15 Travel Tips for Long Flights That Every Passenger Should Know
You’ve saved, planned, and dreamed, and now the day is finally here—you’re off on your next adventure! You’re going to travel across the globe, see new cultures, drink in beautiful views, and make memories that will last a lifetime. But first, you have to live through that fifteen-hour flight.
The trick to dealing with long flights is to be prepared. Read on to discover some travel tips for long flights that will let you get to your destination without wanting to pull your hair out.
1. Buy Early
When you’re buying plane tickets, it can be tempting to try to hold out a few more days to see if the price drops further. You’ll find all sorts of tips online about the best time to buy to get the best price. But in truth, most of those hacks aren’t worth the hassle.
Even if your flight price does drop, it’s likely to change by only a few dollars. Instead of delaying and stressing about whether you’re getting the best possible flight price, just commit to spending the money for the flight. Buy tickets as soon as you plan your trip and then enjoy the rest of the time before your flight, knowing you can relax because the tickets are sorted.
2. Get an Upgrade
If you’re going on a long, transcontinental flight, legroom is going to be an important commodity. Shelling out for first-class can be expensive, but you may be able to get a slight upgrade without spending the big bucks. The best way to do this is to spend frequent flyer miles to upgrade for free if you’ve got them to spend.
If you don’t have enough frequent flyer miles, consider paying for an upgrade to Premium Economy. This won’t cost nearly as much as first-class, but it can still get you a little extra legroom. And when you go to the airport, show up early and ask politely if there are any available Premium Economy seats you could move to; if you ask nicely enough, the airport worker might upgrade you for free.
3. Show up Early
On the subject of showing up early, that’s a good policy whether you’re flying first-class or trying to get an upgrade. No one likes rushing through security and then sprinting to your gate two minutes before your flight departs. You don’t want to get on a twelve-hour flight sweaty, out of breath, and stressed out.
Instead, aim to get to the airport three hours before your flight departs. That will give you plenty of time to get through security, even on a busy day, and find your gate. You can get something to drink, get your bag checked, and spend some time unwinding before you get on your flight.
4. Dress Comfortably
The key to dressing for a flight is to pick something you’re going to be comfortable in. You don’t want to deal with a waistband that squeezes or a jacket you can’t unbutton for twelve hours. Pick clothing that you can relax in, and dress in layers so you can adjust if you get hot or cold.
But at the same time, it isn’t courteous to your fellow passengers to show up for your flight in stained sweatpants and a t-shirt with a stretched-out neckline. Go for stretchy pants that look nice and clean, soft shirts. It’s especially important to look presentable if you’re planning on trying to sweet-talk the fight attendants into upgrading your seat.
5. Don’t Wear Makeup, but Do Wear Deodorant
While looking presentable is important, you don’t need to go over the top with it. All wearing a full face of makeup will do is ensure that you arrive looking like a cheap romance movie heroine who got left crying in the rain. Instead, opt for a clean face on your flight.
But just because you’re not wearing makeup doesn’t mean you should neglect hygiene before your flight. Take a shower before you leave for the airport, and be sure to put on deodorant. Skip the perfume and heavily scented lotions, but do moisturize to fend off the drying effects of airplane air.
6. Get Good Travel Accessories
In addition to comfortable clothes, you’re going to want some good travel accessories to keep you comfortable through your flight. Start with getting a good memory foam neck pillow to cushion your head during the trip. Not only will this help make your waking hours during the flight more comfortable, but it will also prevent you from getting a crick in your neck from sleeping in an odd position.
You may also want to get an eye mask to block out light while you’re trying to sleep. Most overnight flights will turn cabin lights down, but your neighbor may have their light on while you’re trying to sleep. Earplugs can also help to block out the roar of the plane engines and chatter from fellow passengers.
7. Bring Headphones
Even if you aren’t going on an overnight flight, it’s a good idea to bring some sort of headphones. Your airline may provide you with some headphones that will fit the jack in your seat so you can watch a movie during the flight if you like. But the plug on these headphones will not fit your phone or tablet.
Having your own headphones will allow you to listen to music, podcasts, and audiobooks on the flight. Make sure you pack them in an easy-to-reach spot in your carry-on or in your personal bag you keep with you during the flight.
8. Pick a Small Bag
When you’re selecting that bag to keep with you during the flight, make sure you choose a smaller bag. Yes, it’s nice to have everything you might need right at your fingertips. But what’s the point of paying for more legroom if you’re going to take it all up with your bag?
