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Image by Sumit Chinchane


How to Survive Long Haul Flights

Whether it’s your first long haul flight or you’ve really racked up your sky miles over the years, everyone loves some good long haul flight tips.

I just recently got back home to Arizona after a 2 week trip to Europe. I spent a total of 36 hours on a plane over my vacation. The longest flight I took was 12 hours from Phoenix Sky Harbor to Frankfurt International. This was my first long haul flight and I learned so many tips and tricks for surviving and having a comfortable flight.

The idea is to be well rested, replenished and revived with an excitement to be in a new country, right? Or at the very least, less stressed and tired than when you began. Yet all too often, the result is frazzled, frumpy and thoroughly fed up with mankind. Here are some of my findings after my first long haul flight across the pond.

Before Your Flight

Wear Loose Clothing

Even in the most expensive plane seats in the world, you're going to have to stay in the same place on a long haul flight for a long time. Belts, seams, and constricting clothing will annoy you. Airplanes can be cold and not all airlines offer blankets. On my flight, I wore a loose, comfortable Lululemon long sleeve tee and comfortable leggings. I also packed fuzzy socks to change into once I was settled in. I know that if my feet are cold, I will never sleep.

It is also a good idea to pack a light jacket or scarf. If you are traveling to somewhere cold, this will help when getting off the plane as well. Moral of the story, be comfortable. I wore jeans and a belt on my way back to Phoenix and was miserable. I ended up changing since I had a pair of pajamas in my carry-on luggage

Book the Seat You Want

These days, more and more airlines allow you to book your seat in advance. Most times this will come at a small cost, but it is worth it. I knew I wanted to be close to the restrooms in an aisle seat so I paid the extra fee and it was more than worth it! I get super nervous and feel bad when I am in the middle seat asking my neighbor to let me through so an aisle seat was very important to me. Some airlines even have options for seats with extra legroom. You can check your airlines seating layout on Seat Guru before you fly.

Charge Your Devices

Many flights now have at-seat charging ports, 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 is kind of helpful to be able to turn it on.

Charge your phone at the airport and connect to your local airports Wi-Fi if needed.

Pack the Essentials

It is easy to forget some of the essentials when preparing for a big trip. I feel like I did enough research and was maybe a little bit over prepared for my flight. Make sure to bring a neck pillow, refillable water bottle, headphones, charging cable, gum, etc.

In my carry on bag I made sure to bring a change of clothing, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, and everything I would need to wash and moisturize my face. I will talk about this more below. I also made sure to bring snacks for the entire flight. I was not sure how the complimentary meals would turn out during the flight so I made sure to bring some extras just in case.

In my case, my in-flight meals were actually really good. I know it is not the healthiest option, but something about flying that long made me super hungry. I brought trail mix, granola bars, and dried fruit. When I got bored or when I watched a movie, it was nice having a little snack to distract me.

During Your Flight

Get Up and Move

Everyone around you is preparing for the exact same situation so don't be afraid to do what you need to be comfortable. I set a timer on my phone for every two hours. As long as the seat belt sign was off, I would stand up, walk around and use the restroom if I needed to. This will help prevent blood clots and general aches and pains once you land.

Drink Lots of Water

This is something that might seem natural, but before my last flight, I had no idea how dehydrated you can really get during a long haul flight. I brought an empty Hydroflask with me and filled it up after security. When the flight attendants offered drinks, I opted for water and filled my bottle each time. This part is very important to keep headaches away and ease the pain of jet lag when you land.

Use the Restroom Strategically

Have a plan when using the restroom. During and right after dinner service can be the busiest time for restroom access. People are washing their hands, brushing their teeth, etc. Upon boarding, I asked my flight attendant dining times and made sure to get up 30 minutes before flight attendants started making their rounds. I set an alarm on my phone for each time we were served and 1 hour before landing.

An hour before landing I had a bag already packed with everything I would need to freshen up. I saw a lot of people changing their clothes which is normal, but I waited. I went to the restroom and quickly brushed my teeth, washed my face, re-applied lotion, deodorant, and moisturizer. Please remember that you still have to sit next to your neighbor once you sit down so don't double up on perfume right before you land. Having this quick refresh will really help with avoiding the dreaded jet lag after a long flight.

Be Prepared to Land

By the end of a long haul flight, everyone is a little fed up and ready to get off. This is the easiest time to lose things. My neighbor almost left their passport behind and would have been in serious trouble after getting off the plane. As soon as you hear the announcement from the captain that the plane is preparing for landing, start packing up.

Make sure you have your passport, customs and immigration paperwork if needed, headphones, chargers, anything you may have taken out during flight. Make sure you know where your next destination is because customs will ask you.

Remember, everyone just experienced the same long flight that you did. Be kind, help those who need it, and wait your turn. I saw multiple people pushing and shoving to get off the plane. Guess what, we all ended up at the same baggage carousel waiting for our luggage. Wherever you may be heading next, make sure to get lots of rest, adjust your clocks to local time, and have fun!

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from my two week European vacation!

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