Essential Guide to Long Haul Flights: Tips for an Enjoyable Journey

Traveling can be an exhilarating experience, but long haul flights? They often bring a mix of anticipation and anxiety. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or gearing up for your first major trip, understanding how to navigate these lengthy journeys can make all the difference. In this guide, we’ll explore some essential tips for long haul flights that will help make your travel experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible. 

tips for long haul flights

Pre-Flight Preparation

Choosing the Right Flight

When it comes to long haul flights, the details of your flight can significantly impact your overall experience. Here are a few things to consider:

Flight Times: Try to choose flights that align well with your natural sleep patterns. Overnight flights might help you adjust better to time zone changes.

Layovers: Sometimes, a longer layover can be a blessing in disguise. It gives you a chance to stretch your legs and refresh. Some airports even have sleeping pods so you could potentially avoid a hotel cost or an uncomfortable sleep on airport chairs.

Airlines: Not all airlines are created equal, especially for longer journeys. Look for airlines known for comfortable seating and good in-flight services. When possible upgrade for extra leg room or even a lay down seat! Food, drinks, seat selection and checked bags are just some of the complimentary perks when upgrading to certain seats, analyze if it is worth it before booking. Also, booking directly with the airline can provide larger savings when upgrading.
For example, I was about to book a travel package on Expedia where the flight was $1000 if I wanted to upgrade. I decided to try West Jet Vacations and I was able to upgrade for $350 less and choose my seats immediately without any added cost.

Check out our Travel Tips page for flight research including using Honey to price check and earn points

Packing Essentials

Packing for a long haul flight is an art. You want to balance between being prepared and overpacking. Essential items you should wear and pack in your personal bag are:

This two-piece set comes in a wide range of colour combinations so you’ll feel comfortable yet look stylish upon take off and arrival. Think breathable and loose fabrics.

Don’t buy your neck pillow and blankets at the airport, you’ll just be paying more than you should. This luxury set is what they charge for one blanket in the airport but it includes noise-canceling headphones, 3D deep sleep eye mask and a carrying case. Having these items on a long haul flight is key to getting at least some rest before you arrive. It’ll help avoid jet lag!

Everything is more expensive at the airport so we suggest making a snack box filled with your favourites or build one for your kids. From trail mix and vegetables. Be sure to avoid liquids or gel like foods or else they’ll make you trash it. This means no yogurt, hummus or condiments, etc. Keep it simple and be sure to grab a meal before your flight.

It’s a good idea to be prepared and have at least one power bank on hand to charge up your devices quickly. Get one with protection against over voltage when travelling to a country that doesn’t use the same wattage. Oh and don’t forget adapters like this 5 in 1 worldwide adapter.

I don’t know what it is but flying makes me break out. This is one of the reasons I always carry by toiletries in my carryon during a long haul flight. I can brush my teeth, wash my face, reapply makeup as needed with everything kept in a TSA friendly bag and bottles. Keep your routine while on an overnight flight and be sure to moisturize! 
I bring at least one resetting mask, my cleanser, eye cream, moisturizer for face and hands, make up basics and moisturizing spray.

tips for long haul flights

At the Airport

Stepping into the airport marks the beginning of your long haul journey. Navigating through this phase efficiently can set a positive tone for your entire trip. I for one love the airport. It’s the communal anticipation of going somewhere or returning home. For some, the anticipation of long haul flights make them cranky or anxious, for me it is a great opportunity for some me time.

Efficient Check-in and Security

Online Check-in: Most airlines offer online check-in 24 hours before the flight. Utilize this to skip long queues. If you want to check your bags all you’ll need to do is print your bag tags then head to baggage drop. Otherwise, if you print your boarding passes at home and carry-on you can head straight to security.

