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You’ve booked the trip of your dreams, scheduled time off, planned your itinerary, and you’re ready to get going! But first, you have to get through that long haul flight. Don’t worry we’ve got you covered in this post on how to prepare for a long flight.
While long haul flights can seem daunting, we have a few long haul tips and tricks that will help you survive the trip with ease. From what to pack (check out our list of 32 long flight essentials), to getting comfortable and transitioning once you arrive, you’ll be prepped like a pro.
Long Flight Essentials: Before you go
What to Pack
The first thing that usually comes to mind when thinking about how to prepare for a long flight or embarking on any trip, for that matter is, what do I pack? Head on over to our post on Best Travel Accessories for long flights, this will give you a list of things you may want to consider packing for your trip. The best place to start is to research your destination. What will the weather be like when you’re there? What do you plan on doing while you are there? What are the cultural customs you may need to abide by (long sleeves, dresses, etc.)? We use this Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack to store our long flight essentials.
One way to expedite this process is to use the free app PackPoint. You put in your destination, travel days, and planned activities-like if the trip is for work or leisure-and they will provide you with a list of suggested items to pack based on weather, activities, the number of days, and more.
Onboard Entertainment on Long Haul Flights
One thing is for certain when planning on how to prepare for a long flight, you want to be sure to pack plenty of entertainment. Books, magazines, crossword puzzles . . . whatever helps you pass the time because you’ll have a lot of it to fill! We love this crime-solver puzzle book
Our most critical onboard entertainment suggestion for how to prepare for a long flight is digital entertainment. Be sure to download music, podcasts, TV shows and movies from your favorite streaming services to your phone, tablet, or laptop before your flight. That way you will still be able to access them if you’re cruising at 30,000 feet with no Wi-Fi. We typically use Spotify for our music and podcasts however Amazon Prime and Netflix are the best when it comes to shows and movies to download.
Pro Tip: Whatever you do, don’t solely rely on in-flight entertainment. You may have no issues with it, but we have seen flight where some of the TVs didn’t work so passengers were basically stuck with nothing to do. So always bring back up! Amazon Prime has a Prime video app where you can download movies or a tv show to watch when offline. We’ve linked it below.Prime Video Download for Travel
Also, don’t forget your travel accessories for long flights! Chargers and headphones are a must. When it comes to headphones the in-ear headphones are our go-to because they don’t take up valuable packing space and they are more comfortable to sleep in. And remember a portable charging station like, Mophie, which is what we use to charge your phone or other electronics just in case the outlets are not working.
Christina loves these headphones because they double as a necklace
A couple of important things to note to make sure your trip goes smoothly: ensure your passport is up to date and within six months of expiring (a standard requirement when traveling to many countries) and double-check if you will need any special visas or vaccinations before you go. We always check The State Department’s Travel website when deciding where we want to travel. They have the most up to date information regarding visas, vaccination and safety-related concerns for each country. Check out our International Travel Checklist where we give you a timeline checklist and items you may not have thought of so you don’t have any surprises on your trip.
Download Google Maps
Navigating a new city when you get there is important especially if you like walking as we do. So, in order to use Google Maps navigation at your destination without using cellular or Wi-Fi service, you must download the map of the area you are traveling to before you go.
Follow these steps to download the Google maps of the location you will be traveling (Android).
- Open the Google Maps app on the phone you will be traveling with
- Click the hamburger icon on the top left, to open the menu
- Click on offline maps
- Click on “select your own map”
- Scroll to select your region. You can pinch to zoom in or out
- Then click Download.
Another cool thing about Google Maps is that you can drop pins (on Android just long-press the area where you want to drop the pin) to mark points of interest. Save time now and go ahead and drop those pins on places you want to visit. Now, when you are at your destination you can stay offline however still have access to driving directions and your points of interest.
Night Before your Long Haul Flight
Pack all Essential Items the Night Before
Getting prepared early is a very important tip to follow on how to prepare for a long flight. You want to make sure everything is in order and that you have everything packed. The last thing you want to say to yourself is “I know I forgot something” so pack your final items the night before and go through your checklist. You want to be able to have a great night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed.
Pro Tip: When finalizing your carry-on, you’ll want to make sure you have everything you’ll need for the airport and the airplane easily accessible, including your ID, passport, a change of clothes (lost bags happen), all the entertainment we mentioned, plus some self-care items we’ll talk about next. The last thing you want to do is dig to the bottom of your bag, for your passport, at the check-in counter.
The Day of your Long Haul Flight
The day is here! Get off on the right foot, on how to prepare for a long flight, starting with how you dress. You will want to make sure you’re nice and comfy for the long haul flight you’re about to embark on.
What to Wear on your long haul flight
- A sweater you can easily put on and take off with the changing airplane temperature (because we all know the airline-provided blankets are paper thin!)
