Surviving a long haul flight - 7 travel bloggers share their top tips
With travel potentially on the not too distant horizon again, more and more people are starting to tentatively plan their next getaway. Let's face it, while flying is a necessary part of seeing the world, especially far flung destinations, it can be an exhausting start to your trip.
We've teamed up with some lovely fellow frequent flyer travel bloggers to offer up their best tips for how we all cope with long haul flights...
Emma and David, Team Thomas Travels (us!)
The main thing is not to stress about sleeping. It's a vicious circle, and if you just can't drop off, sitting there fuming won't help -embrace it. Read your book, watch a movie, relax. You might find you nod off eventually without thinking about it!
Drinking plenty of water before and during your flight will also help to keep you from feeling groggy on the other side!
Avoiding fast food in the airport before you fly will help prevent heart burn, and steer clear of fizzy drinks, gum and foods like baked beans, chickpeas, broccoli, cabbage, lentils and onions. These tend to make you gassy at the best of times, and once cabin pressure changes,you'll feel very bloated and uncomfortable.
Mrs D, Icanshowyoutheworld5
Keep kids entertained.
I’ve taken many long-haul flights with my children and I always get asked the question, how do you keep them entertained?
My way of keeping them entertained is: to buy different toys, stickers, colouring books from a discount store usually around 1 item per hour of the flight. Wrap them in wrapping paper and gradually give them out throughout the flight. The children think they are getting a present as it is wrapped. They play with the item for a while then when they get bored, give them another. It certainly breaks the flight up and keeps the children happy, which means a peaceful stress free journey for everyone!
Karen Brown, GapBeetle
Movies, pimp your space and pre-plan arrivals!
If you love travel, there's no escaping long haul flights. With daytime flights, it's mainly about boredom, so download TV series or podcasts and take snacks on board. As we prefer daytime flights, we often check if we can take two day time flights via a travel hub (overnighting in Dubai, Qatar or LA for example) for the same price as a through flight. It takes longer, but you arrive refreshed and get to see an additional city briefly.
If you're stuck with a night flight, then first up try and get the best seats for snoozing. We always ask at check in or the gate if there's any free rows on the plane then we head for those, though this may be tricky post Covid. We try and eat before the flight to allow maximum snooze time and if want to take sleeping tablets or melatonin make sure you take them after the seat belt signs turn off in case the plane returns to the airport.
Next try and make your area as welcoming as possible. Even pre Covid, we used to wipe down the whole area, and we take a plastic bag in hand luggage for our litter. We also use face sprays to freshen up on landing and clean our teeth as soon as possible.
Our top tip is to buy a cold coffee or caffeinated drink airside before the flight. We find airplane coffee pre-landing never helps much. For us it's essential to be freshly caffeinated in order to navigate immigration, baggage reclaim and customs as there won't be real coffee until the arrival's hall, and sometimes not then if you arrive very late or early.
Our final tip is to research onward travel to your destination in advance. Even the most seasoned traveller can be prey to over-priced taxi rides and scams in the arrivals hall. If there's no train link to the city, we pre-book a taxi to avoid hassle and in some cases this can actually work out cheaper.
Our top tip for long-haul flights is to make sure you're as comfortable as possible. Being comfortable starts with wearing comfortable clothes. Tight jeans are your enemy and sweatpants are your best friend. Make sure to wear layers, so you’re never too cold or too hot. Most long-haul airlines offer blankets, pillows and food-service, but not all do. Especially if you’re flying with a low-budget airline, you can assume that they don’t offer any of these “comfort extras”. In that case, be sure to bring an inflatable neck-pillow and a thin blanket or large scarf that you can use as a blanket.
Whether there’s food service on the plane or not, always bring enough snacks with you. Maybe you don’t like the offered food or maybe you get hungry anyway. No one is comfortable when hungry.
Sitting in the same position for a long period of time will hurt your body eventually. Walking around as much as possible might help against this but sometimes it’s still not enough. We always take painkillers with us aboard in case the pain in our necks and backs gets unbearable. We hope these tips help you to be more comfortable in the air!
Angela Meyer, Luvpandangela
Don't rely on the in flight entertainment!
The longest flight I have been on is when I travelled to Seoul, South Korea. My top travel tip is to make sure you download good entertainment before your flight! Most of the time, a traveller should be seated in front on their own individual TV but I have had experiences where I got assigned a seat in the exit row with no TV! Thankfully, I had downloaded some of my favourite movies and shows to binge before I got on the flight. Entertainment is definitely a must have!
Elaine Best, Changing Laines
Watch what you eat.
I’d say my top tip is to be conscious of what you eat during the flight to help minimise the risk of being sluggish when you arrive.
Eat high carb foods on the way over so your body can convert them into sleep-inducing amino acids -In my opinion, there's no better way to survive a long flight than to sleep through it! This helps to stave off jet lag a little bit when you arrive at your destination too...
Also avoiding caffeine and alcohol helps with the same thing.
Rebekah Page, Luxury Affordable Travels
Pick your seat wisely.
If you’re not lucky enough to bag an upgrade to first or business class, you need to be smart when booking your seat on economy.
Travelling as a couple? If you can, try to book the window and aisle seat. The chances of someone booking the middle seat are pretty slim on a long haul. If the flight is full, or someone does book the seat, it’s likely that they’ll be happy to move to either aisle or window. This spare seat gives you some room to stretch out or hold your book, magazine and iPad, making you a little more comfortable.
Emergency exit and bulkhead seats usually have a premium attached as they have a little extra legroom. However, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. You won’t be able to have any personal items or hand luggage on you for take off and landing. Some airlines will not allow you to have a book or anything, which some people enjoy to distract them from the flight. For long haul, the entertainment screens are a life saver, but you will not find these in the rear of the seat in front. Rather these usually extend out of the armrest which does mean you’ll have a slightly smaller seat pan. As for the tray tables, prepare to play Tetris as you fit the tray table and screen together.
Do you have any suggestions for how to survive a long haul flight? Leave a comment!
As Karen from Gapbeetle says, "The most important thing about long haul travel is it usually involves an exciting destination at the other end. Enjoy!"