Opt for a small backpack or a large purse or briefcase for your personal items. Use this to stow only items you think might need during the flight—phone chargers, headphones, a neck pillow, etc. Put other essentials like medications and a change of clothes in your larger carryon that will be stowed in the overhead bin.
9. Pack Snacks
When you’re packing that small bag to keep with you during the flight, pack some snacks. The airline may provide you with snacks and in-flight meals during your trip. But if you get hungry between these snacks/meals, or if you’re traveling with a small child, snacks can be a lifesaver.
Opt for shelf-stable snacks that don’t have a liquid component. Applesauce and smoothie drinks are not a good idea, and sugary snacks can wind children up and make them harder to handle. Instead, go for trail mix, power bars, pretzels, grapes, crackers, and the like.
10. Pick Your Meal
Many long flights will serve meals partway through the trip, and you’ll be able to pick which meal you would like ahead of time. It’s a good idea to use some care when you’re selecting this meal. The best policy is to choose the lightest option available to you, since heavier meals can make you more uncomfortable for the rest of the flight.
If you are sitting towards the front of the plane and you don’t have any dietary restrictions, opt for the lightest regular meal available. Vegetarians, vegans, and those with gluten sensitivities in the back of the plane may have to go hungry if no special meals are left by the time the meal cart gets to them. And while you may enjoy having one free alcoholic drink, more than that can leave you dehydrated and unable to sleep well.
11. Drink Lots of Water
Instead of getting cocktail after cocktail, opt to drink water before and during your flight. Alcohol and coffee will dehydrate you, and sugary drinks can leave you wired with no way to work off your extra energy. Airplane air is especially dry, so you don’t want to further risk dehydration.
Make sure to drink plenty of water in the day or two before your flight to prepare. And during your flight, aim to drink about eight ounces of water an hour. But also be extra courteous to your seatmate if you’re in the window seat since all this hydrating will mean more trips to the bathroom.
12. Be Nice
We know long flights can be taxing, and everyone’s patience gets a little stretched. If there is a crying child on your flight (or if your child is crying during the flight), tempers can wear thin. Seatmates may also have irritating habits or an unpleasant physical presence; nonetheless, being nice will make for a much more pleasant flight for everyone.
We’re not saying you have to make best friends with your seatmate, but do try to be courteous to them during the flight. Also be considerate and make sure you aren’t doing anything to annoy your neighbor. If they don’t seem to want to chat, try to keep conversation to a minimum, and if they’re trying to sleep, keep noise and light to a minimum.
13. Freshen Up
About halfway through your flight, you’re likely going to start feeling cramped, gross, and irritable. This is understandable; you’re trapped in the same place in close quarters with strangers for a long period of time. Taking a break to go freshen up in the bathroom can help you feel much better.
Take a few minutes to splash your face with water and maybe put on some moisturizer if you have it with you. Brush your teeth and run a comb through your hair. You’ll be surprised how much taking just a few minutes to freshen up will make the rest of your flight better.
14. Move Around
One of the other functions of this mini-break is to get you up and moving for a few minutes. Sitting in the same place for hours and hours on end can be uncomfortable to say the least. If you have a history of deep vein thrombosis or another clotting condition, this could even be dangerous for you.
Every few hours, get up from your seat and stretch your legs for a minute or two. Even just standing up in the aisle or walking back to the bathroom can get your blood flowing normally again. However, it is important you be mindful of your fellow passengers and flight attendants moving up and down the aisles, and you must heed seatbelt signs when they’re on.
15. Bring Entertainment
One of the biggest challenges of long flights is boredom. Yes, there are in-flight movies, but you can only watch Adam Sandler antics for so long before you start getting restless. And if you’re traveling with kids, boredom and hunger are going to be your worst enemies, so make sure to bring plenty of entertainment.
If you’re traveling by yourself, bring a deck of cards to play solitaire or a book of mind puzzles. Download plenty of podcasts or an audiobook or two on your phone before you leave. If you have kids, bring quiet toys, puzzle books, picture books, movies and TV shows on a tablet, and any other favorite pastimes to keep them occupied through the whole flight.
Discover More Travel Tips for Long Flights
Taking long flights can be one of the most trying parts of traveling internationally. But using some of these travel tips for long flights can make those trips much more bearable. Stay as patient and polite as you can, and take care of yourself through the flight and you’ll land ready to dive into a new adventure.
If you’d like to maximize your travel comfort, check out the rest of our site at Everlasting Comfort. We have neck pillows, eye masks, and more to make sure every flight feels like you’re in first class, no matter what your seat number is. Shop our products today and learn what it means to travel in the lap of luxury.