only comfortable and supportive, by breathable and compact. 

The Therm-a-Rest self-inflating seat cushion can also be used for long plane journeys – and it weights just 4 ounces.

#17 Best Travel Items for Long Flights for Comfort: Foot Hammock

Riding in economy on long-haul flights can by a struggle. That said, there are a few travel hacks – like the tray table foot hammock – that can exponentially increase your chances of surviving a long-haul flight in economy.

An on-board foot hammock helps to elevate your feet for a more comfortable flight…even in cramped spaces. The foot sling is also designed to prevent swelling.

#18 Fun Things for Long Flights

Want a first-class experience in economy seating? Upgrade your flying experience with a fun in-flight cocktail kit (these contain no alcohol and you must follow your airline’s on-board rules!).

The mini portable kits allow you to create a tasty cocktail so that you can enjoy an exceptional drink (in a much less expensive seat).

Long Plane Ride Essentials for Sleeping

Sleeping on a plane can be difficult, but not if you are prepared with the best long-haul flight accessories! For us, the best way to get sleep on an airplane is to eliminate light and noise – and we do so by using sleep masks and ear plugs – but we have several sleepy time travel tips for long flights.

#19 Long Haul Flying Tips for Sleeping In-Flight: Wear an Eye Mask

When it comes to sleeping masks, there are thousands to choose from. That said, for airplane sleeping masks, contoured sleeping masks that block out 100% of the light are ideal. The PrettyCare Sleep Mask comes in a set of two, is affordable and gets rave reviews from fellow travelers.

#20 Ear Plugs are the Best Things for Long Flights

We usually use cheap earplugs on flights – but light sleepers may benefit from noise canceling silicone sleeping ear plugs, like these .

Additionally, when my allergies cause congestion, I like to use Earplanes . Not only do they reduce cabin noise, but they are specially designed to relive air pressure and the resulting discomfort.

#21 What To Take on a Long Haul Flight: Travel Pillows

Most airlines offer pillows (and blankets) to all passengers – even those in economy – for longer flights, so you don’t necessarily need to bring your own pillow for plane travel. That said, a good travel pillow can be the difference between peacefully sleeping on a plane and struggling to fall asleep.

Luckily, I can sleep anywhere – so flight pillows for long haul flights are not an item we carry.

However, if you are looking for a long-haul flight pillow, there are a few the come highly rated by fellow travelers – like the trtl Pillow that earns rave reviews.

#22 Sleep Remedy Long Flight Tips

Many travelers sing the praises of taking a sleep remedy in order to get a little shut eye on a long haul flight.

A natural sleep remedy, like melatonin, or prescribed pills by your doctor might help you get the sleep you need on a plane. Before deciding to take anything on a flight, however, check with your doctor first. And, never try taking any remedy for the first time on an airplane.

Pro Tip : Lavender essential oil aromatherapy is also highly touted to help people get a few zzz’s on a flight – but, like with any fragrance on a plane, consider your neighboring passengers.

#23 White Noise or Meditation Apps for Long Distance Flight

Meditation and white noise apps are must haves for long plane rides – especially if you are a light sleeper! Coupled with a good pair of headphones (which we get to in the next section), you can enjoy pure bliss on your flight.

We recommend finding the right app long before your scheduled flight – and even try it out a few times to ensure it will help lull you to sleep. Make sure the app is downloaded to your phone and ready to go before your flight.

Long Flight Travel Essentials for Entertainment

Landing at SFO Airport, CA, USA

When it comes to long haul travel essentials, on-board entertainment is the thing that passes the time. Kris is happily entertained if he has a window seat, but I need something more directly engaging.

Thankfully, most long-haul airplanes are fitted with Seat Back Entertainment – thousands of movies and television shows at the touch of the screen. Utilizing the provided in-flight entertainment is an obvious choice when it comes to being entertained on a flight – but I never solely rely on it because it is not guaranteed.

Not all airlines offer seat-back entertainment – and a few low-cost carriers charge to use it. Sometimes the movie selection is not to my liking. And, in one case, my screen was broken (and – of course – it was on a totally full flight when there were no open seats I could switch to).

Therefore, it is essential to be prepared with things to do on long haul flights that don’t involve the provided in-flight entertainment.

#24 Long Haul Travel Tips for Entertainment: Noise Canceling Headphones

Earphones are travel essentials for long haul flights. In fact, I always bring two pairs…just in case one breaks or somehow gets lost.

Noise reducing headphones are an absolute dream on planes and definitely worth the upgrade if you don’t already have them. If you use wireless headphones , remember to bring the charger (and a back up wired pair, too, as you may need them to utilize the seat back entertainment options).

#25 Best Apps for Long-Haul Flights

We already covered using apps to help you sleep on flights, but there are a few other apps that we think are long plane trip essentials.

Two fantastic apps that should be downloaded and set up prior to take off are Audible (for audiobooks) and Spotify (for music).

That said, perhaps the very best apps for long flights are for the airline carrier you are flying. When you download the free flight carrier app, you typically have access to all of the movies and other digital entertainment options offered by the airline while in flight. Plus, you will have access to other pertinent flight information – like time left in flight, route maps and meal info.

#26 What To Bring on Long Flight: Power Bank and Chargers

One of the absolute essentials for long haul flights is fully charged devices. You do not want to board a flight without fully charged phones, tablets or laptops.

Even with a full charge, however, power cords are long haul plane essentials. Many seats now have USB ports where you can charge your device. (Check on SeatGuru to see if your seat has one, but keep in mind that things – planes and seats – can always change).

Just in case, however, we recommend bringing a portable charger on board, too (it’s not supposed to be in your checked luggage anyway).

As we already mentioned, make sure you download any music, books or apps that you will want to use in-flight prior to arriving at the airport.

#27 Non-Digital Hacks for Long Flights

Non-electronic entertainment is another one of our long-haul essentials. I usually have a book (an actual, paper book) that I can read, but sometimes I will opt for a newspaper or magazine. ( Love with a Chance of Drowning and The Yellow Envelope are two excellent travel books!)

Puzzle books – like Word Search, Crosswords and Sudoku – can provide hours of entertainment. For the sake of space, we recommend buying an all-in-one activity book that includes a variety of puzzles.

The quiet time on a plane also provides an excellent opportunity to journal, sketch or draw. As I always carry a notebook and pen, sometimes I write or jot down notes about my trip (but these cool travel journals are good for trips, too).

If you have travel companions, playing cards are good for long-haul flight entertainment, too. War and Rummy are two easy card games to play in flight – and, if you are flying solo, you can always play a game of Solitaire.

Playing cards are an everyday item that we recommend travelers pack for their trip. Find more tips for Everyday Items for Travel !

Long Haul Flight Snacks and Water

Food is one of my long-haul flight must-haves! Regardless of whether the airline serves included meals during the flight, I bring my own snacks and a water bottle on the plane.

#28 Long Haul Flying Tips: Food that is Healthy

While I am not a traveler that snubs my nose at plane food (I actually usually like it!), there are some instances where the offered dish is not to my liking…or simply not filling enough. To stave off any hunger pangs during the trip, I bring a few healthy snacks in my carryon.

 Almonds, apples and granola bars are my go-to things to bring on long flights, as they are easy to pack and more filling than greasy, salty chips. (That said, some airlines do provide snacks – check what is available in the galley.)

#29 Best Hacks for Long Flights: Candies and Gum

Gum, mints and hard candies are something else we carry with us on flights. Chewing gum and sucking on hard candy can help to equalize the pressure in your ears (because swallowing opens the Eustachian Tubes) – so we like to have a piece of gum or candy on the descent.

Furthermore, gum and mints can help freshen your breath after a long flight!

#30 Water is a Must Have for Long Flights

Staying hydrated can help make plane travel a lot more comfortable (both during the flight and especially after!).

Drinking water is available to passengers throughout the flight (although some budget airlines might charge for it!) – but I still prefer to bring my own water bottle.

Having a closed container of water is much more preferable to the tiny cups of water many airlines provide (as I can tuck it into the seat back pocket). A collapsible water bottle is great for travelers! Once through security, fill up your bottle before you board your flight. Throughout the flight, you can ask the flight attendant for refills, too.

Long Haul Flight Survival Guide by JetSettingFools.com

More Long Haul Flight Hacks

Flying over Indonesia on Malaysia Airlines during our Epic Travel Day

Now that you have your travel outfit selected, your list of things to bring for long flights and advice for what to do on a long-haul flight, we have a few more long-haul flight tips and tricks!

What Bag To Pack for Long Flight

Our tips for a long-haul flight include the best items that will make plane travel more comfortable and pleasant. However, when determining what to pack for a long haul flight, it is just as important to consider your actual packing strategy – as in, what bag to stow at your feet and how to pack it.

The items that we listed as long flight essentials should be within reach – even when the seatbelt sign is illuminated. Because they need to be easily accessible, it is best to pack these items in a good day bag that is stowed at your feet under the seat in front of you.

Carry On for Long Haul Flight Tips

With all of the cords and gadgets for long haul flights, carry on luggage can get messy…and things can get lost.

Because space is limited, it is best to use a bag that can easily be organized with multiple compartments and pockets.

We recommend that you organize your belongings with a Grid It Organizer so that you can easily find what you need in your bag during the flight.

Pro Traveler Tip: Want more luggage tips? Find out why love Packing Cubes and prefer traveling with a Backpack vs Suitcase ! 

Make a Personalized Flight Essentials Kit

Packing for a long-haul flight can be a daunting task. However, if you have a pre-packed long-haul flight survival kit, it will make the chore of packing an absolute breeze. To create your long-haul travel kit, start with your long-haul flight checklist (or get ours here !).

Identify all of the items on your list that you can leave packed in the long-haul flight kit (things like earplugs, sleep mask, water bottle, extra charging cords, etc). Gather them in a bag or storage box and check those off your list. Then, as your next trip approaches, all you need to do is grab the items already set to go from your long-haul flight travel kit – and then gather and pack the remaining items from your list.

Long Flight Tips for Exercise

Long haul flight exercises are a good way to fend off the unfortunate side effects of long-haul flights.

One of the best exercises for long haul flights is to simply get up and walk around. But you can also do easy in-seat exercises – like rolling your ankles, wrists, shoulders and neck – for better circulation.

Money Advice for Long-Haul Flights

While most commercial airlines include food, beverage and seat-back entertainment in the price of the ticket, low cost carriers that fly long-haul routes do not. If you are flying with a budget airline, cash and credit cards is one of the things to bring for a long flight!


What To Do on Long Flights to Avoid Jet Lag

It is likely that your long haul flight will cross time zones – which often results in dreaded jet lag on arrival. However, there are a few ways to avoid it!

Stay hydrated and avoid drinking alcohol on the flight. Before you start to snooze, adjust your sleep cycle to coincide with your arrival city. You can use an app, like Timeshifter, to help time out your sleep schedule.

Herbal remedies, like No Jet Lag pills , can also help – but talk to your doctor first.

Travel Insurance 

Whether taking a long haul flight or making a short trip to the state next door, trip insurance can come in handy if things go awry. If you haven’t already booked travel insurance for your next vacation, check the affordable rates and robust coverage at World Nomads . 


Get our advice on booking cheap long haul flights, How To Book the Best Flights !

Start packing and planning your next trip ! Search for the lowest airfares , the best accommodations and fun things to do …then start packing ! Want more travel advice? Head over to our Travel Planning Page for more tips on traveling – and for country-specific information, take a look at our Travel Guides Page !

Click here for a Free Vacation Budget Planner Banner by JetSettingFools.com

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Long Haul Flights Essentials Tips by JetSettingFools.com

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41 Long Haul Flight Essentials & Tips for 2023

long haul travel tips

We all know that long haul, international flights can really take a lot out of you. From sitting for long periods of time and being cramped in a small space, it is an uncomfortable time for many. I know from experience that you can improve your comfort on long haul flights by packing the right items in your personal item carry-on.

In this post I’ll cover the long haul flight essentials and tips that you need for the best flight experience possible. Note, for the purposes of this post, long haul is defined as anything over a 4 hour flight. These tips are for those of us who are “suffering” in economy, but should be helpful even if you are flying first class or business class.

Table of Contents

Your Body on Long Haul Flight

Long haul and overnight flights do have a significant impact on your body. Just to name a few of the things your body may go through on such a flight:

  • Poor circulation and blood pooling in your feet due to being cramped in a small place for a long period of time
  • You may be more gassy due to lessened pressure on the outside of your body
  • Dehydration due to the dry air being pulled in from outside having very little humidity
  • Dry skin due to dehydration
  • Out of whack circadian rhythm due to flying across many time zones

This post will cover all the long flight essentials that you need to pack with you to take on the plane so that you can combat these symptoms in the best way possible, and have a comfortable flight. Also, if you are looking for what to pack in your main suitcase for your international trip, check out this post .

The Best Carry On Essentials for Long Haul Flights

I never take any long flight without packing the three items below!

Rustig Pressure Reducing Silicone Travel Ear Plugs with Travel Carrying Case - Up to 23 Decibel Hearing Protection (10 Pair), Reusable and Hand Washable

Long Haul Flight Essentials | What to Pack

Flight comfort / sleep essentials.

Perhaps most important for a tolerable long-haul flight is keeping comfy while in the air. Here are a few of my must-have essentials for comfort:

1 | Eye Mask – Drown out the sun and the reading lamps of your seat-mates (they are so bright, right?!) with a nice face mask .

Kimkoo Sleep Mask-Eye Mask for Sleeping, Sleeping Mask Blocking Out Light Perfectly for Women and Men, Soft and Comfortable Blindfold for Travelling, with Pouch (Black+Gray)

  • Blocking light Perfectly- This sleeping eye mask features a patented nose wing design. The bottom of the eye mask is...
  • No pressure on the eyes - This sleeping mask is designed with soft delta side wings, which prevent any unwanted shifting...

2 | Earplugs – Keep noisy babies and overhead announcements muffled while you try to relax. In addition to blocking out unpleasant sounds, get a pair that helps with air pressure relief as well.

  • »REDUCE PRESSURE: Feeling your ears pop on a flight or when driving through changing elevation can be so uncomfortable!...
  • »COMFORT: These silicone ear plugs will help reduce pressure during flights and car rides for a more enjoyable trip!...

3 | Neck Pillow – This is what I think is the most important, as a good neck pillow can save you from so much pain after you land.

You can get all three of these essentials together in this set by Everlasting Comfort . And as an added bonus, the included plush, velour pillow has a pocket to store your headphones, earplugs, and whatever else you’d like to keep close. It is made with memory foam, so you know that it will be very comfortable. And one pro tip here, you may benefit from putting it behind your back rather than around your neck too.

Everlasting Comfort Memory Foam Travel Pillow - Airplane Neck Rest & Plane Accessories (Black)

  • No Longer Struggle with Uncomfortable Airline Seats: Made with premium memory foam, our neck pillow adapts to your...
  • Instant Neck Pain Relief: Sleeping upright in your seat can lead to neck stiffness. With our airplane neck pillow, you...

4 | Tray Table Pillow – If the neck pillow is not comfortable for you, try out an inflatable pillow that you can fold your face in arms into. Definitely a different experience than the standard neck pillow, but may work better for some folks.

JefDiee Inflatable Travel Pillow, Airplane Neck Pillow Comfortably Supports Head and Chin for Airplanes, Trains, Cars Office Napping on The Tray Table (Grey)

  • 🛩️Humanized Design: This neck pillow is designed with an ergonomic 45° angle, allowing your head and neck to lean...
  • 🛩️Comfortable and Durable: The airplane pillow is made of strong, washable and soft PVC flocking, no...

5 | Travel Scarf – I never take any flight without a scarf, as I have experienced a few long-haul flights where economy passengers were not given blankets (ridiculous, I know). I recommend taking a traveling scarf , that is made just for this purpose!

Happyluxe Shawl Wraps for Women, Versatile Wrap Shawl for Women, Wrap Scarf, Pashmina, Travel Gifts for Women - Jet Black

  • Luxurious Shawl Wraps for Women: Experience the luxe touch of our Wayfarer Travel Wrap, 68" x 35", two times softer than...
  • One Great Fabric - Two Great Feels - We offer two distinct versions of our super soft Tencel fabric 1) Our Classic...

6 | Essential Oil(s) – The right essential oil, such as lavender or eucalyptus oil, can help calm any anxiety that you have about flying. Additionally, it will help you deal with unpleasant smells that you may encounter from others on the flight.

If you prefer not to put it on your skin, you can use a diffuser necklace to keep the scent close.

Maromalife Lava Stone Diffuser Necklace Teardrop Essential Oil Diffuser Aromatherapy Necklace 316L Stainless Steel Necklace with 8 Lava Stone, Gift for Women/Men, Mothers Day, Christmas, Birthday

  • Polished Hollow Cage Pendant: This is a upgrade teardrop lava stone necklace diffuser, made of premium stainless steel,...
  • Excellent Aromatherapy Experience: Drop your favorite essential oil into lava stone to enjoy the essential oil aroma....

7 | Life Straw Water Bottle – This is the bottle that I personally take with me every time I travel. I like to bring it because it makes any type of water safe to drink by draining out the bacteria. It is not a small bottle, but is easy enough to carry around with the clip that comes with it. Be sure to come to the airport with the bottle empty, but to fill it up fully before you take off. You will get more water during the flight, but this way you can be sure you don’t go thirsty while flying (or while on your trip).

No products found.

8 | Collapsible Water Bottle – If you want to travel with something smaller/ more compact, the collapsible water bottle may be a better option for you.

Collapsible Portable Sports Water Bottle, Camping Cup With Carabiner, Reuseable, Silicone, Foldable, Leak Proof For Outdoor, Travel Gym Hiking, Cycling, BPA Free

  • SAFETY AND HEALTH - Collapsible travel cup made from food-grade silicone, BPA free and odorless. Feature with...
  • OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE - Can be hung on the bag of a connective hand rope and portable hook.Much easier to hold and...

Related: Tortuga Setout Laptop Backpack Review

Electronic Essentials

9 | Phone – This may be a bit obvious, but your phone is a great resource for entertainment such as playing games, listening to music, or reading. Be sure to download any entertainment that you can’t access without internet before you take off!

10 | Tablet – This may not be an absolute necessary, but it is much easier to read / watch things during the flight. A tablet is also a great tool for downloading videos that you may care to watch during the flight, from sites like Netflix. I tend to travel with my iPad, but the Amazon Fire 10 Tablet is a great (and cheap!) alternative.

Fire HD 10 Tablet (32 GB, Plum, With Special Offers) + Amazon Standing Case (Plum) + Nupro Screen Protector (2-pack)

  • Includes the latest Fire HD 10 Tablet with Special Offers, 32GB, Plum ($149.99), Amazon Cover, Plum ($39.99), and Nupro...
  • 10.1" 1080p full HD display; 32 or 64 GB of internal storage (add up to 512 GB with microSD)

Also, to get more out of your tablet, you can add a keyboard  (like this one)   and essentially use it as a laptop. Load your favorite TV shows and movies while at home on your WiFi so that you can stay entertained if the flight does not have the best options on board.

11 | Noise-Canceling Headphones  – I recommend bringing your own headphones on the flight. They’ll be better quality, and you can guarantee that they have not been used by anyone else before. If you’re looking for an upgrade, the  Beats Studio3 headphones  are the way to go. They are excellent for cancelling out any unpleasant sounds that you might encounter during your flight.

If you’re looking for an upgrade, the Beats Studio3 headphones are the way to go. They are excellent for cancelling out any unpleasant sounds that you might encounter during your flight.

Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones - Matte Black (Renewed)

  • WHATS IN THE BOX: Beats Studio 3 Wireless Headphones | Carrying Case | (NOT Included: microUSB Cable and Remote Talk...

If you are using iPhone headphones that don’t have the standard jack, order a pair of the good old 3.5mm style before you go!

12 | Portable Charger  – Don’t forget your chargers! These days most long-haul flights do have outlets for you to charge your stuff, so it’s a good idea to have these within close reach as well.

13 | Portable Power Banks – Just in case there is not a outlet on the plane, I always take one of these with me. Best case is that you have one that has both standard USB ports and USB-C ports so it is easy to use all your different charging cords. Here are two options:

INIU Portable Charger, Slimmest 10000mAh 5V/3A Power Bank, USB C in&Out High-Speed Charging Battery Pack, External Phone Powerbank Compatible with iPhone 15 14 13 12 X Samsung S22 S21 Google iPad etc

  • ✅【From INIU--the SAFE Fast Charge Pro】Experience the safest charging with over 38 million global users. At INIU,...
  • ✅【Market's Thinnest 10000mAh】 The market’s one and only 0.5-inch power bank that breaks the limit of 10000mAh,...

