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46 Amazing Airplane Hacks To Boost Your Flight & Travel Experience

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Katie Seemann

Senior Content Contributor and News Editor

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Keri Stooksbury


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46 Amazing Airplane Hacks To Boost Your Flight & Travel Experience

1. Be Flexible To Save Money

2. stay alert, 3. use points to book your flight, 4. get help finding award availability, 5. don’t leave miles on the table, 6. choose your seat wisely, 7. book a flexible ticket, 8. keep your suitcase organized, 9. bring the ultimate travel accessory, 10. pack vacation essentials in your carry-on, 11. don’t dry out, 12. pay attention to your toiletries, 13. know where you’re going, 14. stay entertained, 15. charge up, 16. be ready to write, 17. think about meals ahead of time, 18. book a bassinet seat, 19. pack snacks, 20. bring lollipops to help pop ears, 21. keep them entertained, 22. use up energy before the flight, 23. remember where you park, 24. skip the long tsa security line, 25. a “touchless” and even faster way to skip long security lines, 26. go left, 27. be ready for the security line, 28. don’t pay for checked luggage, 29. don’t buy water, 30. stay active, 31. get the right size carry-on bag, 32. know how to access a lounge, 33. know your luggage, 34. put your bag in the right spot, 35. block everything out, 36. brush your teeth, 37. be nice, 38. clean your tray table, 39. choose your drink wisely, 40. sleep like a pro, 41. dress in layers, 42. bring socks, 43. find your luggage quickly, 44. late bags earn points, 45. speed through customs, 46. save money on transportation, final thoughts.

We may be compensated when you click on product links, such as credit cards, from one or more of our advertising partners. Terms apply to the offers below. See our Advertising Policy for more about our partners, how we make money, and our rating methodology. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone.

Love it or hate it, flying on an airplane is a common part of travel. So, if you have to fly, you might as well make the experience as enjoyable as possible.

We’ve compiled this list of 46 of our best airplane and travel hacks to elevate your flight experience, including everything from flight booking hacks and packing hacks to airport hacks and inflight hacks.

We hope you’ll be able to use some of these flight tricks to make your next travel experience as awesome as possible.

Flight Booking Hacks

A great flight starts with a great booking experience. Try these tricks the next time you have to book a flight.

If you want to find cheap flights , it’s best to be flexible. When your dates aren’t set in stone, you can use the flexible date search option in Google Flights to see what dates offer the cheapest tickets. Just visit Google Flights , enter your origin and destination cities, then click on the travel dates.

Google Flights search

You’ll see the prices for your flight every day on the calendar. Use the trip duration settings at the bottom to choose your desired trip length or play around to see if the trip length affects the ticket price. The lowest-priced tickets will be shown in green.

Google Flights calendar

Another way to keep an eye out for the lowest price tickets is by signing up for flight deal alerts . Websites like Google Flights, Kayak , and Skyscanner allow you to sign up for fare alerts on your chosen route so you know if and when the price drops.

We couldn’t write a flight hack post without mentioning points and miles, could we? Of course not, since that’s our specialty! Using points to book your flight is an easy way to save on the out-of-pocket expense of travel. Plus, using points to book business and first class flights is a great way to make your entire flight experience so much more comfortable than flying in the back of the plane.

Hot Tip: If you’re brand new to the points and miles game, start with our beginner’s guide to bring you up to speed.

Using miles to book a flight is a great way to fly, but finding award availability can sometimes prove to be difficult. If you need help, look at a tool like ExpertFlyer , Award Nexus , or Seat Spy . These websites can help you find award seat availability without spending all day searching.

Whether or not this is your first trip on a specific airline or your fiftieth, sign up for the airline’s frequent flyer program and make sure your frequent flyer number is attached to your reservation. If you never plan on flying the airline again, you can credit the miles you’ll earn to a partner airline.

No one wants to get stuck in a middle seat in the back of the plane next to the bathroom, right? That one is obvious, but there are pros and cons to other seats as well.

  • If you get motion sickness, choose a seat over the wing so you’ll feel less turbulence .
  • Choose a seat in front of the plane if you’ve got a short connecting time.
  • If you’re traveling with another person, choose a window and aisle seat toward the back of the plane. Unless the flight is sold out, you’ll have a decent chance that no one will choose the middle seat between you.
  • If you want to sleep during your flight, go with a window seat.
  • If you’re more comfortable having easy access to the bathroom, an aisle seat toward the back of the plane will be your best bet.
  • If you definitely need a small bag with you during the flight, don’t choose a bulkhead seat because they don’t have anywhere to store a carry-on other than the overhead bins.

Use a tool like SeatGuru to find seat maps for your flight, along with notes about the pros and cons of every seat. This website is a must if you want to find the perfect seat on your next flight.

