Traveling the world is truly a life-altering experience, but if we’re being completely honest, there are definitely some challenges involved. For me — and many others — some of the biggest hurdles actually involve getting to and from the destination. Long-haul flights can be absolutely brutal. From anxiety to physical discomforts and even the fear of more serious issues like blood clots, there’s a lot to consider when you’re planning a flight longer than a few hours. But for most people, if proper measures and certain precautions are taken, long flights don’t have to be awful. In fact, you may be able to achieve actual relaxation! Keep reading to find out some of our favorite tips and tricks for making long distance flights more comfortable.
Consider an extra-legroom seat
If it’s in your budget, flights longer than six hours or so are definitely the time to spring for that extra-legroom seat. While the extra space is great regardless of your size, this is especially true if you are on the tall side. But, even if you’re shorter, those few extra inches give you a bit more area to stow some of the things that will come in handy on your long flight and/or simply allow you to stretch out and get some rest.
Book an aisle seat
While many people prefer window seats for the pretty take-off and landing views and the tiny bit of privacy afforded by not having another person on one side of you, aisle seats are practical when you’re on a longer flights. An aisle seat gives you just a bit more space, you don’t have to climb over anyone to get up for a stretch or to use the restroom, and you’re better positioned to get the flight attendant’s attention if necessary.
Wear the right clothes
The days of dressing up to board a plane are a thing of the past, and we don’t miss them one bit. When you’re on a long-haul flight comfort is a necessity. Stick with soft, breathable, stretchy fabrics that will allow you the best range of motion and won’t pinch, rub or chafe while you’re sitting in basically the same position for hours and hours. Oh, and wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off, but please keep your feet in your own space.
Dehydration is a major factor when on a long-haul flight and it can creep up on you quickly especially since airplane cabins have lower humidity levels than most people are used to. Many people are tempted to drink as little as possible when flying in order to avoid using the bathroom too frequently or even at all, but that is a bad move. You could end up feeling bloated or constipated, suffer from dry eyes and sinuses, feel headachy, and potentially worsen the effects of jet lag. Try to sip water as you normally would on land, especially if you’re also drinking coffee or alcoholic beverages while onboard.
Get up and move
Make a point to get up and move around the cabin every couple of hours or so during long flights to stave off achy muscles and stiff joints and ensure proper blood circulation, otherwise you could arrive in your destination very sore and uncomfortable on top of the sleepiness and disorientation that may be caused by jet lag. Plus, there is a real risk of deep-vein thrombosis on long-haul flights. This is especially true if you have underlying health conditions, you’re supplementing with estrogen or you’ve recently had surgery. In addition to wearing the right clothing and staying hydrating, moving around during your flight can help prevent these dangerous blood clots.
Use a white noise app
If you plan to get some sleep during your flight, consider downloading a white noise app on your phone or tablet and using noise-cancelling headphones to listen to it as you doze off. We often find that even the littlest noises on a plane can disturb sleep since it’s in such close quarters.
Bring an eye mask
There’s always that one passenger that keeps the overhead light on the entire flight, and if you end up sitting next to that person, it can be hard to fall asleep. Many airlines used to hand out eye masks, but most don’t anymore, so you should definitely consider bringing along your own if you’re hoping to sleep.
Pillows and blankets aren’t often provided by airlines anymore either, so to truly set yourself up for some good-quality restorative rest and relaxation bring your own small pillow and blanket or oversized scarf so you can cuddle up and wind down.
Be prepared for boredom
If you’re ordinarily an even remotely active person, chances are you may experience some boredom on a long flight. Before boarding your plane, download a bunch of e-books and podcasts and some of your favorite music so that you have something to do when you’re not resting or tuning into the in-flight movie. We like using our phones and tablets for these things since it makes for lighter packing.
Pack your own snacks
Even if you’re not one to turn down free snacks, you should pack some of your own as well. Airplane snacks have a tendency to be salty and fatty which can worsen the effects of dehydration and cause uncomfortable gas and bloating. Counteract that with some healthy snacks of your own to munch on in between in-flight offerings. We like fruit, roasted nuts, baby carrots and other easy-to-eat whole foods.