14 | Electronic Cable Organizer – Now this may seem a bit odd to include on this list, but it is a lifesaver, believe me! When used properly, you will never misplace a single cord again. I use the one pictured below by BAGSMART .

BAGSMART Electronics Organizer Travel Case, Small Cord Bag, Tech Organizer as Travel Accessories for Men Women, Cable Essentials for Phone, SD Card, Black

  • Compact Size: The electronics organizer bag is 9.4" L x 6.7" W x 1.4" H and weighs 0.24 lb, making it a lightweight and...
  • Secure Storage: The bag features 5 elastic loops(S) and 2 elastic loops(L) to keep cables and accessories organized and...

Self-Care | Face, Mouth, & Body

Let’s be honest, one of the worst things about flying is the fact that you have to go way longer than usual without bathing – possibly upwards of 2 days! So I like to bring along a few essentials to help keep fresh during and after the flight:

15 | Body Wipes – Bring wet wipes or baby wipes to keep yourself smelling fresh when you can’t quickly get to a shower.

Surviveware Biodegradable Wet Wipes, Face and Body Wipes for Post Workout and Camping, Wipes for Adults, Large Wipes, 32 Count

  • UNSCENTED WET WIPES: Clean yourself with our unscented biodegradable wipes from head to toe without being overwhelmed by...
  • IDEAL CLEANING WIPES FOR POSTERIOR PAMPERING: At some point, a “number two” is inevitable while out in the woods....

16 | Face Wash – Depending on how long your flight is, you may need to do your standard “bedtime” routine. This means you need to keep up with your skin routine. I know that your choice here can be quite personal, but if you are looking for something new to try, I do recommend Paula’s choice products.

Paula's Choice CLEAR Regular Strength Acne Travel Kit, 2% Salicylic Acid & 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide for Acne, Redness Relief, Two Week Trial Size

  • EASY-TO-USE ACNE FIGHTING SYSTEM: This 3-step skin care system works quickly to combat and control stubborn acne,...
  • Paula's Choice CLEAR Regular Strength Acne Kit contains 3 products: CLEAR Pore Normalizing Cleanser, CLEAR Regular...

17 | Face Lotion – Bring your favorite face lotion along too. It’s a good idea to reapply as you fly to keep your skin moist; plane air can be quite drying as mentioned above. Don’t forget to bring it in a travel-size container!

In addition to Paula’s choice mentioned above, love face care by Dermalogica – they have a great travel kit that is easy to pack up and take along on your journey (which will also include your face wash).I personally love face care by Dermalogica – they have a great travel kit that is easy to pack up and take along on your journey.

Dermalogica Travel Skin Kit - Set Contains: Face Wash, Face Exfoliator, and Face Moisturizer - Cleanse, Purify and Hydrate To Reveal Brighter, Smoother Skin

  • Washes away impurities without stripping or drying.
  • Reveals brighter, smoother skin.

18 | Deodorant – For the sake of everyone on the plane, please keep your pits fresh. I have been on one too many flights where body odor has been a problem.

If you’re looking for a nice aluminum-free option, try this option by Megababe .

19 | Sunscreen – I like to bring a light sunscreen to keep my face and body protected, especially when traveling during the summer months.

I really like Neutrogena’s sunscreen , as it works well for both lighter and darker skin tones.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 45, TSA-Compliant travel Size, 3 Fl Oz, Pack of 2, 6 Fl Oz

  • Twin pack with two 3-fluid ounce bottles of Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Non-Greasy Sunscreen with SPF 45 that helps...
  • This lightweight & sheer sunscreen is fast-absorbing with Dry-Touch technology for a non-greasy, matte finish and is...

20 | Makeup – Bring your makeup basics with you – I recommend keeping it light, unless you are attending a formal event while traveling.

21 | Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss – Bring along your standard dental hygiene items to keep your breath fresh on the flight :). Pro tip: Keep your regular brushing schedule while on board – brushing before you sleep and after you wake up will be beneficial to you and your seat mates.

See below for a nice travel-sized teeth cleaning kit you can easily pack in your carry-on.

  • Country Of Origin: United States

22 | Hair Ties – Keep your hair out of your face by bringing along hair ties so that you don’t have to worry about it while flying. I pretty much only use those by Goody’s, which really work well and last for a long time (no snapping mid-ponytail).

Goody Ouchless Womens Elastic Hair Tie - 27 Count, Black - 4MM for Medium Hair- Hair Accessories for Women Perfect for Long Lasting Braids, Ponytails and More - Pain-Free (Packaging May Vary)

  • Goody Elastics: Keep hair in place and out of your face with the Goody Ouchless 4MM Elastics. Includes 27 black...
  • Ouchless: The pain-free, strong comfortable hold won’t snag or pull your hair.

23 | Hair Scarf – I recommend bringing your regular hair scarf along if you tend to wrap your hair or pineapple your curly hair at night. You may want to bring a black one so that it appears more like a style than a bedtime thing (if that matters to you).

35' Womens Large Satin Square Scarf Silk Feeling Hair Wrapping Gift Headscarf Scarves

  • Material: Made of 100% silky feel polyester satin.super soft and comfortable. Lightweight but keep your neck warm in...
  • Dimension: 35*35 inches/90*90cm, can be worn around neck, head, waist, or hair as well as on a hat or handbag, etc.

24 | Lip Balm – As mentioned earlier, you are likely to get dry skin while flying, so bring along a lip balm to keep your lips hydrated too. Burt’s Bees is one of my all-time favorite brands as it just works .

Burt's Bees Lip Balm - Pink Grapefruit, Mango, Coconut & Pear, and Pomegranate Pack, Lip Moisturizer With Beeswax, Tint-Free, Natural Origin Conditioning Lip Treatment, 4 Tubes, 0.15 oz.

  • FLAVORFUL LIP BALM: One package contains four 0.15 oz. lip balm tubes of Burt’s Bees Lip Balm in Pink Grapefruit,...
  • MOISTURIZED LIPS: Each balm is infused with responsibly sourced beeswax, nourishing oils and butter for a conditioning...

Keeping up your health when traveling is important, and there is nothing worse than getting sick while on the plane. Just to be prepared, you should keep the following with you at all times:

25 | Hand Sanitizer – This is kind of a given these days, but it is a great idea to always have hand sanitizer on you so you can keep your hands germ free, particularly when you are getting ready to eat.

Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Refreshing Gel, Clean Scent, 2 fl oz Travel Size Flip Cap Bottle (Pack of 6) – 3155-04-EC

  • Show you care about well-being with PURELL Advanced Hand Sanitizer Refreshing Gel
  • Kills 99.99 percent of most common germs that may cause illness. Outperforms other sanitizers ounce-for-ounce

26 | Prescription Medications – Keep these on your person (NEVER check them!), and keep a reminder if you have to take them at the same time every day.

27 | Melatonin – Melatonin is a great supplement to help you sleep better – very helpful if you have trouble sleeping on planes.

Natrol Sleep Melatonin 5mg Fast Dissolve Tablets, Nighttime Sleep Aid for Adults, 200 Strawberry-Flavored Melatonin Tablets, 200 Day Supply

  • Sleep Supplements: One 200 count bottle of Natrol Melatonin 5mg Strawberry-Flavored, Fast-Dissolve Tablets for a 200-day...
  • Ingredients: These sleep aid supplements are vegetarian and non-GMO

28 | Pain Reliever – Useful in the event that you have a headache or any other body ache during your travels. I prefer Aleve, but Tylenol or Advil are also great options.

29 | Stomach / Digestive Medicines – Travel tummy is a real thing guys! The food in some places may impact you worse than in others, so I recommend taking meds such as Pepto Bismol tablets and Imodium in case of emergency.

30 | Charcoal Tablets – As mentioned above, flying can make you gassy, and therefore a bit smelly. Save yourself and others around you by taking these before your fly. ( Please check any contraindications with current mediations first though .)

Nature's Bounty Activated Charcoal 260 mg, 100 Capsules, Dietary Supplement to Support a Healthy Lifestyle

  • ACTIVATED CHARCOAL CAPSULES: Charcoal powder is used for health, beauty & oral care & has traditionally been used to...
  • DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS: Activated Charcoal is a naturally sourced health and dietary supplement that's been used to support...


31 | First Aid Kit – This may go without saying, but it is best to be prepared with a first aid kit that keeps you safe in case of injury while traveling. This is definitely for the worst-case scenario, but can bring some peace of mind.

Mini First Aid Kit, 100 Pieces Water-Resistant Hard Shell Small Case - Perfect for Travel, Outdoor, Home, Office, Camping, Hiking, Car (Red)

  • FULLY PACKED ▶ Everything you need is in a small kit! Fully packed with 100 pieces useful and valuable hospital grade...
  • CERTIFICATED ▶ All our products are with international certifications to ensure compliance with global standards...

32 | Antibacterial Wipes – Just in case your flight attendants to provide them to you, I recommend bringing along some Wet Ones to wipe down any surfaces that you will be in contact with. In these times, it never hurts to be safe.

WET ONES Antibacterial Hand Wipes, Fresh Scent 20 ea (Pack of 2)

  • Product of WET ONES

33 | Jet Lag Relief – There are several homeopathic remedies out there today that can help you feel a bit less fatigued and “weird” overall after your first few hours after landing.

Miers Labs No Jet Lag Homeopathic Jet Lag Remedy, Blue 32 Count

  • REDUCES JET LAG - After a long-haul flight, we all want to arrive feeling fresh and alert and with NO-Jet-Lag you can....
  • HOMEOPATHIC INGREDIENTS - Using a unique formulation our 5 main active ingredients are all plant based and have NO side...

34 | Pair of Compression Socks  –  These socks   keep the blood circulating as it should, instead of pooling at your feet. They are also good for the prevention of swollen ankles and blood clots (deep vein thrombosis) – I can testify to the former!

SB SOX Compression Socks (20-30mmHg) for Men & Women – Best Compression Socks for All Day Wear, Better Blood Flow, Swelling! (Small, Solid Black)

  • ✅ Improve Blood Circulation: Our compression socks boost your blood circulation and relieve leg pain, swelling, and...
  • ✅ All Day Comfort: Our socks are very comfortable, lightweight, and breathable so that you can wear them all day! The...

35 | Adjustable Airplane Footrest – This footrest is a adjustable sling that you can use to keep your feet up while flying. It pairs nicely with the compression socks to help keep the blood from pooling in your feet. It is a little harder to use if you are in an aisle seat, but easy enough to just take your feet out of when someone is trying to walk by.

Airplane Footrest Made with Premium Memory Foam - Airplane Travel Foot Hammock, No Clashing Foot Hammock & Portable Plane Leg Rest, Provides Relaxation and Comfortable for Long Flight

  • SUPPORT LEG & LOWER BACK - Have you ever suffered from discomfort or even pain in your lower back or leg as you travel...
  • NO FOOT & ANKLES CLASHING - Thanks to the flat and stable wide foot hammock design, our airplane foot rest offer...

Other Essentials

36 | Travel Documents – Your important documents such as passports, IDs, credit cards, and visas should all be on hand with you at all times.

37 | 1-2 Extra Outfits – I like to bring these along, just in case of lost luggage. You never know what might happen! Also, it never hurts to have a few fresh undies in tow.

38 | Travel Journal – If you like to journal, bring it along! This is another way to keep yourself occupied during your time in the air.

Refillable Handmade Travelers Notebook, Leather Travel Journal Notebook for Men & Women, Perfect for Writing, Gifts, Travelers, Small Size 5.2' x 4' Inches - Coffee

  • ✔DURABLE GENUINE LEATHER TRAVEL NOTEBOOK - Made from Classy & Durable Top Layer Genuine Leather with a real leather...
  • ✔PREMIUM THICK PAPER - 100gsm archival-quality pages made from acid-free paper which resists damage from light and...

39 | Travel Insurance – Travel insurance is a good idea, particularly if you are going to be traveling for a long time. There are many options, such as the one provided by World Nomads that can give you more peace of mind while traveling. Buy this BEFORE your flight!

World Nomads provides travel insurance for travelers in over 100 countries. As an affiliate, we receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. We do not represent World Nomads. This is information only and not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.

40 | Good Book – If you are similar to me, and like feeling the page turn when you read, you may want to bring an actual book along. Just try to opt for one that isn’t too big to cary with you!

41 | Snacks – Some airlines can be depending on for good food, and others cannot. It’s a great idea to bring your own snacks along just in case you don’t like the options onboard so that you don’t go hungry on the flight.

Related: Best International Travel Accessories

Packing the Essentials in Your Carry-On

Choosing the Right Bag

I believe strongly in light packing, and that you should take all of your stuff onboard with you when you travel. At the very least, you need to take all of your long haul essentials on the flight with you, and preferably keep them under the seat in front of you.

the tortuga setout laptop bag

I pack the Tortuga Setout Laptop Bag when I travel. It is the perfect personal item bag, and has plenty of space for you to pack everything on the essentials list and more! One of the best things about this bag is that it is full of different compartments so you can keep everything organized. For detailed information on this bag, check out my review of the Tortuga Setout Laptop Bag .

Also, if that one doesn’t fit your needs, I recommend considering the Nordace Smart Backpack which comes with outlets you can use for charging your electronics.

Additional Packing Tips:

liquids in pouch

  • Pack all of your liquids together in a clear container. Countries vary in how strict they are when going through security with liquids, but it’s best to make sure they meet approved limits before you leave. This TSA-approved pouch   is a great option to use, if you do not already have something like it.
  • Keep like items separated for easy organization. I like to keep my makeup products in one pouch and my hair accessories in another, for example.

The Best Clothes for a Long Haul Flight

Your ultimate goal for packing for a long haul flight is COMFORT. Wearing tight or restricting clothes will really just make you miserable if being cute is the only thing you are aiming for. I tend to wear a similar uniform on every long flight, and it’s one that will work for pretty much everyone:

  • Light Shirt – Wear a light T-shirt that you can layer up or down, depending on the temperature inside the plane. I like to wear something from the H&M basic collection myself.
  • Comfy Pants – Don’t wear jeans! It may be tempting to wear your bulkiest clothing, but stretchy and/or loose pants will be your best bet. I like wearing cute baggy pants like these Harem Pants or a good pair of leggings.
  • Sweater – Always bring a sweater or sweatshirt along to keep yourself warm while flying.
  • Comfy Shoes – Bring shoes that you have already broken in that you can walk around in the airport / deal with transfers without experiencing foot pain.

Also, as I mentioned above, don’t forget to pack your Compression Socks and Travel Scarf !

Long Haul Flight Tips and Tricks

There are a few things that you can do in the airport and while you’re on the plane that will make your travel experience go much more smoothly overall:

At the Airport

  • Make the most of your time in the airport by using the FLIO app ( iPhone | Android ) to know what food and amenities to find in each airport. This app also provides flight arrival / departure information, weather, transportation, and more!
  • Another option to consider is using an airport lounge in between flights. For a (usually) reasonable fee, you’ll have access to food and showers while you wait for the next leg of your trip. You can book lounges through the FLIO app. Additionally, if you get the Chase Sapphire Reserve , you’ll have access to Priority Pass, giving you free accesses to lounges around the glove. Read more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve here .
  • Some airports offer one-off amenities that can help you too. For example, I’ve found standalone showers in the Frankfurt airport and beds for rent by the hour in the Beijing airport. Research the airport in advance (using FLIO!) so that you can know what to expect before you land and plan appropriately.

On the Plane

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink lots of water while you’re on the plane to keep from dehydrating on the plane.
  • Get Up and Move: Don’t just sit for hours on end while you’re on the flight. Remember how I mentioned keeping your circulation going above? Well compression socks aren’t the only way to help that – walking is actually the best remedy to prevent complications from poor circulation.
  • Adjust Your Sleep Cycle: If you haven’t already done so before getting to the airport, use your time on the plane to try to adjust to the new time zone. Set your watch ahead (or behind), and try to sleep (or not sleep) based on the time where you are headed.

Long Haul Flight Essentials | Final Tips

And that wraps my list of long haul flight essentials + tips! Do you have any other essentials that you like to carry on long haul flights? If so, drop them in the comments below!

Related Posts:

  • The Best International Travel Accessories
  • Away Luggage Review [The Bigger Carry-On]
  • The Tortuga Setout Laptop Backpack Review
  • How to Plan a Trip in 12 Simple Steps


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41 Long Haul Flight Essentials & Tips for 2023

Last update on 2024-06-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

long haul travel tips

Christen Thomas is the founder of TravelWanderGrow, established in 2018. She has lived abroad and traveled extensively to over 30 countries. In addition, she is a certified Travel Advisor and is an expert in planning trips focused on city history and culture. As a frequent traveler, she also shares tips on how to prepare to travel well and how to save money while doing so.


Hello Christen, I really am impressed with your website design! This article has many great tips for traveling that are very useful. I definitely could have used some melatonin on my recent trip to Israel. I’m not sure if that would have been enough to sleep on the plane for me though. I am a very light sleeper, so any noise will easily wake me up. The one thing I regret was not bringing noise-cancelling headphones. An extra phone charger for the tour bus would have been great as well. Thanks for all the great tips!

Hi Daniel – Glad you like the site and found the tips useful! Noise cancelling headphones is a great idea – I should add that to my list! Sometimes I bring along some earplugs that I received on a long flight, but I can pretty much sleep through anything haha

I really like your site and enjoyed reading this article. I want one of those TSA pouches. What a great idea. I’m saving this list for my next trip. Thank you!

Happy to help Holly! If you have any questions on anything, just let me know 🙂

I guess we can become best friends! How alike the things we pack to prepare for our long flights!

I would definitely bring my whole set of face care products with me. You know how dry the air on the flight can be, my lips are gonna crack! And how come I never think of the baby wipes! So convenient! Thanks for sharing!:)

Of course Crystal! Great minds think alike 🙂 Baby wipes are an absolute lifesaver for me – it’s a trick I got from my mom. And I 100% feel you on that dry plane skin!

I am saving this for our next trip. I usually get bored during long-haul flights. What neck pillow do you recommend?

Hi Ben! I really like memory foam pillows – check out the one I mention on this post: https://travelwandergrow.com/best-international-travel-accessories-2018

Hey Christen! I always take my compression socks with me so I won’t have those huge ankles after the long flight (or even a shorter one). I had never thought about a bag to my cords and adapters! I will absolutely get that later on, it will make my life so much easier while travelling! 🙂 Thank you for these awesome tips! ps. I love your website design! <3

Thanks for the complement, Mira! I agree – the compression socks are the absolute best. And I’m telling you, that BAGSMART bag will change your life! Hope you get to try it out.

You have many great tips in this post. I saved it to my travel board, so I can go over it while planning my vacation later on this year.

I’m glad you found the post useful, Carolina!

I completely agree with this! I like creating a list like this so I don’t forget the next time I travel. Great tips!

Glad you found this useful Shari-Ann!

These are such great tips! Long haul flights can be BRUTAL and I love curling up with a good audiobook. Thanks for sharing!

You’re right Whitney, an audiobook is another great thing to bring along on the journey 🙂

Omg I need a cable organiser in my life! Thanks for sharing this list

It is one of my favorite packing tools!

I recommend a foot sling for my fellow short people. It really makes a difference! Your back will thank you!! I also like to wear compression sleeves instead of socks just because you can hide them under your pants and still wear cute shoes.

Great tips, thanks for sharing Taren! I have just gotten into the sling myself (also a fellow short person :)).

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26 Long Flight Tips to Make A Long Haul Flight Feel Short

We’ve gathered our best long flight tips to help you get comfy and cozy before you reach your destination.

Let’s face it: flying isn’t the most relaxing part of any journey that involves it. From the long lines at check-in to getting your bag out of the overhead bin, the experience for most people is just something to get over with so they can finally enjoy their vacation. In between are the worst-case scenarios: cramped seating, crying infants, questionable airline meals, and the prospect of not being able to sleep through all of it. Even worse than those? Your phone runs out of juice, so you sit there reading the emergency procedure handout very slowly, rationing the words out like it’s the last book on Earth. Been there, done that.

That said, it’s not like you’re completely helpless in the face of these flying-related woes. As usual, the key to minimizing the hassle of flying is preparation, which is why we’ve compiled a list of long flight tips we’ve gathered over the years. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this list of what to do on a long flight!


