Tip #1: Don’t fly economy. Throw all your money at buying a first class ticket.
Tip #2: Splurge on the champagne upgrade.
Tip #3: Treat yo ‘self to the best massage in the city once you land.
That’s it! All the long haul flight tips you need, in just three easy steps!
*plane crashes back to reality*
So chances are you’re flying economy and just worked overtime for your d*ckhead boss that you roll your eyes at every time he sends some passive-aggressive email that makes you want to quit.
Those “tips” above are flying (literally) out the door and you need something tangible to get you through EVEN MORE MISERY before you can finally let loose in Thailand, Tanzania, or Fiji…
In this day and age, if you like flying, you’re probably taking drugs. Flying is not, I repeat NOT fun, and long hauls in economy are seriously a fiery red hell that you must tiptoe through and survive to make it to paradise…
Oh, the things that can go wrong…
The crying babies, the knee jerker behind you, the in-flight entertainment that keeps crashing during your 10-hour flight… Forgetting to bring food and being forced in purchasing the overpriced crap on the flight, or finding out as they call “final boarding” that you need proof onward travel for the country you’re heading to but you were planning on a taking the bus to the next country so you don’t have one and now you’re fucked…
Flying is the worst.
There’s no way around it; there’s no escaping. I’m sorry.
However, I do have some long haul flight tips and some essentials to help you survive it…
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Long Haul Flight Tips: Surviving Economy
1. Get There Earlier
WHY. WHY would I tell you to arrive earlier in what’s going to be your hellish nightmare?
Because hell can get even worse.
Did I ever tell you about the time I had to get a yellow fever shot AT the airport? Or maybe the time I had to buy another plane ticket while they were calling “final call.”
Or the time I accidentally bought the wrong flight and had to buy a new one to board the one I thought I was boarding or the time I was stuck in Terminal F in Moscow for over 24 hours!
*the list continues*
Yeah… That happened. But I made it on all those flights (well kinda), because I got there early, which means shit started falling apart much earlier. I was able to clean up the mess stat. If I arrived any later, I would have missed my flight.
Also, if you suffer from self-diagnosed anxiety in travel situations, you should also, most certainly, arrive early. It lessens the panic attacks tenfold, promise.
2. Charging Your Things
Right, like you’d forget that, right? What am I? Your mom trying to tell you obvious things like “don’t walk down dark alleys.”
Yes, yes, I am…
Because when we fly on long-haul flights, we have exactly 3195749064 other thoughts scrambling in our heads, so we need to be reminded of these things. And this would be a tragic thing to forget, because, ya know, we’re addicted to our phones and stuff.
No worries, I’ve been there, (seriously, how I call myself a travel professional is beyond me sometimes) but luckily I have the cube.
This thing is magic. So when you find the one sacred outlet in the shitty airport you’re in, you can charge everything, rather than take turns. Or if you notice some other poor soul also forgot, no need to stalk the outlet waiting for them to leave, head over and offer to plug in your cube and you can all charge all the things.
Side note: This will help beyond the airport too, of course, because some parts of the world like to offer one or two outlets max in a room
as a cruel joke and a lamp is taking up one of them. It’s a travel essential if you’re traveling with anything more than just your phone.
On a ghetto flight without an outlet? Not even a USB plug? No probs, bring this portable charger that I carry EVERYWHERE.
This is a long flight essential for me and I haven’t traveled without it since I purchased it.
It charges your phone around 3-5 times depending on your model, and when you’re off the plane, it’s perfect for your future adventures.
It’s solar charging, shock, and dustproof too so you can be a mess, just like I am, and not worry about breaking it. Life is good. It also has a torch feature if you’re going camping or the power goes out.
Oh! And let’s not forget a converter. Getting one will save you a lot of heartaches. If you plan on buying once you land, how will you charge your things at the airport and the hotel before you go shopping for one?
Also, they are likely expensive and crappy (hello, tourists prices), get a quality one if you’re traveling often. It’s a good investment. Oh, and it will work around the world so you don’t need to buy and carry country-specific ones.
Trust the cheapo over here who has, on numerous occasions, frantically ran through the streets of Kuala Lumpur and Munich trying to buy a new one (only for it to break a week later, womp womp).
3. Choose Your Meal
No, I don’t mean for you to choose between the chicken and rice and the beef and potatoes or, I mean, whatever “chicken” and “beef” -esque items they are trying to force down your throats, I’m talking about forgetting that gross and sorry excuse for a meal and getting the vegetarian meal that you can request before your flight.
As long as you request it within 48 hours in advance (but preferably not so last minute because you’ll probably forget), you can get served an actual edible meal.
No, I’m not trying to turn anyone into a vegetarian, but if you can tell me about a meat dish that you were served on a plane that didn’t make you question if it was real food or not, I’ll eat my words.
