Thanks to technological advances, it’s now possible to get to some of our favorite destinations faster. In fact, just this year, a nearly 18-hour direct flight from Los Angeles to Singapore became a reality. Even though it can be more convenient to travel direct in these instances, it’s totally necessary to be equipped with essential tips for long flights (or you may actually go crazy). And to be honest, all it takes is one disastrous long-haul flight before you decide to never do it again. Although, every pro traveler has made mistakes at some point.
But why should you be so prepared, you may ask? Well, starting your trip out on a sour note can really put a damper on your adventurous mood. Plus, having cold feet (literally) or listening to your cabinmate snore for 10 hours is just not comfortable in any way, shape, or form. Just because you have to be on a long flight doesn’t mean you can’t make the best of it.
Below, find the insider tips resident jet-setters use to make it through ridiculously long flights. Happy traveling!
Stretch the day before
This may come as a surprise to some, but your travel preparation should actually start the day before you step foot on the plane. Get a good stretch in at the gym or do some yoga at home if you’re busy packing. This will get your muscles ready for being cramped on your flight. Always remember to take walks up and down the aisle every few hours on long flights.
Bring an eye mask
If you think wearing an eye mask is uncomfortable, you might not be using the right one. We swear that if you opt for one with a silky lining, you’ll be good to go. Even if the cabin lights are on, you’ll be ready to take a nap whenever suits your fancy.
Check in early
Take it from someone who almost missed her brother’s wedding rehearsal dinner: Being even a few minutes late to the airport is never a good sign. Plan to arrive a good deal early so you get a prime choice of seating. Go for the exit row if you want more leg room or plan to make more restroom trips, or go for the back of the plane if you want some peace and quiet (we’ve heard babies are usually placed at the front of the plane during international flights).
Pack light enough
One of the most important tips for long flights is not to overpack (you obviously want to be equipped for your trip, but you don’t want to go overboard). Pare down your carry-on bags to a comfortable amount that won’t be hard to move if you have a last-minute gate change. Check most of your baggage even if it costs a bit more. Trust us—you’ll be glad you did.
Sometimes on flights, your dinner doesn’t get to you as quickly as you need it. Pack some snacks that you’re looking forward to noshing on in-between meals (or in place of the meal, if the dishes don’t turn out to be tasty). If you have food allergies, pack extra snacks in case the food doesn’t fully accommodate your needs. After all, no one wants to feel famished with several hours left before touchdown.
Drink tons of H20
There are truly few places that are drier than an airplane cabin, so come prepared. Chug as much water as possible (and grab an extra bottle of water post-TSA). This way, you’re good until the flight attendants come by for beverage service. Hydration also includes face mists, hand creams, and eye drops, so make sure to also pack these items for an in-flight refresh.
Few things are worse than being on a marathon of a flight in pants that cut off the circulation in your stomach. Opt for leggings or draw-string bottoms with plenty of layers on top that you can take on and off (depending on the temperature). Always pack socks too, since some flights seem to be overly air-conditioned. If you need to go somewhere directly from your flight, consider packing something less casual to change into at the airport.
Use a neck pillow
Luckily for you, we’ve already done some research on the absolute best travel pillows out there. A neck pillow will help you cozy up for a snooze even when your seat has to be in the upright position. We suggest trying it out ahead of time to make sure it’s comfy enough for flights.
Have backup entertainment
You never know when your seat-back TV is going to malfunction or if your cell phone is going to die. Always have another form of entertainment on hand so you’re not stuck twiddling your thumbs. Hard-copy books and magazines are no-fail options since there’s no charging required. You can always load an old iPod with some good playlists—especially if you’re craving a little background noise.
Go premium if possible
Whether you decide to dole out the extra money or cash in on some air mile rewards, upgrading to Business or First-Class is definitely a good option on a long flight. You’ll have better food, extra legroom, and bubbly pretty much waiting for you upon stepping foot on the plane. Note: Once you upgrade, you’ll never want to go back.
Adjust the time
Before takeoff, all resident travelers know to set their watches and cell phones to the new time zone. Doing this gives you the entire flight to get acclimated. It’s kind of like ripping off a Band-Aid—it will be painful at first, but by the time you disembark from the plane, you’ll be ready to explore.
Pack some toiletries
If you’re on a flight longer than eight hours or so, we strongly suggest packing a small toiletry bag in your carry-on. Essentials include a toothbrush and toothpaste, hand sanitizer, face wash or wipes, moisturizer, and some simple makeup (a tinted moisturizer or lip balm will do). Remember, you’ll need travel sizes so you can take them through security.
Opt for a podcast
We already suggested having some alternative entertainment in case everything goes wrong, but it’s not a bad idea to have a few podcasts downloaded as well. Compared to other forms of technology, podcasts tend to drain the battery on your tech items a lot less than movies and playlists. This way you can emerge with a cell phone that’s actually at least half charged post-flight.
Are you a pro traveler? Be sure to share any of your top tips for long flights in the comments.