Before you board

  • Grab that upgrade: Flying in economy class? Cramped seating is one of the main reasons why long flights are so tough. Fortunately, there’s a travel hack for that. Try snagging a flight that you know will be underbooked. It may mean adjusting your travel dates, though, you’re more likely to be given a free upgrade to a higher class. That said, you’ll have to ask the agent (and remember to ask them nicely ).
  • Take note of your sleep schedule: Keep timing in mind when booking your flight. We recommend overnight flights so that you can use the time to get some shut-eye. After all, you don’t want to spend your waking hours on the plane, only then to sleep as soon as you hit the hotel.
  • Choose your seat wisely: It’s the age-old question: aisle or window seat? Unfortunately, there’s no right answer, just a cop-out: it depends. For long flights, we recommend taking the window seat if you don’t want to be disturbed while you’re sleeping or watching in-flight entertainment. If you find yourself needing to use the restroom often, then take an aisle seat for easier access.

Geometrical Pocket Tripod Pro | Using the tripod in Detroit

Bring Entertainment

  • Charge up devices: Dead electronics are just expensive paperweights, so remember to top them off before you leave home. This includes your power bank, which will let you charge your devices again in case they run out of juice during the flight. In terms of capacity, a 10,000 mAh power bank is the sweet spot for a long flight. It’s big enough to charge a Max-sized iPhone twice but small enough that the TSA agent won’t raise their eyebrows.
  • Download your favorite podcasts and shows: In-flight Wi-Fi and movies are hit or miss depending on which airline you’re flying with. We recommend downloading your music, shows, and podcasts beforehand so you have your own personalized entertainment. We particularly like podcasts because they don’t take up too much storage space for the amount of entertainment we get out of them.
  • Pack noise-cancelling earphones: Of course, to get the most out of podcasts, you’ll need a good pair of headphones or earphones. We go a step further and use ones with active noise cancellation so that we can block off cabin noise and focus on what we’re listening to. Bonus points: wearing a pair of these is a subtle cue for people not to disturb you.
  • Play some games: Download some game apps on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop before you take off. However, keep in mind that process-heavy apps can suck a lot of power from your battery. So instead of graphic-intensive games, go for 2D puzzles and simple side-scrollers. They won’t drain your devices as quickly, and they can be just as entertaining if you find the right one.
  • Catch up on some reading: Video games not your jam? That’s okay; use this time to binge-read something on your TBR. And no, it doesn’t have to be a super-long novel. Reading up on your destination’s customs, landmarks, and upcoming events is a good way to learn what to do and what not to do once you arrive. After all, you don’t always get the luxury of fully fleshing out your plans (especially if you’re traveling for work).
  • Go analog: If your devices run out of juice for one reason or another, it’s always good to have an analog backup—like a good ‘ol deck of cards. If you’re traveling alone, maybe ask your neighbor to play with you. If you’re alone, though, we wouldn’t recommend building a house of cards (for obvious reasons).
  • Channel your inner Hemingway and journal: Sometimes simply writing what’s on your mind can result in hours of relaxation. A bit of reflection or expressing what you want to experience on your trip can be an entertaining exercise all on its own. Maybe you can even doodle yourself surfing or sightseeing if you’re feeling a bit artsy on your long flight—it’ll be just as precious as the photos you take.

Osprey Fairview Small Zipped Pocket

Keep Gear Close

  • Mind your foot space: The kind of personal bag you take with you matters. If you plan on taking something small enough to fit under the seat in front of you, be sure it doesn’t take up the entire space. You’ll want a bit of wiggle room so you can move your feet around, especially if you’re on the tall side.
  • Personal item vs. carry-on: It’s quite tempting to pack most of your gear in your carry-on since, as its name suggests, you’ll carry it with you in the cabin. However, you’ll either have to put it in the overhead bin or under your seat—tight spaces that are hard to reach. Decide early on what items you’ll want easy access to and keep them nearby.
  • Consider a sling: At the time of this post, you’re allowed to wear a sling during takeoff and landing, which means you can keep your items even closer. Once you’re at cruising altitude, leave it on or hang it from the tray table in front of you.

BIRKENSTOCK Arizona Essentials EVA Review

Dress Comfortably

  • Wear casual, comfortable clothing: Can’t decide what to wear on a long flight? Dress casually and save the fancy clothing for later. Casual shirts and comfortable jeans or joggers will let you settle in your seat easier than bulky clothing. You can also pack your PJs in your personal bag and change into them later once you’re in the sky—it just depends on your opinion of pajamas in public.
  • Avoid bulky footwear: Leg room is precious real estate when flying, so you don’t want to waste it on excess rubber and leather. Sneakers are generally less bulky than trainers, so that’s what we prefer. You can also pack some flip-flops and slip into them before you go through airport security. You won’t be asked to take them off, and they’re much more comfortable than their closed travel shoes .
  • Use your toiletries: Long flights mean plenty of time for odor and dirt to build up, so pack a few toiletries in your personal bag. Wet wipes are particularly handy for keeping yourself clean without having to get up from your seat. Then again, there’s nothing quite like a splash of water to keep yourself freshened up, so don’t be shy if you want to use the restroom. There you can rinse your mouth, wash your hands, do your ones and twos, and get a good look at yourself in the mirror.


  • Be polite to flight attendants: This should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: be polite to the staff. It’s going to be a long flight, so you’ll want to establish a good, albeit temporary, relationship with the flight attendants who will be assisting you throughout the flight (and that includes emergencies). A simple raise of the hand here, a smile there, and a once-in-a-while “thank you” will go a long way to making their job easier and, thus, the journey smoother.
  • Be considerate to your neighbors: This politeness and courteousness should also extend to your neighbors next to you and in the nearby rows. Put your phone on silent (apps and alarms might still ping you even if you’re in airplane mode) and ensure that your earphones aren’t bleeding too much noise. Watch your elbow too. As a rule, we like to keep elbows within the armrests to make sure they’re not disturbing anyone else.

Best Sleep Mask for Travel | 9 Eye Masks To Help You Sleep Anywhere

Find Your Quiet Place

  • Set your clocks: Hold up! We don’t mean setting up your alarm; that’s a terrible idea unless you want all eyes on you. Instead, set your clock to your destination’s time zone. This way, you’ll be able to keep track of when you should take naps during the flight to minimize jet lag. Better yet, see if your smartphone has a dual clock option (most do) so you can also keep track of time at home. The more in tune you are with your time zone, the easier it’ll be to anticipate your tiredness.
  • Use a pillow: Catching Z’s during a long flight is tricky for a multitude of reasons, but one specific side effect we all want to avoid is muscle pain. The solution? Travel pillows . These come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from your usual toilet seat-shaped cushions all the way to inflatable ones. The latter takes up less space than the former, so that’s our usual go-to whenever we travel. Alternatively, you can bunch up a long scarf or use a packable jacket to rest your head.
  • Keep warm: You never know how cold the plane’s cabin is going to get, so it’s a good idea to pack a blanket. A lot of long haul flights will include one, though there’s no guarantee, and you likely won’t know until you actually board. There are travel blankets that are designed to be thin but good at insulating, so we suggest checking one out. However, we find bringing a few extra clothing layers just in case does the trick.
  • Sleep with earplugs: While noise-canceling earphones do an awesome job at blocking noises, they’re not necessarily designed to stay in your ears while you sleep and are at risk of falling out mid-nap That’s where earplugs come in. There are tons of different kinds out there, so find a comfortable pair and get some shut-eye.
  • Block out bright lights: Unlike the lightbulb in your room, the lights in an airplane cabin sit pretty close to your eyes and can be hard to ignore. Sure, you can turn off those at your seat, but probably not the nearby rows. Fortunately, an eye mask will block off any incoming light that’s going to stop you from falling asleep, regardless of where it’s coming from. However, make sure to use one that doesn’t fit too tightly. Otherwise, you’ll wake up with the back of your ears irritated. Pro tip: We find that a neck gaiter works just as well and is more functional once you reach your destination.
  • Don’t forget to stretch: After you take a nap or come out of REM sleep, it’s always a good idea to stretch out your muscles. As counterintuitive as it sounds, sitting around all day can be just as tiring as standing. Stretching will help keep the blood in your muscles flowing and relieve pressure or swelling in sensitive areas of the body.

HydroFlask Food Container

Stay Powered Up

  • Have snacks at the ready: Airline food is relatively expensive, especially the snacks like chips and chocolates. Skip those entirely (as tempting as they are) and instead pack your own snacks like granola bars, nuts, dried fruits, and trail mix. They’re our go-to travel snacks because they’re quick sources of energy and aren’t too messy to eat. The only thing you have to worry about them is the crumbs they leave, so you better get every bite in your tummy. Also, keep in mind that your seatmate may have allergies, so be courteous if they ask you to put your food away.
  • Drink plenty of water: The other thing to keep in mind about certain snacks is how thirst-inducing they are. However, like snacks, beverages can be expensive and come in disposable PET bottles. Instead, bring your own insulated bottle that you can infinitely reuse during the trip, and just top up on water at the airport drinking fountain.

So, did you get all of that? Awesome! Now you’re a bit more prepared for your next long flight. Hey, maybe these long flight tips even made you look forward to flying. It doesn’t have to be a taxing experience from start to finish. With a bit of preparation and good spirits, you’re bound to make hours just fly by!

May 16, 2023


Author: Jude Miguel De Leon

Miguel loves road trips and actively takes the scenic route to make things interesting. When he's not behind the wheel with a trunk full of gear, you'll find him tinkering with a computer; a hobby he picked up while watching tech reviews starting at age 12. You'll never see him consider a product without being armed with plenty of product research & testing first.

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Inside the Travel Lab

27 Long Haul Flight Essentials and a Flight Checklist for You

October 6, 2021

Long Haul Flight Essentials Packing List for Carry On

Get comfy with these long haul flight essentials. Know exactly what to pack in your carry on and download your long haul flight checklist to keep track.

Note, this post contains affiliate links. If you book or buy through any of the links on this page, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Cheers!

Table of Contents

Long Haul Flight Essentials + A Flight Checklist

As a professional travel writer, I’ve been on hundreds of flights. I’ve made every mistake going and then I’ve made a few more. While you can simply turn up to a long haul flight with nothing but a boarding pass and your innate charisma, the whole experience will be a lot more comfortable if you remember to bring more than that. And that charisma may last longer, too.

Here’s my tried and tested list of long haul flight essentials for business travel, baby travel, solo travel and beyond. Plus, a long haul flight checklist you can download for free.

Long Haul Flight Essentials at a Glance

In a rush before your trip? I hear you!

Choose the right carry on

  • A small stylish backpack if you have luggage in the hold
  • An indestructible rolling suitcase like this
  • A Trunki for children
  • A rolling backpack, like this one from Osprey, for the adventurers.

Buy these ahead of time

  • Noise-cancelling headphones
  • Essential travel toiletries DIY kit
  • Worldwide travel adapter
  • Ready made  sleep kit
  • Kindle Paperwhite eReader

How to Decide What to Pack in Your Carry On

Although this article is thousands of words long, it all boils down to the following three points.

1) What you NEED during the flight and at the airport

This includes things like medication, water and snacks.

2) What the airline MAKES you pack in your carry on vs checked

Hello camera gear, laptops and other electronics.

3) What would spoil your trip if the airline lost your checked luggage

No-one wants sunburn on their first day of a trip.

This collection of carry on essentials for long haul flights will see you sorted.

Just because. Handy if you ever get stuck and they’ve run out of paper. Useful to mop up any spills as someone passes a drink across you to another passenger. Handy to have something that smells nice, as above!

Chewing Gum

Freshens the breath, helps with a dry mouth, can stop your ears from going pop on take off and landing. Just don’t be obnoxious with it, on behalf of your fellow passengers. As if you would.

A Fold-Flat Bag

Tote bags are are useful for so many reasons. They’re handy to carry about town, once you’re on the aircraft you can use them to separate the things you actually want on the flight from all the other equipment you needed in your carry on. And if you lose your luggage and have to shop for more things, at least you already have a bag to put these things in to.

Folding bags take up next to no space but leaves you with plenty of options.

In case the airline loses your luggage. You can still go for a swim!

OK, so you won’t end up ill without these essentials in your carry on. But they do help make everything much, much easier.

Blister Protection

Blisters abound in different climates when you’re often walking more often than usual and wearing different shoes. Compeed changed my life (alright, it’s a slight exaggeration but it’s not too far from the truth!)

These second skin stickers cover the blister and cushion the surrounding skin from further damage. Best of all, you can easily fit three into your passport holder or travel wallet so that you always have them ready on the road.

This is even more important if you’ve lost your luggage and have to tackle new or poorly-fitting shoes in a new climate. Sorted.

A Scarf or Pashmina

A scarf not only keeps you warm on a breezy plane, but it covers hair on streets, shoulders in temples, and can double as a skirt for the day if your luggage disappears en route to somewhere bright and breezy.

You may need this more than you think: even in Rome, you need to cover up in order to enter the Vatican and Swiss Guards are on standby to check you have the right attire.

  • Check out the gorgeous Speakeasy Travel Scarves made by friend and colleagues. They have a secret compartment for your cash or passport and so they’re quite simply brilliant!

British Airways Business Class Travel Writer Abigail King Sleeping Mid flight

Some people find sleeping on a plane easy. Then, there’s the rest of us. These long haul flight essentials will increase your chance of a decent zizz.

Sleep Mask : For some reason, I fought against eye masks for years. Why?! They’re brilliant! Lightweight, useful, only mess up your hair a little bit ;-)

Ear Plugs : Foam ones work fine. So do using headphones and a background sleep app. Anything you can to help combat jet lag.

Warm Clothes : Planes can get cold and if you’re sitting still, so will you. Some airlines provide blankets but not all do. So, either enlist your scarf from earlier or make sure you have a jumper with you.

Inflatable Pillow : Yes, you feel a little ridiculous but who really cares? Alternatively, you can buy pre-filled travel pillows that can clip onto your luggage but they’re quite bulky. Only use if you have the luggage space.

Foot Rest : Use a toiletries bag and fill it with a blanket or jumper once you’re on the plane. Use it as a foot rest to help take the weight off your back and wedge yourself into position for sleep.

Warm Socks : It gets cold up in the sky. Add an extra pair of socks to your list of long haul flight essentials. Extra points if they’re warm and snuggly.

Read more about how to sleep on a plane here.

Carry-On Toiletries

Remember that travel size bottles aren’t just about keeping weight down. Most airlines have a limit as to the volume of fluids (liquids, gels and pastes) you can take through security at the airport. Less is more when it comes to this.

Lip Salve : Planes get dry and lips get sore. Either pack a dedicated lip balm, otherwise plain vaseline tubs can also treat blisters, sore noses, sunburn and all sorts.

Toothbrush and Toothpaste : For long international flights, it’s nice to be able to brush your teeth after all those hours. Just remember to keep toiletry sizes SMALL because of the airport security checks.

Other Lotions and Potions : Some people need a raft of toiletries to keep their skin in good condition. If that’s you, you’re probably better off buying a DIY travel toiletry set like this which allows you to decant your own toiletries into travel-sized bottles. If you’re on a really long haul flight, then consider deodorant, baby wipes and a change of underwear and socks as well.

Tech Essentials

These days, who doesn’t travel with tech? Whether it’s iPads for the little ones, full video gear for the vloggers or “just” a smartphone for maps and the grandkids, we all have batteries with us. Which means…

Chargers and Adapters : Security rules change all the time but one of the latest updates is that you have to be able to turn any device ON when asked. So, remember your charger!

I have two tips for this: a worldwide multi-adapter if you travel frequently and a multi-plug piece of kit or plug to multi-USB kit. This helps charge many devices at once while travelling.   Portable chargers and power banks also become essential for long flights with connections.

  • Buy your worldwide multi-adapter here.

Headphones : Firstly, if you plan to watch something on your phone or tablet, make sure you have headphones that fit it.

Second, many swear by noise cancelling headphones on a flight. This is something that has never really bothered me but Mr Travel Lab loves them. You can also get headphones for children that come with a noise limit (for the programme, not the child, alas ;-) )

A Protective Laptop Case : DO NOT put your laptop in the hold. Have it with you in your carry on, with an easy to access case as you’ll have to remove the case at airport security.

Laptops, Tablets and Kindles : As a travel writer and old time travel blogger, a lot of my work takes place on a plane. And you don’t need to be in travel for that to be the case. MacBook Air has built a name for itself as being the lightest computer on the market. I’ve now upgraded to the MacBook Pro to keep weight down but it’s still pretty light.

As for reading, I’ve found that nothing beats a Kindle. The Kindle Paperwhite is lightweight and the screen is easy on the eye. Although you can read books on your phone, the eye strain is too much for me. Grab a waterproof Kindle and you can even try your luck at the pool once you land.

Health & Wellness

When it comes down to it, essentials do not really include a toothbrush and a clean pair of pants. These are easy to replace, should the worst happen.

Essentials are anything specific to you that would make you feel ill or supremely uncomfortable without it and which are difficult to replace.

Some examples:

  • Prescription medication including antimalarials, travel sickness tablets and anti-histamines.
  • Contact lenses & glasses
  • Snacks if you have dietary restrictions
  • Prescriptions or letters that explain why you have to have these things with you!
  • Tampons and other sanitary products. A 20 hour flight can feel very long without them.
  • Compression socks to protect against DVTs (blood clots) on long haul flights.
  • Hand sanitizer and mask to follow Covid regulations.
  • Travel insurance details. Sure, you won’t need those in flight but they are handy to have if the airline loses your luggage.

How to Prep to Avoid Blood Clots (aka DVTS)

Let’s be grown up and deal with facts, ignoring the fears for now.

Long haul flights increase the risk of blood clots in your legs (deep vein thrombosis.) On their own, they’re uncomfortable but the real risk is that they fly off and lodge somewhere more important. Like in your lungs. Having trained and worked as a doctor, I am keen to spread the word about this because there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce the (overall fairly small) risk. While ideally, we’d all be flying first class, you can still take action to protect yourself if you fly in economy.

Low Dose Aspirin: Aspirin affects how easy it is for platelets in your blood to stick together by altering the function of cyclooxygenase and the production of prostaglandins. Another way of describing it is to say that they make your blood less “sticky.” With the caveat that you should always check with your own doctor first rather than with someone on the internet – if you have a long haul flight, it is wise to take a low dose aspirin in the hour or so before it. Do not do this if you have suffered from an allergy to aspirin or have a history of intestinal bleeding. As I say, check with your own doctor first.

Compression Stockings: You can buy compression stockings from most chemists or online here.  They are not the sexiest of garments but they aren’t too bad once you get used to them. And, hey, if they save your life, they’re worth it!   They’re  particularly important for babymoons as pregnancy increases the risk of blood clots. I wore them every time I travelled while pregnant and they’re really not as bad as they look!

Read also:  23 Essential Travel Tips for Travelling While Pregnant

A Reusable Water Bottle

You can just about get away without a water bottle but life is easier if you have one. Many airports and airport lounges offer refills and it’s easy to ask the cabin crew to refill your own bottle than to keep asking for separate glasses of water. Even more convenient involves bringing your own collapsible water bottle , like this one.

Food & Drink & Dietary Restrictions

Airlines should be able to cater for you and so should your hotel. But let’s face it. Things go wrong and I’ve lost count of the number of times when I haven’t had the special meal required. So, my advice? Always pack some handy snacks.

Handy carry on snacks don’t make a mess nor grow fungus mid flight. Useful snacks are things like flapjacks, energy bars, apples, and rice cakes. Messy and unsuitable snacks include things like chocolate, bananas and mousse.

Pack even more snacks if you are travelling with children. You can thank me later ;-)

Inside tip: pack some packets of dehydrated couscous meals that just require boiling water. A real carry on essential for those with dairy allergies, lactose intolerance, vegetarian or vegan diets. Try rice cakes for a gluten-free option.

Carry On Essentials For Children

Travelling with children requires a bit more preparation but it’s perfectly doable and not as awful as you might imagine! I’ve written some specific articles here:

  • The Best Toddler Travel Toys 
  • The Only Tips You Need for Flying with a Baby

Abigail King in sunglasses on the beach in a swimsuit

Extreme Weather Conditions

What if the airline loses your luggage?

If you’re heading to somewhere similar to where you came from, you can muddle on through in the same clothes you’re wearing for a day or two while you sort yourself out. You may feel icky beyond the threshold of ick but you can do it.

However, if you’re heading somewhere much hotter or colder then life can quickly become miserable, with blistering sunburn and excruciating frostbite. So here’s how to avoid that.

Hot Weather Essentials

So, for hot weather, in your carry-on make sure you have:

  • A mini tube of sunscreen
  • A hat. Either fashionable and wicker or crushable and practical, depending on what you need to do when you reach your final destination. You can buy the f olding travel hat with strap shown in the video here.
  • Flip flops or other lightweight shoes that can help you cool down. I love these Fit Flops for women because they can work as day or night wear and they are VERY comfortable.
  • Bug spray if there’s any hint of insect-borne disease. Buy an insect repellent with DEET if mosquito-borne illnesses are a concern. Here is a travel size DEET laden bottle.

