How to stay healthy and happy on a long-haul flight

Whoever said the journey and not the destination is the best part of any adventure probably wasn’t talking about a long haul flight. The downside to what a great big world we live in is that it takes a long time to cover all of it. Unfortunately, this can mean being stuck on a plane for an extended period of time. Rather than trying to avoid this, we’ve come up with a list of the best long-haul flight tips to help you survive and keep you at your happiest for the adventure ahead.

1. Don’t dress to impress

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but chances are you won’t meet your soulmate on a long-haul flight, so there’s no need to get all dressed up. The goal instead should be to wear something you will feel comfortable sitting in for an extended period, and ultimately able to fall asleep in. Wear tracksuit pants and a baggy t-shirt or other comfortable clothing. Avoid tight pants with a waistband that digs in to your stomach and stiff shirts. Essentially you’re trying to pull off the ‘pyjamas that look passable in public’ look, so get your best Netflix and chill outfit ready for take-off.

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2. Check-in early online

Some people prefer an aisle seat so they can get up easily and walk around. While others prefer a window seat, so they can lean on something and avoid getting up to let others out. Nobody in their right mind prefers the middle seat! Whatever your preference, make sure you reserve that seat early by checking in online. That seat is going to be your home for the next 8+ hours so it better be the right home for you.

3. Bring snacks

On the off chance the pre-packaged airline food isn’t five-star restaurant quality, it’s always a good idea to bring some travel snacks to keep you going. Packaged items like potato chips, muesli bars, nuts, pretzels, popcorn and  dried fruit etc are always great snacks to carry. If you want something more substantial you can bring a sandwich or bread roll too. If you don’t get around to eating them you can save them for another leg on your trip – there is always time to snack and food is the key to happiness! Just check that your end destination allows you to bring food into the country.

4. Pack some sleeping essentials

The single greatest way to get through a long-haul flight will always be to sleep right through it. This is easier said than done so make sure you bring whatever helps you get some shut-eye on the flight to keep your body well-rested and healthy. Things like neck pillows, eye masks and ear plugs are staple items and you can’t go wrong with a warm jacket and compression socks too. Anything you have that can increase your chances of falling asleep should be with you in your carry-on.

5. Get up and walk around every so-often

Staying seated for 8+ hours is never good for your body and mind, so it is a great idea to walk around and have a bit of a stretch at some point. Keep yourself moving, the blood flowing through your body and avoid the risk of Deep-Vein Thrombosis. Go for a walk up and down the aisle, get up and have a stretch to enhance oxygen flow, and keep yourself happy and healthy!

6. Stay hydrated

When I first found out about free alcohol on long-haul flights I did what any 19-year-old would do and drank myself silly. Big mistake. At that altitude it hits you twice as hard and before you know it you’re sweating bullets and about to faint in the lavatory. Staying hydrated is often the difference between stepping off the plane feeling ready to take on the world or crawling straight into bed. Make sure you take advantage of the free water and stay hydrated to keep your mood and energy levels up. It also doesn’t hurt to bring some moisturiser to keep your skin hydrated and looking its glowing and radiant best.

7. Book a flight that arrives at your destination at night-time

There’s nothing worse than arriving somewhere at 9am and wanting to do nothing but sleep. Wouldn’t it be so much better if it was 9pm and you could go straight to your hostel and get that good night’s rest that you desperately need at a normal hour? Well you can make this dream a reality simply by booking a flight that arrives at night. You can go straight to your accommodation, take a much-needed shower, sleep the jetlag off and start your adventure fresh in the morning.

8. Only bring carry-on luggage that can be stored in the overhead compartments

Leg room is so precious on a long-haul economy flight, so you can’t waste any of it on luggage storage whilst cramping your legs up at right angles just to make room for it. Even if it’s a handbag, laptop or small backpack, if you are not using it keep it in the overhead storage. Give yourself as much leg-room as possible.

9. Plan your entertainment schedule ahead of time

Most long-haul flights come with free entertainment and a selection of movies, TV shows, music, podcasts and games for you to enjoy. Each airline has different content and it is easy to look up the entertainment schedule in advance to plan your viewing. Maybe start with that action movie you’ve been dying to see then pick something with a slower pace, or that you’ve seen before and can fall asleep to. Coming in prepared will help you plan out your sleep patterns better and maximise your viewing time.

10. BYO electronics 

One of my flights had a seat with a broken TV screen and guess who drew the short straw? Of course, it was lucky me. What was lucky was that I had a fully charged iPad full of movies to get me through the 11-hour flight. Even though long-haul flights have free in-flight entertainment, it’s always a good idea to bring your own fully charged devices, just in case.

11. Do not check the flight status screen

Watching your flight slowly cross the globe for 8+ hours makes the journey feel like a lifetime. It’s a trap that many fall into and checking it frequently isn’t going to make the plane go any faster. To maintain your sanity, you should avoid temptation and steer clear of the flight path function.


About the author

Alex is a passionate traveller, traversing the globe to meet the most amazing people, party, chase sport and try to figure out if there is more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking. Follow his adventures on Instagram.

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