A Personal Survival Guide for Long Haul Flights – My Top Tips

A Personal Survival Guide for Long Haul Flights – My Top Tips

Eight hours crammed into a metal tube and sharing a toilet with a hundred other passengers is not my happy place but here are my top tips to make it more bearable.

Before you say it, yes I don’t have to travel long-haul, I know the arguments against it but I’m sorry I am shallow enough to want some winter sun. Putting those arguments aside here are my top tips to improve your comfort, possibly get some sleep and maybe make the jet lag not so bad.

Comfort, Comfort Comfort

Comfort is key and although you can’t make those seats any larger, there are ways to make the whole experience far more comfortable.


Book early, pay the money, choose the seat. This is the number one thing to improve your comfort. Book early and get two seats together. If people knocking your chair annoys you then pick the ones with the back to the toilet. If you are long-legged, pick exit rows or front rows where there is more room but remember you have to be able to operate the door and your stuff will need to be stored overhead (see carry on). It goes without saying that if you can afford any of the upgrades you will be more comfortable but saving up to pick your seats is great even if you can’t afford anything else.

Hydrate and Moisturise

Life is pretty hectic and so I am the worst for doing this but if you can follow a regime of body exfoliation and body moisturising for a few days before your flight it does help counteract the drying effects of flying. Being well hydrated on the day before your flight helps too. I tend not to hydrate much immediately before the flight – you know how many times you get held on the ground waiting for take-off? The last thing you want is to desperately need a pee.


There is a very tiny amount of time where you arrive at the airport and swan around duty free where your style might count, but the rest of the time your hair will be frizzed by the static off the chairs, you will be crumpled, get spills and crumbs down you and generally look a mess. So I pick comfort over style every time. I wear an elasticated pair of black trousers in a very light fabric (more like PJs), a light lose white t-shirt and an open shirt over it. It doesn’t look horrendous but it is so comfy. Now for a bit too much information: Underneath I wear a vest top bra (yes even with big boobs) and my worst knickers so that the elastic is not tight. After eight hours anything you wear begins to dig in.


To get through security hassle free, I pack all my jewellery away, wear my hair down (clips cause pings) and wear slip on shoes (old Vans in winter, sandals in summer). Sometime this means I don’t have to take my shoes off at all and if I do it is quick and easy. The beauty of a crop top bra is the underwire doesn’t ping security. Belts are another pain. Also jackets etc have to come off. I simply button up my shirt until I’m through the other side which saves stripping off.

Carry On

I am presuming that if you are going long-haul your luggage is in hold. The less you take on the plane the more comfortable you will be. Overhead storage is getting stuffed more and more and the scrabble for a spot is chaotic. I always put my stuff under the seat in front. Because of my essential list below I take a tote bag with a small purse/bag inside.

My Essentials

Lip balm and mints If you are in economy or you experience turbulence then it could be a while until the drinks come round. Applying lip balm and sucking a mint keeps your mouth feeling fresh. I love Berry Kiss by Wild Olive.

Fluffy Socks The minute I get on the plane, a take off my shoes and put on my fluffy socks . This immediately makes me feel more relaxed, it means you can move your feet freely, wiggle your toes, tuck your feet up if you want/can and generally be more at home. Yes I wear them into the loo, they can be washed you know!

Inflatable Footstool gamer changer for me. No more swollen feet or ankles. The beauty of this is little gadget is depending which way up you turn it, the height changes. My husband does give me looks when I am blowing it up (and another one with the long hissing deflation). It comes with a handy pump which doesn’t work at all, so good old fashioned puff is the answer (6-8 large long breaths) and it really is very easy to do. It deflates really well and quickly too so doesn’t take up much space. I got this one from Amazon. It looks nothing like this and the seams will probably give out eventually because it is very cheap. It is covered in some kind of velour that picks up dust but even with all that said it is worth it.

Noise cancelling Headphones/Eye mask I recently invested in a SnoozeBand and I love it. Previously I have had noise cancelling headphones but when I sleep I invariable rest my head on the side so they end up digging in plus you need a separate eye mask. The SnoozeBand is silky smooth and padded so side sleeping is not a problem with them. It can Bluetooth to your own music and has a built in white noise setting. Bear in mind that unless you are willing to pay for in-flight wifi (I’m not) your music will need to be physically stored on your phone. However I use the built in white noise which you can select for times from 1 hour to 3 hours. It takes a bit of time to get the speakers into the right position for your ears and if you want to change settings while wearing the mask you need to blindly poke yourself in the forehead but the raised symbols help with this. Other great features is the velcro is tucked away when not in use so it doesn’t pick up every bit of crap from you life when not in use. I LOVE it, I found it super comfortable and I was happy in my cosy cocoon.

Pillow This is another total game changer for me. I slept like a baby for a few hours. I took my own pillow from home, with my own pillowcase. I have to clarify that the pillow I chose is quite floppy and thin ( it’s a Slumberdown Back Sleeper Medium Support) this meant that I was able to roll it up small in my tote and secure it with velcro straps (from Amazon) and also I could fold and tuck into spaces on the plane to get comfy. I also believe having your own pillow and pillowcase smelling like home helps you psychologically relax and go to sleep, not to mention being static free.

Melatonin I am not here to push any pills on anyone so please do you own research and make sure that you are satisfied they are safe and safe for you if you are thinking of taking them. I am not sure if they have an effect but after suffering very badly from jet-lag this is the first year it wasn’t so bad. I must stress this may have been because of all the other things I did and absolutely nothing to do with melatonin. I took melatonin on my way home which was a night flight after the evening meal was served. I then took it for a couple of evenings once I was home to encourage my body back into normal sleep patterns.

Finally Make Good Choices

Entertainment For years I was tempted by watching all the movies on the in-flight entertainment but choosing to settle down early leaves you more rested, less over-stimulated and more likely to sleep. How mature do I sound? Seriously, choosing to read for a bit and then put on my SnoozeBand, snuggle into my pillow and try to sleep is, for me, a great choice. Also resting is still better than not, so even if you can’t sleep giving your brain a break is a great thing to do.

Alcohol Also I skip the alcohol on the way home. While having a drink totally says party and holiday on the flight out, I think coming back is different. One because you are trying to get into a night routine and alcohol is proven to disrupt your sleep and two because you don’t have time to sleep it off and even an alcohol slump let alone a full blown hangover on top of sleep deprivation and jet-lag is such a bad plan. Just me?

Hand wash Wash your hands frequently or carry wipes and don’t touch your face. The air on board is usually HEPA filtered these days so airborne pathogens are less likely to get you but if you are touching your eyes, nose or mouth with hands that have touched other surfaces catching the post holiday lurgy is far more likely.

I hope my top tips help you get the most out of your long-haul holiday flight and you arrive rested and refreshed. Happy holidays Andrena

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