For those of us trapped in the circle of hell known as economy class, flying can be a boring, stressful, and/or very unpleasant experience. But while microscopic leg room + inexplicably freezing cabin temp don’t exactly scream comfort, there’s definitely a LOT you can do to improve your travel experience anyway.
I’m pretty much an expert on miserable flights at this point. As a traveler based out of Australia (the least convenient home base ever), I take at least 10-15 long-haul flights a year. So I know allll the tricks to getting, and staying, comfy.
Today I’m sharing all my best tips and long haul flight essentials, plus what to wear on a long haul flight! Hopefully these tips will make you at least slightly more comfortable on your next trip 🙂
What to Take On a Long Haul Flight: Essentials & Packing Tips
Get a Neck Pillow Like, Yesterday
Neck pillows are LIFE-CHANGING. If you don’t have one yet, buy one ASAP. It will improve the quality of your sleep so much that you’ll wonder how you ever survived a flight without it. No more neck cramps, no more awkward head bobbing. Even if you don’t get any actual sleep, you’ll have a much more comfortable flight.
Make sure to get one with a loop closure so that you can attach it to the outside of your bag/backpack! Otherwise it’ll take up a ton of room in your carry on. I’ve linked my fave adjustable wraparound version from Amazon first (it’s been to 25+ countries with me!), plus a couple others that come highly rated.
Water Bottle + Moisturizer
Planes are SUPER dehydrating because the cabins have so little moisture – they literally suck your skin dry. And flights never provide enough water. To combat this, bring your own bottle, fill it after security, and just guzzle water throughout the flight.
If you like to drink on your flight, rehydrate & moisturize extra — more than once I’ve woken up from a red wine coma feeling (and looking) like I’d just spent ten hours hiking through the damn desert. I always bring an eye mask or moisturizer to brighten my skin now and it’s made a noticeable difference.
Noise Cancelling Headphones, Earplugs, & Sleep Mask
Planes are just… really f*cking loud, in general. The inside of a plane hovers at around 85 decibels. For reference, the volume of a typical “sleep disturbance” is between 40-55 decibels. So it’s no wonder that it’s hard to get proper rest on a plane.
Whether it’s via earplugs or fancy noise cancelling headphones, find some way to cut down on the ambient noise. And make sure you have a sleep mask to block out light, too – that affects the quality of your sleep also. Your body will thank you!! Cutting out distractions like screaming babies or your neighbor’s stupid blinding reading light gives you a WAY better shot at getting comfortable and sleepy.
Put Together an Easy Emergency Kit
Bring an easily-accessible emergency kit with all the random nice-to-haves: makeup wipes, a toothbrush, deodorant, lip balm, etc. to give yourself a quick refresher mid-flight. You might also want to throw in some extra snacks, and a pen to fill out any customs forms.
Don’t forget to include any medications you might want or need, + some chewing gum to refresh your breath AND help equalize your ear pressure when ascending/descending.
What to Wear on a Long Haul Flight
Flying does a real number on your body. The extra-salty food and pressure changes cause some serious bloating, and your legs and ankles can get really swollen from inactivity. Your skin loses moisture from the low humidity. You might find yourself way too hot, or too cold, depending on the aircraft.
So it’s SUPER important to dress in comfortable, breathable, LOOSE clothing. The best travel outfits for long flights are COMFY, not chic. Don’t wear jeans, don’t wear a tight belt, don’t wear heels (I promise they’ll be sawing into your body by mid-flight). Always wear layers so that you’ll be comfortable in any temperature.
I always wear loose track pants with an elastic waist, a comfy cotton t-shirt, and sneakers, and keep a warm sweatshirt stashed in my backpack just in case. I sleep a lot better since I started dressing like garbage instead of trying to look good.
Bring a Blanket Scarf
Basically, you want to bring a big *ss scarf that you can use as a blanket if necessary. Planes can be FREEZING, and temperature is a huge factor in sleep quality. If you aren’t at a comfy, optimal temperature, you’ll have more trouble falling, and staying, asleep.
I like to use a big, soft, fluffy blanket scarf – it doubles as a pillow and I can wedge it behind my lower back to relieve some of the pressure on my spine. All my best travel outfits for long flights have included some kind of cosy wrap like these.
Long Haul Flight Tips
Choose Your Seat Wisely
Choosing the right seat can have a huge impact on your comfort. If you’re a light sleeper, don’t choose a seat near the lavatory or you’ll have people hovering nearby for a good chunk of the flight.
If you prefer to sleep on a certain side, take a window seat on that side of the aircraft – you’ll be much more comfortable. I sleep best leaning against the right wall of the plane because it’s the closest to my normal sleeping position!
Bonus tip: for the best chance of getting a row to yourself, sit in the rear of the aircraft. Most people don’t like to sit there, so unless the flight is full, odds are there will be some empty seats in the back. I’ve gotten a full row on probably a dozen+ international flights this way, and slept like a baby 🙂
Buckle Yo Self
ALWAYS make sure to buckle your seat belt OVER your blanket or scarf before you pass out. If there’s severe turbulence, flight attendants will have to wake you up if they can’t see that you’re safely buckled in. This happened to me once – right when I’d finally fallen asleep – and I’ll never make that mistake again.
Download Netflix Shows Beforehand
Apparently I’m super out of the loop, but I didn’t know until recently that many Netflix shows can be watched offline. You just have to download them via wi-fi before your flight (just click into the show/movie’s episode list and hit the ↓ icon on the right side of each title).
Since a lot of airlines are SEVERELY lacking in the entertainment department, this is a great solution. I always go into long haul flights armed with a few episodes of my latest obsession (Dark, anyone??).
I hope these tips help make your next long haul flight SLIGHTLY less horrible!! Drop a comment below if you have any other tips to share or if you found this helpful. And don’t forget to PIN below 🙂
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