How To Prepare For and Survive a Long Haul Flight

How to survive and feel and look good after an 8+ long flight? I’m gonna share some tips I wished someone would have told me before my first long flight.

Someone told me recently I should not travel by plane if I want to avoid flights related issues. Not that it ever happened to me, but that was the context. And I said, “Would you drive a car for 11 000 km?”. Obviously, if your only purpose is to reach your destination, you would take the plane. Now speaking about that 11 000 km, it takes about 12 h to get there, by plane.

Obviously, if your only purpose is to reach your destination, you would take the plane. Now speaking about that 11 000 km, it takes about 12 h to get there, by plane.

My longest flight was 13 h straight and then missed my connection. (I’m always getting lost in a foreign country and most of the times is not even my fault.) I do envy those in business class, who have a bed to lay on, and probably will not arrive will swollen feet, but if you are flying economy, then here’s your list:

1. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes

Just imagine sitting in the car for 5 hours, without a pause. Your body starts to hurt and you get all stiff. Yes, indeed you can get up during the flight, use the toilet or just stretch. But add the pressure and your body will start to swallow, you will get irritated with every move you make, your clothes will be too tight and your shoes won’t fit because your feet are also swollen.

Wear something comfortable, in which you can sleep if you get lucky enough. And wear sports shoes, something light and comfortable that feels like stepping onto clouds. You will need it, especially after you land.

2. Get yourself tired before boarding

Chances are you will arrive in another time zone if you are flying that long. Sure, you can go up or down on the globe, or you can “time travel” aka travel horizontally. Like going from Europe to Asia. Then you add or subtract hours. I always like to think I am gaining time.


The bad thing is that the time you get is spent on a plane. And that is not comfortable. Unless you are a 10-year-old and can sleep perfectly comfortable on two neighbouring seats.  (Or you travel business class)

So get yourself real tired before your flight. I guess that’s why I always postpone packing till the last night before my travel so that I don’t sleep. Or maybe it’s the excitement. The point is to feel so tired, that you wouldn’t mind that much that baby crying 5 rows in front of you, or the sound of the engines while taking off.

If you travel during the night, it’s going to feel like sitting in a bus, or floating, having nothing to stare at out the window. Your back will hurt. So fall asleep as soon as possible.

3. Pack your favourite music, book, a journal on your carry on

Those fancy, big planes, that perform long flights, have all kinds of stuff like a TV for every seat, with music, the latest movies, games, serials, they even have WiFi on board. If you don’t like their music, bring your own. I cannot sleep with any kind of music.

Or bring a book. Your eyes might hurt after a while, watching that TV. Or open your laptop and write something or watch whatever serials you might have fallen behind with. But I encourage you to write some thoughts, read a book and sleep.

4. Choose your meal or bring your snacks

I haven’t used all the airlines with long haul flights, but I assume they all feed you. 12 hours without food can feel even worse on a plane. They usually have a standard meal, or menu, because flying 12 h means 3 meals and some snacks.

The flight attendant is waking you up now and then to feed you and you are still floating somewhere, above some country which is not your destination.

If you eat meat and dairy and gluten and everything which is considered to be normal, then you’ll be fine. Otherwise, you will be either starving or sick on a plane. I don’t recommend either.

When booking your ticket, there will be somewhere written something about meals/catering/your diet or something like that.

If you missed it, or just forgot, or somebody else booked the ticket for you, then call/mail the airline or go to their office (if there is one in your city) and ask them to make the desired change about your meal preferences. You need your ticket number and an ID for that.

There was a rumour some years ago, that you are not allowed with fruits or food in the plane. Maybe that was the case then, but now, as long as it is not something liquid or smelly, everything is OK. Once I carried 1 kg of bananas. Also home-made sandwiches and packed snacks are OK, like sweets, peanuts,  etc.

5. Pack your check-in luggage carefully

I’m talking about that big case of useless stuff you decided to carry with you around the globe. By the way, here is a nice piece I wrote about how to pack your life into a suitcase. I think you need to read that!

