Surviving Your First Long Haul Flight



When you first start traveling every flight seems long. But once you survive your first long flight you feel invincible. It doesn’t mean that after one flight you’ll love being stuck in a pressurized tube for hours. However, if you are properly prepared and know what to expect it really doesn’t seem so bad.


The key to surviving this flight is to be prepared with everything you might need and with what to expect when you are on board. These are a few of my top things I tell people who are heading out on their first long flight that has drastically decreased their nerves and stress levels.

Things to bring:

  1. Snacks – one snack for every 2 hours of travel time. (see THIS post for some snack ideas!)
  2. Activities – Yes, there is a very good chance there will be an in-seat entertainment system that has more movies and tv shows than you could possibly watch but there is a chance that you will get stuck with one whose screen cuts out halfway through the flight or that won’t stay on for more than 3 and a half minutes before going into ‘sleep mode’ (both of these have happened in the past year…) so make sure you download some Netflix shows onto your tablet or phone, load up your e-reader and maybe even grab a puzzle book or adult coloring book if that’s what you’re into. Even if nothing goes wrong and you watch the entirety of Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit (yep done that too, works well to pass the time) it’s nice to know in the back of your mind that you have a backup. A backup that also doesn’t take up much room in your bags as it’s with stuff you should be bringing along anyway.
  3. Sleep Aids. – Chances are if you’re on a long flight you will want to sleep at some point. Always bring an eye mask, ear plugs and if you can; noise canceling headphones
  4. Temperature Controls – Wear layers. It can get warm while you’re just sitting on the runway but once you’re in the air the temperature can drop and the paper thin blankets they give you just won’t cut it. I like to bring a long cardigan and wear it like a snuggie.  I also bring a pair of fuzzy socks and change into them on the plane. That way even if you wear them to the bathroom you won’t feel as gross because you can change into your normal socks before landing. Don’t forget to bring a scarf as well that will double as warmth. (Pashminas, blanket scarves are both good for this) Bonus points is that these 3 items (Scarf, Cardigan and Fuzzy Socks) can be worn at your destination.

Things to keep in mind:


  1. Your feet can (and most likely will) swell up. This is completely normal, but just try to do in seat stretches or get up to stretch every few hours. So don’t panic when you go to land and your shoes feel too tight! (Also take off your shoes after your board, (unless your feet are super smelly) it really makes a difference for feeling comfortable through the flight)
  2. Check in online and choose your seat according to your needs. Window if you’re a sleeper or aisle if you know you’ll need to use the bathroom often or have sore joints and will need to stand up to stretch.
  3. You will most likely be fed a main meal shortly after takeoff and another shortly before you land. If the flight is long enough you will also get a snack or other mini meal halfway through the flight as well. For flights over 10 hours, they usually have a basket of snacks that you just have to ask for. So you can plan your airport eating and snacks around this basic schedule.
  4. I believe the devil invented neck pillows. I have never actually seen someone using one on a plane before for its intended purpose. They always end up on the floor or on their lap. Don’t bother buying a fancy one expecting it to be a lifesaver on the trip. Chances are it will just end up being one more bulky thing to carry.
  5. By hour 4 or 5 the air starts getting incredibly dry. Remember to drink lots of water and bring moisturizer. You can also go to the galley and ask the flight attendants to fill up your water bottle. (remember to be very polite. Often flight attendants are on break or eating dinner back there. So try to find someone who isn’t resting or has their mouth full. Their jobs are safety officers, not your personal concierge)


The main thing to remember is to sit back, relax and enjoy this forced time to be unplugged from the world. You have no emails to answer, you can’t see people’s idiotic posts on facebook, no one is texting you for life advice. It’s just you and your seat mate, and solitary activities. How often do you get permission to sit on your butt and watch movies for that long? Embrace it and try to enjoy it.


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