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Eight Tips For Surviving A Long-Haul Flight

Eight Tips For Surviving A Long-Haul Flight

With an impending 14-hour flight from Paris to Kuala Lumpur, we’re starting to feel a little bit anxious. The two of us aren’t the biggest fans of flying and these longer flights definitely don’t do our dislike for air travel any favors.

Amy and Kieron on-board a plane

Obviously early into a long flight - we are still smiling!

You do start to become more comfortable with long-haul flights the more you take them, however like most people we have our tricks to help us survive these lengthy journeys.

Here are a few of our tips to make your next long-haul flight a much more comfortable experience.

Airline Seat Selection

Seat Selection

1. Select your seat

We typically refuse paying extra to the airlines for seat selection, however we always make an exception for flights that are eight hours or longer. Forking out $10-$20 to ensure optimum comfort is an investment worth making in our eyes.

Where you sit can make or break you on a long flight – we always make sure that one of us is sitting on an aisle so that we can easily go to the bathroom and move around when we need to stretch.

Use SeatGuru before you book your flights to help you decide where to sit.

2. Move around on the plane

You know that it’s a good idea to move around as much as possible when flying – it’s in a lot of the airlines’ pre-flight safety videos. But how many people actually follow this advice? From what we’ve seen on past experiences, we’d guess not many!

Get up and walk down the aisle every hour or two, stretch when you can and do some in-flight leg exercises to avoid any chance of DVT. You’ll also feel a lot better at the end of the flight!

Always bring water!

Bring water!

3. Keep hydrated

Commercial airlines have very low humidity (ranging from 5-15%) which can quickly lead to dehydration. Buy at least one large bottle of water before boarding the plane and continually sip it throughout the flight – never get on a plane without a bottle of water.

It’s also worthwhile avoiding contact lenses while flying (put your glasses on and bring eye drops), be sure to carry a lip balm and even take a small tube of moisturizer if you’re prone to dry skin.

4. Be comfortable

This one is especially for the ladies – you don’t need to look amazing on a long-haul flight so dress comfortably. Leggings, an oversized t-shirt and jacket are more than acceptable for girls and sweat pants and a t-shirt are perfect for guys.

Be sure to layer your clothing as different airlines vary their temperatures in the cabin. If you’re not already wearing them, a pair of socks is an essential carry-on item to keep your feet warm.

5. Bring entertainment

The time can fly by on a long-haul flight if you keep yourself entertained. Be sure to fully charge your laptop or iPad and load it up with movies before leaving for the airport. An iPod or smart phone is also great for music and games, which can keep you busy for hours.

6. Avoid alcohol

Beer on plane

Skip the beer and opt for a water instead!

Drinking alcohol on a long-haul flight is always a temptation, particularly on full service airlines that offer it for free. Some people see it as their only option to survive that long plane ride.

As tempting as it is, we choose to avoid alcohol completely as it can dehydrate you extremely quickly and leave you feeling drained.

7. Do not fly hungry! Eat beforehand and bring snacks

We always like to fly on a full belly so make sure to grab something at the airport before departing whether it be a quick sandwich or a full sit-down meal. Also bring some lights snacks with you on board. You don’t want to pay for overpriced junk through the in-flight meal service and decent snacks will help keep your energy up.

8. Pack breath mints

Breath mints (or chewing gum) are something we rarely fly without – your breath is guaranteed to take a turn for the worse at some point during the flight and not only will having mints make you feel better, it’s also courteous to your fellow passengers. You don’t want to be “that guy” (or girl!)…

How do you survive long-haul flights? Share your best tips with us below!

Flickr Photos: Sean MacEntee, josewolff

25 Comments

  1. Posted December 20, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I have been on several long haul flights where they don’t allow you to bring a bottle of water. So frustrating! They always say it’s against regulations to allow it or blame it on the government (my flight from Vietnam to Melbourne – they blamed the Australian government) but really I think they just don’t understand the rule. If I went through security and THEN bought a bottle of water, it should be allowed. Grr…
    Ali recently posted..Angkor Wat in Photos

    • Posted December 20, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Wow, are you serious?! I guess we’ve been extremely lucky because we haven’t had that issue to date!

      Completely agree that once you clear security that you should be able to bring whatever you want onto the plane, especially water. Hopefully your experience was just an exception! Which airline was that on?

    • Posted December 20, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      I’ve had it happen to me several times this past year too. Grrrr is right!
      evitravels recently posted..The Spot for cocktails in San Pedro, California.

    • Posted December 20, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      That’s really disappointing to hear! Which airlines/routes have been an issue for you? A name and shame is definitely required!

    • Erin
      Posted January 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      I used to have trouble with being able to take water on flights as well, but I have learned that, it is the water they don’t like, not the actual water bottle, so I take an empty water bottle and either fill it up at the airport (after security) or get the flight attendants to fill up it up once you get on the plane.

