Simple Ways to Survive Long Haul Flights

September 9, 2016
11 ways to survive long haul flights

Planning to travel? Don’t start your holiday exhausted! Long haul flights can play havoc with sleep, skin and our moods. Not all of us are lucky enough to travel first class.  So if you have to travel ‘cattle’ class here are some tips to survive a long haul flight.

I love to travel however, living in Australia means travelling for many hours to get to destinations in Europe and the United States.  Long flights certainly affect my skin, sleep and body clock, so I’ll share my tips with you.

11 simple ways to survive long haul flights

1.  Comfort before Style

There was  a time when travelling people would wear their ‘Sunday best’ however times have changed and we don’t have to be uncomfortable when we travel. Sure you can be stylish but comfort should take priority when choosing what to wear.

Long haul flights usually involve sleeping (if you are lucky enough to be able to sleep on a plane), however travelling in clothes are too tight or made from fabric that creases easily is not the way to go.  At the end of the flight you will literally look like you have slept in them.

Loose, comfortable trousers and tops are the way to go.

2.  Wear Slip On Shoes

Your feet tend to swell when you fly so as soon as I’m settled off come the shoes!  Select shoes that are easy to slip on and off.   Another bonus is that in some airports you have to take off your shoes before walking through security so it is far easier to have slip ons than grappling with shoelaces.

3.  Keep well hydrated with water

Avoid headaches and dry skin by drinking water regularly to keep well hydrated. The airlines are happy to provide water so make sure you are drinking water every hour.

4.  Limit your alcohol – you can party when you arrive

This should be obvious, however go easy on the alcohol which will dehydrate you and make you feel tired and lethargic. Sure a celebratory champagne adds to the excitement of the holiday but limit your alcohol intake.  Apart from the physical affects of too much alcohol, we have all seen those obnoxious passengers who have had one too many –  I’m sure you don’t want that reputation as you start your holiday!

5. Be Active

If you can, try to get an aisle seat which makes moving around easier.  If not, you still need to try to walk around the plane and do some stretching. If you don’t want to disturb the person next to you, at least do some feet and ankle exercises to assist the blood flow.  Some people wear compression tights especially if they could be susceptible to deep vein thrombosis.

6.  Carry a lightweight jumper

Although blankets are provided I usually carry a lightweight jumper as it can get quite cool on the plane.

7.  Pack essentials

Lost luggage or long delays? Avoid unnecessary inconvenience by packing these items in your carry on luggage:

  • a change of clothes, underwear and toiletries
  • Medications – Don’t forget a letter from your doctor as some countries are very particular about what medications can be taken through customs.
  • Phone & Ipad Chargers
  • Earphones – the ones they provide on flights never fit me!

DON’T GO OVER THE LIMIT WITH YOUR CARRY ON.  One thing that really bugs me when flying is that people take advantage of the carry on luggage and certainly go over the limit.  Then they use up your space in the overhead locker.  Okay – whining over!

8.  Help with Sleeping

If you aren’t a good sleeper at the best of times a long haul flight can be a killer.  See your doctor before leaving home and they may prescribe some sleeping tablets to help.

9.  Freshen Up before you land

Forget the makeup, just wear mosturiser and use it throughout the flight.  Before you land freshen up and you will feel ready to enjoy your holiday.

10.  Connecting flights

If you have a few hours between connecting flights some airports offer massages, showers even hotel rooms for a short stay period so try to take advantage of these.

11. Make your first day a rest day

After a long haul flight, factor in an extra day to rest and recharge.  Travelling is tiring and you want to feel your best rather than feeling exhausted.

What do you do to survive a long haul flight?

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  • Reply Julie S. June 16, 2015 at 05:28

    I like the tip about making the first day a rest day. When we travel we tend to fill our days completely, but that does take a toll on our bodies. Excellent post!

