Survival guide to long haul flights

6 Tips to help you survive long haul flights

There’s no question that the worst part about travelling is the actual travel itself.

The time wasted in transit on those dreaded long haul flights, long waits and delays in airports, passport and immigration checks & the occasional overnight camp in an airport lounge waiting for a connecting flight has often left me questioning whether or not it’s all worth it.

Of course, there’s no doubt it is, but I’ve found there are definitely a number of ways to minimize the effect is has on both my body and mind to ensure I arrive to my destination feeling as refreshed as possible.

Long haul flights are the bane of my existence, as someone who travels frequently I often find myself in a state of mental preparation a day or two before leaving, knowing and dreading the journey that’s ahead of me. If you’re anything like me, a terrible flyer, I hope a few of my tips & must have items will help ease your long haul flight woes!

Trip preparation:

Preparing yourself for a long haul flight will reduce your stress at the airport, and ensure your body is in the right state for flying long distances. To some people this might seem like overkill, but if you’re anything like me, allergic to sedatives with extremely sensitive skin, prior preparation ensures I arrive looking and feeling far more relaxed and refreshed.

1.     Hydration

This might not seem the most obvious piece of advice when taking a long haul flight, but with hours spent awake outside of routine, in air-conditioning and with often limited water available, it’s important to pre-hydrate.

Generally I try and ensure I get a little more than the recommended daily intake in the 24 hours leading up to the flight. Around two to two and a half litres in the lead up to your flight will have you going to the bathroom pretty regularly but will reduce the impact of dehydration related fatigue post flight.

2. Entertainment

I don't sleep on flights, ever, making pre-planning what I'm going to get up to on the flight pretty important. 

A quality book, a good set of noise cancelling headphones, a fully charged iphone with entertainment apps already downloaded are normally enough to keep me going throughout the flight.

Depending on what airline you're flying with, check their website or at the check-in gate whether or not you need to provide your own device to watch the in-flight entertainment. 

Make sure you have their app downloaded pre-flight or you will be paying for WIFI to get it during your flight - and they charge premium! 

3. Snacks

This tip applies in particular to budget airlines. I've learnt this the hard way only once, on a nine hour flight to Thailand when I reached my full HANGRY potential.

If you didn't pre-select a meal option or specifically book a meal pre-flight, assume that food won't be included with your seat. Most airlines will offer on board meal, beverage and snack purchases, however they are generally at a premium cost.

Once you've checked in, cleared customs and are at your departure lounge, I would recommend grabbing at least a pre-packed snack for your flight. Also, don't forget to pack an EMPTY water bottle to be filled up once on board your flight!

4. Pack a jumper or warm piece of clothing

There is nothing worse than feeling cold with the inability to get yourself warm. Planes seem to operate on two climate control setting, Antarctica or Sahara Desert - dress smart, dress comfortable and pack yourself a pull-over to avoid freezing to death mid flight!

5. Keep active

Swollen ankles, stiff necks and sore back are all part of the fun when flying long haul.

Do yourself a favour and keep your body active throughout your flight to avoid feeling stiff and lethargic upon arrival in to your destination.

To combat swollen ankles I pack a decent thick pair of compression socks (or my snowbaording socks!) and put them on as soon as the plane takes off. 

Getting up and moving about the cabin every 30 minutes to one hour will also reduce the fatigue on your lumber from being seated for too long.

Be sure to roll your shoulders and ankles around regularly to keep your circulation flowing.

Just remember: everyone on the flight is having as much fun as you, be respectful, don't impede on their space or continually wake them up if you aren't in an aisle seat! 

6. Get yourself ready for a quick departure

After you've been sitting for an extended period of time, you'll be itching to get off that plane!

Expedite your departure from the airport by having your bag packed, passport in hand any incoming customs and declaration forms filled out and ready so you can (hopefully) breeze through the arrivals as quickly as possible. 


Long haul flights are always hard work, but when it comes down to is, the end always justifies the means - enjoy!