United Airlines 787 9 Dreamliner SeatGuru seat map

Thankfully, many airlines are offering flexible cancellation and change policies these days, but be sure to read the fine print. These policies often don’t apply to the cheapest basic economy fares. If you want flexibility, you might need to pay a little more upfront.

Packing Hacks

Packing a suitcase is an art, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. These easy packing hacks will help you save space and ensure that you’re prepared for anything.

A packing tip that many can agree on is that packing cubes are a must. These zippered bags come in lots of different sizes and colors to keep your clothes organized. When you arrive at your destination, just move the packing cubes to the drawers, unzip, and you’ve unpacked in an instant.

If you’re packing for multiple people in 1 bag, assign everyone a different color packing cube to keep everything organized.

A large scarf is a versatile item that is the perfect travel accessory. When you pack one in your carry-on bag, you can use it as a blanket to stay warm or for lumbar support to stay comfortable on the plane. Then use it as a scarf in cold weather destinations or as a beach cover-up for tropical vacations.

Picture this: your flight arrives at your vacation destination and you’re so excited to hit the pool at your resort — but your luggage didn’t make it yet! What could be a wasted vacation day for others is no big deal for you because you’re prepared. You packed an extra set of clothes in your carry-on , including important vacation items like a bathing suit, sunscreen, and flip-flops, so you can wait for your delayed luggage while sipping a tropical cocktail by the pool instead of being grumpy in your hotel room in the jeans and sneakers you wore on the plane.

Packing a suitcase

Dry airplane air can easily dehydrate your body. In addition to drinking plenty of water on your flight, don’t forget to pack lip balm and hand lotion in your carry-on bag to combat uncomfortable dry skin. If you typically wear contact lenses, opt for glasses on your flight since the plane’s dry air can make wearing contact lenses uncomfortable.

Make sure your toiletries are in travel-sized containers if you’re planning on using carry-on luggage only. You can invest in a good travel toiletry bag to keep everything organized, or opt for the budget route and put travel-sized containers in a Ziploc bag to keep them from leaking on your clothes.

Pre-flight Hacks

These tricks of the trade are things to think about before you get on your flight.

If you’ll be traveling somewhere where Wi-Fi might be spotty or unavailable, it’s a good idea to download offline maps of the areas you’ll be visiting so you can access them even when you can’t access the internet.

To download a Google Map for use offline, just type in your destination. Then click on the destination name at the bottom of your screen.

How to download Google maps for offline use

Then click on the 3 dots in the upper right-hand corner and select Download offline map .

Dowload offline map on Google Maps

While many airlines offer inflight entertainment, there’s nothing better than knowing you’ve got plenty of your favorites ready to go. Download podcasts, music, audiobooks, or Netflix shows before you take off to ensure you have plenty to keep you occupied during your flight.

If you’re planning on watching movies or shows on your phone, bring a small stand or mount to set up on your tray table so you don’t have to hold your phone for the whole flight.

Be prepared. Charge all of your electronic devices the day before you leave so they are ready to go for your flight. Keep all of your charging cords handy in your carry-on bag in case you need to charge up at the airport, or bring a portable charger if you think you’ll need more battery power during your flight.

If you’ll be traveling internationally, bring a pen . This will save you from having to rely on your fellow passengers to borrow a pen on the flight to fill out customs forms.

If you’re on a long-haul flight that will be serving a meal and you’ve got dietary restrictions, be sure to order a special meal before your flight. If you wait until you’re on the plane, you’ll be stuck with the standard options.

Inside of airplane

Flying With Kids Hacks

Flying with kids can be an adventure, but with these pro tips, it will be as stress-free as possible.

Did you know that many airplanes (especially on long-haul international flights) have a few seats that can accommodate a bassinet on board (usually the bulkhead seats)? If you’re flying with a baby , book early and call the airline to reserve one of these seats.

Baby in bassinet on airplane

If you’re a parent, you know that snacks are the answer to about 85% of your kids’ problems. This is no different on a flight. Pack snacks and everything will be okay.

Air pressure changes can affect kids’ ears more than adults’ ears. To help your little one pop their ears, give them a lollipop.

We aren’t saying you should always bribe your kids with new toys, but a long flight is a great time to go ahead and bribe your kids with a new toy ! Having something new will help keep them happy and entertained for longer.

child playing on an airplane

If your child is sitting in the window seat, give them a package of gel window clings to play with, or try an airplane toy for a child’s first flight. The toy itself doesn’t matter as much as the novelty of having a new toy.

If all else fails, or even if you just want to keep things simple, bring a tablet with plenty of shows or games downloaded, along with child-friendly headphones . Most adults use screens for the whole flight, so why not let your kids do the same?