Cold Weather Essentials

For cold weather:

  • Carry your ski jacket onto the plane, with the pockets filled with the following
  • Gloves, hat, scarf/snood, thermals
  • Wear your heavy snow shoes
  • Squeeze any salopettes into your cabin luggage
  • Still remember the sunscreen and sunglasses

What Items Are Not Allowed on a Plane in Hand Luggage?

You are not allowed to bring anything into the cabin that could easily and feasibly be used as a weapon. That includes knives and guns, obviously, but knitting needles, antlers and Viking hats could also be confiscated.

For the same reason, liquids are limited at the security point (although you can usually buy fluids once airside.) Some bright spark tried to make an explosive out of various liquids during the flight and so now we are all restricted to 100mls or less of any soup, baby food, water or anything else that could qualify as a gel, paste or cream.

Travel Tips for Long Haul Flights

It’s not just what you pack into your carry on which affects how comfortable your long haul flight is. You have other things to consider as well. Whether it’s your first long haul flight or you’ve notched up more hours in the giant metallic cigar than you have in a real bed, everyone loves some good long haul flight tips.

Over a decade of professional travel, I’ve accumulated plenty and yet I’m always keen to hear more.

Why? Because a good flight is the key to happiness. Plato and the other ancient Greek philosophers were just too early to know.

But in all seriousness, a good flight makes sense. You can hit the ground running in your new location and transition back to home life as well. Whether travelling for business or pleasure (and there should always be room for both) there’s simply nothing to be gained from being uncomfortable and miserable.

The idea is to be well rested, replenished and revived with a zest for life, right? Or at the very least, less haggard than when you began.

Yet all too often, the result is frazzled, frumpy and thoroughly, er, fed up with mankind.

So. Let’s sit down and share some secrets…Our best long haul flight tips.

I’ll go first.

Book the Seat You Want

These days, more and more airlines allow you to book your seat in advance – at a price. When you book your ticket, pay attention to this, especially if you have long legs, a dodgy hip, have to have an aisle seat, are travelling together and so on.

Sometimes, theses seats are only available at a certain time. Check early and checkc often.

Insider Long Haul Flight Tip

If you are hoping for a bit of extra space (and let’s face it, who isn’t?) and you don’t want a window seat then here’s a little trick that’s just between you and me.

  • Go for the aisle seat on the middle section of the plane, not the one near the window. The middle of the middle is the worst seat in the plane (other than the one at the back that doesn’t recline.)  That means, if the plane is not full, you have the chance to dump all your stuff there or curl your knees up or stretch out. Striking gold! Just don’t tell everyone else, OK?
  • Oh, and on that note. Try to avoid the seats with the toilets just behind them. Seats often don’t recline and once the game of sky recline domino begins further ahead, you will be left very cramped indeed.
  • If you need to make a hasty getaway once you land, then book closer to the front, on the left. The left hand side of the aeroplane is closest to the door and so the queue moves faster.
  • Finally, run your choice through the  seat guru checker. This site lets you look at the layout of the plane in advance and highlights key issues that aren’t always obvious (such as lack of space under the seat in front of you or location of baby bassinets.)

Check-In Strategically

If you can’t book your seat, there are a few things you can do to maximise your chances of getting what you want.

Firstly, check in as soon as you can. Secondly, ask at check in. You never know. Sometimes airlines reserve seats and only release them closer to the flight time.

Tips For Boarding the Plane

Aeroplane aisles are narrow and everyone acts as though they’re in a desperate rush. The pressure is on to have it together and sit down quickly (although the world won’t end if you need to take your time.)

It’s a good idea to move to your seat quickly, and put your hand luggage in the overhead bin as soon as possible. You can ferret and fumble around with your things after take off.

A handy hint is to have a smaller bag that contains the things you KNOW you will need mid-flight and just whip that out before you board.

During the Flight

  • Get up and stretch : Set a timer if you have to. It helps to fend off blood clots and general aches and pains.
  • Drink lots of water to feel better : Bring your own bottle and top it up regularly.
  • Follow their schedule : There’s no point in fighting it. Eat when they serve food. Try to sleep when they turn off the lights. Chatter and watch TV (or work) when it’s all go, go, go. I fought this for years, trying to work to my own schedule but it never worked.
  • Be strategic about the restroom before food is served : When cabin crew are serving food, it can be difficult to make your way along the aisle. Just after the dinner service is busy and you need Houdini like skills to get out from underneath your table with an empty food tray on it and then squeeze past other passengers in the same situation. Try to time a quick stop just before food starts and laze back laughing afterwards…
  • Also, be strategic just before landing : As soon as you hear the pilot say “cabin crew, prepare for landing,” leap out of your seat. Use the restroom if needed and pack up your carry on luggage in the overhead locker. Nothing but queues await after this point – either on the plane or in the immigration area when you land. Carpe diem!

What to Wear On a Long Haul Flight

Even in the flashiest plane seat in the world, you’re going to have to stay in the same place on a long haul flight for a long time (hey! The clue is in the name!)

Belts, seams and constricting clothing will annoy you.

First and business class often offer pyjamas so you don’t need to bring your own but even then it’s useful to wear something loose and breathable.

What Should I Wear On a Long Haul Flight in Economy?

  • Think comfort first and foremost.
  • DO wear loose clothes in breathable fabrics.
  • DON’T wear jeans, tight leggings, short skirts or shorts or restrictive bodices.
  • A huge slouchy cardigan or sweater helps to balance the temperature changes mid flight. A scarf is helpful too.

Inside Tip : I have a pair of loose trousers that are great for flying in and simply require a black T shirt to go with them. I pack a second one for the return flight and that’s two days of “outfit planning” done in one as well.

On a long haul flight, you’re also at risk of skin irritation from the fabric of the seat. Long sleeves and trousers avoid this. If you’re heading somewhere hot, loose clothes are breathable. If you’re heading somewhere cold, your skin is covered and you can throw on a jumper and coat.

How to Pack For A Long Haul Flight

In addition to all those long haul travel essentials, here are some tips to add to your packing list.

Check Your Luggage Allowance

Some tickets give you enough luggage to move house like Marie Antoinette.

Most don’t.

Check at the time of booking, packing and certainly before you head to the airport. This is an occasion where it’s really important to read the small print. Airlines are becoming increasingly awkward about this and it is expensive, annoying and time consuming to have to solve the issue at the airport.

Organise Your Stuff

Whether you’re travelling hand luggage only or have checked in a bag, it’s still annoying to have to forage around for things during the flight.

The lighting may be low, the space is reduced and, if you’re a decent person, you’re often trying not to bump into or annoy anyone else.

  • Use  packing cubes like this  or brightly coloured toiletry bags to segment things.
  • Fill one packing cube with things you are unlikely to need but have to pack in your carry on. This includes things like prescription medication, spare contact lenses, battery packs and so on.
  • Fill another with your gadgets. Include a spare battery and charging wire.
  • Make sure you can easily remove laptops, liquids, gels and pastes at airport security without needing to unpack everything out.

A Note About Liquids, Gels and Pastes

In case you missed the memo, there are strict regulations on how many liquids, pastes and gels you can take onto a flight (at least for now…)

The most annoying part of this is that you won’t be able to take drinking water through airport security and so will have to buy some once you get through (so much for avoiding plastic.) Update – many airports now have water fountains, so if you bring your own collapsible water bottle , you can refill it after security.

Think strategically about what you will actually need during a long haul flight. And make sure that you have travel size bottles and that they all easily fit into the plastic bag required at security.

If you’ve left it too late to sort out miniatures, don’t stress. Airports sell most things in travel sizes.

Things to Do at the Airport to Improve Your Long Haul Flight

Breeze through security.

Put your most valuable item through last. If you get pulled over or the trays start to crash into each other after they’ve gone through the machine, your valuable items are more protected.

If travelling with kids, this is a whole new ball game as pushchairs, baby food and all the rest need to be dealt with separately. I’ve written whole posts on  travelling with a baby  and travelling with a toddler to address that.

Top Up Your Power Supply

Many flights now have at-seat charging points, even in economy. Many more still don’t. You need to be able to turn your device on if questioned at security and if you are relying on your phone for boarding passes and transfer information, it goes without saying that it’s kind of helpful to be able to turn it on.

Look For Lounge Access

Lounge access doesn’t only apply to business class travellers. Many airports now have pay-as-you-go lounges and many others accept membership cards like  Priority Pass.

Is it worth it? It depends. If the airport is decent and quiet, probably not. If it’s heaving, you have a long layover, you need a meal or a shower or are travelling on your own, it can be.

Particularly as a solo traveller, it’s great to be able to move around with ease, leaving your gadgets plugged in and getting a meal quickly without needing to queue for food.

As you Come in to Land

By the end of a long haul flight, everyone is fed up and ready to get off. This is the prime time for losing stuff. I once left my passport in the back of a seat and had to beg, borrow and steal my way back onto the aircraft to get it. Don’t let this happen to you.

  • As soon as you hear the announcement, start packing your bags.
  • Make sure you have your passport, customs and immigration paperwork handy. Check your pick up instructions or directions to your first hotel so you can appear calm and confident when you leave the airport and face any hawkers.
  • Depending on your phone provider, turn off your mobile data to avoid hideous roaming charges.

And, that’s it! Hope you enjoyed these long haul flight tips and that they help you have a smoother journey.

Carry-On Essentials For Short Flights

When it comes to short haul flights, perhaps you’re thinking you don’t need anything at all? Think again!

Sure, you could get lucky but remember this handy guide:

Three main thoughts should guide your packing:

1) What you NEED during the flight and at the airport.

2) What the airline MAKES you pack in your carry on vs checked.

3) What would spoil your trip if the airline lost your checked luggage.

So, while what you need on the flight may vary (wave goodbye to the DIY sleep kit) you are still going to need to pack items to cover situations two and three.

So, download the long haul flight essentials checklist anyway and perhaps dial down on the snacks and toiletries on your packing list.

Long Haul Flight Essentials Packing List for Carry On

More Travel Resources

Enjoy our packing lists and other travel essentials below:

  • Don’t miss an insomniac’s guide to sleeping on a plane
  • And make sure you have the right carry on luggage to begin with.
  • Find our best packing tips with this free travel checklist.
  • Creative travel journal ideas for your next trip.
  • Can laptops go in checked luggage? What you need to know.

2 thoughts on “27 Long Haul Flight Essentials and a Flight Checklist for You”

Compeed changed my life too hahah! And a sleep mask is essential for me even on a two hour flight – completely zone out when I have one on!

Three cheers for compeed! I wonder if they know how many lives they’ve changed :-) Where is your next trip?

Comments are closed.

Woman with long blond hair standing in front of departures board in an airport with all travel essentials for the plane in her bag

25 Long Haul Flight Essentials + Long Flight Tips

As full-time travelers for more than 3.5 years, we have experienced more than our share of long flights–and as a result, we’ve developed an extensive list of long haul flight essentials and long flight tips in order to keep our travel days running as smoothly as possible.

In the very first version of this post that I wrote shortly after beginning our full-time travels, here’s how I summarized the behind-the-scenes of the one-way ticket journey that started it all for us:

“Thirty. Eight. Hours. From leaving the house at 4:30 AM to arriving at an Airbnb flat almost 2 days later, that’s the approximate amount of time that Jeremy and I spent traveling from San Antonio to Madrid.

I’m not going to sugar coat it: it was brutal. In a few years, I’m sure we’ll decide that a couple of 6 hour layovers and an additional 2 hour layover, 4 planes, and a day and a half worth of travel time are in no way worth saving hundreds of dollars on airfare. But right now, we’re young, crazy, and (sort of) frugal. So! The nightmarish layover battle began.”

Vilanculos, Mozambique from the plane

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My prediction was right: these days, we’ve been on enough uncomfortable, excessively long journeys that we try to limit them wherever possible, but long flights are still a fact of life for us.

Here’s what we’ve learned along the way–and what you need to know about long haul flights, from how to choose your travel essentials for the plane to what to wear.

Table of Contents

What to Pack Your Long Haul Flight Essentials In

Long haul flight essentials: what to bring onboard, long flight tips + tricks, planning a trip.

Kate Storm in a brown coat approaching the camera. Several houses decorated for Christmas in Colmar France are behind her.

We don’t get too fancy with our personal item bags, and unless you’re a very heavy packer and need to fit lots of weight into a small space, we don’t think you need to, either.

We use this Pacsafe backpack as a personal bag and throw the bulk of our travel essentials for the plane in there, while a few others float around in my small purse. 

If you’re in the market for a new bag, we highly recommend our backpack, but any school-sized backpack or messenger bag that comfortably fits under an airplane seat will do–we used a Northface Jester backpack for years and loved that one as well.

Jeremy Storm carrying a pacsafe backpack and wearing a gray jacket, looking out over Conor Pass in Ireland

I’m a recent convert to using eye masks, but they make such a difference and have skyrocketed up the list to be one of my most important long haul flight essentials.

It’s amazing how much easier it is to sleep on planes with the light of the world shut out–and as a bonus, they often come in handy once you land, too, as a frustrating number of hotels have some sort of bright and/or blinking light visible in the room at night.

This eye mask is an excellent option, but eye masks are a bit of a personal preference thing–you may want to try this popular one as well.

Kate Storm and Jeremy Storm standing along the Grand Canal of Venice. Kate is in a red dress and there are gondolas behind them.

Wearing your shoes for the entirety of a long plane ride can be incredibly uncomfortable, but touching the plane floor with your bare feet is also just… ew, no.

The solution? Cozy, comfortable socks that can be easily washed after wrapping up your long travel day.

If you’d prefer, you may want to swap typical cozy socks for compression socks for an extra layer of comfort and protection.

Just please don’t be one of those people that don’t put their shoes back on to go to the bathroom–I can think of few things less sanitary than an airplane bathroom floor.

Comfortable Jacket / Pullover

Jacket, pillow, blanket–a basic, cozy jacket or pullover can serve many purposes on a plane.

My Northface fleece pullover has come with me on countless flights and definitely counts as one of my long haul flight essentials.

Hiking in the High Tatras: View over Valley

Moisturizer + Hand Lotion

Nothing dries out my skin quite as fast as the dry, recycled air of an airplane–and a few hours into a long haul flight, I’m always so grateful to be able to slather some extra moisturizer on my skin.

This moisturizer and this hand lotion come in tiny, airport-approved containers.

Vaseline / Lip Balm

Your face and hands aren’t the only things to get dried out on long haul flights: throw a small container of Vaseline (I’ve carried this size for years) or lip balm into your bag of in flight essentials to ensure you don’t land in your destination with chapped lips.

2 Weeks in Mexico Itinerary

Hand Sanitizer

Here’s the deal: airports and airplanes are kind of disgusting.

Add in the close proximity to hundreds of people, sleep deprivation, completely stressing out your body by changing time zones, and hours and hours of breathing recycled air, and it’s way too easy to end up sick after a long flight.

We consider hand sanitizer one of our most important long haul flight essentials–and it comes in handy once you reach your destination(s), too.

Travel Couple in Bangkok, Thailand

I promise, brushing your teeth in an airplane bathroom is just… not worth it. On a layover, maybe. 

But before you land, well. Nothing smells quite like travel breath after a solid 12+ hours in transit, some of that including sleep. 

It is not a good smell, and your travel companion(s) will thank you for adding a small bottle of mouthwash to your list of travel essentials for the plane.

Reusable Water Bottle

Keep it empty until after security, of course, lest it end up in a pile of trash as you go through the line.

Having your own water is absolutely a long haul flight essential, though: even if you’re flying with an airline that provides complimentary drinks and the attendants are liberal with the refills, those tiny plastic cups of water are not nearly enough to keep you going, and nothing says dehydration like hours out of your normal routine at 30,000 feet.

We’re partial to Nalgenes for travel, as they’re durable and easy to clean, but some light packers prefer to bring a collapsible water bottle instead.

Czech Beer in Prague Airport being held against a window with planes in the background--beer definitely isn't a long haul flight essential, but it is tasty

If you have long hair, extra hair ties are an absolute must as far as in flight essentials go.

They’re inexpensive, take up basically no space, and there are few things more aggravating than your one and only hair tie rolling away in the first couple hours of a 10-hour long flight (ask me how I know).


While wifi is increasingly available on flights now, it’s generally both slow and expensive–and even as a full-time travel blogger, I basically never work online during flights for those reasons.

Offline entertainment is the way to go: in-flight movies are a decent option, but usually not enough to keep you entertained for 8+ hours. 

This is an excellent time to break out a Kindle , bring a book of puzzles (I personally love Sudoku), or play offline phone games.

3 blue domes of Santorini--preparing dealing with putting together the right long flight essentials is definitely worth it to land somewhere like this!

Chewing Gum

Jeremy swears by chewing gum to help relieve pressure in his ears and counts it among his personal travel essentials for the plane, but it also serves a second purpose: mildly improving your breath for the benefit of those locked in a very small space with you.

On a long haul flight abroad, odds are that you’ll be handed a landing card to fill out with essential details like why you’re visiting the country, where you’re staying, and personal information.

It’s much easier to handle this on the plane with your own pen that having to wait until you deplane or try to borrow someone else’s–plus, if you’re anything like me, you may want to doodle or write notes during your long flight anyway.

Kate Storm in a gray dress standing in Rue de l'Universite in Paris with the Eiffel Tower behind her

Travel Insurance

We don’t ever suggest traveling without travel insurance–anything can happen on the road, and traveling abroad is definitely a case of better safe than sorry. 

If your flight gets dramatically delayed, your luggage is delayed (happen to us twice) or, worst-case scenario, lost, you’ll be so glad you have travel insurance to save the day.

Check travel insurance policy inclusions and prices for your trip here .

External Battery Charger

While more and more planes (and airports) have USB ports to charge your electronics these days, they’re still far from a guarantee–and there’s no telling what your long haul flight situation will be like until you board.

A much better plan than relying on luck is to follow one of our favorite long flight tips and simply bring your own (backup) portable USB charger .

They’re relatively cheap, easy to pack, can charge multiple devices at once, and can be a lifesaver while you are on the road and need to turn on your phone that has the only copy of your boarding pass.

This one is an excellent option.

How to Ethically Visit Elephants in Thailand

Take it from the woman who once, in complete desperation, paid something like 11 Euro for the world’s worst microwaved pizza on a transatlantic flight: put decent snacks on your long haul flight essentials list and be sure you bring enough.

This is especially important for budget fliers, because on those flights? Even crossing an ocean doesn’t entitle you to a meal as part of your ticket.

Ryanair plane parked on the tarmac with people boarding--you have to be extra careful to pack all your in flight essentials when taking a budget flight

There’s something incredibly peaceful about slipping on a pair of comfortable headphones and disappearing into your own world while on a long plane ride. Flights are inevitably quite loud, and when you can put that behind you, the entire journey becomes much more peaceful.

Jeremy has used these headphones for years and swears by them–they’ve held up amazingly well considering how much travel we’ve put them through.

If you’d prefer something truly noise-canceling, these are a great option .

Want something light and easy to pack instead? These will be much more comfortable for watching in flight movies than the uncomfortable pairs that the airlines tend to pass out.

Howth Cliff Walk in Ireland, a fun bonus stop for your 10 day Ireland road trip itinerary. Wildflowers are in the foreground and a lighthouse in the background.

Basic Medication

Don’t find yourself stuck in the air with a raging headache and no way to alleviate it!

I always throw some basic pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen into my long haul flight essentials bag.

Keep in mind that as far as long flight tips go, technically speaking you’re not allowed to carry medication through security not in its original packaging. 

In my experience, it’s essentially never a problem, but be aware that there is always the risk the meds will have to be thrown out if they’re not in their original containers (so maybe don’t take important prescription meds out of their bottles).

Sleep if you can.

Without a doubt, the most comfortable way to deal with a long haul flight is simply to sleep through it.

Wrap yourself in your jacket, put on your eye mask, maybe take melatonin if that’s your style, and do everything you can to rest.

3 Days in Cape Town Itinerary: Chapman's Peak Drive

Skip the makeup.

This is a personal preference, of course, but long haul flights are the absolute perfect time to forego makeup.

It’ll dry out your skin and make it hard to moisturize, possibly make you break out, and by the halfway point in your flight, it’ll be a mess anyway. 

Looking like you’re a half-delirious zombie after finishing a long haul flight is practically inevitable, so make the whole process easier on yourself by rolling with it from the beginning.