Baggage Tips: I prefer to use a backpack or carryon when travelling. Keeping it simple aleiviates stress. But if you want to check your bag, weigh your bags at home to avoid surprises. Label your luggage clearly and keep essentials in your carry-on. You’ll see why what you pack in your carry-on is an essential tip for long haul flights

Security Fast-Track, Trusted Traveller or Nexus: Some airlines or credit cards offer fast-track security passes. Check if you’re eligible for these time-saving perks. My Nexus pass is a huge time saver allowing me to skip the security lines as well as the border security. The time I save means I can grab a meal or buy a new book before take off.

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Utilizing Airport Amenities

Lounges & Priority Passes: If you have a long wait, consider a Priority Pass. Priority Pass offers a membership that gets you into 1500+ airport lounges and experiences. Lounges offer a quieter space with comfortable seating, food, and sometimes even showers. But Priority Pass is definitely one of those lesser known tips for long haul flights that you should take advantage of!

Exploring Airport Facilities: Larger airports often have a range of facilities, from shopping to art exhibits. Use this time to explore or simply relax.

In-Flight Comfort

Once you’re on the plane, the real challenge begins. Staying comfortable and entertained for hours is key.

Achieving Physical Comfort

Choosing the Right Seat: If possible, select a seat that suits your needs. Aisle seats offer easier movement, while window seats provide a wall to lean against for sleeping.

Comfort Accessories: Compression socks can help with circulation on long flights. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and do not take them off! Your feet can swell during this time. You shoes help prevent the swelling in your feet and toes.

Stay Active: Get up and stretch regularly. Simple in-seat exercises can keep your blood flowing and reduce discomfort.

Staying Entertained and Connected

In-flight Entertainment: Check what your airline offers in terms of movies, music, and games. It’s a great time to catch up on films you’ve missed. I always bring an iPad or my iPhone preloaded with movies so I can avoid any additional fees. A charger and adapter and necessary to stay charged and connected.

Wi-Fi Access: Some airlines offer in-flight Wi-Fi for free if you’re a member of their points program or if you have a special credit card that they are a points affiliate of. If staying connected is important, check the availability and pricing ahead of time.

Health and Wellness

Long flights can take a toll on your body and mind. However, with the right strategies, you can minimize discomfort and arrive at your destination feeling refreshed.

Staying Hydrated and Eating Right

Hydration is Key: Airplane cabins have low humidity levels, leading to dehydration. Drink plenty of water before and during the flight. I like to bring small travel friendly packets of Electrolytes. These help me stay hydrated and lessen the affects of jet lag. Consider bringing a collapsible water bottle to keep water with you throughout your flight and reduce your plastic use.

Avoiding Alcohol and Caffeine: These can exacerbate dehydration and disrupt sleep. Opt for water or herbal teas instead. You can also bring your favourite teas, like the Tetley Super Teas should you prefer a pick me up or an added boost of vitamins.

Smart Snacking: Choose light snacks like fruits or nuts. Avoid heavy meals that can make you feel sluggish.

Combatting Jet Lag and Fatigue

Adjust Your Schedule: Before flying, try to slowly adjust your sleep schedule to match the destination time zone.

Use Sleep Aids Wisely: Consider using an eye mask and earplugs to help you sleep. Avoid over-relying on sleep medication. Again, some chamomile tea or sleepy tea can help as well. If you do prefer sleep aids as people like my husband cannot sleep well without them, try something natural.

Stay Active Post-Flight: Once you arrive, engaging in light physical activity like walking can help reset your body clock. This helped me during my arrival in Ireland. I got to walking as my room wasn’t ready yet. I fought sleep as much as I could to try and get on the UK time schedule, an 8 hour difference from my home in Canada. It was tough but worth it!

Long haul flights can be challenging, but with these tips, your journey can be much more comfortable and enjoyable. From pre-flight preparation to in-flight comfort and staying healthy, these strategies will help you tackle the common pitfalls of long-distance travel. Remember, a little planning goes a long way. Safe travels and enjoy your flight with these long haul flight tips!

tips for long haul flights

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