As requested by you guys – here's my best long haul flight tips to help you transform your flying experience. And hopefully, make you guys love flying as much as I do. I love flying, I always have since I was a little girl, but I know there are so many people who dread this part of their holiday. Whether its because of a fear of flying, or they're simply just impatient to get on with their trip. As someone who has spent a lot of time on long haul flights as part of 20+ hour long trips. I want to share how I manage to stay sane, keep comfy and most of all, sit back and enjoy the journey.
Now I want to stress that if you do suffer with a fear of flying, I can't guarantee these tips will help rid you of your fears. However, they may help to make the overall experience a lot more comfortable for you. They may even offer a great distraction from what is going on around you. If you regularly fly whether for business or leisure – it might be that you're an impatient traveller and keen to just get on with the trip. But I hope that these long haul flight tips will help you view the travel part of the trip as just as enjoyable as the rest. Or, at least as time you can utilise more effectively.
20 long haul flight tips to upgrade your experience
So many people actually let a long flight stand in the way of them seeing what's on the other side of the world. When there are so many ways to make long haul flights that little bit easier. Check out my long haul flight tips for changing your in-flight experience:
Organise yourself before you travel
Give yourself a helping hand to relax during your long journey by taking care of everything beforehand. Future you will thank past you for getting everything organised. Key things to remember:
- Check all your travel documents are correct and packed
- Check your passport is in date and packed
- Make sure you have any visas you need – including any for countries you are just transiting through
- Organise airport parking and any car hire
- Make sure your luggage is tagged and will fit everything
- Pack your bag so you can easily remove/access items for security
- Book an airport shuttle for both ends of your journey
Always pack your home comforts and toiletries
When you're travelling long haul, it can sometimes mean flights of up to 24 hours without a proper break or bathroom. It's not the nicest when you start to crave a shower so be sure to do all you can to feel fresh when you travel. I never leave home without the following items:
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Hand sanitiser
- Face wipes and moisturiser
It's amazing how much of an impact these items can have on making you feel a heck of a lot better. I always brush my teeth right before I get on the plane and in layovers. I also love to give my face a wipe and reapply fresh moisturiser before getting off the flight as the air can be very drying. Hand sanitiser is always a saviour when it comes to travel – from grubby tube lines and public transport, to cleaning in-flight tables.
Choose the best hand luggage to maximise your in-flight space
This can make a big difference to the level of luxury you travel in. One of my best long haul flight tips is to find cabin luggage that best suits your needs while maximising the items you can take with you. This might mean the choice between a backpack or suitcase – suitcase is great if you are on a business trip or short weekend getaway. However, if you have heavy items – I would really recommend using a cabin size backpack. Why? Simply because airline staff are a lot less likely to stop you and check the weight of your bag.
I've travelled through over 30 airports since I got my Cabin Zero Adventure Cabin Bag in Military Green and never once been checked for weight. Thank goodness because my bag is usually wayyy over the limit! Make sure you choose the best travel backpack before your trip and maximise your in-flight space.
Dress smart and try your luck for an upgrade
The clothes you wear to the airport can change your whole experience. Just notice the difference between those travelling in joggers and trainers compared to business travellers in their suits. Wearing a suit is definitely not one of my long haul flight tips. I always say you should put comfort first – but it is possible to do this and still look smart.
I usually travel in black leggings because they're much softer than jeans and they don't wrinkle. Plus you can make them look much smarter with a nice top or jumper, a jacket and scarf. Remember to try and look a bit smarter - you're more likely to get upgraded to business or first class if you look the part.
Book an airport lounge
This one can make a big difference to your life if you have a lot of flying hours ahead of you. Many business travellers, or those with certain credit cards, will get automatic access to various lounges worldwide. It's worth checking with your bank to see what you're entitled to.
Even if you don't get free access to airport lounges, booking one can be a great way to save money at the airport. They don't usually cost too much – sometimes around £20-30 – but this can include all your food and drink, including alcohol, plus a great workspace. Some even provide showers, places to nap and even spa treatments or massage chairs. If you've got a long layover between flights, it can be a great way to get some shut-eye and to recharge. You can do this without spending a fortune on food and drink in the main airport.
Remember your manners and talk to airport staff
A little friendliness and kindness goes a long way. So many people rush through airports and speak to staff like absolute crap. It's one of my biggest pet peeves and I hate to see it happen. Impatience gets the better of a lot of people and often ends up with pointless rudeness that gets us nowhere. A little smile and a please and thank you goes a long way! Airline staff get a bad rap when actually they do a very hard job. They are in charge of your in-flight experience and can make-or-break it for you, so throw a smile their way and chat to them. It can be the difference between a miserable and a great experience.
Focus on work and use the time well
Instead of letting a long haul flight mean hours of wasted time, why not change your attitude? You could easily utilise the time to focus on work. If you want to really make the most of the hours – try and plan a vague schedule of working in 1 hour stints. For example – I usually try and use airport time to write. I love finding a great café or restaurant where I can sit in a corner and blast out a blog post. I'll give myself an hour to write, then give myself a change of scenery. I might later on spend an hour on SEO, or emails, or admin. Another hour might be spent on design work. Other great long haul flight tips for working while travelling:
- Breaking up your work into 1 hour stints makes it less oppressive and easier to manage.
