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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

How To Survive A Long-Haul Flight

You just spent a ton of money on an awesome trip that you're super excited about, but first, you have to get there. I find that the flight isn't the worst part of your trip, like a lot of you think. Yes, it can be awful, but if you have the right things with you, then you can make your flight fly by and even get some good sleep. 

Long-haul flights can be hard, but if  you have the right things with you, then you can make your flight fly by and even get some good sleep.

Jet lag is awful and it's hard to deal with life when you just want to lay down and sleep wherever you are. So, here are my best tips for making your flight bearable, even if you're in economy.

Get a really good travel pillow
I have had a lot of travel pillows. Most are made the same and don't really offer any support, meaning you wake up with a terrible neck ache and possibly a hurting back. Eric and I both have a FaceCradle, which some people have told me they don't like, but we love, so find something that works for you. I like the FaceCradle, because you can lean forward into it and it allows me to sleep like I would at home. It's also good for people who are tall or who slouch in their seat. It eliminates the strain on your neck and back, though I do like to put an airplane pillow or my jacket behind me in my lumbar for extra padding.

If the FaceCradle isn't for you, maybe the Turtl, the twist memory foam, the evolution from Cabeau, or the Travelrest will work for you instead. Don't settle for one of those generic U-shaped ones that offer no support at all. It's always best to invest in a good pillow that you can take on all your trips. Just imagine having to sleep in the middle seat all the time, and choose a pillow based on that.

Have a sleeping plan
Along with your travel pillow, this is going the single most thing that makes your trip better or worse. You need to get on your destination time as quickly as possible, so know the time difference, know how much sleep you can live with and then make a plan to make it happen. Sleeping your entire flight or staying awake your entire flight will not be your friend. I promise. 

We flew to London at 6pm our time (PST), which is 2am GMT. I knew we would be arriving at noon local time and we would be served dinner and breakfast on a 10-hour flight. This means I needed to be awake the first and last two hours to eat. I can pretty much make it on 5-6 hours of sleep if I have to, and definitely one day isn't going to kill me. My plan: 
  • Watch a movie until dinner  (Eric and I started one at the same time so we could watch together on our respective screens)
  • Chug an Emergen-C and take my allergy pill (which makes me sleepy) right before dinner (Eric also took a DreamWater)
  • Eat dinner and finish watching my movie
  • Close my eyes and sleep for 5 hours (I only woke up once, and I was able to drift back off)
  • Wake up, chug some water to hydrate
  • Start a second movie
  • Eat breakfast and prepare to arrive at my destination
We arrived in London, got a bite to eat, took the train to a different airport, had dinner, then hopped on a plane to Edinburgh, got an Uber to our Airbnb, and then went to bed around 10:30pm. When we woke up from a full night of sleep, we were refreshed and ready to start our vacation. It was 20 hours worth of travel, but it could have sucked really hard if we hadn't had a good plan before we left home. Here are more tips on how to beat jet lag.

Bring snacks and water
Don't rely on the drink and snack cart for all your needs. I'm always hungry or thirsty when it's inconvenient. Delta was actually really good about having snacks and plenty of drinks available throughout the flight, but not all airlines are that cool. Bring healthy, but tasty snacks, especially if traveling with kids. I also always bring a reusable water bottle that keeps my drink cold for a long time, so I don't wake up and have to drink lukewarm water. You also aren't at the mercy of the crew to bring you drinks, which is never frequent enough to keep you from getting slightly dehydrated.

Bring games/books/podcasts
Again, not all airlines have entertainment available, or sometimes your seatback monitor doesn't work, so make sure you have backup entertainment or things that will help you fall asleep, whether that's an audio book or a meditation app. If you need to stay awake for a few hours, bring something interesting enough that it keeps you busy.  

You might find this stupid, but smiling can really help improve your mood. If you have a middle seat and want to die, pretending it doesn't suck can definitely help. It also brightens the mood of people around you and just makes your trip a little bit better.

Wear comfortable clothes
OMG, is this important. Avoid tight clothes, confining shoes, and get yourself some compression socks for long flights. You won't be sorry. I tend to layer, because the plane can go from sweltering to freezing in a minute, so you never know what you're going to have to contend with. I wear comfy pants that also look nice, and a breathable top, a cardigan over it, and possibly add a travel blanket or scarf to the top. For long flights, I don't like shoes, so I wear slip-on shoes to the airport and then change into slipper socks on the plane. Want a visual for what to wear on the plane? Here's a post and here's a photo of me at the airport.

You don't have to travel first class to be comfortable. I also highly recommend Airplane Pockets for your long trips. It expands your seatback pocket to hold all your stuff you want during you flight (and organizes it too!) and is antibacterial, so it protects you from germs that might be on your tray table or in your seat pocket. I got mine during their kickstarter campaign and they are extra awesome for long flights, plus you can slip them off, fold them up, and shove them back in your bag at the end of your flight.

I hope your holiday flights and beyond are as comfortable as possible. 

What are your favorite tips for flying well?

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links that may result in my compensation should you make a purchase through those links. This allows me to keep bringing you useful content and I thank you in advance.

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