One of the worst parts of traveling is… the actual traveling. Long flights can be dreadful and even the prospect of flying for +5 hours can be enough to discourage a person. But if you have a long flight ahead of you, don’t let it intimidate with you. You simply need to prepare for it and find ways to make the time pass.
Here are our best tips on how to get through a long flight. That includes advice for preparation, things you can do in-flight, and how to properly recover after landing.
Pick your favorite seat
The first step is to find a nice seat. Almost all airlines allow you to select a seat prior to the flight. It only costs a small extra fee and it is fully worth it.
Do you prefer being in the front, in the middle, or in the back of the plane?
Do you prefer a window seat or an aisle seat?
Get the seat that suits you – even if it costs a measly $10 extra. If you have miles credited to your account with the airline, this would be a good thing to spend them on.
If you are traveling as a couple, as a family or as a group, make sure that you sit together. It will make the flight much more comfortable and entertaining.
Pack some things that will keep you occupied
You need some things that will keep you occupied on the plane. This can be anything that interests you. If you like reading, bring a book in your carry-on luggage. If you like playing games, bring a tablet and download some games on it before the flight. Perhaps you like listening to music, if so, bring a headset or some noise-cancelling earphones. For those who like writing or drawing, bring some paper and a pen.
If you travel with friends or family, bring a deck of cards, or find some creative games to play.
Having a good time will make the flight pass so much faster, so do anything you can to keep occupied. But don’t do it at the last moment. Pack the things you need before you go, and you will step onto the plane knowing that you have stuff to do onboard.
Get a good night of sleep before flying
If you are already tired when you get into the plane, it will not be a nice flight. A lot of people skip out on sleep before a long flight because they think they can sleep inside the plane. And while that is always an option, it rarely ends well. Better to be well rested before your flight, so make sure you sleep as much as you can the night before. Some tips are to sleep in a low temperature room, don’t eat too late before bed, and if your mind is focused on the upcoming trip, try to calm down with some deep breaths.
Wear comfortable clothes
Since you have to spend several hours on an airplane, it makes sense to dress specifically for the occasion.
Try to wear the most comfortable clothes you have. The days of dressing to the tens on airplanes are over, and you can now wear whatever you want. Don’t show up looking like a slob, but wear some pants that can stretch, a shirt that feels nice, and don’t add too many accessories.
Generally, try to avoid clothes made from polyester and other synthetic materials. The two most important pieces to be comfortable in are the underwear and the pants. Sometimes, flights can be a bit cold, so consider wearing a sweatshirt or a light jacket.
If it makes you feel comfortable to take the shoes off during the flight, by all means do it.
In order to feel good, you need to stay hydrated. A lot of people get agitated when they are dehydrated, and this happens very easily on long flights. Be sure to drink enough water, and if possible, get some electrolytes too. This can be achieved by eating fruits prior to the flight, by drinking coconut water, Gatorade or a smoothie, or by using an electrolyte supplement that you mix in normal water.
You can’t bring a full water bottle through the security gates of modern airports, but you can buy spring water in airport kiosks and vending machines right before boarding your flight. They also tend to serve drinks on the flight itself, so take advantage of this. But it is really good to bring at least 1.5 liters / 50 oz of water with you when you board. Drink throughout the flight and you will feel much more fresh.
Move your body
Circulation is a problem on all flights, but particularly on long flights. So you need to move the body. Most people don’t do this – they just stay in their seat and wait for the flight to be over.
Ideally, get up and walk once an hour or so. Walk up and down the aisle one or two times. And stretch before sitting down. It’s completely fine to do this. You can also just go to the bathroom a few times since this will also require some walking.
Another good way to promote circulation is to briefly shake the legs or the arms. You can also clap your hands. There are specific airplane circulation routines you can follow if you really want to promote circulation, but even small movements make a big difference.
Learn about your destination
A good way to pass time – and a very useful way to spend the time – is to learn about your destination.
That’s why it’s so good to bring a guidebook to the flight. Find out which attractions you should see upon arrival, where you should eat, and what the culture is like. If you are going to a country or state where they speak a different language than your own, start learning some. You can download a language learning app for your phone, you can bring a learning book, or you can simply try to memorize phrases and sentences in your head.
Now that many airplanes have WiFi, you can access a ton of information online. It’s a great idea to spend the time learning, and it will give you a head start.
Plan for the days ahead
While you are flying, try making a general schedule for your trip. Think about what you want to do upon arrival, what places you want to visit the following day, and so on. It is a useful activity that will keep you busy.
A long flight is awful if you are anxious or bored. So try to get excited. This is very easy if you are going on vacation. Look forward to all the things ahead of you. If you are flying back from a vacation, you can get excited about the things that await you at home. Think positively and be in a good mood – that way, the stress of the long flight won’t truly get to you.