- Organise your work into online and offline. Save all online work for in the airport, then all offline work for in-flight.
- Keep a note of any tasks you could do in your phone and tick them off when done.
- Most importantly, don't feel bad if you're struggling to focus – just switch to another task.
Bring a range of entertainment
We're not all workaholics and many of us just like to take the time to chill and relax during long flights. If this is the case, make sure you're well stocked with plenty of entertainment. Bring a range of options such as the following:
- Laptop or tablet to watch movies (Netflix)
- Download music or podcasts (Spotify)
- A book or Kindle to read (Amazon Kindle)
- Activities like a crossword puzzle book or colouring
- Games or apps on your phone (Duolingo)
- Sketchbook or notepad for drawing or writing
It's also great to take a mixture because if you're in the middle of a long journey, you might not have time to recharge any technology. I never leave home without a paperback book because I've had several flights where the in-flight entertainment wasn't working. At least even if you're stuck without, you have something to entertain you!
Catch up on sleep
Some long haul flight tips might not work for everyone. I know that many people struggle to sleep on long flights – myself included. The noise and lack of legroom can make it hard to really relax. But it can be a great time to catch up on sleep, and to try and get yourself on the correct timezone. I recently took a very unexpected 50 hour trip from South America to the UK which included 4 flights, a lot of stress and five different timezones. Needless to say my body was very confused by the time I arrived. I didn't manage to sleep on those flights which meant my body clock was all over the place and the jet lag was horrendous.
I really recommend, as soon as you get on the plane, to set your watch to the time of your destination. Start behaving as if you were already there – so if it's night-time, try and sleep. If it's a "day flight" try to stay awake until it's a "normal" time to sleep. This will help you hugely when you arrive and will help prevent jet lag. Over a lifetime of travel, I've only experienced jet lag twice and both times it was because I didn't follow my own rules.
Meditate or slow things down
One of the big causes of flight anxiety or fear is overthinking. If you suffer with these problems, it's worth trying to slow your body down. Instead of feeding these behaviours with alcohol and coffee, which exacerbate the stress on your body. Slow down, stay away from caffeinated drinks and sugary foods. Listen to a super chilled out playlist to help you relax. I love listening to The XX – they always soothe my soul. Or if music doesn't help, try a guided meditation or visualisation. There are loads available on Headspace, Calm or Spotify.
Indulge yourself and start your holiday early
Who says your holiday doesn't start until you arrive? I always like travel days to be treat days which means I can indulge whenever I want. I've never been one for counting calories. But I can firmly say that they definitely don't count when you're moving between airports, countries and even continents. Whether it's treating yourself to a glass of wine at the airport, or a nice meal before your flight. I always think you should take whatever opportunities you get because you have no idea what they're going to serve you in-flight. If you're on a budget – these long haul flight tips still work for you. Instead of spending at the airport, why not make a picnic to take with you? Pack sandwiches or a salad, and lots of snacks!
Do something that you've been putting off
This sounds like a strange one – but we all have those boring jobs that we always put to the bottom of our list. You know the ones – perhaps it's some boring life admin task, Facetiming someone or finally backing up your photos. You've got hours to fill between flights and layovers – why not do it now? Free access to the internet at most airports and if you're travelling alone, you might be bored. It's a perfect chance to tick off one of those annoying jobs, while making it a lot more exciting/entertaining because of the location. I know I often do this in airports because they're a great place for people watching. I can set a task in motion and if it's something mindless, I can easily get it done while enjoying the atmosphere.
Always pack a few small luxuries
If you've got a long journey ahead of you and you're just dreading it. These long haul flight tips might help ease your pain. I always try to pack a few small luxuries. Now when you're travelling on a budget, this doesn't have to be much. It could be packing a nice lip balm or hand cream that smell delicious. These can be divine to combat dry plane air and to feel a bit pampered. Others might like to use noise-cancelling headphones to block out noise so they can sleep. I've even seen people pick up a takeaway from a restaurant in the airport and take it on the plane! Whatever makes you feel better, make sure you pack it for the journey.
Give yourself peace of mind
You know that feeling when you get somewhere and suddenly panic you've left the oven on, or the straighteners? Or perhaps you didn't shut that window, or blow out that candle. Make sure before you leave home, that you leave a key with someone you trust. So if you do get this feeling, there is someone who can check for you. Always have good home insurance and security, make sure everything is locked up safely when you leave.
Anticipation is half the fun
Always remember, the journey is just as important as the destination. Some of my greatest travelling memories have been the anticipation of the trip and the experience of getting there. You never know who you're going to meet along the way! Plenty of people have met the love of their lives on a flight, loads of people have found new friends when journeys have gone wrong – myself included. Learning to surrender and realise you have absolutely no control over what happens is one of the best things you'll ever learn. Be in the moment, enjoy the best you can and stop stressing. Don't get so caught up in the length of the flight that you forget to enjoy the pre-holiday build-up!
What are your best tips for making long-haul flights bearable? What are your most important hand luggage items?