Empire State Building or Top of the Rock: Girl with Binoculars on Empire State Building

Stick with comfortable clothes on long flights.

Think leggings or your most comfortable pants, shoes that are well-broken in, and loose, comfortable tops.

What might be perfectly comfortable to wear on a normal day can become insanely aggravating by the end of a long flight where you could easily be in the same clothes for 20-40 hours at a time, so stick with your most tried-and-true basics.

Ideally, go for breathable fabrics that are easy to layer, so you can add and subtract warmth as necessary.

These days, I’ve been wearing these leggings and a comfortable shirt like this on long flights.

Kate Storm wearing a brown coat and blue backpack, looking up at a departures board in an airport. Her purse holds some of her long haul flight essentials!

Don’t get dehydrated.

It’s so, so easy to end up dehydrated on planes: no matter how generous the flight attendants are with refilling the tiny plastic cups offered onboard, it’s not enough to stay hydrated on a long haul flight… and that’s assuming you’re choosing to drink water from those cups to begin with.

We mentioned bringing a reusable water bottle above, but seriously: if you make sure it’s full before you board your plane and make a point to drink it all while onboard, your body will thank you.

Stretch as often as you can.

Sitting for hours on end in a cramped airplane seat is terrible for your body, so make use of extra bathroom breaks and stretch as often as you can.

I’m absolutely militant about this long flight tip, especially after reading one too many horror stories about pulmonary embolisms , and it definitely helps with flight soreness and fatigue.

Hot Air Balloons Cappadocia, Turkey

Take long walks during your layovers.

Once you deplane and walk, bleary-eyed and exhausted, into an unfamiliar airport for a (potentially long) layover, the temptation to book it right to a lounge or to a meal can be intense–and while those are both excellent ideas for how to spend a long layover, your body will thank you for taking a long walk and letting your body stretch out first.

Have a plan for when you land.

Metro, bus, taxi, rental car?

Know exactly how you’ll be getting from the airport to the hotel before you arrive, and your long travel day will be much easier for it.

The sad fact is that when you’re exhausted, jetlagged, and coming off of an exhausting day of long haul flights, that’s exactly when you’re most vulnerable to things like taxi scams, especially if you’re in a new destination.

Consider one of your long haul flight essentials to simply be a plan: if you know what to expect upon landing and exactly what fair prices for different services are, your travel day will be much less stressful–and after all, the whole point of voluntarily suffering through long haul flights is to reach the other end and have the stress-free trip of a lifetime.

Photo of a woman with long blond hair standing in front of a departures board in an airport. Black and red text on a white background reads what to bring on a long haul flight essentials

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About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

1 thought on “25 Long Haul Flight Essentials + Long Flight Tips”

Great information and can be chosen out one of helpful article specially for travelling for a long time, Included all the important things to carry and explained well, Thanks so much for the great advice. I’ am always on the lookout for travel tips, This article is a huge help.

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girl gone london

27+ Genius Long Haul Flight Tips + Packing Essentials

This post contains affiliate links for which I may make a small commission to help keep the site running. You will not be charged extra for these items had you not clicked the links. Thank you for your help to keep the site running!

Long haul flights are a drag.

There’s no getting around it.

No one is like, “hey! Choose me to spend 11 hours on a plane in Economy!”

These long haul flight tips and long haul flight essentials aren’t because you want to sit closer to strangers than you ever thought possible, but because the destination on the other end is worth the wait!

Nervous flyer man in airport with feet on bag looking at plane taking off

Whether you’re flying to travel to a new farflung destination or just to go home to see your family at Christmas, I have put myself on the line as a test subject for the past 7 years of flying long haul so I can present you with the ultimate list of tips for flying long haul and what to pack for a long haul flight.

If you’ve got your little ones in tow, don’t miss this resource on flying with a baby either.

Want more flight tips? Check these out!

  • 6 Expert Tips for Flying Budget Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic Long Haul Flight Review
  • 21 Must Read Tips for Nervous Flyers

Essential Long Haul Flight Tips to Survive the Boring Skies

Unless you somehow manage to luck out and go viral on one of those flights that have the cast of some musical like the L ion King cast serenading you with their voices , your long haul flight is destined to be boring.

And in some cases, that’s good.

Boring means you get there safely and securely and that’s all we need when we’re being throttled in a small tube hundreds of thousands of feet above the ground.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some tips for flying long haul that can’t make it a bit better.

People walking through airport with planes in the background

1. Choose Your Seat Based on the Time of Day

One of my best tips for long haul flights is that you’ll want to pay more attention to your seat choice on a long haul flight than on a domestic flight.

You’re going to be married to it for quite awhile, and if you have any say in the matter at all, you want to make sure you’ve given it some thought.

My first piece of advice when flying long haul when it comes to seats is consider the time of day of the flight.

On daytime flights, I prefer to pick an aisle seat so I can more easily get up and move around as I know that I’m not going to sleep or try to sleep.

On red eye or nighttime flights, I aim for a window seat, as the goal is to rest and if I have to keep getting up for someone else who needs to go to the bathroom every 5 seconds, that could seriously interrupt my ZZzzzss.

If there’s a group of you booking together and you’re able to “take up” the row, you can more easily switch around who sits where, but if you’re traveling solo or as a couple in a 3 person configuration, take note of the time of your flight before choosing your destiny.

plane in sky surrounded by skyscrapers nervous flyer

2. Wear Slip Off Shoes with Comfy Socks

hand holding sneakers in the air

Flying is no longer the “dress up” event that it was in decades past, and while some people do still recommend you dress nicely for the highest chance of being upgraded if you’re a frequent flyer, the vast majority of us are going to prefer comfort.

I am staunchly against being barefoot on a plane, both for your own feet health (like who knows what has been on that carpet) and also because that is disgusting and nobody around you wants to be in a public, shared place with you that is not the beach or a swimming pool and see your bare feet.

However, I am team “socks on a plane,” and so I recommend wearing a pair of shoes that is easy to slip off and some socks that aren’t too tight.

This could mean tennis shoes, or some comfortable slip on shoes like these .

You should wear your shoes for take-off, landing, and when going to the bathroom (seriously, ew, do no go on those bathrooms without shoes on), but when you’re sitting and watching the 10th episode of How I Met Your Mother , you’ve got a bit more feet freedom.

However, that being said, be courteous and make sure that your shoes do not stink and they are fresh socks so you’re not making the whole plane hate you.

3. Set Your Watch to the New Time


It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it’s important.

As soon as you get on the plane (if not before), start trying to think in your new time zone.

This includes setting your phone and any watches or other devices to the new time.

This is going to help you start to adjust to the eventual timezone shift, so by the time you land it will make sense to your brain what time it is.

Even if you don’t physically change anything, still start “thinking” in the new timezone.

If it’s 9pm your body clock’s time, but 2am in your destination’s time – try to get it through your head that it’s now the middle of the night for you and you should try to sleep!

Airplane wing over snowy mountains seen out of window

4. Wear Loose Fitting Clothes

man in hoodie looking at drone

As far as the actual clothes you wear on the plane, I’m a full supporter of comfort and one of my long flight essentials are comfy clothes.

Pajamas are a bit much, but you can still wear leggings, sweatpants or other loose fitting pants and then comfortable tops and hoodies ( this is my favorite hoodie for planes – seriously you’ll be sooooo snug).

You don’t need to wear your tightest jeans on the plane with your nicest blouse – and this gets even more true the longer the flight is.

If you need to be somewhere nice when you arrive or don’t want to feel like a slob exploring a new city, bring a change of clothes and change into it in the airport bathrooms in your destination.

5. Get to the Airport Earlier than You Think

interior of airport

It’s recommended to get to an international flight 2 to 3 hours beforehand, and I would err on the 3 hour side for any nervous or new long haul travelers.

I aim for 2 hours and haven’t missed a flight, but there have been times when they have been boarding when I finally got through security.

Particularly if you need to check-in bags at an actual desk (don’t forget to read up on the rules of things like bringing unopened wine on a plane ) and go through security at a busy airport, err on the side of caution and give yourself more time than you would normally to get situated in the airport for your long haul flight.

Depending on your country of citizenship, consider looking into the  Verified Traveller Program  to see if you can speed up the time it takes to get through security.

That way you can get on the plane less stressed with a more enjoyable start to your trip.

This is also one of my major tips for flying long haul for anyone who has to rely on public transportation to get to the airport, as well as my tips for flying budget airlines who often have their gates further away from the main airport.

You need to leave yourself enough time in case something goes wrong and you need to hop in a cab or find an alternate route of transportation.

Looking down airplane aisle with people either side

6. Pick a Seat Away from the Bathrooms

Trust me, you don’t want to book a seat right next to the bathrooms on a long haul flight.

12 hours of hearing that door open and close and people standing all up in your grill isn’t pleasant, and the walk to the bathroom will give you a chance to stretch your legs if you book further away from them.

7. Don’t Prebook a Vegetarian Meal

vegetarian meal on plane

Okay, here’s a random one for you.

If you’ve never flown long haul, you might not realize that entire meals are served on most of these flights!

Something to do!

As a mostly vegetarian, I thought it would be something I needed to preorder ahead of time to make sure they had a vegetarian meal for me.

Except everytime I did that, I would end up with a combined vegetarian/vegan/gluten free type of option and then get so jealous when the main meals came around and there was a veggie option I wanted way more.

If you have a specific dietary requirement, definitely book that meal ahead of time, but if you’re just hoping to eat vegetarian, there is always a veggie option on the main menu options and it’s almost always better than the prebooked version.

8. Bring the Best Earplugs: a long haul travel essential

Not only should you bring your own earplugs and not rely on the ones sometimes given out on a plane, but you should make sure they’re actually good.

Not all earplugs are created equal, and not any piece of foam will do.

Planes can be very loud places – between the crying babies, the roar of the engines, the meal services – it’s a lot.

I love and use these earplugs and would stock up on them for your whole traveling crew to help make your long haul flight more pleasant when you’re trying to sleep.

9. Move Around Regularly

Flying on a long haul flight is inherently an unnatural experience.

Your body doesn’t love being in that type of pressurized environment hurtling through the sky.

To keep your blood flowing and prevent any flying complications like blood clots, make sure to get up and out of your seat regularly.

Walk up and down the aisles, do some stretches in the aisle, whatever you need to do.

Even just standing up at your seat occasionally can give you an opportunity to move your muscles without needing to go anywhere.

long haul travel tips

10. Lather Up in Moisturizer

hands putting on moisturizer

This is one that I didn’t realize about flying long haul because it doesn’t affect me on shorter flights.

It’s a dry environment on a plane – as in, the air itself on that plane is going to start drying out your skin, your hands, your lips.

When I fly in the winter, if I don’t have chapstick and moisturizer, I can end a 10 hour flight feeling extremely uncomfortable and it once took weeks for my chapped lips to heal from a flight after I forgot chapstick ( this is my favorite kind ).

Keep moisturizer (under the liquid limit, of course) and chapstick on you and apply regularly – you’ll start to feel it later in the flight if not.

11. Consider Mid-Tier Seating like “Economy +”

Of course, the best tip for long haul flights I could ever give is…upgrade.

But if you regularly fly First Class, you’re probably not going to be reading this article about how to survive a long haul flight because you’re already used to the lap of luxury.

So for the rest of us, my advice is to keep an eye out for prices on upgraded seats.

Often, there is a “plus” version of economy or just a step up from economy that is more affordable for the average traveler and will give you some more seat and legroom.

Virgin Atlantic Long Haul Flights , for instance, have what’s called Economy Delight.

Especially on an overnight flight when you’re trying to sleep, this can be the difference in getting some shut eye.

Some airlines, too, like Norwegian will let you “bid” for upgrades close to the flight if they aren’t fully booked, and you can get premium seats for a fraction of the price if you booked it originally.

long haul travel tips

12. Rest Your Eyes, Even if You Don’t Sleep

woman sleeping on plane with pink interior

I can’t sleep on a flight.

It’s impossible.

I’m trying to give as much advice as possible about sleeping on flights for those of you who can, but my flight anxiety means I can’t.

But that’s okay.

It doesn’t mean I should keep myself alert the whole flight watching the screen intently.

Resting your eyes and closing them can still count towards helping you feel refreshed.

Make a pact with yourself that even if you can’t sleep, you’re going to sit there, earplugs in, eyemask on, and rest your eyes and mind.

Put a meditation on your phone ahead of time or just listen to a calming album you like.

You might surprise yourself and fall asleep, but even if not, you’ll feel much more refreshed when you land than if you hadn’t.

13. Don’t Track the Flight (Too Much)

I’m a flight tracker. I like to know where we are at all times.

Except, when you’re crossing the Atlantic and basically the landmarks are few and far between, tracking that flight can make it seem even longer than it is.

Try to get engrossed in other entertainment besides just counting down the minutes and watching the plane ever so slowly inch its way across that tracker screen.

For those of us who are natural flight trackers, it can be hard to stop, but trust me, you’re not helping the plane go any faster.

14. Test your Meds on the Ground

hand putting pills into medication sorter

I’m not here to tell you to take any specific medication to help you get through a long haul flight because I’m not a doctor and you do you, as the saying goes.

Some people take sleep aids, other anxiety aids, etc.

But what I will tell you is that regardless of what you take, you need to take it on the ground first before your flight.

Don’t take something that you don’t know your reaction to for the first time on a long haul flight.

long haul travel tips

15. Keep Toiletries Together

Make yourself a small travel pack with your essential plane (and airport) toiletries and keep them all together in something like this .

I would recommend a travel toothbrush, small deodorant, and small toothpaste as basics, and perhaps some face wipes.

This lets you refresh at any point in the flight without digging through your entire carry-on, and trust me, you say now “oh yes, of course this makes sense,” but then when you’re packing frantically, you’re just throwing things everywhere.

There isn’t a ton of room to move or go through luggage on planes, so having what you need in one place that you can easily reach is essential.

16. Shower Right Before You Get On

shower water

No matter what time of the day it is, I prefer to shower before getting on a long haul flight.

For instance, if you shower at night and get on an overnight flight without showering yet, you’re not going to be given another chance for quite a few hours and your hair and body will just be getting…greasy (ew, I’m grossing myself out) the whole time you’re sitting on the plane.

If at all possible, clean up before getting on the plane and you’ll arrive in your destination more refreshed and the flight itself will be more enjoyable.

Fresh shower, fresh clothes and underwear – it does wonders.

17. Lean Your Seat Back

airplane seats

I am the ultimate scaredy cat when it comes to leaning my seat back on flights because I don’t want to annoy the people behind me.

But on a long haul flight, that care goes out the window.

There is some etiquette behind this – ie, during meal service, it would be great if you didn’t have your seat all the way reclined into someone’s lap, but I say when it’s sleep or rest time, you can make use of your seat’s reclining capabilities without reproach.

If airlines didn’t want you using it, they wouldn’t make them able to recline (and increasingly, more aren’t!).

Even if you just pop it back a notch or too, lean back a bit and try to doze off.


What to Pack for a Long Haul Flight: The Essentials

When it comes to packing for long haul flights, you should have some essential items in your carry-on that you may want to use throughout the flight.

This isn’t a 2 hour flight so if you forget your XYZ, you’ll be reunited soon.

Some of the longest long haul flights nowadays are teetering on 17-19 hours and you’re not going to be happy if you forget your headphones and the airlines are horrible.

18. Bring a Refillable Water Bottle

You can’t bring water through security with you, but you need to stay hydrated on the plane, so what to do?

One of the best answers to “what to take on a long haul flight” is a water bottle!

Bring an empty refillable water bottle that you can fill up after you get through security and take with you on the plane.

Yes, the flight attendants will come around and offer water during the meal services and a few times during the flight, but you should be drinking more water than that or at least have it on hand.

We use these water bottles and find them excellent.

long haul travel tips

20. Bring Your Own Snacks

You do get meals on a long haul flight, but you should also pack some of your own snacks.

The flight could run out of the meal you want and the others could look like slop, or you could just find that you’re extra hungry and you don’t want to spend an extortionate amount of money on the paid-for airline snacks.

Pack some not smelly food like pretzels or fruit and keep them in your stash in case of “I’m so hungry and I have 7 hours left on this flight” emergencies.

long haul travel tips

21. Bring Hand Sanitizer

Planes are FULL of germs.

On the seat, on the seatback tray table, on the arms of the seat.

I bring hand sanitizer ( this is the best travel kind ) with me to use before I eat on the plane and at regularly intervals throughout the flight.

Again, make sure it’s small enough to make it under the liquid limit to take on the plane.

But don’t put plane food in your mouth after touching the tray table and your seat and the seatbelt and all of those germ-collecting places and be surprised when you get sick in your destination city.

22. Carry an Eyemask On Board

Flights will often give you an eyemask at your seat, but not always.

And whether or not they do, they’re not going to be good quality.

A plane interior is never going to be pitch black even when they dim the lights, and for quite a lot of your flights, the lights may be on full force.

If you’re hoping to sleep at all, many people find that a quality eyemask like this one will help block out all that extra light and help you find your zen.

23. Travel with Your Nerdy Pillow

Travel pillows are nerdy.

You are not going to look like you’re about to accept an Oscar while wearing one.

Get over it and get one.

On a short domestic flight, do I need a strangely contorted pillow around my neck?

But when you’re spending 9 hours crossing the Pacific and all you want to do is find the tiniest sense of comfort in your very cramped economy seat?

Yes, hello travel pillow, you old friend.

Let’s get acquainted.

Try this travel pillow that will contort in more than one direction so you can also use it for back support.

24. Pack Your Own Entertainment

It’s well known these days that most long haul airlines have entertainment built into the seat backs.

But do you know what happens when your flight gets switched out by a plane the airline had to rent because their existing plane is being fixed and it has no entertainment in the seatbacks?

Do you know what happens when you get on a plane with built-in entertainment and then yours malfunctions on a full flight and the flight attendants can’t fix it?

Nothing, that’s what.

No clowns come out to put on a show for you, the pilot isn’t going to land to go fix your screen, and you’re just left sitting there wondering where everything went wrong in your life.

Your in-flight entertainment will most likely work on your plane.

But if it doesn’t, you need to be prepared with shows or movies downloaded onto your phone or tablet if possible, or, hey, go old school and have a book ready.

Perhaps one of the tips for flying long haul that I can repeat over and over is – be prepared.

You may not need it, but if you do, you’ll be so, so glad.

long haul travel tips

25. Pack Things for Kids

kid games for plane

Long haul flights are boring for everyone, but especially kids who aren’t used to sitting still that long and not having anywhere to “go to” besides their tiny seat.

And of course, screens can keep them occupied in the 21st century, but when you use up all of their favorite shows and you’ve still got 2 hours to go, you’re going to wish you packed more for them to do.

Many parents choose to pack little activity kits like these to keep the kids occupied should they need them, and they can be a lifesaver.

26. Stay Charged with Power Banks and Charging Cords

Don’t get on a long haul flight with your phone’s charging cord and power banks like these that are charged up.

Many long haul flights will have USB charging capabilities built into the seats, so you can plug your phone in while flying.

If this is absent or malfunctioning, however, your power bank can ensure that you can stay charged even if you use your phone for music or movies or something else.

Often when we fly long haul, we’re ending up in an entirely different country that we’re not familiar with, or at least we need to be able to call people for a ride to pick us up when we return.

If your phone dies on the plane because you couldn’t charge it for 12 hours and you ran down the battery showing your seatmate 8,632 pictures of your grandchildren – not good.

Bring your tools to stay charged and breathe a sigh of relief.

long haul travel tips

27. Don’t Forget Your Own Headphones

pair of headphones on table

Again, some airlines will provide headphones for you to use on the plane, but not all will.

And even if they do, they’re cheap and hardly work.

Bring your own headphones ( these are our favorite ) on board to enjoy the entertainment, and if you can, go for noise cancelling headphones that will make your ears love you a lot more.

28. Avoid Kitschy Products

Instead of finishing by telling you what to pack for a long haul flight, I’m going to tell you what not to pack.

And that is all of those kitschy products you see advertised – a sling for your feet so you don’t have to touch the airplane floor?

The “bed” for kids that most airlines don’t even allow you to have?

Inflatable seat cushions?

Yes, if you have some sort of medical issue or particular area of your body that you need to pay attention to and make sure is comfortable on the flight, then by all means.

But if it looks like it belongs on a Made for TV ad, leave it at home.

You’re taking up enough room in your luggage packing the basics, and as much as you try, you’re not going to turn your economy seat into a luxury spa, so don’t try!

