There are many things I would rather do than sit on a long haul flight.
Take a leisurely walk with my husband in the park.
Window shop and contemplate a splurge on a luxurious purse.
Go for a lazy dip in the pool.
Alas none of those are options on a long haul flight. Whether you consider a long haul flight over 6, 8, or 12 hours (the definition varies), I have experience with all of them unfortunately since I fly between two of the furthest points on the planet a few times a year. This usually totals a whooping 23-28 hours in travel time each way. Joy. But there is joy in enjoying a new destination. You just have to get there.
This post is for my blogger buddy Kim and are my tips for surviving on a long flight:
1. Stay hydrated
The air on airplanes is usually too cold and dry so it is important to stay hydrated. Did you know that you can request more than one drink at once? I usually get a cup of cranberry juice (antioxidants!) and a cup of water. Drink often and you can always request more drinks in the galley (flight attendant area). If you are trying to forget about flying altogether, you can usually receive a complimentary alcoholic beverage on long haul flights. Know your body and whether that white wine will be kind or cruel to you after a few hours.
2. Stay warm
The normal temperature of an airplane cabin is freezing. Ok, perhaps it is not 32 F, but there is a reason why there is a blanket for practically every passenger. I always dress in long layers (shorts=brr) when I am flying so I can adjust my warmth/coolness when I am flying. I also tend to bring my own shawl because I have noticed that while pillows have disposable covers, blankets are not disposable and may have touched countless people before me. Shawls or at least jackets ensure that you aren’t uncomfortably cold during the flight.
3. Bring your own amusement
Do you like to read? Would you rather watch movies? I am a huge fan of the Amazon Kindle – it is about $100, lightweight, and holds dozens of books/newspapers/magazines. Many of us say we have no time to read right? Well you have nothing but time when you are sitting on a plane for 14 hours! I won’t tell if you are reading the Twilight series.
I love to catch up on movies when I am on a plane as well. But just in case your audio or screen isn’t working (true story on the last flight for people in back of me), be sure to download movies or TV shows on your own iPad/netbook/laptop.
4. Stretch out
If you aren’t fully reclined for 12 hours, your knees will inevitably start to feel sore. I also find that my tailbone becomes pained after long periods of sitting. Be sure to stretch your legs out and get up every few hours. I find that stretching (pointing and flexing the toes, hugging the knee, full back stretches) and walking really helps relax my muscles. It also prevents me from becoming too sore after I have gotten off the flight.
5. Rest up
Some people have an amazing ability to sleep throughout an entire flight (this used to be me), while others barely rest on a plane. Listen to your own body and rest as much as you are able to rest. You may want to bring a neck pillow if you are one of those people whose necks swing wildly when they sleep upright (also guilty of this!)
6. Upgrade if you can or at least get better seats
Is extra legroom important to you? How about the ability to fully recline? I’ve flown enough that I will receive a free upgrade to the economy class seats with more legroom. I really need to stretch out my legs so I would pay for this option even if I didn’t receive it. Exit row or bulkhead seats also offer additional legroom as well. Just note that you may not always be able to get these seats if you do not have preferred status or are not willing to pay an extra fee.
Business class seats will not only have more legroom, they will also offer wider seats as well as seats that may fully recline to a horizontal position. My husband has a very bad back and really needs to have a seat that will allow him to rest horizontally. Luckily, he is married to me and steals my miles and upgrades to get business class seats on long haul flights.
7. Put on a good face
How does your face feel after 12 hours in the same makeup? Hmm, probably not so great right? I tend to minimize the makeup (though perhaps I’ll put on a few swipes of mineral makeup) and also don my glasses rather than wear contacts for the flight. I always have my favorite personal care travel products on hand and may carry travel size bottles of Cetaphil or Jurlique rosewater mist to clean and refresh my skin. I also have a disposable toothbrush and toothpaste to brush every few hours. A clean face and a fresh mouth will put you in a better mood, I promise!
What else do you do to survive on a long flight?
Fun Fact: The cabin air is actually air derived from engine compressors, ducted through an air conditioning system, and into the plane (technical explanation here). So that is where the plane air comes from!