The vegetarian meals are pretty good, and there are zero questionable items on your plate.
BONUS: You will get served first as well! Take the little things and run with them guys, you have no idea how much this will mean on your long-haul flight.
4. Bring Your Snacks
Did you forget to choose a meal? Or perhaps you booked one of the world’s cheapest airlines where they think it’s an OPTION to have food on a 12-hour flight (I’ve been there, don’t be ashamed about that mistake).
Don’t, for the love of your rumbly tummy, forget to bring snacks. Unless you’re OK with dropping $35 on subpar sandwiches and a mini bag of
air chips that will only satisfy your tummy until you’re over Portugal when it needs to get you through to Denver… The Atlantic is a big f*cking ocean, dude. Bring your snacks.
The airport is hideously overpriced, and their “budget-friendly” selections were made by an awful, awful human.
Who wants a stinky tuna sandwich on the fakest white bread ever to exist just before their flight? NOBODY.
Things like granola bars, nuts and seeds, (good) sandwiches, crackers… Easy items that can be transported and eaten later.
Fruit is a good choice too just be careful with taking fruit abroad as sometimes it’s not allowed and you’ll definitely need to eat everything or throw it out when you land (also, nothing smushy like bananas).
5. What to Wear
WHO are the people that wear dresses and heels on a plane? Please, the club is the other way, chick, I think you’re lost…
The others that do their hair (like really done up)? Or decided to wear their cute shoulder bag that has ten extra pounds of metal embellishments…where.are.you.going?
For anyone out there thinking they need to dress up or a certain way to take a flight, ya don’t. And thank the heavens for that. I mean, why would there be a dress code in hell, right?
But let’s not take it too far, Definitely, don’t come rocking your straight up PJs.
I say look appropriate but be comfortable as hell.
Plane temperatures are either hot or cold; the in-between temperature must be reserved for those in first-class because I’m never a comfortable temp on a plane. Ever.
So that also means bringing a light hoodie is a must.
And footwear is up to you, but I always opt for flip-flops because I’m a dirty hippy and never like wearing shoes anyway. I’m often found folding my legs, stretching them, or even dangling them over Garrett…
If you wear closed-toed shoes, don’t stink up the place!
You’ve made your bed, now sleep in it… Flip-flop feet don’t smell, so I win.
You can bring your own socks to wear around the plane if you wear flip-flops. Compression socks are THE thing to wear on planes to help with leg circulation. (Obviously wear your shoes to the bathroom though because you’re not one of those people, right?!)
A scarf can work wonders as a little blanket for those weak ass airlines that barely provide anything more than a working plane (let’s hope) or this scarf which you can hide valuables in because it has a hidden pocket. It’s my perfect airport scarf!
It has room for cash, a passport, even my phone, and lip balm. You won’t have to reach down into your personal bag if you wear this thing.
6. Disappear from the World
For the ultimate long-haul flight tip… I shall make you disappear until you’ve reached your destination! *poof*
Ah, don’t we wish? Disappearing from the plane and magically landing in your destination isn’t reality… Sorry friends, I can’t do that, but I can do the next best thing though and get you to shut off from the awful world that is a long haul flight…
Get yourself some noise-canceling headphones. Crying babies ain’t got nothing on you now… Cry away, little demon, cry away.
Your hoodie, the keyword being, hood—Live in it.
Bust it out and shun yourself, face, and all, away from everything and everyone. Hide.
And if you want to go for it, get yourself a cheap but fantastic sleeping mask. I can’t wear these things because having things on my face freaks me out and bothers me, I wish I could, but I hate it. But this will keep those heinous luminescent lights out of your eyes.
This is about as disappeared as you can get on a flight.
7. You Should Try and Be Green
OK so this one is something that’s totally on you, it’s not really a long haul flight tip, but I hope you take some of this advice and roll with it.
*WARNING: Mounting soapbox in 3, 2, 1…*
Why do airlines hate the planet? Can anyone answer me this?
They are so terrible with all the plastic, I get it, it’s for convenience and hygiene, but there are seriously so many better ways to go about things, I hope they find some better solutions fast. (as if the jet fuel in the air isn’t enough)
I was once served a closed and sealed water bottle WITH a plastic cup… Why can’t I drink from the water bottle? Why why must we waste another single-use plastic item?
It’s a problem, and while helping “solve” this isn’t going to make your long haul better, maybe it will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside knowing you helped pollute the world a bit less than your fellow seatmates.
I’ll get off my soapbox now and just offer some solutions…
Bring your own water bottle. There are often refilling water stations at the airport.
When the air hostess comes around with water, hand them your water bottle instead of taking a small plastic cup, which isn’t more than a few sips anyway.
