Tips for Surviving a Long Haul Flight

The worst part of travel for most people is getting there. I don't know too many people who like long-haul flights. I've flown my fair share and after a few 10+ hour flights, you get to be an expert. That doesn't mean all flights go by in the blink of an eye, some drag on forever, but these tips should help you survive a long flight with your sanity in tact ready to enjoy your final destination.

Tips for Surviving a Long-Haul Flight


Picking the right seat is key. I am completely sold on the aisle seat when it comes to a long flight. Even if you have a bladder of steel you will still need to get up at some point during your flight. Most long flights will include part of an overnight or time during sleeping hours and there is nothing worse than feeling like you are stuck with sleeping seatmates when you are restless. 

I'm also an expert at checking for open seats before a flight. I like to look for rows that have open seats in the hopes of having an open row I can stretch out in. This doesn't always happen, but I have lucked out a few times on cross country flights.

There are websites dedicated to helping you pick the best airline seat on an airplane. If you are worried, it's worth checking them out to help guide your selection.

Get Up and Move

It's so important to keep your blood flowing while you are flying, so getting up to move periodically is a good idea. I use my bathroom breaks to wander up and down the aisles and I stretch my legs and stand for a bit in the galley. 

Some airlines will have snack stations that you can visit to get your own snacks in flight and some will have in-flight exercise videos you can use to stretch while seated. Make sure you get up and move at least a few times during a long flight.


Speaking of snacks, try to avoid anything with sodium in it so you don't end up blowing up like a balloon while in-flight. I have also found that international airlines are constantly feeding you. I have brought plenty of my own snacks thinking I would need them, when in reality, I never touched them. That's not to say that you should leave your snacks at home, you will probably need something for a long layover or a comfort food you are craving, but don't stress out too much about this because you will find that you will come off the flight feeling plenty full.

If you do pack a snack, make sure you pack high protein snacks and avoid any fruit or vegetables because you can't travel through customs with them. 

I usually stock up on snacks through NatureBox for my trip. I pick some of my favorites and some new ones I'm excited to try and I won't open them until I am on my trip so that I have something to look forward to.


Try to follow the cabin crews cues when it comes to sleeping. Most airlines will dim the lights and limit their visits down the aisle during the times you should be sleeping. Try to take advantage of the quiet during that time. 

I just bought a new neck pillow {I'm hoping this one will be less bulky and more comfortable than the others I've tried} and a foot rest I'm hoping will help on my upcoming long-haul flight next month. Also make sure you have a sleep mask and some ear plugs or noise cancelling ear phones just in case you are the lucky one who gets a screaming baby sitting behind you.

I know some people like to take a sleep aid, but be cautious. If you have never taken one before, try it out a few weeks before your flight to see how your body reacts. Some sleep aids will have the opposite effect and some might make you so groggy that you can't function.

The only sleep aid I use regularly is a Melatonin. It's all natural and will work with your body to help regulate your sleep cycles. I use it throughout my travel to help avoid jet lag as well. 


If you can, it's worth looking into an upgrade into business class. I wish I could say that flying in business class on a long-haul flight is something I've experienced, but it's not. However, about 8 hours into a 16 hour flight from New York to Johannesburg, I would have happily given my first-born child to have sat in the fully-reclining seats for just an hour or two. 

I know that many people feel like it's worth the extra money to pay for seats in business class because days of jet lag are essentially a thing of the past and people arrive at their destination fully rested and ready to tackle their next adventure.

Zone Out

It's totally OK to give yourself permission to zone out and watch a few movies on the in-flight entertainment. Even if you bring a book or work along with you to do, no one wants to do that for hours straight, so take some time to just sit back and relax and hopefully the hours of the flight will pass by quickly!

However, once you start nodding off during a movie, take the cues from your body and try to rest. You can finish the movie on the way home or rent it at RedBox. Either way, it's not worth it to sacrifice some shut eye.


Even if you don't want another glass of water, drink one anyway. It's important to stay hydrated. Try to avoid drinking diuretics like alcohol and caffeine that will dehydrate you. 

I bring my own water cup and have it full before I get on the flight. You can find plenty of places to fill up in the airport before you board. Most restaurants or bars will fill your cup with water and ice without hesitation. 

Pack Smart

I am not an over-packer, but on long-haul flights I like to make sure I have everything I need to be comfortable. I usually pack a blanket of some sort to stay warm while sleeping {this scarf doubles as a blanket for me}. I also pack eye drops {since I wear contacts and I'm not popping them out in a dirty airplane bathroom}, a toothbrush and toothpaste {some airlines will give you a kit with one} and some refreshing wipes. This may be a little bit too much TMI, but I also wear a panty liner in my underwear. Remove the liner mid flight and you have clean fresh underwear. 

Make sure you have all your charging cords within reach and earphones {these bluetooth ones are my current favorite} for the in-flight entertainment system. It is my biggest fear that my seat will be the seat with the malfunctioning TV system, so make sure you bring a back up form of entertainment {a book, games or downloaded podcasts or shows} just in case.

Don't forget to have your medication handy too!

Plan Ahead

After a long-haul red eye flight, I had a few hours to kill in Germany. It wasn't enough time to leave the airport, but it was enough time to find the rest area that included showers. Had I not planned ahead, and known that this existed, I wouldn't have arrived home as clean and refreshed as I did. There is nothing better than a hot shower and a private bathroom to prepare for a final leg of travel, so plan ahead and see what the airports have to offer, especially if you have a long layover.

What to Wear

I never think that pajamas are an option for anywhere outside of your own home, I don't care how long your flight is! You can still dress comfortably. I like dressing in layers since you never know what the temperature will be on the airplane. Plus, you are traveling for hours, so my guess is, the climate in the location you are traveling too will be different than the one you left. 

Pants with elastic are your friend. I also wear this running belt. I can secure my passport and any extra money inside and tuck it close to me and not worry about securing my items if I happen to fall asleep. I wear a t-shirt and a baggy sweater or sweatshirt that isn't too heavy and include a scarf that can double as a blanket or neck rest.

I don't know too many people who look forward to a long-haul flight, but with these tips, you can at least be a little bit more comfortable and prepared for the long journey ahead.

Do you have any tips you would add? I'd love to hear them! Comment below or tag me on all social media @msrachelteodoro

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Melissa said...

I never thought that noise canceling headphones were worth the hype but I got a pair recently and couldn't have been more wrong. They are a total game changer, especially for long haul flights. Eliminating that engine drone is huge for being able to sleep or actually being able to enjoy in-flight entertainment. I don't know that I could ever go back!

rachelteodoro said...

So true! A good comfortable pair is totally worth it because you will be wearing them for a LONG TIME!

My Happy Place said...

Very useful tips! Long flights are soooo boring and I get so tired! About what to wear... leggings are my best friend in that situations! Can't believe that there are people who wear pajamas in a plane hahahaha

Astrid Vinje said...

I love compression socks. They keep my ankles from swelling up, and help maintain blood circulation in my body.

rachelteodoro said...

I have heard people swear by compression socks! I haven't used them personally, but I know they work well for some people.

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