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How To THRIVE on a Long Haul Flight source: matthew huang on unsplash.com

How To THRIVE on a Long Haul Flight


Written by Jessica Moore


When it comes to flying, most of us can agree on one thing: traveling is life-changing, but long flights…hmm not so much.

Let’s face it: long flights can be the biggest buzzkill.

Check-in lines can be a pain. Planes can be uncomfortable and stuffy. The guy next to you will probably cough up a storm, and a couple rows ahead a very tired mother will probably be busy calming down her baby. And when you’ve finally landed, all the excitement about your destination will seem to disappear behind you, with jet lag patiently waiting for you like a loved one at a terminal.

airplane city view source: kelvin zyteng on unsplash.com

It can be a lot.

Let’s avoid all that. There are ways to actually make your flight more comfortable and enjoyable!

Here are some great tips for not only surviving but thriving during long flights so you can positively set yourself up for what really matters: your fun trip ahead. So before you bon voyage, check out these essential long haul flight tips.

Booking Flights

long haul flight source: gerrie van der walt on unsplash.com

Be picky

Try to plan for a daytime arrival. The whole “I’m going to stay awake as much as possible so I can pass out during a flight” works less often than you think.

Instead, make sure you’re well-rested before your flight. It’s easier to stay awake throughout the day to beat jet lag at your destination, than desperately trying to sleep in-flight. Save yourself the frustration: if sleep happens, it happens.

So you frequently use the bathroom during flights. Not a problem. Try picking your seat in the back of the plane, exit row, so you have fast access.

If long-haul flights are absolutely insufferable for you, it might be wise to consider a first-class ticket.


entertainment on flights source: whereslugo on unsplash.com

Time will pass quickly when you switch between entertainment sources. Dedicate one hour to Netflix, one hour to reading, one hour to writing, then repeat. Trust me, you’ll be a happy camper once you land.

Now, what to watch?

Get your laptops, tablets, and cell phones ready with all your binge-worthy entertainment before your long-haul flight.

Sure, in-flight films and television shows will catch you up on what’s new and trending, but sometimes selections can be hit-or-miss.

How amazing does Friends sound during a 16-hour flight? If you’re in the middle of a serious binge, you can temporarily download your favorite TV series and movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime!

Let podcasts save the day.

podcasts airplane source: shutterstock.com

Before your flight, grab yourself some noise-canceling headphones and download your favorite podcasts. Step outside your listening comfort zone and try out new subjects! If you love learning, there are podcasts for everything: politics, comedy, TED talks, entertainment news, food, literally everything. You think of a topic, and there’s probably a podcast about it.

Digitally detoxing? Bring a zine or book, or write.

Unplugging for your trip? Sounds blissful! Catch up with your favorite magazine or read that book that’s been on your reading list forever. Write in your travel journal to reflect on what you want out of your trip!

Food + Drinks

Should you eat during a flight?

airplane food source: shutterstock.com

Honestly, it’s up for debate.

Some say you should never eat food on planes to avoid jet lag, as your digestive system effectively shuts down. Others say that’s a pretty extreme statement: it may be more challenging for your body to digest food, but it doesn’t shut it down like some suggest.

There are people who swear by intermittent fasting on flights, but only if you correctly time your meals to mimic your regular schedule. In other words, you’d have to fast at your normal bedtime.

On one hand, we all know that airplane food is definitely on the very, very bottom of the culinary totem pole, so fasting may be an easy option. On the other, if you’ve got 20 hours ahead of you without any appetizing snacking options, it can be excruciatingly difficult to say no to those flimsy airplane food trays.

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Solution? Plan ahead. Plan on fasting “overnight” (your time back at home). But if it doesn’t work for you, no worries! There’s no harm in bringing some healthy snacks in your carry-on just in case you’re ready to break your fast. Just stick to nutrient-rich foods to avoid a sugar rush and impending jet lag.

When it comes down to it, the best thing to do is to listen to your body. Make sure you have a nutritionally-packed meal before your flight so you’re nice and full.

