Long Haul flights are no fun. That is a fact. The reason I don’t travel as internationally as I’d like is that I hate the long hauls flights. There are people who are unaffected by them and don’t mind them, but there is not one person who says “I love being trapped in my seat in a flying sardine can with 300 strangers for 14 hours.” I love the destination and think the trips are totally worth it, but I can’t seem to gird my loins to sit in a tiny seat with a while a child kicks my chair until my butt is numb. It’s not possible! It is unnatural to be forced to sit in one seat, staring at a tiny screen while your ears pop as your neighbor’s head drifts dangerously close to your shoulder. I can’t wait for the invention of teleportation to get me where I need to be. I can barely handle road trips even when I have the option to stop and get out as I please.
No matter how you spin, long hauls suck. They just do. Be suspicious of anyone who tells you it doesn’t. The only people I know who like them are moms traveling alone and pilots. But if you ever want to see the world, you’ve got to suck it up and board the plane. So to save your sanity here are my best tips for surviving a long-haul international flight.
Schedule to minimize jet lag
I’ve traveled on so many overnight long hauls that it’s almost impossible for me to stay awake on the plane. I prep in advance by staying awake all day and possibly the night before according to the time zone in which I’m traveling. If pm here is am there, I skip it all together. Use the airtime to prepare yourself for the inevitable jet lag. Unless you’re moving abroad, you don’t want to waste daylight groggy or sleeping in when there is so much to see. If you have trouble falling asleep, try an eye mask, neck pillow or those free mini-wine bottles will do the trick.
Grab the window seat.
I know plenty of people will say to snatch up the aisle seat, but I disagree. If you have the chance to pick your seats before boarding, go for the window. I personally love window seats because I get a great view and something to lean against when I nap. You also get to control the shade which I find people close and open at the most inopportune times. If you are extremely tall, fidgety or plan on using the bathroom a lot I’d definitely suggest the aisle so you don’t crawl all over everyone fifty times. Otherwise, settle into that sweet window seat and enjoy the landscape.
Wear comfortable clothes.
The 12+ hours that you will be one the plane is not the time to flex your style savvy. If you want to look your best, pack a change of clothes and some makeup into your under seat carry on. For the actual flight, wear the most comfortable clothes you own. The seat situation is already confining. Don’t become a prisoner in your own clothes.
Charge all your electronics.
Your phone, laptop, iPad, iPod…keep them all charged. The airport USB ports are prime real estate so you may not find a free on before you board. Especially during layovers. I’m always sure to bring a backup charger like the TYLT Portable Battery or Anker Portable Charger PowerCore.
Bring an activity.
Still, haven’t finished that book you’ve been reading since last spring. Now’s your chance. Bring two or three, in fact. With nothing but time on your hands, you may just zoom through the pages and then what are you left with? The in-flight magazine. No thanks. Probably not going to buy this random hot tub from a catalog. Nice try Delta.
Grab a coloring book.
Coloring is supposed to be calming. So grab those color pencils and channel your frustrations into a childlike zen. Even if you don’t use it yourself, this may buy you some peace and quiet from the kid who inevitable sits next to you. That and candy. Laced with Benadryl. Just kidding! That is illegal and air marshals are watching you.
Download a few Netflix or Amazon shows and movies
Chances are you’ve got a queue as long as the Great Wall of China. Now is the time to get caught up. You’ve got nowhere to go and nothing to. Don’t feel guilty spending it catching up on your favorite trashy tv shows.
Sort the photos on your phone, camera, laptop, etc.
Half of the time I can never find what I’m looking for because I download and keep moving. That means my drive is an absolute disaster. I never get around to cleaning it because it seems so time-consuming and my shows are always on. The last time I did a purge and sweep, it took two days. You’ve got time. Make good use of it.
Download a Podcast or Audible.
Sit back, close your eyes and let your mind palace paint the details for you. If you need a pick me up, a good story is what you need to hear. You get the added benefit of resting your eyes while still being a smartypants. Choose a best seller or a self-help title. 14 hrs later you might know the Secret or be a meditation guru. At worst, this might bore to tears until you fall asleep.
Good ‘ol Sleep.
Did already say something along these lines? Because I really recommend this one.
With these long-haul haul survival tips, your long international flight will fly by!
What are your best tips for long-haul air travel?