Surviving Long Haul Flights

Flights – and how to survive them!

You’re excited to jump on the plane and arrive at your next adventure. Then you ponder the lengthy flight (or flights) to get there. It’s not necessarily the cost of the transit, it’s the time in the air and the thought of sitting in the same spot for hours. And that’s not even mentioning the unexciting (and on some flights questionable) meals you’ll be served.

So how do you survive a long haul flight and step off the plane feeling ready to take on the world?

Let’s tackle this step-by-step and look at the basic necessities of life.

Food. Sleep. Hydration. Entertainment.

Food. Glorious food!

If you are a picky eater or have certain dietary restrictions or guidelines, you’ll want to make sure you bring enough nourishment to get you through the duration of your flight. This includes meals and snacks.

surviving long haul flights

Keep in mind though, you won’t be expending a lot of energy while sitting or standing. Eating less on a flight is not a bad thing and as long as you have enough calories, vitamins and minerals – eating light is actually better for you.

Choose healthy and easy to digest meal and snack foods. Just be sure to first check the airlines guidelines for bringing food items on the plane. If none are allowed, purchase food items from the menu with these thoughts in mind. Heavy meals, carbs, sugary, fatty, fried and processed foods might upset your tummy while in transit. All of these are hard on your digestive system and other organs, plus calories add up quickly.

If you do have a certain dietary lifestyle and will be dining from the menu it’s a good idea to call ahead or go online and book your meal. If you have food allergies or sensitives a follow up “reminder” call the day before departure will ensure your needs are taken care of.

surviving long haul flights


Seat choice on all your flights should be a consideration if you are looking to grab a quality nap or full sleep.

You might want to book a window seat if you plan on sleeping for a good portion of the flight. This way your neighbour won’t be stepping over you and your limbs that end up dangling in the aisle won’t get run over by the attendant’s cart.

surviving long haul flights

However, if you are a frequent lavatory visitor you may wish to secure the aisle seat for convenience.

To check out your best seating options, including those with extra leg room, look at SeatGuru. Then book your preferred seat as soon as you can before someone else snaps it up.

Plan your sleep schedule around the airlines in-flight services. Let’s look at an overnight flight for example. At the beginning of the flight drinks will be offered, followed by dinner. After dinner is a good time to use the facilities, brush your teeth and get comfy, ready to settle in for the night.

Make sure to have essentials easily accessible in your carry on, including:

  • a warm pair of socks
  • eye sleep mask
  • quality ear plugs

You may also like a neck pillow, although these tend to take up precious luggage space.

Other items that are nice to have are:

  • lip balm
  • chewing gum or mints
  • travel sized hand sanitize
  • hand/body lotion
  • mouth wash

It’s not uncommon these days to carry sanitizing clothes and wipe down the surfaces and television or monitor and remote before settling in. A recent Daily Mail article highlighted some of the dirtiest places on an aircraft.

surviving long haul flights

It’s typical for the body to become cooler in a resting state. Dressing in layers and having a sweater and light blanket for sleep time may prevent you from waking due to a chill.

The next meal to be served won’t be until breakfast so, in between is the perfect opportunity to catch some zzz’s. And this is when everyone else will want to sleep as well so it tends to be a much quieter time. A sticky note on your forehead saying “don’t wake the bear” might work too. There is nothing worse than being woken up from a sweet dream by the Duty Free service.


Flying to a new destination is exciting, and can be cause for celebration. What makes celebrating even more attractive is if your flight offers free beverages. Before indulging in alcohol however consider the consequences of the almighty cocktail.

Consuming alcohol disrupts sleep patterns as the body tries to process it.

Frequent trips to the washroom may also interrupt your ability to sleep. And then there is the resulting dehydration the next morning. While tempting, the thought of a hangover is worse and add to that the compounded effects of jet lag.

surviving long haul flights

Jet lag is manageable.

With a good sleep, proper nutrition and plenty of hydration you’ll be able to breeze through your long haul flight. Jumping into your routine during your new time zone’s daylight hours will also help you get through what could otherwise be several days of adjusting.

Regular H2O is the perfect way to stay hydrated. Try to stay away from soda pop or fruit juices that contain added sugar and sodium. Want to do one better than water? Try a flight formulated drink such as 1above, specially formulated, it is said to reduce the length of jetlag.

Let me entertain you.

To survive a long haul flight, you’ll also need to be entertained. Unless you are one of the few lucky passengers who can sleep through the journey from start to finish!

surviving long haul flights

Make certain you have a good book, magazine or movie. Noise-reducing headphones have a dual purpose, great for listening to music or movies and cancelling out any uninvited noise. That being said, a flight is not typically the most productive time to study or work on a project. Depending on the noise level of the other passengers, it may be possible but you just never know for certain.

Keep on moving.

The last point, and possibly the most important, is to move around. During your awake periods make certain to get up, stretch and if possible walk around.

It’s actually quite harmful to be sedentary for long periods of time and this can even result in the formation of blood clots, especially if you have heart or blood pressure health issues.

surviving long haul flights

To prevent stiffness and worse during flights make a point of moving. Even while you are seated there are exercises you can do to keep the blood flowing. Try neck rolls, chin tilts, shoulder shrugs, wrist and ankles flexes and rotations and stretching your arms over head.

And finally…

Remember, not everything is within your control. Do your best to be a good in-flight neighbour, do what you can to make yourself comfortable and don’t sweat the small stuff. It’ll all be worth it in the end.

Enjoy your flights and your next adventure!

#advice#flights#jet lag#long haul#tips#travel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.