Dealing with Long-haul Flights
Updated: Dec 4, 2019
After the travel bug bites, you only get further from home. At first, flights are quick and easy with no drama. You sit down, listen to your favorite album, and next thing you know the wheels touch down. However, there will come a time in your adventures when you’ll have to cross an ocean, and wherever that may be, the first flight is always hard to conquer. So, hopefully I can help you out a little, having been on many trans-ocean flights myself.
1. Check your flight time before booking.
There are certain times that are much easier to fly across oceans at. For the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, most flights leave at night time, so passengers can sleep on the plane. However, if your flight is at 6 PM and lands at 6 AM the next day you most likely will not be able to sleep on the plane because when you land it will only be midnight or 1 AM. These flights are tempting to book because it seems like you have so much time when you get to your destination to explore on the first day. However, you’ll be too tired to truly enjoy the destination. So, I would recommend booking flights that are later at night, so that you can fall asleep easily and get about 6 hours of sleep (ideally) before arriving in the late morning or early afternoon. Arriving later also gives you less time before you get to sleep that night which, trust me, you’ll want.
2. Stop worrying about your appearance.
You most likely will never see these people again, so don’t cake on makeup, don’t do your hair, and don’t put perfume on. Believe me, the not wearing makeup aspect was hard for me as I’m fairly insecure at times about my skin, but without the makeup you feel more like you’re going to sleep making it easier to relax. After a long flight your hair is going to be messed up anyway, so you might as well use the extra time at home to shower one more time rather than grooming your hair. Also, smelling good is definitely a priority for me, so yes, wear all the deodorant you want, but don’t put perfume on. Being in a confined space allows for all the scents to mix and dozens of perfumes and colognes do not smell good together. So, leave it at home!
I cannot stress this enough. Planes circulate dry, cold air, and you will dry out by the end of it. When you’re getting ready to sleep, put lotion on – even if you have oily skin. I promise the plane air will completely dry you out otherwise. If I don’t moisturize before a flight my skin ends up cracking it gets so dry. It makes you feel much more dehydrated just because of the texture. I personally use CeraVe lotion, and I absolutely love it.
4. DRINK WATER.
Yes, you’ll have to get up to go to the bathroom more, but that’s okay. My tip would be to drink a cup whenever you wake up from a nap. If you aren’t sleeping, just sip water casually through a movie. Again, the plane is dry, it will completely dry you out if you are not hydrating. If you brought a water bottle with you (best idea) fill it up at the airport before you board the plane. This way you will not have to wait for a flight attendant to circulate, and you won’t have to pay a ridiculous fee for a water bottle past security.
5. Dress like you’re going to be asleep.
I don’t necessarily mean to wear your pajamas (you certainly can), but just wear something comfortable. I see people wearing stilettos and skinny jeans onto long-haul flights and expecting to enjoy their flight. You’re already sitting in the same place for 6+ hours, so don’t make it any more uncomfortable by wearing something you don’t like to wear in the first place. It isn’t just for comfort, but also circulation. Your body swells sometimes when on such a long flight, and if your blood circulation is restricted, it can sometimes become unsafe. In addition to comfort, dress warmly. If you get cold easily wear a long sleeve, bring a sweatshirt, and put on thicker socks. Bring shoes you can easily get on and off in case you want to take them off during the flight (also good for circulation).
6. Get some noise cancelling headphones or bring earplugs.
There’s nothing like having a screaming two-year-old next to you on a 14-hour flight, except maybe hell. While noise cancelling headphones will not completely block out the crying, it will subdue it while you drown the noise out with music, a movie, or a white noise app. If you get lucky enough to not have a screaming child on your flight, the headphones almost nearly drown out the sound of the engines which allows for easy naps and clearer movie audio. I use Bose noise cancelling headphones, and I can honestly say they have dramatically altered my flight experience to become much more positive.
7. Bring snacks.
Try to resist stocking up on sweets for the ride (I always have this issue), and opt for things that will fill you up like Clif bars or trail mix. If you know you won’t eat the meal on the plane, or if you’re hoping to be asleep by then, bring something from the airport to eat early in the flight. If you do eat the food they give you on the flight, save what you can from it for later. There’s usually some sort of crackers or packaged roll that you can put in the backseat pocket for later.
8. Bring your toiletries in your carry-on.
Some airlines give you a travel toothbrush with toothpaste, but just to be safe bring your own. Brushing your teeth and washing your face before you go to sleep will help you feel much more at home and refreshed. It really makes all the difference when you aren't in your own bed if you can do everything you normally do to prepare for sleep.