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Forever Lost In Travel

10 Long-Haul Flight Tips For Maximum Comfort

Disclosure: Advertising and affiliate services, including Amazon Associates, help the cost of running my blog. Clicking ads or making purchases through affiliate links may, at no additional cost to you, earn me a small commission. I appreciate your support .

airport terminal

I don’t think many people out there actually look forward to flying. I mean, other than the fact it’s a way to get to the place you really want to see. If I had one superpower it would be to blink and be somewhere in no time at all. But unfortunately that’s not something we can do, so flying it is . Which is why I want to share my long-haul flight tips for a more comfortable flight.

As a Brit who now lives in Canada, long haul flights are kind of my jam. And while I still don’t particularly like flying, I am getting more used to it and finding more ways to make the time fly quicker (pun totally intended). So read on for my top travel tips for surviving long flights.

Top 10 Long-Haul Flight Tips

British Airways planes

Spending a long time on a flight means being prepared. As well as figuring out which essentials to bring with you , it’s also about comfort. Planning in advance for maximum comfort is a must when you’re traveling so far . And while many people have their own long-haul flight tips, these are the ones that have worked best for me.

Check in as early as possible

plane window seat

When the 24 hour mark hits, GO GO GO!!!! Your future comfort could depend on your strategically planned seat selection. Me?? I love a good aisle seat.

Getting to stretch your legs a bit on a long flight is invaluable. So aisle seats are the best for easy access to get out. They avoid having to wake up complete strangers who seem to have the ability to sleep like they’re dead.

Even if you don’t want to pay for seat selection at time of booking you can still look at the airplane layout. Scope out the seats you might want for when check in opens and select the seats at the 24 hour mark without the additional cost.

Pack light and choose your bag wisely

boarding pass - planning for your next long-haul flight

Most people’s biggest travel problem – chronic overpacking! Guilty! But one thing I have stopped doing in recent years is using those little wheeled suitcases for carry on.

More often than not you’ll see a dozen people in the aisle as the plane doors are closing, all looking for somewhere to stow their bags. Not me though. I travel with a backpack now. Using packing cubes and compression bags , I can fit more in my backpack easily.

Without the concern of whether there will be room in the overhead, I no longer feel the need to rush forward when the gate opens . Put your backpack in the overhead compartment if there’s space, but it will also fit comfortably under the seat.

Bring noise-cancelling headphones

noise canceling headphones

Do you like listening to people snoring at 35,000 feet? Me neither. Invest in some nice noise cancelling headphones for a really relaxing flight. I think most of us sit on a plane wishing we could be anywhere else. But that’s hard to do when you hear everything going on around you .

Watching movies on the small screens with the cheap plastic headphones is no better. With your own headphones you can plug them into your computer or phone and watch pre-downloaded Netflix shows.

You don’t need to spend a fortune for noise-cancelling headphones either. Check out these ones on Amazon for a budget version of the more expensive brands .

Bring something to read

flight essentials: bring a book or puzzles

Sure it might be easy to sit back and watch movie after movie. But staring at a screen about 6 inches from your face for 10 hours might not be the best for you. Mix it up a bit and read a book.

I often find I don’t have time to read anymore when I’m busy working, but come vacation time you can bet my bag is full of literary delights to escape with . Get started on your poolside reading early.

Can’t be bothered with a full book? Bring a magazine, crossword book or even a game to play with your travel companion. Just something else to do to avoid constant screen time.

Drink plenty of water

bring a reusable water bottle on your next flight

One of the best long-haul flight tips for your health! Don’t be tempted by sodas and alcohol. Keep a clear head and a comfortable tummy . Both are famous for dehydrating you more which is not good on a long flight.

As a bit of a Diet Coke fan, I still try to steer clear of it on flights. The fizzy carbonated drinks give you more gas. The gas then builds up due to the decrease of cabin pressure of the high altitude. As a result you’ll be more uncomfortable and bloated, and sometimes nauseous.

Drink water instead, it is much better for you and will make you feel way more comfortable on your long flight. Click here for top ways to stay healthy while traveling in winter .

Bonus Tip: Take a reusable water bottle with you and fill it up after security.

Be nice to the people around you

plane seats

Don’t rush to your seat hitting everyone with your giant bags. Resist the urge to fight over the arm rest and instead say Hi to your neighbor. They’ll be next to you for the next 8+ hours, do you really want to get off on the wrong foot?

Everyone is flying for different reasons. Visiting someone, or leaving someone behind. Some might even be terrified of flying. I know I’ve often been more than a little emotional on a long flight leaving home, compounded by my poor judgement in selecting Marley & Me or Toy Story 3 as in flight movies.

So being extra nice to someone takes little to no effort. Who knows, maybe you’ll even have a great conversation with your seat neighbor . If they’re from the place you’re going to visit they might even have some great travel tips for you.

Get up and walk around

get some exercise and stretch on your next long-haul flight

Stretch your legs and get your circulation going. Sitting for long periods of time is not good for you, especially when you need to aid digestion of any snacks and drinks you’ve had. Take a walk at least once an hour if you can. Or at least do some stretches in your seat .

On my last Air China flight to Vietnam they showed an exercise video mid-flight. Everyone followed along to the small space yoga/tai chi video showing how to stretch at your seat with the limited space you have. It was actually really helpful, made me feel much better and of course it was fun.

Bring healthy snacks

healthy snacks for flights

Don’t sit and eat junk food for the whole flight. Your body will not thank you for it -neither will your neighbor. On long flights especially, it can be easy to eat out of boredom.

But I always feel so sick after eating a bunch of junk food I can’t walk off. So one of my top long-haul flight tips: ditch the salty chips and sweets. They will dehydrate you more. Instead, bring more healthy in-flight snacks .

Veggies and dip are perfect: Hummus with celery, snap peas, carrots and cucumber will help keep you hydrated. Or some fruit (even if it’s dried fruit). Pack a good old fashioned sandwich with any healthy filling you want and avoid the heavy salted in-flight meals.

Flight Safety Tip: leave the mixed nuts at home in case anyone on your flight has an allergy .

Wear loose comfy clothing

pack the essentials on your next long haul flight

You’re not going to a fashion show, so wear what makes you feel comfortable. Layers are great for flights as the temperature onboard can be different from the airport or outside. Notoriously feeling cold on flights, I like to wear a sweater and bring a hoodie in case I need an extra layer.

Sweat pants or loose workout pants are great because they stretch which means you won’t have the discomfort of wearing jeans sitting down for 10 hours.

Wear shoes that are easy to take off in case you need to de-shoe for security. Running shoes/sneakers are the best as often you don’t always have to take them off . Plus you can loosen them on the flight. Just don’t be the one to put your bare feet up between someone’s headrests.

Bonus Tip: Take a change of clothes if you have a connecting flight. My last journey was 20 hours end to end so a change of clothes made me feel like a new person.

Pack the health and beauty essentials

long haul flight tips: pack a toothbrush

The cold air on planes can seriously dry out your skin. Therefore before you fly, remove all your makeup and moisturize, moisturize, MOISTURIZE !

Sample size or travel size moisturizers are perfect for flying and unscented is best in case those around you have allergies. Repeat throughout the flight, and your skin will thank you later.

Also remember to pack a travel toothbrush and travel size toothpaste in your hand luggage. If you’re on an epically long flight (or worse, connecting flights), brushing your teeth can feel amazing.

Bonus Travel Tip : Hold onto those mini dental hygiene packs you sometimes find in hotels, or the samples you sometimes get from the dentist. They’re just the right size to go in your zip lock bag of liquids.

Flying high with the best travel tips

If these tips don’t get you ready for that international flight I don’t know what will. Being prepared is key, making sure you have everything you might need without over-packing. Be smart with your travel choices and you’ll go far (last long haul flight joke I promise).

On my next big trip my ultimate goal is to do one major long haul trip with carry on baggage only. The packing cubes and packing compression bags are the way forward I think. That and not bringing 5 pairs of shoes everywhere I go.

But no matter how much you choose to pack, remember some of these essential long-haul flight tips and your journey will be a lot more comfortable.

If you’ve enjoyed this post leave a comment or share using the social media buttons below. What are your favorite long-haul flight tips for surviving long plane journeys?

long-haul flight tips for a more comfortable plane ride

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13 thoughts on “10 Long-Haul Flight Tips For Maximum Comfort”

I love this post! And, I do a lot of the things you mention, though I probably could get up and walk more and drink more water for sure. I bring my eReader with me everywhere, so great for trying to not overpack, but the darn computer and camera always do me in, lol!

Surprisingly, I like flights unless I do not have a cold and cough because the ear pain can be extremely painful. Moreover, I love the smell of the airports and the plane. But yes, any flight journey of more than 2 hours does take a toll on my body.

Living in Sydney Australia I’m no stranger to long haul flights & I like your suggestions. I always choose an aisle seat so I can get up and move around & wear compression stockings as this helps to reduce the swelling in my ankles which can last for a couple of days. Thanks for sharing!

love this, so relatable! As an IBS sufferer, flying makes me feel so bloated and lethargic! I neeever drink alcohol either, and always bring my own food, as I’m practically allergic to most things an airline will serve me! Good tips on the noise cancelling headphones, its the screaming children for me!

I love all of your tips. I live in the UK but I am from US. So having to take long flights is a common thing for me. Yes I agree to always get an aisle seat. I had to fly on a military flight for a deployment and I couldn’t pick my seat. I had to sit in the middle and it was the worse experience bc the guy next to me was sleep the entire flight overseas. I have to move around and get my blood circulating or my legs will go numb. Also, I like your tips for moisturizing and drinking water. Great post.

This is exactly how I feel about flying! I don’t like it, many times I’m even anxious about it, but I have to tolerate it to get where I want. Can we teleport already!? I did the mistake of not checking in early before and I was stuck with the seats that the airline assigned me when I bought the tickets. So I ended up separated from my bf, both stuck in the window seat (one in front of the other) because there were no adjacent free seats left. I didn’t leave my seat for the entire night (Doha-Kuala Lumpur) 🙁 So great tips, I’ll remember them!

I agree that a long-haul flight is something you better be well prepared for. Travelling with a backpack only is a great idea but for me not so easy to follow all the time. I always take a good travel pillow because I think that sleeping is the best way how to spend time on long-haul flights. Thanks for your great tips!

These are all great tips! I am so with you on the aisle seat after being trapped once haha!

So many essential tips! Such a good point about staying hydrated and saying no to dehydrating drinks, too. I always feel more rested after a long flight if I’ve drank lots of water the entire time and stayed away from junk food.

Super helpful tips. I do a lot of them, too, when I´m on a long flight.

This was really helpful, thank you. After two years I’ve forgotten about a lot of these! I’m actually cautiously looking forward to flying again, several hours with a book and nothing else to do sounds delightful 😀

These are super helpful tips! I always bring water but forget to drink it and end up with a major headache by the end of the flight. Also a great idea to get up and stretch your legs, something else I rarely end up doing.

Love that you included be nice to people around you. Especially these days!

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long haul travel tips

20 Tips to Survive Long Haul Flights

Why I Love Window Seats - Mountain Views between Dubai and Prague with flydubai

Why I Love Window Seats – Mountain Views between Dubai and Prague with flydubai

This is the reality of long haul flights. They get you to where you want or need to be, but they are tiring. Having lived in Australia for most of my life, unless I was travelling to New Zealand or a South Pacific island, every overseas flight I took for more than 20 years was a long haul – and there was plenty of them. It taught me many ways to make long haul flights a more enjoyable experience. Remember that anything over 6 hours flying time is considered long haul, but flights of longer than 10 hours are not uncommon either.

One important thing to remember is to keep your seat belt fastened at all times in case of unexpected turbulence. If you do not do this and the plane does hit turbulence you could find yourself with severe neck or head damage as you are catapulted to the ceiling. There is no need to have the seatbelt tight, but it must be fastened. I’m amazed how many times I hear people unclicking their belts just after take-off is concluded – don’t follow their example, keep buckled up. During some flights, I’ve sat next to airline staff, and they always keep their seatbelts fastened during flights, and they do it for a reason.

Before You Go

Choosing your airline.

Not all airlines are the same. If you are flying long haul, you need lots to keep you entertained. In my experience, Asian airlines (including the Middle East) offer better In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) systems. However, there are definite exceptions (I remember that both Ethiopian Airlines and Air Canada had good IFEs). I love flying long haul with Emirates because they can have more than 4000 channels (yes, four thousand channels) on their ICE system. It is more than enough to cover any journey. Other Asian airlines that I know have strong IFEs include Qatar, Etihad, Singapore and Cathay Pacific. Better airlines also have more frequent food offerings, too, so you are less likely to get hungry.

Once you choose your airline, check what aircraft they use on any given route. Modern aircraft have more comfortable seating arrangements, better IFE, and those small touches such as more great toilets. For example, if going long haul with Emirates, I try to take a flight that has the Airbus A380 because I prefer it’s on-board facilities when compared to the Boeing 777. My favourite aircraft to consider is the Boeing 787 Dreamliner as its internal pressure is kept at a lower altitude, plus they have a humid control that doesn’t dry you out. I always arrive relaxed after a flight on a Dreamliner. I will even change my flight times to give preference to my favourite aircraft. Remember though, that there can be a later equipment change which may mean the plane you want will not be available.

Choosing Your Route

Be aware that very cheap routes will involve either very long layovers or multiple connections. This will significantly reduce your enjoyment of long-haul travel unless you can avail yourself of a hotel during a very long layover. Unless there is an excellent reason to do so, try to avoid such routes. Staying in an airport for 9 hours without access to a business lounge to relax in or an airport hotel to sleep in is going to be a very tiring experience. Likewise, a direct flight that would typically take 10 hours could take double that time if you have two connections during the journey.

When choosing a route that involves more than 15 hours of flying time, I will try for a stopover of at least 10 hours so that I can spend a night sleeping in the transit destination. Travelling non-stop for 20 hours (including transit time) is exhausting and not something that is enjoyed by many. More information on this is included in the ‘Transit’ section below.

Seat Selection

This is one of the most important sections of this page. Getting a lousy seat (for example, sitting in the middle of two strangers for 10 hours) will significantly impact your flight enjoyment. This is my guide for the advantages or disadvantages of different seats.

Window Seats – They are my favourite, especially ‘A’ seats. Allows you to lean against the side of the plane to rest and you can enjoy the view too. The only disadvantage with window seat is if you take a lot of toilet breaks, it means disturbing those in the seats next to you.

Aisle Seats – preferred by many because they have space on one side (thus making them feel less cramped) and it allows easy access to the toilets. People with long legs like these seats because they can occasionally stretch them into the aisles without needing to stand.

Middle Seats – These are bad seat all around unless you know the people either side of you (travelling with friends or family). They are always the last seats allocated during a flight due to them being unpopular.

Emergency Exit Row Seats – They have lots of extra legroom, and thus loved by many. However, these seats will not recline if the row behind you is also another emergency exit row and you cannot store any items under the seat in front of you on take-off and landing. This means access to your items is restricted during this time. You must have the strength to sit in these seats to open the emergency exit if the need arises. If you cannot do this, you will be moved to another seat.

The Row in Front of Emergency Exit Row Seats – this is the worst row to be on a plane. Because the row behind you is an emergency exit, these seats do not recline. So you get no recline with the usual narrow economy leg-room. Avoid this row if you can.

Bulkhead Seats – these give you the largest leg-room of any seat on the plane – it can be massive. They are the front row of each section of a cabin. They have either an emergency exit in front of them or a partition to the next section or class. However, any IFE will be stored between the seats instead of being on the back of the seat in front of you. The width of these seats is often reduced. Not the best seats if you have a full girth. Also, remember that you don’t have a seat in front of you to store anything under, so access to your bags will be limited. Families with toddlers and babies are given priority of these seats in the middle section of an aircraft.

Last Row Seats – some people don’t like these due to their limited seat recline and the close presence of either the toilets or galley (where food is prepared). I love these seats because being in the back row window seat gives me space to my side and rear. It feels like I’m in a cocoon at the back of a section of the plane – a lovely feeling.

I strongly recommend you check the seating plan for the aircraft you will fly. Check the excellent site,  Seat Guru  that has a comprehensive list of seating plans and even colour codes different seats to represent their overall comfort level. However, in both cases, remember that a last-minute equipment change will render these seat plans irrelevant.

If you can, book your seat early on the airline’s website to avoid the dreaded middle seat. If the airline’s website shows you have only middle seats to choose from, don’t select a seat, but instead arrive early at the airport to see if a better one is available. If this fails, try again at the counter at the gate, and if this fails, see if there are empty seats on the plane when everyone has boarded and asks a member of the cabin crew if you can move to that seat.

Also, remember that seats near the back of the plane are noisier than the ones either on the wing or further forward. The reason is that you are sitting directly behind the engines and the wings. Because of this, these seats are not as popular, but if you have noise-cancelling headphones, you can negate the inconvenience of this extra noise.

Furthermore, if flights aren’t full or near to full, there are always several empty seats. I’ve observed that large tour groups take seats toward the back of the plane, but if they are not on your flight and the flight is not full with other passengers, there is a chance that there will be a number of empty seats in the last section of the plane. At check-in, ask if the flight is full or nearly full. If the answer is ‘no’, enquire if there are many empty seats at the back of the plane. If there are, take a window or aisle seat there, and the chances are much better that you will have one or two empty seats beside you. It is perfect for long flights where you can lay across two or three seats to stretch out and get some sleep. Sitting next to an empty seat or two is not guaranteed, but I once flew from Athens to New York and had two seats next to me free because I took a seat in the last few rows of the plane. The front section of economy class on the same flight was much fuller, and there was no way I would have two empty seats next to me if I sat there.

Dust and Sand Descends on Dubai Airport - United Arab Emirates

Dust and Sand Descends on Dubai Airport – United Arab Emirates

Wear comfortable clothes on board a plane and remember it is possible to dress well and be comfortable. Loose clothing is generally better as it is more comfortable. Also remember to bring the right type of shoes – something with too many laces will be difficult to remove easily both in the cabin and at security control. Your feet will swell during a flight, and if your shoe is tight at the beginning of a flight, it will be even more challenging to put on at the flight’s conclusion.

Remember that to board the plane you will need to pass through security screening, so avoid anything that you will have trouble removing (shoes with many laces, studded belts) as this will quickly become tiring.

When flying, I tend to bring a shirt that has a lot of pockets so that I can store items in them (boarding pass etc.) that I will need to show when boarding the plane. I bring a light jacket to keep me warm, a simple belt that is easy to remove, shoes that are easy to remove, and a pair of travel socks that I can wear during the flight.

Bring Snacks and Food

Airline food need not be bad food. I’ve eaten countless superior meals on airlines, especially from Asian and Middle East carriers. Regardless of the quality of the food, I always bring snacks such as chocolate, biscuits, and other small items. On a very long flight, you will want to munch in between eating times. If you have a dietary requirement, you can order special meals either at the time of booking or by contacting the airline directly afterwards. Either way, ensure you have ordered your special meal at least a few days in advance; otherwise, they will be unable to cater to your dietary needs.

Hydrate on a Plane

Drink water often when in the air as the dry cabin conditions will dehydrate you quickly. Bring your water bottle as cabin crew can fill it for you on the plane when it gets empty instead of having to rely on those small plastic cups. Some airports will not allow you to pass security even with an empty water container. Best to buy a bottle of water at the last point of purchase and take it on board with you. Even then, you may be asked to place the container in a sealed plastic bag so that you can pass through security. Some airports (such as Prague) don’t even allow this, so you will need to purchase your water from a vending machine at the gate.

Remember that alcohol does not hydrate you – it has the opposite effect. Drinking at this altitude has double the intoxicating effect so drink alcohol sparingly on a plane (if at all).

Noise-cancelling headphones are essential for anyone who travels. Their ability to eliminate the ambient noise of the flying plane is incredible, plus they get rid of most cabin noise as well. Even Business Class and First Class on airlines will not offer you noise-cancelling headphones as good as those you can purchase yourself. I choose Bose and you can either have an in-ear or over the ear models. Remember to bring the adapter so that you plug it into the IFE system. Also, remember that noise-cancelling headphones that do not have a cord (such as Bluetooth models) will not work with IFE systems. It may be fancy to have the latest Bluetooth technology, but it is useless with most IFE systems on flights. However, you can purchase a Bluetooth Transmitter that can transmit the signal from the IFE to your Bluetooth headphones. Be aware of latency (delays) in the transmitter as it could mean that when watching a movie or TV show, people’s mouths are not moving in sync with the audio.

Power Banks and USB Cables

Some planes offer USB charging facilities in their seats. However, these are only useful if you have a USB cable to do the charging. If this facility is not available, bring a power bank with you into the cabin instead – actually always carry one of these regardless. Also, bring the AC adapter too, some planes still use them, and they are also necessary if in transit at an airport if you happen to find an empty plug somewhere in the terminal.