    • Reply sue June 16, 2015 at 12:04

      Oh yes, my husband and I definitely need this otherwise we are walking around in a ‘fog’ for the rest of the holiday. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Reply Leanne@crestingthehill June 16, 2015 at 18:53

    the long haul flight is a necessary evil when you live in Australia – I loathe cattle class and airports and long flights. I think it’s made me less envious of all my jet setting friends because I am happy to not suffer thru the pain of getting places. I’m happy to give it all a rest for a few years and enjoy our lovely country!

    • Reply sue June 17, 2015 at 10:30

      Yes it certainly is. My husband is Italian so every couple of years we travel to Europe and then Italy to visit the family. We usually allow a day to stop over as we get older so that we don’t crash for the first few days. Thanks for your comment.

  • Reply Debbie June 26, 2015 at 07:00

    I put on my plane socks immediately when I get on board. And water is also my favorite drink. Mainly when I travel to Brazil.
    Awesome tips, Sue. You should start sharing them on Tip Tuesday too.

    • Reply sue June 26, 2015 at 09:07

      Thanks Debbie! I really didn’t think this type of post would fit into Tip Tuesday but I will definitely do that. Hope things are settling down for you. Take care.

  • Reply Lori Hil August 3, 2015 at 01:52

    Great tips! Forgoing makeup is a great idea, skin dries out so much. I adore Michelle Phan’s tips. She wears her undereye tightening strips on flights.
    Stopping by via Sundays Down Under!

    • Reply sue August 3, 2015 at 08:04

      Oh thank you Lori, I haven’t heard about the undereye tightening strips but that is a great idea. I need all the help I can get 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  • Reply Tamara Warner Minton September 9, 2016 at 08:31

    I often forget that I am not 25 anymore…and schedule far too much to do. I have recently been making that first day a take it easy day, and I am better for it!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 9, 2016 at 14:27

      Well you do travel quite a bit Tam and I always enjoy your adventures. I just find that as you say we aren’t 25 any more and adding in an extra day can mean the difference between enjoying your travels and feeling jaded.

  • Reply Cathy Sikorski September 9, 2016 at 08:51

    The first thing I noticed that was, “if you are not lucky enough to fly first class…” Oh my, that is so true. I flew business class home from France a few months ago and it was with the bed, the lavender scented blanket, the Bose noise cancelling headphones. When I got off the plane it was like I had never even take a long flight. If only that weren’t a treat but a regular occurrence. Sigh…. That being said, all great tips, Sue. I also bring my neck pillow to add to the pillows they give you, even that little bit helps with sleep!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 9, 2016 at 14:28

      Hi Cathy, we have used points once to fly Business Class and it was very hard to go back to Economy I can tell you. I haven’t tried the neck pillow but I know many travellers won’t leave home without one.

  • Reply Lois Alter Mark September 9, 2016 at 09:32

    These are all good trips at, this point in my life, my favorite way to survive long flights is to book business class! It is amazing what a difference a flat bed makes!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 9, 2016 at 14:28

      I would love to book business class Lois, unfortunately, my wallet or credit card doesn’t allow it!

  • Reply Carol Cassara September 9, 2016 at 10:59

    Make your first day a rest day is SO RIGHT. I can’t sleep on planes and I don’t want to be drugged in case of emergency. I know, neurotic. So I read, watch movies and try to rest.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 9, 2016 at 14:29

      I get on the plane Carol and count how many movies the flight will take and then select them. We don’t sleep either and it can be a VERY LONG FLIGHT from Australia to Europe. First day, rest day is our go to plan now or we break up our flight and stay in Asia for a day or two.

  • Reply Cathy Lawdanski September 10, 2016 at 22:57

    I do all of those things! Great reminders. And if it’s not too expensive to upgrade to business class, I do! Every little bit of room helps!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 12, 2016 at 20:19

      I’ve only ever been able to fly business class on points once Cathy and I have to say it spoilt me!