When they serve you, try to return the extra individually sealed water cup they served you (you know, the one that comes on your plate already) or the utensils if you travel with your own (you should use travel utensils).
Don’t use the blanket if you’re not cold which is usually wrapped in plastic in hopes they will reuse it.
I know some may think these are super silly or annoying and that’s OK…
The world is covered in our shit and plastic, literally, and it isn’t a comfortable topic. In making everyone feeling uncomfortable more often about this problem, hopefully, we can move towards getting “comfortable” (AKA change) quicker?
Worse comes to worst… One person saves 1-2 more pieces of plastic for a measly ounce of “inconvenience.” not a big deal, right?
Other Quick Long-Haul Flight Tips:
- If you pee a lot, get an aisle, if you want to sleep the entire time, get a window seat. I’m a window seat gal myself. I once peed exactly one time on an 11-hour flight (see below how). Not healthy in the slightest but I HATE getting up and using the restrooms on flights. Also don’t be the asshole who loves window seats and chugs drinks the entire time.
- If you get weirded out by the slightest bumps and jumps on the plane, sit near the wing, so you’re in the most stable area of the aircraft.
- Drink tons of water the night before and before the flight. I tend to not drink as much on flights (which is not good by the way), but it’s because I hate getting up 12 times to go pee, so instead, I drink a lot before and then, of course, after my flight. Not sure if this is a long haul flight tip or if this is just my way of scanning for people like me to justify my unhealthy habit?
- Bring a pen: a ridiculous item, I know, but almost nearly as precious as your freaking passport when you’re hopping borders. Nothing is worse than not having a pen when you have arrival and departure cards to fill out; they’ll make you wait in line again if you don’t have it done or delay you from getting in line early. Get us out of this hell!
- Bring some meds to help you along. I won’t lie, I have been prescribed Xanax at one point in my life, and I used to carry some along and pop them on long-haul flights. However, I found it a bit dangerous when I actually got off the flights in foreign countries, and I was still drowsy and loopy (and traveling solo). I also try to never take medication now unless medically necessary (like I don’t even take aspirins…#TryinToBeHealthy). However, if you need some to get you through this nightmare, you do you. No judgment. Put them in a little pill case instead of lugging around a bottle. Just know your dosage and don’t take too much so you’re not still woozy come landing time.
- Hand sanitizer. Because, planes….Ew.
- Kindle books and downloaded movies, because if you’re on a janky airline without a TV, you’re going to need them to get your mind off.
Long Flight Tips: Essentials To Bring
Just in case you want a quick checklist, here’s everything in a quick list format to get you through this tough time in your life…
- You fav comfy clothes that are still allowed in public. These jeggings are life for me.
- Light hoodie
- Sleep mask
- Scarf with a hidden pocket
- Compression socks
- Passport and any documentation that you need (on your phone is fine)
- Print out boarding passes if you booked with a cheapo airline that’ll charge you if you don’t
- Reserve a vegetarian meal at least 3 days in advance
- Any food items that you want to bring
Long Haul Flight Tip: Knowing When to Splurge
This is a big one. Sometimes, we have to know when to splurge. Don’t worry, I won’t convince you to buy that first-class ticket. If you can believe it, I’ve NEVER flown first class. Ever.
Splurging doesn’t mean shelling out tons of cash in this situation, it just means to know when and where to spend that extra dollar, so you’re not suffering even more than necessary.
Do you have a credit card that gets you admittance to lounges? Put in the extra effort to research this because you could be leaving this prized possession on the table! They may even allow you to bring a friend at a discounted rate; this could be a great splurge on a 10-hour layover.
Speaking of layovers, if you can escape the airport, DO IT. Yes, sleeping on the floor of the airport for 15 hours will be free but your dignity will be left soaked into the disgusting 55-year-old carpet at said airport. Get a cheap hotel or go out for the night leaving your luggage at the storage facility of the airport (if they have one, many do). It will be money well spent.
I’ve done this many times, like my 15 hours in South Korea where I went out clubbing all night, didn’t sleep, used my hotel as a storage room, and then hopped on my flight. It was epic and actually not that expensive at all.
What about adding another bag? I know, I know, luggage costs are a bitch, but every once in awhile, it could be worth looking into checking in a second bag just to get it off your back and not having to lug it around.
Is there a flight that doesn’t have three layovers on a world’s shittest airlines that only costs $50 more?
Is there a flight that offers most “regular things” like food and in-flight entertainment included instead of having to pay extra for only a mere $30 more? Book it!
It’s often not worth saving the few extra bucks if you go through the trouble of bringing all your food, that costs you $15 anyway. What’s an extra $15 to NOT to have to deal with that mess and get other perks on the flight?
