How To Successfully Survive a Long Haul Flight, As Told By a Frequent Flyer

This article has been syndicated from Eva Darling, an InfluenceHer Collective Member. Read the full post here.

When I found out the duration of my flight from NYC to Tokyo, I think I stopped breathing for a second. Honestly, even sitting on a plane for the eight hours it takes to go to Paris was a stretch. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love flying, but the stress of being in a confined, cramped space for 14 hours was daunting.

The flight ended up being a lot better than I was expecting, and honestly, I’d do it again just because the duration of the flight is always worth it for the destination. Whether you’re headed to Tokyo like me, Tanzania, Taiwan, or anywhere your heart desires, here are the tips and tricks you need to know before your next long haul flight.

Buy a power bank

It’s safe to say that most planes used for long haul flights these days have in-seat power outlets. The exception to that rule is a few budget airlines. Be sure to check whether the plane you’ll be on has outlets, then make sure you don’t check your chargers in your checked luggage. I strongly recommend bringing one (or two external batteries to charge your devices just in case. These also come in handy if you’ve got the dreaded layover that’s long enough to be annoying but too short to leave the airport. Side note: be careful when purchasing power banks for travel, my battery was confiscated in the Beijing airport because the capacity wasn’t explicitly printed on the device.

Drink *a lot* of water

Like, drink soooo much water. My return flight to New York was absolute hell because not only was I feeling a bit under the weather, the flight attendants weren’t coming around with water during that flight and the air in planes is very, very dry. I highly recommend packing an empty water bottle in your personal item, then filling it up after security at the airport. I personally love these water bottles for travel {and also just in life}. They come in a few different sizes, but I opt for the 17 oz. Trust me, you’ll feel infinitely more comfortable if you’re hydrated. Always drink more water than you think you have to on flights. A symptom of dehydration can be stiffness or soreness, which is never a good thing if you’ve got limited legroom.

Neck pillows save lives

If you’re going to be on a plane for more than one and a half hours, a neck pillow is pretty much the best $10 you can spend. This is the one I have, and I’m convinced it’s almost more comfortable than the pillows in my apartment. I have a really difficult time sleeping on planes, and this took me from being able to sleep maybe a half-hour at a time to two or two and a half hours. Not all neck pillows are created equal, so be sure to take into consideration whether or not you prefer a stiffer or softer pillow before purchasing. I personally recommend leaning towards a stiffer or memory foam pillow for traveling simply so your neck is held more in place, thus making it less likely you’ll wake up with the dreaded flight neck cramping.

Wear layers on layers

It could be hot as hell in the dog days of summer, and a plane will still feel like you’ve stepped into an ice bucket. Chances are that the airline-supplied blankets are either too thin or too sketchy {if you’re a germaphobe like me. The Wall Street Journal found that most airlines only wash their blankets every 5 to 30 days, back in 2007. I rest my case}. Regardless, wearing an oversized scarf, or warm layer. I personally swear by my trusty zip-up when I’m traveling, because it’s just so cozy, and easy to take off on a plane. The lilac scarf in the image below goes on almost every trip with me because it expands into a relatively nice sized blanket on flights.

Choose the emptiest row if possible

When selecting your seat during check-in, I strongly recommend choosing a seat in the emptiest row instead of trying to choose a seat closer to the front of the plane. You’ll appreciate having the extra space to stretch out and place your things. In fboth of my 14-hour flights, the middle seat was empty, and I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through them if it wasn’t.

Go for the aisle

Normally I’m one to opt for the window for purposes for the ‘gram, however, on long haul flights, I lean towards the aisle. Why? Because being able to stretch your legs or get up to go to the bathroom freely is maybe one of the best things you can do for yourself while on a plane for that long. I almost never get up and out of my seat while sitting in the window out of fear for bothering other people, and sitting in one place for an extended amount of time just isn’t healthy when it comes down to it.

Spend the extra few dollars if you can

This probably goes without saying, but if you’ve got the funds for it, the best thing you can do for yourself on a long haul flight is to upgrade up from economy class. I’ve noticed on domestic flights that flight class upgrades on airlines tend to be relatively minimal, however, on long haul flights, the difference between economy and business class is relatively drastic. If you’re someone who is uncomfortable or doesn’t like flying for more than a couple hours at a time, I honestly don’t know if I’d recommend getting on a long haul flight without upgrading, simply because of comfort. As much as I wish I could say that flying to and from the States and Asia in Economy on a budget airline was a breeze, it was mentally and physically a lot to handle, and the thought of having to get on a flight that long again with such limited space again, sounded less than optimal.

Truth be told, flying on a long haul flight was a lot less awful than I expected it to be. I was really, truly, expecting to go crazy about 10 hours in. Having ample forms of entertainment and well-charged devices really helped me get through it. The long haul flight is a necessary evil to reach some of the world’s most beautiful and exciting places, making it worth it every time.

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