10 tips to survive a long-haul flight

Photo of 10 tips to survive a long-haul flight 1/11 by Priyam Bagga

Long flights can be boring and annoying. We’ve all been there. You’re cooped up in a small space with people that you don’t know and some of them have absolutely no regard for personal space! It can really get to you. But don’t worry; there’s some hope for you yet, frequent flyer! Here are some things you can do to make your long-haul flight seem not so long.

1. Choose your seat wisely

Window seats are the best. You don’t have people trying to climb over you on their way to the bathroom and you get to rest your head against the wall for a nice nap. The view is also totally worth it! If turbulence frightens you, you might want to sit by the wings. Don’t let the wobble of the wing send you into a paranoid frenzy, because contrary to what you see outside the plane, a seat near the wings experiences the least amount of turbulence. However, if you’re amongst our taller brethren, you might want to choose an aisle seat, or even better, a seat next to the emergency exit, for more legroom. Moral of the story – nobody wants the middle seat.

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2. Wear comfortable clothing

This one’s a no brainer and yet a very basic instruction that people fail to follow. It does not matter if you look like a runway model. A couple of hours into the flight, you’ll start feeling the discomfort of your tight-fitting clothing, and that’s when you’ll start regretting your decision because it’s going to be a looong flight. Do yourself a favour; wear something loose and comfortable.

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3. Eat less

Have a proper meal before and after your flight, but avoid eating too much during. You might end up feeling puffy, bloated and uncomfortable, and that’s something you don’t want to be when you’re trapped inside of a giant flying machine for several hours. Stick to light snacks, and you’re looking at a relatively stress-free flight. Also, keep the alcohol intake to a minimum. You want to avoid getting sick and spending more time than is required in a bathroom that seems to be specifically designed to make you feel claustrophobic.

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4. Avoid caffeinated drinks

It’s a simple enough concept. Caffeine keeps you awake. And you don’t want that during your long-haul flight. You should try to pack in as much sleep during the flight as you can because the alternative is boredom and/or annoyance.

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5. Bring a neck pillow and eye mask

It’s all about comfort, people! Neck pillows will help you sleep better during your flight even if they make you look a little silly. Don’t worry about your fellow passengers’ judgemental looks. Once their necks start hurting (which is bound to happen during a long flight), they’d want to become your friend and borrow that little accessory. Eye masks help block out light and assist in sleeping better. Remember, better sleep during a long flight means a better, less irritable you!

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6. Noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs are a must

Even during short flights, the hum of the plane’s engine can get to you. Imagine several excruciating hours of that. Spare yourself that particular nightmare and bring along noise cancelling headphones or earplugs. They’ll block out all the irritating noise (read: crying babies, loud passengers, flight attendants with annoying voices etc) and keep you sane! Plus, life always seems better when you’re listening to your favourite tunes.

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7. Don’t just sit there

The human body is just not meant to sit on an airplane for several hours without complaint. During long-haul flights, you might suffer from leg pain, back ache, swollen feet and ankles, or worse. To avoid these ailments, it’s very important that you wear compression socks during your flight. Otherwise, you can also do some in-seat exercises like these. If you think that exercises will make you look stupid, you could always stretch a little on your way to the bathroom. You could also do a little jig to entertain your fellow passengers as a favour because long flights can get Hella boring and you might end up becoming a Youtube star!

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8. Think music, movies, books and games

During a long flight, it’s all about entertainment. You need to see those hours pass without feeling like you’re stuck in purgatory! That’s why you need to bring along the stuff that makes you happy back on land. I’m talking about the latest season of whatever sitcom you’re into, a movie or two, and some wicked tunes. Don’t forget your trusty paperback because you’re going to need it during take-off and landing when you’re not allowed to use electronic gadgets. Needless to say, make sure that all your devices are fully charged. Also carry along an external charger to make sure technology doesn’t give up on you when you need it the most!

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9. You could work

I can almost see you workaholics out there nodding your head in approval. As to the normal people shaking your head in consternation and tut-tutting, hear me out! Working may sound like the last thing you’d want to do when you’re already uncomfortable, but a flight is a surprisingly good setting to get some serious work done. The lack of distractions allows you a pretty good level of focus. Not only will this help pass the time, you’ll have done something productive and more importantly, you’ll have more time to relax once you land.

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10. Keep yourself hydrated

Drinking water helps with excessively dry skin, blood circulation and stiffness of the muscles. Yes, that means extra trips to the bathroom but that’s okay! Don’t forget to carry moisturizer and lip balm too (fragrance-free please, because strong scents make some people airsick). You don’t want to look like a scaly, peeling monster when you get off your flight, do you?

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Bonus: What to do during a layover?

Layovers can be harsh. You’re stuck for several hours at a random airport. If you are allowed to leave the airport, make sure you’re well-versed with visa requirements and your travel time, including going through customs and immigration and security checks. Go out and see a new city and get some well-needed fresh air. But if you aren’t allowed to leave the transit area, get out that yoga mat and get some exercise. Explore the airport and browse all the shops and restaurants. You could also get some shut-eye at the terminal. Though, the best thing you can do to pass the time is talk to someone. Make some international friends during your layover and maybe you’ll find someone to share your travel stories with. Isn’t that what journeys are all about?