Top 10 Tips for Long Flights
If you’re looking for tips for long flights, you’ve come to the right place! In traveling to nearly 100 countries I’ve been on more flights than I can count. And if you can believe it, long flights are actually my favorite! Here are my top 10 tips for long flights.
Pack the right toiletries
When packing your carry on, think through what you need with you. Take items for the plane AND what you need if your checked bags go missing. Number one most important item is prescription medication. I also always pack a contact case pre-filled with solution, an extra pair of contacts, and glasses. On a long haul flight, your skin can get dry and tired – take makeup removal wipes to clean your face and a luxurious moisturizer to put on after (travel sized!). I use Charlotte Tilbury’s magic creme. Don’t forget chapstick, travel deodorant, and a toothbrush. Basic makeup like concealer, blush, and mascara after a night of intense moisturizing will give you that awake look right as you land!
Pack your “just in case” items
My next tip for long flights is to pack any items with you’ll need on the first 1-2 days of your trip. Then narrow down this list based on what will be hard to buy on arrival if your bags go missing. This includes underwear, favorite swimsuit, hiking boots if you’re hiking on day 1, and anything else that is personal to you. I also carry my drone, camera equipment, and laptop along with chargers that can’t be easily replaced!
Time adjust yourself
The minute you step on that plane, adjust your clock to the time zone in your final destination. I KNOW the food and drinks are free and the movies are pretty good – but if it’s the middle of the night where you’re going – SLEEP! Some airlines give you a sticker to put on your chair that alerts them to wake or not wake you up for meals. On my last long haul from Dubai to Houston, I was “do not disturb” through the first meal. I also asked the attendant to make sure I was awake after the 8 hour mark. When I follow this rule I never have sleep problems on the other end.
Set yourself up for sleep success
This tip for long flights could take some practice, but sleeping well is imperative! First off – don’t start a movie when you’re supposed to be sleeping! Many of my travel friends take along melatonin to aid in sleep. I rely on a good eye mask (you can get heated eye masks too!), ear plugs, and a good travel pillow (tie it to your backpack to save space). Stick the airline pillow anywhere the seat is poking you and use your pillow to sleep with. Never feel shy asking for extra blankets either. Last but not least, if you’re springing for an exit row seat – avoid the bulkheads! The baby bassinets are usually set up there and folks congregate around the bathrooms.
Treat your crew
Little known fact in travel, your crew has a lot of power in making your flight a happy one! I learned this from a friend who used to be a flight attendant – she got on a flight with bags of candy for the crew and ended up getting moved to the last business class seat! I’m not saying that will happen to you, but small gifts (chocolate, bath salts, travel sachet) are always appreciated and could get you better service.
Drink a LOT… of water
Hydration is one of those tips for long flights that you hear about over and over, because it’s true! The small cups of water you’re served are not enough, either. Bring at least a liter of water on board with you and drink all the water that is handed out (unless you’re sleeping!). Pro tip – if you don’t have time to buy water or it gets taken from you (thanks TSA!), ask the flight attendant for the whole bottle. It’s usually 2 liters and I’ve never been turned down. Limit those alcoholic drinks to just a couple.
Plan ahead for warmth
The worst feeling on a plane is being freezing and tired, and not able to sleep ’cause you’re freezing! I always take a pair of socks, dress in layers, and have a scarf handy. I have a friend who travels with a soft wool hat – she parts her hair on the opposite side, puts on her beanie and dozes off. At the end of the flight her hair is voluminous and she was cozy all night long.
Oh the food…
You’d think sitting for 16 hours would mean you don’t need to eat, but I’m always starving! If you’re flying economy make sure you bring some snacks you like! Individual almond or cashew packets, protein bars, and beef jerky are my favorite. If dinner is near the beginning of the flight think about bringing your own from the airport as well – it will likely have less sodium and preservatives than the airplane food. If you tend to retain water, focus on lower sodium snacks and drink extra water!
Look good (not dead) on arrival
One of my favorite tips for long flights is to arrive looking like you didn’t fly at all. Plus, the way you feel/look will affect your mood and ultimately impact your first few days of vacation! Before leaving home I always curl my hair as tight as possible (ringlets almost), so I know these will fall and my hair will look bomb when I arrive. Next, I follow the moisturizing, water, sleep, and food guidelines above. Then about an hour prior to landing I brush my teeth, and put on some concealer, blush, and mascara. I re-deoderize, change my shirt, and get ready for a new adventure!
Plan complicated trips with the experts
Last, but not least – make sure you’re on the right flight at the right price in the first place! If you’re flying a complicated itinerary, pay a little extra to have experts manage it for you. For my clients with crazy flights, I always book through a professional air-desk. The additional fee covers flight research (they found me a super cheap business class flight last month!), booking, and trip management. That means if anything does go wrong with your flights in transit (i.e. a cancellation on one leg) – they’re on top of it to re-book you and smooth things over.
That’ll do it for my top tips for long flights! Whether you’re a travel pro or a travel novice, I’m here to answer your questions and would love to plan your next trip for you!