Bring your Entertainment

What happens if the IFE on a plane fails? It has even happened to me on a flight crossing the Atlantic. You need an alternative form of entertainment. In this case, I had my laptop, portable music player (with headphones), a book and a small card game with me. Thus, I passed many hours without ever getting bored. Remember to bring an item or two that does not rely on power such as a book or small board games in case you run out of battery on your electronic items. Also, remember to charge all electronic items fully before you leave home.

Travel Organiser

One of the best travel items I own is a leather travel organiser. In it there are pockets for my boarding pass, baggage tag, printed hotel reservation, printed airline itinerary and passport. It is brilliant for keeping everything in one place. I will also keep any immigration or customs form in this same organiser and will make sure that a pen is inside. It allows you to fill these different forms on-board or at the airport where there are rarely enough working pens.

Eye Shades and Pillow

A travel pillow is one of your greatest travel accessories and not just the neck pillows, but a proper pillow. Good eye-shades are useful too because they will darken your world even if lights are on in the cabin. If I want to sleep, it is hard to beat the combination of noise-cancelling headphones playing gentle music, eyes shades and a comfortable pillow.

Toiletries Bag

Take a small toiletries bag with you. Mine contains lip balm, deodorant ( roll-on versions because aerosols are not permitted in the cabin), toothpaste and toothbrush. If on a very long flight I’ll bring a razor blade and a small bottle of shaving gel. I also carry a small hand sanitiser to use before eating meals. Remember that anything liquid needs to be lower than 100ml and placed in a clear plastic bag for security screening.

Important Medication

Bring any vital medication with you in the cabin. They are not only essential to take during the flight, but if your luggage is delayed on your arrival, you will not miss any doses.

Flying with Children

A child’s short attention span can make long haul flights a challenge. Many of the rules already listed above (snacks, electronic and non-electronic entertainment) also apply for children, but you may need more than just one option of each item instead.  Remember to bring headphones if using a pad or another electronic thing to keep the little ones entertained. Playing such items without headphones is inconsiderate to those sitting near you. Some airlines cater very well to children. When we travelled with our infant daughter to Europe, Emirates provided the following items to make the trip easier – small blanket, diaper changing kit (including wipes, soiled diaper bag, rash cream), bib, feeding spoon and 2 small toys (this is shown in the photo below). This, along with the choice of many children video channels on the IFE, made our journey a lot more enjoyable.

Items Provided for Infants on Emirates

Items Provided for Infants on Emirates

Toilet Queues

Airport toilets are a hit and miss affair. To avoid them use the toilet on the plane. If you decide to have a toilet break after you land with an international flight, that delay will cause you to be at the back of the passport control queue – not a good thing. Best to take a toilet break about an hour before landing, because if you try to do so closer to landing, there will be longer toilet queues or the toilets will be closed for use.

On the ground

Transit times between flights.

Some airports are massive and sprawling buildings and even a layover of 90 minutes will not be enough to get you between flights on time.  I always allow at least 2 hours between flights on international routes, and even longer if I have to pass through immigration and collect my luggage to board a domestic flight – I would recommend 4 hours. If you do have a tight connection time between flights, ask for a seat near the front of the plane.

Remember that if you miss your connecting flight, it can cause you some real problems. If both your arriving and connecting flight are with the same airline, they are more likely to assist you as it was their flight that caused you to miss your connection. However, if you are changing airlines, then it will be harder to get the assistance you need as the airline of the connecting flight can rightly say that they are not to blame.

What you do at an airport during your layover depends on the length of your layover. Anything around the 2-hour mark means you only have time to transit with maybe a quick meal and toilet stop. Remember to head to your gate as quickly as possible.

The most reasonable layover time is that of 3-4 hours – it gives you time to wander around to see what is on offer. Remember not to get lost in the duty-free shopping or restaurants. It is incredible how many flights I’ve been on when luggage is offloaded because passengers never boarded the plane on time. Best to stay in the region of your gate and set the alarm on your phone or watch for around 60 minutes before your flight, and when it goes off, time to head to the gate.

The worst layover times are those of 5 – 7 hours. Not enough time to leave the airport, and you are effectively stuck in transit within the airport. If you can, avail yourself of an airport lounge do so, but even then time can pass slowly – but some of these lounges offer things such as beds and showers so you can refresh yourself between flights. Remember that many airport lounges do not make boarding announcements, so again set the alarm on your phone or watch to tell you when it’s time to head to the gates.

For anything 8 hours or more, it’s time to consider an airport hotel within the airport, The price of these can vary considerably, but you are likely to pay far more than a hotel outside of the airport. The other option is to consider an airport hotel that is within walking or shuttle distance to the terminal. Still, even a time of 8 hours will quickly reduce to 5 if you have to pass through passport control and security checks again to board the plane, plus the time taken to check-in and out of the hotel. For me, I would never leave an airport if my connection time is 8 hours or less as I won’t get restful sleep due to knowing I have such a short time before it’s time to return to the airport. Don’t want to be late for that next flight!

When organising my itinerary for very long haul routes (combined flying time of more than 15 hours), I try to arrange a long layover of more than 10-12 hours so that I can leave the airport and head to a nearby hotel for a good night’s sleep. If less than this time, I head to an airport lounge or a hotel within the airport, thus saving the need to pass through passport control and even more security checks and allowing me more sleep time.

Arrival Time

I always try to organise for a late afternoon or evening arrival, but this is not always possible. By arriving late, it means I can sleep soon after arrival. If arriving during the morning, it means that I need to stay awake until evening to best deal with jetlag – and this is a challenge even for experienced travellers.

Set your Watch to Local Time

Finally, though a small touch, it is an important one. As soon as the plane closes its doors, I switch my watch to the time of the destination. This is especially important if you have a connecting flight because if you are tired, you may accidentally rely on your watch time set to your home time and may miss your flight. It also mentally helps you prepare for the time zone you are heading to, again a small but essential factor in making your long haul travel a little bit easier.

An Upgrade into Business Class on an Emirates Airbus A380

An Up-grade into Business Class on an Emirates Airbus A380

The Reality of Upgrades

You will read on many websites about strategies to get upgraded to Business Class or First Class when flying long haul. However, speak to people who have worked in airlines or airline loyalty programs, and there are only three factors that will determine if you are upgraded:

Compensated for a travel delay caused by the airline – If the aircraft you are on has mechanical troubles and you have been severely affected by this, including with connections (only applies if your connection is with the same airline), you may also be offered an upgrade, but this is more likely to occur if you are a member of the airline’s loyalty program (see below).

A member of the airline’s loyalty program on an overbooked flight – all airlines overbook their flights because of no shows. Problems occur in rare instances when everyone does turn up. During this time, you may be asked to give up your seat and take a later flight. If you do, compensation may include the offer of a free return flight, monetary compensation or an upgrade on the next flight. If enough people don’t take the offer to move to a later flight, certain people in economy class are upgraded to allow more people into that class of seats. Preference is always given to members of the airline’s loyalty program, especially if they hold tier status . I have been given upgrades a number of times (including the photo above), and they almost always followed this scenario – an overbooked flight followed by an upgrade due to my membership in their loyalty program.

A member of the airline’s loyalty program with tier status and you have purchased a full-economy fare – I have heard several reports of travellers booking the most expensive economy class fare, and receiving upgrades to business class even when economy class is not full. However, the chance of this happening increases the higher your tier status is with an airline. You would need to travel frequently with the same airline to have any chance of benefiting from this scenario.

If you do not fall into the above categories, the chance of getting an upgrade is about the same as being struck by lightning. If you follow the link below, you can read more about how to benefit from an airline’s loyalty program.

Dusk on Flight Between Nairobi and Dubai

Dusk on Flight Between Nairobi and Dubai

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Are We There Yet? 10 Tips for Surviving Long Haul Flights With Kids

Summer Hull

There's flying with kids and then there is surviving long-haul flying with kids. Any amount of time in a small enclosed tube flying through the sky with little ones can be a challenge. However, the challenge is quite different on a two- or three-hour flight than on one that requires up to 18 hours of flying, such as what's necessary on the world's current longest route that stretches 9,500 miles from New York to Singapore . Think about everything you have done in the last 18 hours — likely sleeping, going to work, taking the kids places, cooking, eating, working out, watching TV, etc. Now imagine spending that entire amount of time sitting in an airplane seat next to your kid(s).

Even if you don't choose to fly on the world's longest route with your kids, you may still find yourself on a long-haul route at some point. No matter how many times you have flown on a flight of six hours or less with kids, once you get toward 12 hours or more, it is a bit of a different ballgame. An iPad and a movie can do the trick for many kids on a domestic flight, but you are going to need to dig deeper into that bag of tricks once your travel radius expands .

To help you survive long-haul flights with your kids, we gathered the top 10 tips from our own TPG Family contributors as well from the TPG Family Facebook Group . And no, none of the tips involve surviving by having that third glass of wine, giving your kids sleeping meds (talk to your doc about that one) or never leaving home. You can do this and, as always, we're here to help.

Fly at Night

A flight lasting 12+ hours will include some daytime hours no matter what you do. But, whenever possible, try to schedule a chunk of your long-haul flight at night. Even if your child only sleeps for five or six hours during the "night," that still gets you thousands of miles closer to your destination. When we fly to Europe, the ideal flight for us leaves in the evening around 7pm or 8pm. Most likely there will be an hour or two of meal service after takeoff with the lights on, and then the flight is lights-out until close to landing.

long haul travel tips

It's All About the Empty Middle Seat

Mom of two, Angelina Aucello , tells TPG that after successfully flying with two little kids for almost 24 hours from New York to Singapore (via Japan) in economy, she became much more confident about long-haul family travel. Her No. 1 tip is that "empty middle seats are everything!"

She recommends stalking the seat map up until an hour before departure to try and secure some extra wiggle room. For traveling families of four like hers, Aucello recommend booking the aisle and the window seat of rows directly behind each other and pray that the middle stays open. You can then designate one parent to one kid for the duration of the flight. (This also helps with sibling rivalry such as fighting over snacks, activities, etc.) For sleeping, the kids slept more soundly once they were able to stretch out an lay down across the seats.

long haul travel tips

Another traveling mom of two, Terry Ward, similarly says that, "The wisest thing you can do when traveling with young kids on long-haul flights is to give yourself the luxury of traveling in low season." Her children are not yet school aged, so she recommends doing your long-haul travel after school starts in the fall, when you're far more likely to find wide-open planes and plenty of room to stretch out without paying for an extra seat for a lap infant .

Pack Those Snacks — Really

I'll admit to not always packing very many snacks for my kids when we travel on a two- or three-hour flight. However, long-haul flying is a different ballgame and you need to pack like you are going into the wilderness. That doesn't mean packing the kitchen sink, but it does mean strategically bringing things that will keep your kids full and happy.

Aucello reminds us that airplane food (especially in economy) on long-haul flights isn't the most appetizing, so it's critical to bring an overload of snacks in case your child refuses to eat (or is asleep) during meal service. She also recommends sneaking in a few "treats" to remind them that flying is a special occasion and to help reward them for their "best behavior."

We probably don't have to tell you to be sure all electronic gadgets are fully charged, but even a fully charged battery won't last more than a few hours. Not every seat has working in-flight charging capabilities, so packing a backup charger is a very good idea.

long haul travel tips

Walk the Aisles

When TPG Senior Miles and Points writer JT Genter recently flew on the world's longest flight from Singapore to New York , he logged almost 2.5 miles of walking during his 18 hours on the plane. He did this in part to reduce his chances of developing a blood clot ( as has happened to another TPG staffer ). Even if children aren't an especially high-risk category for deep vein thrombosis, they still need to stretch their legs, so walk those aisles, especially during daytime hours when meals are not being served.

long haul travel tips

In fact, get your kids moving in the airport as much as possible before ever getting on the flight so that at least your first few hours aren't too restless. If you can find a play area in your departure airport, be sure and use it!

long haul travel tips

BYO Blind Bags

Any family with kids who watches shows on YouTube has probably heard of a "blind bag." But in case you have missed the trend, a blind bag is a toy package where you don't know exactly what is inside. You can pick up blind bags for all sorts of toy collections at a place like Target , but you can also create your own blind bags with a trip to the dollar store or even garage sales. Even otherwise unimpressive trinkets can be as good as gold when you have thousands of miles still to fly.

long haul travel tips

When packing some goodies for the flight, consider good old-fashioned coloring books and crayons — preferably the triangle ones that don't roll off the tray tables.

long haul travel tips

Changes of Clothes (for Everyone)

This is not unique to long-haul flying, but it is especially important for lengthy trips. Do not, and I repeat, do not board a long-haul flight without an easily accessible quick change of clothes for every member of the family. I recommend getting large clear Ziploc bags and putting a complete (labeled) change of clothes for each person into a unique baggie. This makes them quick to grab and the baggie can double as isolation for any dirty clothes that need to be contained. While you are at it, pack some "air sickness bags" and wipes within easy reach, too.

Splurge Miles for the Good Seats

This is The Points Guy, and if there is ever a time to splurge your points and miles , it is for the good seats on long-haul flights. Imagine your family of four flying in this Qatar Airways Qsuites arrangement as opposed to just praying for an empty middle in the back of economy.

Qatar Airways Qsuite

Admittedly, getting four (or more) business class or better seats on long-haul flights at the saver award level is ... tough. However, tough is not the same thing as impossible . The trick is often looking early, looking often and paying attention (aka, getting lucky). We have seen six business class saver awards available on the previously mentioned Singapore Airlines' longest flight, lie-flat business class saver awards to Australia for up to nine people and, most recently, up to eight lie-flat seats in Delta One to Hawaii for 37,500 Virgin Atlantic miles each way.

long haul travel tips

While your time in the sky with little kids in the "good seats" may not be as relaxing as you might hope, it is still probably much more comfortable than sitting in the back.

long haul travel tips

If business class or better isn't in the cards, consider something like the Air New Zealand Skycouch .

long haul travel tips

Use a Car Seat or Bassinet

With young travelers, a regular old airplane seat may not be the best bet for hours upon hours of flying. Several families in the TPG Family Facebook Group recommend the use of a car seat for younger kids for more comfortable long-haul flying. If your traveling companion is a baby, you will probably want to reserve the bassinet seats, so call to secure those the moment you book your ticket as they are in limited supply.

Look to Foreign Air Carriers

Facts are facts and international carriers can often be a more family-friendly way to fly on a long-haul flight than a US carrier. Etihad has Flying Nannies . EVA has the Hello Kitty plane , as well as child meals for not only children but also for infants and toddlers . Lufthansa has a cute child's menu and small toys or coloring books and even child amenity kits on some flights from Germany for those in business or first class.

long haul travel tips

You won't find those sort of things available from US air carriers, so choose your airline wisely. Some international air carriers also allow the use of products such as the BedBox , which is another alternative to business class.

long haul travel tips

Last but far from least, the most important thing to pack is truly a good and flexible attitude. Surviving a long-haul flight with kids may not always be pretty, but as long as you can remain calm and adjust to their ever-changing needs, all will be OK. You may have to deal with some on-the-ground jet lag , but that's a small price to pay to experience some of the world's wonders with your family along to share in the experience.

Now it's your turn — how does your family survive long-haul flights with kids?

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A flight attendant’s secrets to surviving long-haul flights

long haul travel tips

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long haul travel tips

(CNN) —  Any air travel can be stressful, but facing down a long-haul flight can be especially intimidating.

Should you prioritize sleeping or eating, or both? Should you attempt to exercise in the aisle? Is it ever acceptable to take off your shoes?

Kris Major is a British flight attendant with 25 years’ experience. He’s worked short-haul hops and spent 14-hour stretches in the sky. He’s endured journeys with an unenviable number of layovers, and he’s become an expert in refueling via power naps at 30,000 feet.

As many of us prepare for long-haul trips over the summer, Major tells  CNN Travel  his tips and tricks on surviving multiple hours in the sky.

Should you eat before or during an overnight flight?

If you’re catching a night flight and you want to maximize sleep on board, Major suggests eating before boarding.

This is particularly important if the flight is on the shorter end of the long-haul scale: if you’re traveling from New York to London, for example, at best you’re looking at around five or six hours sleep, so you want to make the most of that rest time.

Major, who also represents European flight attendants and pilots as chair of the European Transport Workers’ Federation’s Joint Aircrew Committee, says it’s telling that most business travelers shut their eyes as soon as they get on board.

“The seasoned travelers, after takeoff, you go down the cabin and you can see that they’re gone – they’ve covered themselves up and they’re asleep,” he says.

Still, Major admits that eating before flying isn’t always doable, because of long security lines and busy airport terminals. Even if you have the best intentions, you can end up settling for a sad-looking sandwich as you run to the gate.

If you’re flying business or first class, you also might be tempted to make the most of food and drink offered on board – it’s hard to turn down complimentary champagne, after all.

But realistically, the cabin food and drink service can take a good two hours, so you’re losing valuable rest time – and your Business Class ticket should give you access to an airport lounge, so max out those facilities instead, and board the plane well-fueled and ready to rest.

long haul travel tips

So when should you eat on the plane?

If you’re flying long-haul, you’ll likely be offered more than one meal during the course of the flight.

Meal times start to feel a bit arbitrary when you’re crossing multiple time zones, but should you eat whenever food is offered to you? Or should you turn meals down if you’re not hungry or trying to sleep?

Major says passengers should do whatever’s right for their travel schedule. If you’re exhausted, you’re better off sleeping than forcing yourself to eat dinner at the equivalent of 3 a.m.

“Most airlines don’t particularly plan their [food] service around the passenger and acclimatization and time zones crossing,” explains Major.

Should you bring a travel pillow or rely on the airline offerings?

Airlines usually provide pillows for long-haul travelers, no matter the cabin, but Major says bringing your own eye mask, travel pillow and/or a blanket could be a good idea depending on your preferences.

Eye masks are great if you’re trying to sleep when the cabin lights are on, while you might prefer your own travel pillow to the airline version.

Plus, while it’s rare, there’s always the chance that pillows are unavailable – something that could be a big problem on a 14-hour flight.

“It happens,” says Major. “So I would say, cater yourself for your own comfort and your own needs as much as you possibly can.”

What if you can’t sleep?

Many of us find it difficult to sleep on airplanes, whether due to unfamiliar noises or, for the cheaper seats, limited leg room and upright positions.

Struggling to sleep on a long flight, knowing you’re going to pay for the lost hours when you land, can be an unpleasant cycle of worry.

Should you persevere and keep trying, or give up and watch a movie?

Major says there’s no point trying to force sleep, particularly if your body clock thinks it’s the middle of the day and you’re simply not tired.

But he cautions that it’s important to bear in mind what you’re doing at the other end. If you’re going to be driving, for example, or going straight to a meeting, you should try and rest as much as you can.

long haul travel tips

What are the flight attendant rest areas like?

Crew rest areas exist on all airplanes, but what these rest areas look like depends on the airline, aircraft and the length of the flight.

“If we’re going somewhere over, say, 13 hours, we need to have good rest areas,” says Major, who explains flight attendants should typically be entitled to breaks that allow for 90 minutes of sleep. That way, they’ve completed a full sleep cycle before they’re back to work.

“You need at least one sleep cycle scientifically to be of any use, to keep your ability to operate safely, your decision making processes, your communication skills,” says Major.

Flight attendants need to be alert throughout the journey, so they will take it in turns to refuel via mid-flight power naps.

Major says he finds sleeping in crew rest areas pretty easy, but he knows flight attendants who find it tough to sleep in beds that Major calls “technically coffins.”

“There are some crew that really struggle with the bunks, they’re not pleasant,” says Major.

“You push yourself right in, so they’re long and thin, because they’re up in the aircraft, so there’s not a lot of space. They are like what you’d imagine you’d see on a submarine.”

Flight attendants will usually opt to get changed out of their uniform and into loungewear before squeezing into the bunks. Major says he always packs a T-shirt and some comfortable lounge pants.

As he’s a senior flight attendant, Major will hang his tie on the exterior of his bunk’s curtain before he closes his eyes.

“So that if there’s any emergency whilst I’m in the bunk, they know exactly which one I’m in, even though there’s usually one designated for the senior,” Major explains.

Do you have any tips on feeling fresh after sleeping on a plane?

We’ve all experienced waking up after a mid-flight sleep, groggily heading to the airplane bathroom to freshen up, and alarming yourself when you catch sight of your exhausted reflection.

Major’s top tip for feeling refreshed following inflight rest might sound obvious, but he insists it makes a world of difference.