- Shoes you can slip on and off, which will also expedite going through security and makes going to the bathroom on the plane a little easier. We wear these :
- Compression socks not only to keep your feet warm but they are a must for long flights because they help increase circulation and therefore decrease your risk of developing blood clots or swelling from sitting for so long.
- Loose, comfortable pants and tops. Nothing tight and restricting but keep in classy folks.
Pro Tip: Christina usually wears yoga tights with her bulkiest shoes, a tank top, long sleeve shirt, and a cardigan. Reggie usually wears jeans, his bulkiest shoes, an undershirt, a turtleneck, and a beanie.
Last Minute Long Flight Essentials
Now, time to add those last-minute items to your carry-on. Pack an empty water bottle (collapsible ones save even more space) and fill it up at a water fountain once you get past security. Or there’s always the option of buying a water bottle at the airport. Either way, boarding with a full bottle of water is always a good idea so you don’t have to wait to hydrate until the flight attendants come around. You can also throw in some snacks like trail mix or granola bars to fight the munchies in between rounds of airplane food.
Travel time to the Airport
Check Google Maps for any traffic delays and be sure to leave plenty of time to get to the airport and through security. For international trips, it’s usually recommended to arrive three hours before your flight takes off. One way to speed up the airport process is to check-in online and download your boarding pass to your phone, if possible. That way you can skip some lines and get on that flight!
Now How to Survive the Long Flight in Economy
Stay Hydrated and Rest
First things first, when you get on your flight, set your watch or phone clock to the local time of your destination so your brain will start to adjust before you even land. This will help you fight jet lag. Drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol as much as possible (we like to have a glass or 2 of wine with dinner), and make sure even if you are not tired you close your eyes and at least meditate for a while to rest your brain, eyes, and body.
Pack Sleeping Accessories
Of course, the easiest way to make time fly by (no pun intended!) is to sleep. Packing a comfy neck pillow, or this one for people with long necks like Christina, eye mask and earplugs can help tune out the noise and light around you and get some shut-eye. If you are like Christina and have terrible back pains during long flights make sure you bring extra lumbar support. It takes up more room but you will thank yourself later.
But maybe you can’t or don’t want to sleep the whole time. Then what?
- Entertain your brain. Watch movies, play games, read books and magazines, do crossword puzzles…whatever you planned ahead in the packing phase and brought with you, whip it out now.
- Stay healthy. You’re going to be stuck in a tiny flying box full of strangers for 13 hours. There are going to be germs. Be sure to pack sanitizing wipes like these that work to clean your tray table, seat, armrests, and also your hands. I also recommend giving your immune system a hand with packets of Emergen-C. These are compact and can easily be added to your water bottle. Speaking of which, be sure to regularly drink water during your flight! You should aim to drink double the amount of water you would normally drink. Altitude, pressurization and the dry recycled air in the airplanes can dehydrate you faster.
- Move your body. It may be a cramped flight but that’s all the more reason to get up and walk the aisles every hour or two. You won’t be the only one doing it either. Many people will pace the aisles as the flight drags on, so you’ll be in good company. You can also stretch by doing some chair yoga or simple quad stretches. But don’t be that guy that is taking up the whole galley or blocking the aisle conducting his own personal yoga session.
- Freshen up. A few hours into your long flight, you may start to feel a little, well, unhygienic. Be sure to pack a few self-care essentials like:
- Face wipes to remove sweat or makeup
- A sheet mask for some extra hydration if you’re feeling brave
- Lotion and lip balm to combat that dry plane air
- Gum or mints for after those in-flight meals and snacks
- Deodorant for a touch-up
- Floss, toothbrush, and toothpaste for right before landing
Getting some rest, moving around, and freshening up will help you feel more prepared to take on your new destination once you finally arrive!
When You Arrive
Adapt and Adjust
You made it! The most important thing to do when you get to your destination: fight that jet lag! Get on local time right away by staying awake when everyone else is and not sleeping until it’s bedtime in your new location. Be aware that you naturally will not be as aware and thinking as clearly as you normally would and this is when mistakes are made. We know because we have been there and pushed ourselves to the point where we weren’t as alert of our surroundings and ended up getting one of our phones stolen.
Pro Tip: Listen to your body and if you need to relax by the pool or just walk around that is ok. Do not try to rush into seeing everything on the first day.
You’ll also want to ensure your phone’s cellular data is turned off if you don’t have an international data plan. If you had your phone in airplane mode during your flight (as you should have!), you can leave that on during your trip and your phone won’t use data.
As always, you’ll want to be sure to abide by local customs and culture during your stay.
Now, that you know how to prepare for a long flight and more importantly how to survive a long flight in Economy, you’ll be fully prepared to tackle the long haul flight back home!
We hope this helps make your long haul flight more bearable and that it allows you to start your trip off on the right foot. What tips do you have for surviving a long-haul flight? Let us know in the comments.