Let’s just assume you do have to carry extra stuff with you. Let me help you get a visual imagine real quick: lots of luggage and bags, people throwing them around, on top on each other, sometimes missing, sometimes they just fall from the truck carrying it to or from the plane, the planes moves and it turns into a giant washing machine for your luggage, without the water (kidding, you’re on the plane too, and you won’t feel  it).

The point is that nobody will be extra careful while handling it, so you need to be extra careful when packing.

If you pack liquids like shampoo, pack it in a zipped plastic bag. Also pack your clothes in plastic bags, just to make sure. Sprays, plastic bottles or glass bottles can cause surprises. Any kind of liquid can cause damage to your stuff. Also don’t pack valuable stuff, electronic devices, or money there. And don’t

And don’t overfill it. You don’t want to pick your underwear from the baggage belt. Always pack your makeup in your carry-on bag.

Some people use vacuum bags. I have no idea, but it’s a thing, look that up.

And since we’re talking about packing, there are some things you should know when you plan to move abroad and pack your life in a suitcase.

6. Online check-in to select your seat

When talking about comfort in a plane, it comes to strategies. 12 hours before your flight, you can make your check in online and pick your seat!

You will see the map of the plane, and a legend of the colours. Some are already reserved, some are free. Most people travel in pairs so they will want to sit next to each other. (They are romantics, don’t mind them)

people on a plane

You need to find yourself 2 free seats next to each other. Most people want to sit in front of the plane, so the back is usually more empty. Search the seats on the sides, not the ones in the centre (everyone and everything are moving around those seats).

So left or right-hand side rows, and try to have free seats in front and behind you. Then book the window seat (although you want both). You pick that one in case someone will sit beside you, you can try to sleep (the window seat is better for sleeping).

In case someone does want to sit beside you, after the boarding is completed, take a quick look around, especially in the back and try to spot 2 free seats next to each other. Then move fast because others will too. Some people move to the chairs in the centre, because there are 4 seats, and they can lay and sleep on them.

7. Pack in your carry-on clothes for your destination

Unless you travel somewhere parallel with the equator. Like what’s the point in going to some place with the same weather?! Change the place, and change everything. And get to know yourself. Kidding.

It’s December and you’re coming back from your holiday in Asia, where it was 80 % humidity in the air and 35+°C degrees. So you board and you are wearing a t-shirt and a sweatshirt and sandals. Seems OK, for then and there. You arrive at your first stop and miss your connection.

And you cannot get back home because you missed your flight because the planes are delayed days in a row. All thanks to a massive snowstorm which is just about to happen. You have only your carry-on with you, while your checked-in luggage is lost somewhere in the airport, and they won’t give it to you because you are in transit.

People are wearing winter jackets and boots and hats and gloves. And there you are, outside, with nice snow everywhere, in sandals and just a sweatshirt. That moment when you wished someone would feel sorry for you and give you a jacket and some boots. Or you can pack some long pants and a smaller jacket and warmer shoes in your carry-on.

Or the other way around, you are dressed for winter and go on holiday to someplace real warm. You’re gonna like to change your clothes as soon as you get there, way before picking up your luggage or you just don’t want to dig through it to find your shorts. Pack smart.

When this happens, people just stare at you, which is weird. My sandals were heels. Everyone around me had a winter coat. I had a spring sweater kind of thing. It was co000old.

8. Girls, no makeup

I do makeup. I mean I wear makeup. Makeup is on that list of things I always take with me, no matter where I’m travelling. But if you are going to be stuck in a can for 12 h, chances are you will touch your face, sleep in weird positions, and even the best products will start to look weird on your face.

You just don’t need it, your face doesn’t need it, and after you arrive you will want to wipe it off as soon as possible and apply it again. Your skin will be tired by then. Just don’t.

Have your makeup with you and apply it when you get there if you have to. Just use the bathroom to do so. You will not be the only one.

How To Survive a Long Haul Flight

Iulia Vasile

Iulia is a travel expert, blogger, engineer, freelance copywriter, and a curiosity-driven personality. She sees travel as the ultimate tool for self-improvement and personal growth, and that's the main topic of her blog,

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