9 Tips for Surviving Long-Haul Flights

As you already know, I prefer long flights over short ones.  I may be in the minority here, but I enjoy kicking back, relaxing and knowing I have time to do several things without being rushed, all while mid-air.  And since I've taken my fair share of long-haul flights, here are some lessons learned:

1. Bring snacks.

While at least 1 meal is normally served on long-haul flights, you want to make sure you have food that you know you will enjoy in case the meals are less than stellar.  And if you've slept through food service, you'll have something to hold you over until the next go round. These snacks normally come in handy after you've arrived at your destination too.

2. Your iPad is your friend.

Most reputable airlines will have a decent collection of TV shows and movies to choose from; however, if you've happened to see them all, you can watch what you want on your own.  Not to mention, you can catch up on your reading.

3. Elevate your legs.

In my old age, I've noticed that my feet and ankles tend to swell during long-haul flights. I've learned to combat this in a couple of ways:

  • Walking around a few times during a flight (usually to the bathroom);
  • Elevating my legs on the seat in front of me or in the best case scenario, the seat next to me; and
  • Wearing compression socks.

Any or a combination of all of these are great ways to keep your blood flowing.  I am terrified of Deep Vein Thrombosis (when blood clots form, break loose and travel to your lungs, stopping blood flow) due to the lack of activity, so I am very cognizant of this.

4. Secure your bag.

Word to DJ Khaled.  You never know who's watching you. While I have a carry-on to put in the overhead bin, I will make sure all of my valuables are located on me or directly next to me, out of anyone's reach.  That includes my cash, passports, and anything else I deem to be of value.

5. Be friendly with your neighbor.

Nothing's worse than sitting next to someone for eight or more hours with a stank attitude. Try talking to and getting to know them a bit. You don't have to share your entire life story, but partaking in a conversation here or there won't hurt.  And if that doesn't work...

6. Wear an eye mask and ear plugs.

Not only can you avoid your neighbor, but you'll get a deeper rest.  Wearing an eye mask and/or ear plugs will single-handedly save your life. Trust.

7. If you need sleep aids, take them.

Everyone doesn't need them, but if all else above fails, take a sleep aid and sleep through most of the flight. You aren't missing much anyway.

8. Don't drink. 

Given the name of this site, I'm sure you're surprised by this recommendation. But I don't drink on long-haul flights. Shocking, I know.  It's dehydrating and you have enough things to worry about. Yeah, I know it's free booze, but your health and happiness is more important.  My advice is to know your body and what you're capable of tolerating.  For me, drinking is a no go.

9. Have toiletries available.

I don't always necessarily freshen up, but I like to have the option. Having a little kit with a toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant is a good idea, just in case.

These are my tried and true tips for surviving long-haul flights. Be sure to comment if you have recommendations of your own!