If you have a long, transcontinental flight ahead of you, you may be looking for some long haul flight tips to make the experience as painless as possible. Whether you are destined for Japan, China, Southeast Asia, or Australia, there are countless destinations that can take a day or more to travel to.
Luckily for you, I’ve been there and done that, which means I have a number of insider tips and tricks that I wish I’d had the first time I traveled overseas.
Here are my top eight life hacks and long haul flight tips for those who are about to embark on a long haul flight.
1. Make a Reservation
One of the most important traveling tips is never to be afraid of booking ahead to reserve your seat, hotel room, or dinner accommodations in advance. It is always a wise choice to ensure that you and your fellow travelers are taken care of — this way, you don’t have to sweat it the day of.
As soon as you have your dates confirmed, reserve your flight seat. Although some airlines will tack on an extra fee for reserving a seat of your preference, I personally find this to be well worth the money.
After all, you don’t want to be stuck in the middle seat between two people fighting for armrest real estate. Nor do you want to be stuck next to the toilets!
2. Don’t Overpack for the Cabin
This one is a basic rule of thumb that anyone with a lick of transcontinental travel experience should know. But it’s worth reiterating: always check your non-essential luggage.
Also, don’t bring too much stuff into the cabin. Whatever you do decide to bring along, make sure you stow it away in the overhead compartment, so you don’t end up with a mess resting at your feet. You can always take out what you need throughout the flight.
3. Get Moving
If you sit still for eight or ten hours in a row, your body can start to feel sluggish and crappy. If you are gearing up for a big vacation or getaway, this can be a serious buzzkill that can ruin the beginning of a great trip. Instead, make sure you get out of your seat and walk around every few hours.
Constantly moving around is also a great proactive step against travel-related blood clots! Grab some compression socks to ensure that you leave the plane in as good a state as you entered it.
4. Mix and Mingle
One of the best long haul flight tips is to simply socialize. Chances are, if you are on a direct flight for ten or more hours, everyone is feeling a little claustrophobic. People want to socialize and let loose a little.
If you have someone sitting close by that looks like they’re up for a chat, ask them about their book, TV show, or where they’re from. See where the conversation takes you — if you’re lucky, you might even find a new travel buddy.
That said, if someone is giving off major vibes that they’re just not interested in talking — take the hint!
5. Splurge a Little
Those with the money to upgrade to first class or business class should always do so. After all, you get extra legroom, premium service, and (usually) a kit of awesome toiletries and other goodies to keep you feeling refreshed throughout the flight.
If you find that business class is out of reach, or you end up stuck in economy class, don’t sweat it. Check out our how-to guide for hacking basic economy class flights like a travel expert.
6. Don’t Look at the Map
There’s nothing worse than being stuck on a flight, bored out of your skull, while you stare at the graphic map of the flight on the in-flight TV. If you look at it long enough, you will start to go a little stir crazy!
The truth is, nothing moves as slow as the tiny animated airplane on the in-board flight map. While it’s fine to periodically check it, especially as you get closer to your destination, I recommend staying away from it as much as you can.
7. Load Up on Entertainment
If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself. When it comes to long haul flight tips, this aphorism is 100% true of in-flight entertainment. Although most airlines have made huge improvements in the entertainment options they offer, we still strongly recommend bringing your pre-loaded music, TV shows, and movies on your laptop or smartphone (just in case).
To ward off jet lag and other less-savory aspects of international travel, you might want to bring along a good old-fashioned book instead. This is because reading a book won’t cause you to be exposed to blue light during your normal sleeping hours, which would throw off your body’s natural internal clock.
But if you can’t resist the in-flight entertainment (or using your own devices), these blue light blocking glasses can help you stay on track.
8. Treat Yourself to the Lounge
This is one of my favorite traveling tips, no matter where your destination lies. If your flight has a layover longer than a couple of hours, I suggest treating yourself to a pass at the airport’s VIP lounge. After a long flight, nothing beats chilling with your feet up on the couch with a cocktail in your hand and lightning-fast Wi-Fi available at the touch of your fingers.
9. Indulge in a Little R&R
The last thing any traveler wants is to show up at their destination feeling like a zombie.
Far too often, I hear about rookie travelers who forget to unwind during their flight. Instead, they feel like the departing flight is the perfect time to catch up on last-minute work before they get a start on their vacay.
This, in all honesty, is a terrible idea.
It sets the wrong tone for the rest of the trip and can cause someone to land in their destination feeling stressed out. Instead, make sure you wrap up all your work at home and enjoy the time on the plane as a chance to decompress before your big adventure.
If the included pillows and blankets aren’t enough to ensure sleep, bring some sleeping pills and a collapsible travel pillow to help you catch some z’s. Here are some additional travel gift ideas that may help people you know who are about to embark on a long haul flight (including yourself!).
Final Thoughts: Long Haul Flight Tips: Arrive Alive (and Rested)
Show up for your departing flight looking and feeling alive. After all, you have a trip of a lifetime awaiting you, so you’re going to want to be feeling and performing your best.
Don’t assume that your flight will be a good chance to catch up on a poor night’s sleep (it won’t be). Instead, sleep well the night before so you can be ready to rock when you touch down in paradise.
What other long haul flight tips would you add to this? Share your thoughts with fellow travelers in the comments below!
Since the age of 10, Mark has enjoyed camping in the great outdoors whether in his own back yard or halfway across the world… Although he loves the peace and quiet of the outdoors, he also likes his creature comforts. Mark’s mission is to make camping a fun and comfortable experience for all with his in-depth guides and reviews over at CampSmartly.com.