What should I drink during a flight?

We get it: when the flight attendant walks by asking for drinks it’s hard to not say anything but WINE. RIGHT. NOW.

Image result for wine airplane.gif source: tenor.com

…Hate to break it to you, it sounds like a blast, but that in-flight wine is probably not a good idea.

Oxygen levels are low when you’re flying and you’re breathing in recycled air, which dehydrates your body to no end. Ever look at yourself after a flight and think “GEEZ, look at that drained face!” It’s not just exhaustion, it’s dehydration!

Save that glass of wine as a reward for surviving that 10+ hour flight. It’ll be more scenic wherever you’re headed, anyway. Nothing is more unfortunate than traveling for hours and hours on an international flight and finally arriving, hungover and cranky.

Bring an eco-friendly insulated water bottle so you can switch between drinks with ease.

Start off with lukewarm or warm water. Did you know that cold drinks can slow down your digestion? Don’t worry–if you’re set on icy cold water, we’re still for it. Just as long as you drink A LOT of it.

Start off with plain water. After a few hours, reach for your favorite caffeine-free tea bag (to avoid further dehydration) or adaptogenic elixir of choice (in its original packaging to avoid fuss from the TSA). Chamomile tea always helps for sleep, and so does reishi, an adaptogenic mushroom that helps your body deal with the stresses of traveling and will lull you to sleep.

Drink more water than you think you need! Your body will thank you later!


Get Moving!


Before your flight, STRETCH!
You don’t have to be stuck on a flight. You can have moments of movement!

Yoga With Adriene has a quick one-minute video on how to do yoga on a flight! No, this doesn’t require you to stand in the walkway and invade the privacy of passengers. It’s all done in your chair. Do this breathing sequence when you’re feeling bored or anxious to get off the plane.

Also, don’t hesitate to walk around from time to time! Get your blood circulating as much as possible!

Supplements and Sleep Aids

You can always take a sleep aid on a flight, especially if you’re a nervous flyer. Popular choices include melatonin and Zzzquil, however, those sleep aids may leave you a bit groggy when you wake up. Try something more natural like a magnesium supplement or reishi first, and see if those natural supplements help.

Compression Socks

If you don’t know already, deep vein thrombosis is a thing. Blood clots in a deep vein that lead to extreme discomfort and swelling are caused by sitting still for a long time. According to the CDC, women who use contraceptives containing estrogen are at a higher risk.

Compression socks are a MUST. They help promote circulation in your legs, which leads to better blood flow to the heart! We like these for their simplicity.


So you’re in for the long haul.

comfort long flight source: shutterstock.com

Sometimes it can feel impossible to find comfort on an airplane. But guess what? There are items you can bring on your carry-on that make you feel more like a spa queen (what?!) and less like a disgruntled flyer crammed in coach.

  • Bring a sleeping eye mask to help with sleeping and intermittent fasting.
  • Essential oils like peppermint (for headaches), lavender (for sleep and relaxation), and clary sage (for anxiety and depression) are great oils for travel.
  • Facial mists and deep conditioning eye masks will give you an instant dose of soothing comfort.
  • Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones can help keep you centered. Try downloading a meditation podcast or app to get your zen on in the air.
  • Neck pillows can really step up your in-flight relaxation. Toss your bulky neck pillows and opt for an update that will fit easily in your carry-on: the Trtl Pillow.

Say YAY to delays!


Image result for broad city airport gif source: comedy central

The first step to comfort happens within. It’s important to stay positive and patient with yourself and those around you because, in the end, it’s all about the process. You’re going to get to wherever you’re headed, so if there are bumps along the road, embrace it! If time allows, discover odd things in an airport and make some friends with people who are stranded too. Whenever there are delays in your travel schedule, think of the experience as an additional part of your journey, and you may be pleasantly surprised by where those experiences lead.

So recline that window seat. Ditch that miserable crowd and create an in-flight haven that’s all yours.

Planning to travel alone? Check out our article on flying solo.