Tips and advice on how to stay comfortable, happy, and healthy on a long haul flight.

Most domestic flights in Europe and the United States are easy - they are typically less than three hours. That make even marginal conditions tolerable ... but what about transcontinental flights or heading to Europe, Hawaii, or South America? For some reason once I pass the four hour mark it's a whole different ball game. Here are some of my tips that I've used to stay happy, comfortable and most importantly healthy on long flights.

Find Comfortable Clothes

It helps to think about the outfit that you are going to wear for around 10 hours. Remember that you may be getting blasted by a very powerful air conditioning system during this time so it can get cold. It’s important that you are able to wear a lot of loose layers as this will help you to adjust to the ever-changing temperatures as you fly. You may be tempted to wear jewellery on your flight as well but this should be avoided as it will only set off the alarms over at security. If you are experiencing an emergency then closed-toe shoes are way better than flip-flops. Also try and always wear footwear that isn’t too tight. The main reason for this is because your feet can swell when you are at high altitudes. If you are trying to save a lot of space in your luggage then it helps to wear the biggest or even the chunkiest boots that you have. You can take them off when you board the plane if you want, as this is a fantastic way for you to really get the comfort you need.

Reserve a Good Seat

One of the most important things that you need to think about is to try and find a good seat. If you want to get some help choosing a good seat then the good news is that there are a few simple rules that you need to follow. If you have long legs and you always struggle with leg room then try and go on one of the exit rows. If you want to try and avoid crying children then stay away from the front end of the plane. This is usually where you will find the special provision for babies when you look at international flights. If you would like to have quicker access to the bathrooms or any other part of the plane then try and make sure that you choose an aisle seat if possible. If you are able to book your seats online then you will be glad to know that some airlines will let you choose which ones you have so this is a fantastic way for you to find out whatever you need to know.

Prepare for Sleep

Remember you will be on the plane for around the time it takes you to get a full night’s sleep. For this reason, it is super worth taking some essentials with you. A good travel pillow is a must here and you also need to try and take some earplugs. If you have toiletries such as a toothbrush and toothpaste then you may be better taking these with you in your toiletry bag as these little luxuries will help you out a lot when it comes to the flight in general. 

Don’t Pack Too Much

A few extras will certainly help you when you are on your flight but when you are packing your cabin luggage it helps to keep everything you can travel-sized. There is nothing worse or even more stressful than having to lug a heavy bag to the boarding area, only to find that it won’t fit over your head. If you can it is well worth taking a cabin bag with you and a smaller handbag as well. When you do this, you can keep any essentials such as your earplugs, an MP3 player or anything else you need within reach. Of course, if you are not able to do this then make sure that you always have your items within reach in your cabin bag, such as in the top zipper so you don’t have to route through everything at the time.

Take Snacks

When you are on a long-haul flight you will be fed but it may not be what you are usually looking for. When you travel through different time zones, you may end up getting breakfast at dinner time or you may even get a curry first thing in the morning. If you want to end any hunger that you have then take some cereal bars with you or even some dried fruit. The main reason for this is because you can easily take them in your luggage and they are slow-releasing as well. This ultimately means that you won’t have to worry about any hunger when you are on the plane and it will keep your energy up for when you arrive.

Move Around the Plane

Stretching your legs is not necessary but you may need to do it for your own sanity. It can also help you to avoid things like deep vein thrombosis as well. If you want to keep the circulation flowing to your legs then try and do some gentle exercises. You also need to try and get up every two hours or so. Try and walk down the aisle or even take a trip to the bathroom. You don’t have to go, but it gives you somewhere to walk, or an aim.

Stretch In Your Seat

While getting up and moving around is ideal - that isn't always easy or practical. My watch lets me know every hour if I have't moved that I should stretch and there's a surprising amount of stuff you can do in your seat. This includes basic stuff like simply putting your hands up in the air for a few moments to moving your ankles around in circles. There are also more advanced airline stretching techniques too.

Always Stay Hydrated

Aircraft cabins tend to be dry and it is more than possible for you to get dehydrated without even knowing about it. You need to make sure that you drink plenty of water and you also need to try and avoid too much coffee or even alcohol as well. If possible you also need to bring a bottle of water with you as well. You can purchase this at the airport if you want and it needs to stay sealed when you are going through customs. The main reason for this is because of liquid restrictions. You will have the trolley come around during your flight so you can always buy a bottle of water from there, but if you forget, it does help to have a bottle with you so that you don’t have to worry about that.

Know How To Raise The Outside Armrests

This won't work so well if you happen to be in a middle seat but it is a GOD SEND if you are on an aisle position. Virtually all aircraft have a secret button located towards the back of the arm rest on the underside that will allow you to raise the armrest to give you some extra room. This trick also works for some window seats but doesn't work on exit rows or bulkhead seats. If you feel along the underside and don't feel a button, you may feel a hole. Press into that hole and you should feel a lever that will release the arm rest. Be aware though that you shouldn't raise the armrest during takeoff or landing and ALWAYS follow the instructions of the flight attendant. If for some reason they say not to raise it ... listen to them. Trust me ... like it or not you are stuck together for the next several hours and you don't want to make enemies!


What better time to abandon your worries and cares than by doing nothing at all? You have absolutely no mobile phone coverage and you have a crew who is waiting on every need that you have. Use this time to try and catch up on a book that you have not been able to read for quite some time or even brush up on some of your international phrases. This will help to make sure that the whole flight is not a drag and it will also help you to make sure that you are doing something worthwhile with the time that you have.

Make Some New Friends

If there is any time for you to meet new friends, it is certainly during a long-haul flight. Every person has their own reason for travelling to another country so try and talk to other people and also find out their story. Try and talk to the person who you are sitting next to and also try and find out where they are going as well. You may end up finding out that they are going to the exact same hotel as you and this may give you someone to talk to during the whole flight. This is great if you want to pass a good amount of time and it is also great if you want to try and speed up the whole process. After all, it’s true what they say, time flies when you are having fun!

Fill Your Phone or Tablet With Movies, Games, and Music

While many airlines have good Inflight Entertainment systems in the seat backs, I don't depend on that for my entertainmnent. Instead, I pack my phone with movies and games as well as use Google Play Music to store my favorite tracks offline. With regards to your playlist though, make sure to not just have up-beat pop and rock songs but also relaxing music that is good to fall asleep to. 

Choosing a Good Airline

The only difference between a long-haul airline and a bad one is prominent. For this reason, you need to do your research and you also need to read some reviews as well. This will help you to find out what other passengers think of the carrier that you have chosen. The best airlines have a seat width that is much higher than 17 inches and they will also give you more meal options when compared to a standard bag of peanuts. If you are picky about your meals then try and make sure that you are talking to some of your local travellers to see what they think and also try and find out what meal options they are known for having as well. This will really help you out and it could work wonders for your experience.


Of course, by following the above tips, you can be sure to get the best result out of your flight and you can also be sure to enjoy it a lot more as well so do keep this in mind.