“Cleaning your teeth is always the one that freshens everybody up the most,” he says, adding that flight attendants will always have between five and 10 minutes to freshen up before they’re back on duty.

That’s enough time to get dressed, wash and, if you need to, comb hair and refresh makeup.

Flight attendants will greet a returning colleague with a cup of tea or coffee. Then they’ll head off duty for their own rest period.

Should you exercise on a long-haul flight?

Sitting in the same upright position for hours on end is uncomfortable, but it’s not always easy to get up to stretch. The seat belt sign might be switched on, or you might want to avoid disturbing your seat neighbor.

Major stresses that even just wiggling your toes while sitting in your seat is worthwhile.

“Do move around in your seat, move your legs, do what comes naturally – wiggle, move, get the blood flowing if that’s what you need to do. For people that have got circulatory issues, talk to your doctor,” he says.

What’s your perspective on passengers taking off their shoes?

For many passengers, this is a controversial question due to concerns about smelly feet. But Major encourages anyone on a long-haul flight to remove shoes for comfort, and to help their circulation.

Flight attendants don’t care, he says.

“We do it ourselves. I think most people do it themselves. It’s the right thing to do if you’re going on a long-haul flight,” he says.

“One would hope that you’ve had the common decency to have a bath or a shower and put clean socks or stockings or tights on before you get on the aircraft. That’s the only issue, if your feet smell.”

Major adds that it’s polite, if you think there’s a chance of feet odor, to “go to the washroom and do something about it.”

But flight attendants, he says, are more worried about passengers sticking out their feet into the aisle.

“On a night flight particularly, if you put your feet in the aisle and you’ve got dark socks on, we won’t see you, and we’ll trip over you, and it’s a bit of a nuisance for us.”

What’s the best seat to book for a long flight?

If you’re worried about turbulence, Major advises that you try to sit near the front of the aircraft.

“You could be standing at the front and feel nothing, and down the back they’re bouncing all over the place – the aircraft moves differently down the back,” he explains.

If you’re tall, booking the emergency exit seat for the extra leg room could be worthwhile, although Major says it’s worth remembering “you can’t put your bags down at your feet or anything because it needs to be clear as an evacuation run.” Airlines also sometimes charge extra for seats with leg room.

Major’s personal choice on a long-haul flight is booking a window seat.

“That’s purely preferential, I can lean up against the bulkhead, pull my head down and go to sleep. Whereas you can’t when you’re in the aisle seats or the middle seat,” he says.

The middle seat is never enviable, but it’s perhaps particularly unappealing on a long flight. Major reckons it’s worth paying extra for the aisle or window, especially “if you need to sleep on the flight.”

long haul travel tips

Should I invest in noise-canceling headphones and bring my iPad on board?

The way we consume TV and movies has changed drastically over the past decade, but inflight entertainment has largely stayed unchanged.

While many of us still enjoy watching new movie releases on board flights, it’s less of a novelty than it once was. Many passengers prefer binging a pre-downloaded streaming show on a personal device.

“Most people self-cater flights now when it comes to entertainment,” says Major.

Your own devices are also a good back-up in case there are issues with the in-flight entertainment system, which Major admits “might not always be working.”

Flight attendants usually have handbooks that advise how to operate the inflight screens, but they’re not always able to fix the problem.

“There’s only so much we can do on the aircraft to kick it back to life if it starts to play up,” says Major. “There’s very little we can do, apart from the usual scientific ‘turn it off, turn it on again.’”

Most aircraft today have USB charging sockets, but a portable charger could also give you added piece of mind.

As a flight attendant, do you judge passengers’ movie choices?

Major says in his experience, crew aren’t paying too much attention to what you’ve opted to watch on board, but occasionally he’ll comment on a traveler’s choice.

“We can use it as an ice breaker,” he says. “If I’ve seen a movie and it’s good, it’s something to use to strike up conversation.”

Major does recall once noticing a Business Class passenger reading a book which included some graphic descriptions.

“The words were pretty pornographic although I couldn’t see enough to follow the thread,” Major says.

The man was reading the book quite openly, and made no attempts to hide the contents.

“I was quite shocked,” says Major. “Turned out we were taking a group of sex therapists to a conference.”

Should you bring your own food and snacks?

Absolutely, says Major.

“On most flights, people forget that you get on the plane, you’re not going to eat for the first hour, at least – it’s probably going to be an hour and a half after takeoff before you eat,” he says.

If you have a health condition like diabetes, bringing your own sustenance is particularly key. It’s also important to pack snacks if you’re traveling with kids.

I’m taking my kids on a long-haul flight, what should I do?

Major has young kids of his own, so he says he can answer this question both as a father and as a flight attendant.

“If you’re tense, your child will be tense, it’s as simple as that. If you’re stressed, and you’re feeling anxious, your child will be anxious,” he says.

Flight attendants are experienced at talking kids and parents through the flying process, Major adds.

“Because we’re just generally very relaxed, we can calm them down very quickly,” he says.

When babies are crying, parents are panicking and other passengers are sighing, Major says he’ll always handle the situation in the same way.

“I’ll make sure it’s audible for everyone else to hear, I’ll say: ‘Please don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about your child crying. It’s helping your child rebalance their ears. It’s the only way they can do it, through screaming. We’ve all been children, we’ve all cried, don’t worry about it.’ I’ll try to put the parents at ease. By putting the parent at ease, we can hopefully settle the child.”

Major says bringing favorite toys and blankets on the aircraft can also help calm a child, as it helps the alien airplane environment seem more familiar and comforting.

How do you deal with nervous passengers on long-haul flights?

Those with a fear of flying are, in Major’s experience, worried about one of two things. Either it’s the “lack of control” and the “alien environment.” Or it’s fear of the airplane crashing.

Some people are reassured by Major walking them through the mechanics of the aircraft – explaining that unknown engine noises are normal, or that air travel is generally very safe and there are many fail-safes in place.

Others would rather not know the ins and outs, they just need distracting. Major once spent two hours on board a flight chatting with a nervous passenger in the galley, taking their mind off the situation.

Even for those who aren’t generally afraid of flying, long-haul journeys present their own set of pressure points that can drive people into panic mode.

Crying babies might be viewed as more of an annoyance on a short flight, but passengers can “freak,” as Major puts it, if they think that’s set to be their soundtrack for the next 12 hours.

Delays to any flights are frustrating, but on longer flights, delays can suddenly hammer home “the reality of distance and time,” says Major.

But Major says it’s important to remember that “there’s always taxiing time built into the flight time.”

“You can make up time on long-haul a lot easier than short-haul,” he adds. “You can pick up a good half hour.”

What’s your opinion on AirTags?

Major’s never used an AirTag, but he understands the attraction – especially for passengers who’ve dealt with a lost bag in the past.

Although it’s a different story when he travels with his family, Major says he usually travels carry-on only, even on long-haul flights.

That’s less because he’s worried about losing luggage, and more for ease and speed.

“On my own, I’ve got one bag that I can live for a week out of, it’s so finely tuned,” he says. “I fly with hand luggage only so I can get through the airport as quickly as possible.”

If you’ve got a layover, how should you maximize that time?

If you’ve got several hours before the next leg of your journey, it could be worth booking a hotel room to catch up on sleep, says Major, who also advises stretching your legs and walking around as much as possible.

If there’s enough time to leave the airport and get some fresh air, that’s worth doing too.

Major knows what he’s talking about, he once did a mammoth journey with multiple airport layovers, “from Cairns – Brisbane, Brisbane – Sydney, Sydney – Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi – Vienna, Vienna – Frankfurt, Frankfurt – [London] Gatwick.”

“When I got off, I was nearly dead,” he jokes.

What’s your perspective on the super long-haul flights that could be a thing of the future?

The longest flight Major’s ever worked was around 14 hours. The longest scheduled flight currently in operation is Singapore Airlines’ New York to Singapore flight, which lasts 18 hours and 40 minutes.

Australian airline Qantas is preparing to launch its ultra long-haul  “Project Sunrise” flights , which would span upwards of 19 hours flying passengers from New York and London to Sydney, Australia. For flight attendants, Major says, that will involve working over periods in excess of 24 hours.

“You’re missing two nights of sleep,” says Major. “The impact of that we don’t fully understand.”

It’s still early days, says Major, and these details need to be ironed out. But he sees ultra long-haul as the “evolution of flying.”

“We’ve got the aircraft to do it now, so we need to find ways of doing it,” says Major. “And we will. There’s a lot of work going on to do that.”

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What to do if you can't sleep on a long-haul flight, according to a flight attendant

By CNN staff | 5 days ago

A long-haul flight can be especially intimidating. Should you prioritise sleeping or eating, or both? What if you can't sleep?

Kris Major is a British flight attendant with 25 years' experience. He's worked short-haul hops and spent 14-hour stretches in the sky. He's endured journeys with an unenviable number of layovers, and he's become an expert in refuelling via power naps at 30,000 feet.

As many of us prepare for long-haul trips, Major tells CNN Travel his tips and tricks on surviving multiple hours in the sky.

READ MORE: Fitness staple that could catch you out at the airport

Interior of commercial airplane with passengers in their seats during flight.

What if you can't sleep?

Many of us find it difficult to sleep on airplanes, whether due to unfamiliar noises or, for the cheaper seats, limited leg room and upright positions.

Struggling to sleep on a long flight, knowing you're going to pay for the lost hours when you land, can be an unpleasant cycle of worry.

Should you persevere and keep trying, or give up and watch a movie?

Major says there's no point trying to force sleep, particularly if your body clock thinks it's the middle of the day and you're simply not tired.

But he cautions that it's important to bear in mind what you're doing at the other end. If you're going to be driving, for example, or going straight to a meeting, you should try and rest as much as you can.

READ MORE: Culinary delight that's the perfect way to start or end your next Fijian holiday

Should you bring a travel pillow or rely on the airline offerings?

Airlines usually provide pillows for long-haul travellers, no matter the cabin, but Major says bringing your own eye mask, travel pillow and/or a blanket could be a good idea depending on your preferences.

Woman sleeping on plane

Eye masks are great if you're trying to sleep when the cabin lights are on, while you might prefer your own travel pillow to the airline version.

Plus, while it's rare, there's always the chance that pillows are unavailable – something that could be a big problem on a 14-hour flight.

"It happens," says Major. "So I would say, cater yourself for your own comfort and your own needs as much as you possibly can."

READ MORE: Bridgerton fans will want to check out this UK city


Do you have any tips on feeling fresh after sleeping on a plane?

We've all experienced waking up after a mid-flight sleep, groggily heading to the airplane bathroom to freshen up, and alarming yourself when you catch sight of your exhausted reflection.

Major's top tip for feeling refreshed following inflight rest might sound obvious, but he insists it makes a world of difference.

"Cleaning your teeth is always the one that freshens everybody up the most," he says, adding that flight attendants will always have between five and 10 minutes to freshen up before they're back on duty.

That's enough time to get dressed, wash and, if you need to, comb hair and refresh makeup.

Flight attendants will greet a returning colleague with a cup of tea or coffee. Then they'll head off duty for their own rest period.

In this real situation a row of unidentifiable passengers are sitting in their seats on an airplane. The seating is tight. Their legs are touching the seats in front of them.

What's the best seat to book for a long flight?

If you're worried about turbulence, Major advises that you try to sit near the front of the aircraft.

"You could be standing at the front and feel nothing, and down the back they're bouncing all over the place – the aircraft moves differently down the back," he explains.

If you're tall, booking the emergency exit seat for the extra leg room could be worthwhile, although Major says it's worth remembering "you can't put your bags down at your feet or anything because it needs to be clear as an evacuation run." Airlines also sometimes charge extra for seats with leg room.

Major's personal choice on a long-haul flight is booking a window seat.

"That's purely preferential, I can lean up against the bulkhead, pull my head down and go to sleep. Whereas you can't when you're in the aisle seats or the middle seat," he says.

The middle seat is never enviable, but it's perhaps particularly unappealing on a long flight. Major reckons it's worth paying extra for the aisle or window, especially "if you need to sleep on the flight."

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I've traveled to over 80 countries by myself. Here are 8 things I do to stay safe.

  • After traveling solo since I was 18, I've hit over 80 countries.
  • I've made my fair share of mistakes, but I've learned how to stay safe while traveling alone.
  • Simple measures, like sharing my location, have helped me avoid unwanted situations.

Insider Today

I've been traveling on my own since I was 18. After visiting over 80 countries and 13 years of trial and error, I've learned a few important safety tips.

Although flight prices seem to be rising ahead of the summer surge, they're significantly cheaper than this time last year, so I'm itching to plan my next trip.

I follow these rules everywhere I travel — it doesn't matter how upscale or "safe" the destination is supposed to be.

Although some situations are unavoidable, here's what I do to stay safe and alert while traveling solo.

I always share my location and itinerary with someone close to me.

long haul travel tips

Before a trip, I always share my flight and hotel information with my mom. I've also gotten into the habit of sharing my live location with her (indefinitely).

Other than the fact that it gives her a sense of security, I know that if anything were to happen (or if she doesn't hear from me when expecting to), she would have enough information to make a few calls and confirm I'm safe.

It only takes a few minutes but can make a huge difference in the long run.

Wearing a flat crossbody or belt bag under my clothing is key.

long haul travel tips

I always avoid wearing backpacks and those trendy see-through bags — there's no need to make someone curious. I don't like having my purse and valuables super exposed because it makes me a prime target for pickpockets.

Although it's easier to wear belt bags in colder environments when I'm wearing layers, I can still manage in lighter clothing.

Lululemon's Everywhere Belt Bag, Athleta's Pacesetter Run Belt, and Peak Gear's Travel Money Belt have been my go-to for traveling . They're small and thin enough to wear under my clothing but can hold my essentials (cash, credit cards, a phone, my passport, and copies of my ID).

I don’t wear my expensive bling or designer pieces.

long haul travel tips

I typically want to look good for photos, but wearing expensive clothing and stand-out jewelry always attracts unwanted attention.

Wearing shiny necklaces and a stack of bangles while sporting a Gucci tracksuit makes it look like I have money, which is the opposite of what I want someone to think when I'm traveling alone.

It also means I'm less likely to successfully negotiate or barter a good price on items in markets.

There are basic things I research about each city or town I’ll be staying in.

long haul travel tips

I'm a super spontaneous traveler. Although I usually have a list of places I want to visit, I rarely follow a day-by-day itinerary.

Regardless, once I know where I'm going, I always take time to plan which area to stay in and book hotels in advance . I try to find the best neighborhoods, then I explore a list of hotel options and select them based on reviews, location, and overall vibe.

I also always ask the front desk staff if there are any areas I should avoid once I check in — not everything is online.

Sometimes, I'll even look for female-oriented hotels or ones with mostly female staff members because that makes me feel a little more comfortable.

Looking lost or scared is asking for trouble.

long haul travel tips

How you carry yourself is a big deal. If I'm lost, I typically use the Maps.me app, which allows me to use maps even while offline.

I try to pop into a coffee shop — or even a bathroom stall — to look at the map and get my bearings. If I can't find a place to make a pitstop, I'll walk to a more populated area with lots of traffic.

If worse comes to worse, I'll just hail a taxi to take me back to my hotel.

Looking lost makes it pretty obvious you're a tourist and gives the impression that you're willing to accept help from anyone. Unfortunately, some people take advantage of situations like that.

For the same reasons, I also never walk around looking frightened, even if I'm freaking out on the inside.

There are different transportation apps all over the world, so I make sure I have the right one.

long haul travel tips

Not everywhere has Uber or even many taxis. I always look up popular transportation apps wherever I'm traveling and download them on my phone.

I usually even enter and save my credit card information, so I'm ready to roll and don't find myself stuck when I reach the destination.

I make sure I have enough cash with me.

long haul travel tips

I've traveled to places where credit cards aren't widely accepted, or I can't withdraw cash from ATMs.

To avoid that panic, I always carry cash and exchange it for the local currency at the airport or hotel.

I don't keep it all on me when I'm exploring — I just carry some with me and leave the rest safely locked in my suitcase.

I've learned to not say yes to everything.

long haul travel tips

When I travel alone, I'm bound to meet new people, and sometimes they invite me to parties or for drinks. But I always politely decline.

Nothing good has ever come from drinking with strangers in a foreign place, in my experience. And I always want to be clear-minded enough to pick up on strange or dangerous situations.

I don't even share my plans with strangers I meet, and I never post my real-time locations on social media.

It might seem obvious, but I also don't accept rides from strangers because then they'll know my whereabouts.

long haul travel tips

  • Main content


  1. What To Wear On A Long Haul Flight

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  2. What to Wear on a Long Haul Flight- Ultimate Tips

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  3. Tips for Surviving Long haul flights • Travelling Thirties

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  4. Top 10 Long Haul Travel Tips

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  5. Top 10 Long Haul Travel Tips

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  1. 32 Helpful Tips for Long Flights

    Bring what you need to freshen up. This is for everyone else's sake as much as your own. Bring toiletries in your carry-on so you can brush your teeth, throw on some deodorant, or even change your ...

  2. 24 Tips For Long Haul Flights To Know Before You Fly

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    RELATED: 6 Tips for Sleeping Well on a Plane. 12. Get up every few hours to keep the blood flowing. Pressurized cabins spell less oxygen for passengers and, over periods of time, symptoms due to lower blood oxygen levels that include fatigue, headaches, swollen limbs, and dehydration.

  4. How to survive a long-haul flight: 10 proven tips

    For more on this and other tips on tackling tiredness on long flights, check our our guide to beating jetlag. 7. Stay hydrated. Aircraft cabins are often very dry places and the chances of becoming dehydrated are high. Drink plenty of water slowly and regularly and avoid too much tea, coffee and alcohol.

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  6. 38 Best Long Haul Flight Essentials + Insider Tips

    Eye mask and ear plugs are perfect for being able to block out the world on a long haul flight, especially if it is a night time flight. 16. Blanket Scarf. This essential item has so many uses but I find airplanes so cold and I the blankets on the planes are pretty thin so I love bringing a blanket scarf.

  7. Long-Haul Flight Survival Guide: 21 Comfort Hacks and Travel Tips

    Airpods won't connect to them, and you'll be stuck with the most basic headphones available on the plane, which you don't want (trust me). 8. Pack your own eye mask. An eye mask is a simple but effective tool for blocking unwanted light, whether it's from cabin lights or fellow passengers watching movies.

  8. How to survive a long-haul flight in economy

    Dress in layers. Travelers should always dress in layers, but this is especially true if you're on a long-haul flight. Nothing, after all, is more uncomfortable than wild inflight temperature swings. And don't expect airlines to give you more than a bolt of thin fabric in coach as a stand-in for a blanket, so consider investing in a cozy scarf ...

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    Long haul and overnight flights do have a significant impact on your body. Just to name a few of the things your body may go through on such a flight: Poor circulation and blood pooling in your feet due to being cramped in a small place for a long period of time. You may be more gassy due to lessened pressure on the outside of your body.

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    A lot of long haul flights will include one, though there's no guarantee, and you likely won't know until you actually board. There are travel blankets that are designed to be thin but good at insulating, so we suggest checking one out. However, we find bringing a few extra clothing layers just in case does the trick.

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    At least not performance wool or wool blends. My 2nd favorite is hemp: it does everything wool does, plus it grows sustainably, using very little water and cleaning up toxins in the soil. Rad! To keep your airplane stank to a minimum, wear wool blended socks, a wool shirt or hemp shirt, and wool/silk underwear.

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  17. 10 Long-Haul Flight Tips For Maximum Comfort

    So one of my top long-haul flight tips: ditch the salty chips and sweets. They will dehydrate you more. Instead, bring more healthy in-flight snacks. Veggies and dip are perfect: Hummus with celery, snap peas, carrots and cucumber will help keep you hydrated. Or some fruit (even if it's dried fruit).

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    Take a small toiletries bag with you. Mine contains lip balm, deodorant ( roll-on versions because aerosols are not permitted in the cabin), toothpaste and toothbrush. If on a very long flight I'll bring a razor blade and a small bottle of shaving gel. I also carry a small hand sanitiser to use before eating meals.

  19. 10 Tips for Surviving Long Haul Flights With Kids

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    As many of us prepare for long-haul trips over the summer, Major tells CNN Travel his tips and tricks on surviving multiple hours in the sky. ... Airlines usually provide pillows for long-haul travelers, no matter the cabin, but Major says bringing your own eye mask, travel pillow and/or a blanket could be a good idea depending on your ...

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    When I travel alone, I'm bound to meet new people, and sometimes they invite me to parties or for drinks. But I always politely decline. Nothing good has ever come from drinking with strangers in ...

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