      • Posted January 27, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        Yep, gotta keep those liquids under 100ml before clearing security. After that, you usually can either refill the water bottle or buy yourself a new one (or few).

  2. Posted December 20, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Love the blog! I wrote one about my flight london to Kuala Lumpar 15 1/2 hours non-stop with no entertainment. I guess you flew AirAsia. I would fly again though I have to admit it was tiresome phew. I had some dumb gap yah girls infront of me as well taking pictures of me while I slept and giggling. Hope it was a good flight xx
    George recently posted..Morocco: The Run Up and Statistics!

    • Posted December 20, 2011 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      Yep, we sure did fly AirAsia! Our first experience with them was on a new plane had entertainment units in the back of the seats but we haven’t seen that since…

      Now that’s gotta be an infuriating experience! Well done for staying calm haha.

  3. Posted December 20, 2011 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Thank you for making future flights more minty with less bad breath!
    Gerard ~ GQ trippin recently posted..Ancient Ayutthaya in Photos

    • Posted December 20, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

      Anytime Gerard! Perhaps we should have included “use deodorant before flying” on this list as well? Haha.

  4. Posted December 20, 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I always pick window seats, but for a long flight the aisle is definitely the way to go. It feels awkward to randomly get up and walk around the plane to stretch, which is probably why no one does it. But you’re right that it’s a smart idea.
    Scott – QuirkyTravel recently posted..Austin in photos: kinda weird, kinda traditional

    • Posted December 20, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

      Window seats are great for shorter flights where you don’t need to get up, particularly if you’re traveling solo. People probably do feel awkward walking around but I’ve never seen a problem with it (unless you do it as a group and congregate around the toilet) – even if you just stand up for a little while, it all helps!

  5. Posted December 20, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Great tips! I’ve certainly used many of them myself, having flown so many times between the U.S. and New Zealand. I love that country, but I do NOT love how far away it is from everything!
    Amanda recently posted..My Travels From A to Z

    • Posted December 20, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

      At least you’re close to a lot of countries there in the US! EVERYTHING seems to be miles away from Australia (excluding NZ, of course!)…

  6. Matthew Cheyne
    Posted December 20, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    Those are great tips. I must admit the longest flight I’ve ever taken was from Melbourne to Perth so no long distance travel for me under the belt yet.

    What was your flight with Air Asia like? And does it work out to be cheaper than the other airlines? I always thought that it might not be because you’ve got to pay for your luggage by the kilo to go onto the plane and I admit that it is really off putting for me.

    • Posted December 20, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

      Melbourne to Perth is still a decent journey and a lot of these tips would still I apply I would think.

      Air Asia are great – it’s a LOT cheaper than the other airlines. Amy got fares from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne for less than $200 and our flights from Paris – KL were $400 each including baggage and meals! You have to pay for luggage with most airlines these days and the fees aren’t too unreasonable (apart from having to pay around $3-$4 to print off your boarding pass at the airport).

  7. Posted December 22, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Here, here for the more comfy seats being worth the extra investment!! Happy Christmas :)
    Anthony recently posted..Rescued (& Almost Killed) in The Land of Smiles

    • Posted December 22, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

      Always worth the extra investment! Nothing worse than getting a middle seat if you’re traveling solo or for us having to climb over someone that’s trying to sleep.

  8. Posted December 23, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    I agree with all of those! My longest flight was to Sydney… eighteen hours I think! A tip I have is to TAKE THE REDEYE! Sleeping is one thing that’s sure to make time fly on those long flights.
    Claire recently posted..Buildings of London

    • Posted December 23, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

      Ouch – now that’s a painful flight! The redeye flights are great as they can also save you on a night of accommodation, but sleeping on a plane is hit or miss.

      Sometimes you’ve felt like you’ve slept for hours only to realize less than 30 minutes have passed by. Not many more frustrating feelings than that!!

  9. AJ
    Posted December 28, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Great post, wish I had read this before I did a long haul trip for London to Sydney….over 20 hours in a plane is not fun. Look forward to hearing more about your guys travel experiences.

    • Posted December 29, 2011 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      Hey AJ – glad you found us! Ughhh… we could never do a flight that long and always like to break it up with a stopover where possible. It’s half the reason we chose to fly from Melbourne to Hawaii (10 hours) instead of direct to LA (14 hours)…

  10. tracy kembrey
    Posted January 20, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    i had an expensive moisturising cream taken from me at sydney i was peeved off against regulations

    • Posted January 20, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      The regulations are harsh, we know first hand when we lost all of our aerosols in the Philippines when traveling with carry-on only.

      You just gotta be sure to keep those liquids under 100ml.

  11. Posted December 27, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never followed the old advice about moving around the cabin – and then a few months back when we flew to NZ – we had a 12 hour flight followed by a 10 hour flight. By the time we got to NZ I had the most swollen feet imaginable – my shoes almost didn’t fit. Lesson was learnt!
    Elle Williams recently posted..A Queenstown Christmas

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