Tips to get through a Long Haul Flight

Nothing excites me more than travelling to exotic and far flung destinations, so I’ve been trying to perfect my ‘long-haul’ flight strategy for quite some time. After a few nightmare flights, plenty of rookie errors and thousands of air miles, I like to think I’ve pretty much got it down. As I prepare for my flight out to Guatemala later today, I thought I would share with you my top tips on how to survive a long haul flight…

how to survive a long haul flight

How to Survive a Long Haul Flight

At Check-In  

When it comes to flying long haul in economy, the location of your seat is everything. If possible, be sure to check-in online as early as possible to make sure you have the pick of all of the seats. When choosing your seat abide by these two golden rules;

1) Don’t reserve seats close to the toilets or cabin divides.

This is where the baby cots are set up so it’s where you’re guaranteed to find the highest concentration of screaming babies on your flight. Don’t get me wrong, I love babies, but they’re not the best company when trying to get some mile-high shut eye.

2) Book your seats right at the back.

The check-in attendants always fill seats from front to back, meaning that if it’s not a full flight there will always be rows of empty seats at the back of the plane. Give yourself a fighting chance of semi-horizontal sleep by booking your seats at the back and keeping a close eye on the seats filling up around you. Once the plane doors have closed, you’re free to move into any unfilled seats. Only the savviest of long-haul flyers will bag themselves the jackpot; a row of 4 empty seats. Make sure you’re one of them!

how to survive a long haul flight

During flight

3) Stock up on blankets and pillows

You’re going to call this seat home for the next 10 hours or so, so you may as well get comfortable. Show your stealth and keep an eye out for extra blankets and pillows going spare on empty seats. This can really make a huge difference to the comfort of your flight. Even if your flight is full, you can always ask the cabin crew if they have any spares. Don’t be afraid to be a little bit cheeky!

4) Look after your skin

Plane air conditioning can wreak havoc on your skin, especially for ladies in a full face of make up. Girls, remove your make up as soon as you land on the plane and moisturise regularly throughout the flight. If you want to reapply make up, wait until you’re about to land and nip into the bathroom for a quick spruce up. You’ll step off the plane looking fresh-faced and ready to roll.

5) Switch into your destination time zone to beat jet lag

As soon as you step foot onto the plane, think about what time it is in your destination and try to adjust to this time during your flight. For example, my flight lands into Guatemala City at 9pm, but my body clock will be on UK time at 4am. To help prepare for this, I will try to sleep towards the second half of my first flight to Houston but then stay awake for the rest of the journey so I am tired out when I arrive in Guatemala. Otherwise I’ll be setting myself up for a very sleepless night.

6) The art of killing time

It sounds silly, but I try to line up as many different ‘activities’ as possible to kill time during my flight. I’ll always try to write a blog post when I fly as it’s the best place to work with no digital distractions. I will always watch a few films, listen to music and of course have a snooze. I also like to browse the entertainment guide and write down all the films I want to watch, that’s an activity in itself! I would never eat a meal whilst watching a film, as this is overlapping 2 activities. Instead, I would pause the film and eat the meal as slow as I could to drag out the activity. Get the gist?

My Long-Haul Packing Essentials

  • Eye Mask – To help you sleep in daylight
  • Moisturiser and Lip Balm – Don’t let the harsh air conditioning dry your skin out
  • Face wipes – remove make up as soon as you get on the plane
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste – Because, oral hygiene. Also brushing your teeth before you sleep will psychologically help you wind down for the ‘bed time’ part of your flight.
  • Ear plugs – To drown out the phantom snorer / screaming baby
  • A cosy jumper – Cabin temperatures are always cool at altitude, and there’s nothing worse than being chilly for a whole flight. Bring plenty of extra layers to make sure you stay cosy
  • Socks – helps to reduce foot swelling and of course keeps your tootsies warm
  • A big bottle of water –Drink the whole bottle then ask the stewards to fill it up – because those tiny plastic cups of water aren’t enough to keep anyone hydrated
  • A notepad and pen – Plane journeys are a great time to reflect. Use pen and paper to play games, write lists, sketch your dream man, get your life in order

These are my long-haul flight tips that I stick to every time I fly, but I would love to hear yours! If you enjoyed this post or want to share your flight tips with me, please comment in the box below! X

Want to read more about flying? Check out my review of this Inflight Beauty Sleep Kit by Kiss The Moon.

Jessica Ruth Gibson is the Founder and Editor of Travelista and an award-winning travel content creator of 10 years. She lives in York, UK with her son and has travelled to over 50 countries; her favourites being Italy, Canada and Vietnam.


  • I’m all about eye masks, facial spray and moisturizer for in-flight to keep my skin from drying out! Flying business class is always helpful, too if I have enough points to swing it!

  • Kristine Li

    Great tips! I’m gonna bring face-wipes the next time I fly!

  • Thomas Mulrooney (Hilden)

    Great tips!

    One of my essentials relates to reading. I think that the Kindle (or any e-reader) is a god-send when it comes to air travel as you no longer have to take up space in your hand luggage with bulky books. The battery also lasts for days, so you don’t have to worry about it running out halfway through the flight. I always worry that if I pack a single book in my hand luggage, I’ll end up finishing it before the flight is over. When you’ve got a Kindle with hundreds of books on, you no longer have to worry about that!

  • Staying hydrated is so important, and bringing along a great moisturizer. I like the tip about the back seats. Thanks for sharing!

  • Great tips! I definitely learnt my lesson never to book a seat near a toilet, especially on a long haul flight over night… !!

  • These are some really great tips! I plan on traveling overseas and I now know a bit more on what to do with myself when the time comes around!

  • Great tips! I never travel without headphones and try to avoid sitting near the bathrooms too!

  • Great tips – but I hate sitting at the back, so I never ask for seats there. You’re probably right about being more likely to get a row to yourself, but you’re also likely to sit near the toilets, which I’d rather avoid! Agree wholeheartedly with everything else though 🙂

  • These are great tips. I had no clue the first plane seats to be occupied are the front ones!
    However, if you are a nervous flyer like myself I think the front seats are the ones you can feel the turbulence less?

    Have fun in Guatemala!

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