  • Reply Jennifer September 12, 2016 at 21:17

    All great suggestions. I’m especially keen on what I keep in my carry on….I always have an extra set of clothing. It’s not just for having your luggage lost, once my pants split! Seriously, they split in an airport and luckily, I had another pair to throw on.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 13, 2016 at 07:17

      Oh my goodness Jennifer that would have been an experience!!! You never know when you need an extra pair of pants! At least that can be part of your travel story LOL:)

  • Reply Laurie Stone September 13, 2016 at 07:39

    Comfortable clothes are most important. I’d wear my pajamas if I could. Instead I opt for the most comfortable sweat pants and tops. Not the most stylish but to heck with it.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 14, 2016 at 08:59

      Oh that would be great to wear PJs wouldn’t it Laurie? I don’t worry what I look like – comfort is the way for me and comfortable clothes help you relax. Can you imagine trying to look like a model in something tight and uncomfortable? No thanks!

  • Reply Molly Stevens September 13, 2016 at 21:22

    I don’t like to go on long flights for so many of the reasons you’ve found solutions to, Sue. Great advice for long flight survival, something you certainly know something about!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 14, 2016 at 10:50

      Yes Molly everywhere is a long flight from Australia!!!! I do love to travel though and we usually have a stop over in Singapore or Hong Kong if we are going to Europe it makes life so much easier.

  • Reply Silly Mummy September 15, 2016 at 08:17

    Good tips! I absolutely I hate plane travel, let alone when it’s long haul!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 16, 2016 at 15:54

      Yes have you ever visited Australia? You would know we are on the other side of the world so most plane trips are long haul 🙁

  • Reply Jan Wild September 15, 2016 at 13:54

    We like to start drinking lots of water 24 hours before we fly. We also have a stop over on our way to Europe these days. Even 24 hours somewhere like Hong Kong or Singapore makes a huge difference instead of a 22 hour long haul.
    We don’t have a rest day first day, we find it works better to get active out in the sunshine, but we certainly would not want to do anything academic that day 😉

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 16, 2016 at 15:52

      Great tips Jan re the water and yes we usually have a stop over as Australia is just too far away isn’t it? We did manage to get out and about when we went to Germany but certainly it was only at a very leisurely pace. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Reply Margaretha Montagu September 15, 2016 at 16:34

    We also now take a day off when we arrive in South Africa – a 24h door-to-door trip from here in deepest rural France. Makes all the difference.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 16, 2016 at 15:57

      It certainly does Margaretha – I feel like a zombie after a long haul flight so an easy first day is the way to go for us.

  • Reply gigi September 15, 2016 at 18:24

    Thank you for these tips! I never really thought about not wearing makeup on a flight. I guess I still remember the “sunday best” rule from when i was growing up (not that I follow it!). But, you’re right– by the time a long flight is over, my mascara is rubbed off and has landed below my eyes. I think I will try no eye makeup next time!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 16, 2016 at 16:00

      Hi Gigi!!! Lovely to hear from you.Yes I’ve had the ‘panda look’ with mascara so I just go ‘au naturale’ perhaps not a great look but at least it is better than ‘panda eyes’ LOL:)

  • Reply Terri Webster Schrandt September 16, 2016 at 14:00

    All I can say after reading this is, you must certainly speak from experience! I have read bits and pieces about long plane flights but this post covers it all! I’m impressed! Saving this for when we fly to Chile and Ireland one of these days!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 16, 2016 at 16:05

      Yes Terri, we have been fortunate enough to have travelled quite a bit (although not in the last couple of years so I’m getting itchy feel) and Australia is always such a long way from anywhere so long haul flights are standard.

  • Reply Michele September 17, 2016 at 02:18

    These are all good tips. I followed all of them on our recent trip to Ireland. We flew overnight and knew that when we landed our first day would begin. I am not a great sleeper on planes, but found that a glass of red wine helped relax me before sleep and I was able to sleep.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 17, 2016 at 20:34

      Oh I’d love to visit Ireland, Michele. Yes a nice drop of red would be a pleasant way to start your holiday relaxation.

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