So THIS is what I mean by knowing when to splurge. Think about your wallet, time and efforts and see what weighs out best for you. Often you’ll realize the extra cash spent on the flight is worth every single penny.
Long Haul Flight Tips: How to Prep
Sometimes part of surviving a long haul flight is prepping correctly and not having your world crash down on you while you’re at the airport, lost, and confused. At this point, you’re already in hell, you’ve made a reservation to ENTER hell, and when you don’t have your shit together, hell will close its doors on you.
Which, doesn’t seem like a bad thing because who wants to get into hell anyway? However, the airport, and planes, also known as hell, are what you need to get anywhere, so if you’re going to enter hell, just enter it right, so you don’t get a pitchfork in the ass on top of it all.
*can we tell how much I hate airports and flying?!*
Perhaps the best long-haul flight tips are those that come before the flight itself…
- Don’t forget your long flight essentials:
- your outbound flight info (more on this below),
- your hotel’s/AirBnB’s address,
- a pen
- No, you don’t need printouts, this isn’t 2001. Just have everything organized on your phone and you’re fine.
- UNLESS you do need to print it out (you booked the janky ass budget airline, didn’t you? Print that shit now or shell over $30 for a piece of paper.)
- Do you need an outbound flight? As in, if you’re going from Portland to New Zealand, do you have a flight out of New Zealand as proof you’re leaving the country? Some countries, really don’t care about this rule but it’s becoming increasingly popular and countries (ahem, Thailand) who used not to care, are caring!
Make sure you book a flight out as proof. You could book a fake trip but you may be better off booking an Expedia flight that allows free cancelation within 24 hours. I know some people don’t know where they are going next (this is me, everywhere) so we’re not trying to do anything shady, we just need some more time to think about where to next! This is the answer, 24-hour cancelation policies are great.
- Pack your stuff and check it twice. It sucks to forget favorite items, packing the day before helps ensure you’re not forgetting things you need. At least lay things out for inventory and then pack later, it helps.
- Double check that luggage policy! When you get to the airport early, weigh your bag on an empty scale and shift things around if needed.
What About AFTER Your Flight?
Raise your hand if you prepped everything SO well, your flight was a success, but then you failed to figure out stuff for when you landed?
*I’m raising my hand*
Luckily I make the mistakes for you so you’re prepped and sorted!
Don’t forget to look up what your situation is for AFTER you land.
- Can you grab an Uber/Grab/Lyft?
- What’s the public transportation like and is it open when you land?
- Are taxis a major scam at the airport? (very likely)
- Do you just book an official taxi at the airport desk? (probably)
- Should you prebook a private transfer from the airport to your hotel because you land at 3 am?
- Is your hotel a 24-hour check-in hotel and is aware you’re arriving at 3 am?
Lots of questions here! Don’t forget, after a long-haul flight; you’re not out of hell yet. You have to make it to your hotel
to win first.
How to Avoid Long-Haul Flights Entirely
This one is a tricky one, but it’s 100% doable, and I try to do it as often as I can. There is only ONE requirement for this to work!
If you have extra time, you can avoid long-haul flights altogether, it’s a beautiful thing! And the magic is this…
You take shorter flights to your end destination.
It’s something I like to call “one way to everywhere” where you just choose an end destination and see how many tiny flights you can do enjoying the countries in between for a bit and slowly making your way to your final destination.
I try never to fly direct and make a stop in between, as I get to see more, the price is often around the same/is worth the extra cash, and I don’t have to deal with the misery that is a long haul flight.
Getting Travel Insurance
This isn’t even a long haul flight tip; this is a requirement.
Trust me; I used to not care about travel insurance, I thought it was lame and overpriced and not even needed… young naive, silly me!
It’s 100% a must, especially when you’re on that insufferable metal tube in the sky.
The one that will lose your bags after they charged you extra for them or the one that delays you for hours on end…
Travel insurance can make things better. This is a long flight essential and if you can’t afford it, then you shouldn’t be traveling.
Of course, a lot worse can happen too, and that’s what it’s there for. You don’t need to pay an arm and a leg either, a few hundred bucks can get you a decent plan to keep you covered.
I use Safety Wing or World Nomads depending on my trip.
OK, that’s a lot of info, I know, sometimes I go overboard but better than leaving you high and dry without all the details, right? After over seven years of traveling, trust me, I still fuck up. But I KNOW what I should and shouldn’t do by now, the whole forgetting part is totally on me.
Luckily you have this post to refer to so you don’t forget a thing. I hope we learned something here so we can
survive kick ass on our next flight!
Which of these long-haul flight tips were most helpful for you? Let us know in the comments!
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Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad since 2011 and blogging on Where in the World is Nina? for nearly as long. Nina helps people like you move around the world while making money. She loves talking about how to work abroad and online to travel longer!