Kids have a ton of energy, and it’s a great idea to get rid of as much of it as possible before you board the plane. Many airports these days have specially designed kids’ play areas for this exact purpose.

Childrens Play Area at MSP Airport

If your airport doesn’t have a play area, take kids on a walk and let them ride the people movers (making sure they don’t get in the way of others trying to quickly make it to their gate, of course). When all else fails, try to find an empty area (the far end of the terminal is probably your best bet) and let them run wild.

Pre-flight Airport Hacks

You can make the time you spend in the airport before your flight as comfortable and stress-free as possible with these airport hacks.

While you think you’ll remember where you parked, it’s not quite so easy to remember after a week-long vacation. To help your memory out, take a picture of your parking space with any recognizable features and the parking row number so you can find your car easily when you return.

Airport parking lot

How would you like to breeze through the TSA security line — without taking your shoes off ? That can all be achieved when you have  TSA PreCheck . This program essentially gives you access to shorter security lines and the ability to pass through without taking your shoes and jacket off and without having to remove your laptop and toiletries from your bag. It’ll save time and hassle each time you fly.

According to the TSA , the majority of TSA PreCheck passengers wait less than 5 minutes in security lines.

Hot Tip: While TSA PreCheck costs $78 for a 5-year membership (and many would argue it’s absolutely worth that price), you can get it for free with many credit cards .

Breeze through the security lines without having to even take your ID out of your wallet. CLEAR is a program that allows you to do just that because it uses biometrics to verify your identity. After your identity is successfully confirmed (through an eye scan), you’ll be escorted to the front of the security line.

CLEAR costs $189 annually and is available in select airports across the country. Several credit cards include a discounted or complimentary CLEAR membership as part of their benefits.

TSA Security Line at Denver International Airport

If you have a choice, choose the security lines to the left — people tend to naturally go right more often than not, so the left lines may be shorter.

Regardless of whether or not you have TSA PreCheck, be ready to get through the security line quickly . Have your ID and boarding pass ready to go — do not wait until you’re at the front of the line to get these things out. If you don’t have TSA PreCheck, make sure you have your liquids and laptop easily accessible so you can remove them quickly without holding up the line.

Hot Tip: Be prepared before your flight. Know what you can and can’t bring through TSA security and check these TSA security FAQs for the answers to some common questions.

Checking your luggage can be expensive these days. While it might be easy to just bring a carry-on bag for some trips, many of us will still need to check a bag from time to time. You can avoid paying crazy baggage fees by choosing an airline that doesn’t charge for bags, like Southwest, by having airline elite status, or by having an airline credit card. Many airline credit cards come with free checked baggage , which can save you lots of money, even if you only fly a couple of times a year.

Buying water in an airport gift shop is expensive and isn’t great for the environment. Instead, bring an empty water bottle through security and then fill it at the filling station or drinking fountain after security. You’ll save money and reduce your plastic usage at the same time.

Airport water filling station

With many of us using fitness trackers and smartwatches these days, getting a recommended number of daily steps or movement time has become commonplace. To balance out sitting on an airplane for hours at a time, take the time before your flight to walk. Getting a few laps in around the terminal before you board your flight is a great way to stay active, even on travel days, and it provides great people-watching, too.

Before you attempt to pack for a week-long trip in 1 carry-on bag, make sure it’s the right size for a carry-on , and make sure you can lift it up to get it in the overhead bin. While other passengers will often offer to help lift heavy bags into the overhead bins, savvy travelers can manage their bags on their own.

woman lifting her yellow luggage

Hot Tip: Need a new bag? Check out some of our favorite carry-on luggage bags for any traveler.

Airports are places we all spend a lot of time just waiting. So, next time you fly, plan to wait in style in an airport lounge . Lounges offer quieter places to get work done or to grab a snack and drink before your flight. Some even offer luxury amenities like showers and massages.

Having a Priority Pass membership allows you to access over 1,400 airport lounge locations in over 600 cities across the world. The best part is that there are many credit cards with Priority Pass access.

Star Alliance Lounge GRU bar seating

While it’s not inevitable, sometimes your luggage doesn’t make it onto the same flight as you. When this happens, you’ll most likely need to fill out lost/delayed luggage paperwork that will include an area for you to describe your luggage. A description of “black suitcase” isn’t going to cut it, so make sure you know exactly what your luggage looks like. When in doubt, take a photo of it before you fly, for reference.

Airplane Hacks

We love traveling here at Upgraded Points and have picked up lots of tricks along the way. These airplane hacks will help make your flight as comfortable and as fun as possible.

When choosing a spot for your carry-on bag in the overhead bin, go for the space on the opposite side of your seat, directly across from or slightly in front of your seat (never put your bag behind you). That way you can see your bag from your seat and you’ll easily be able to grab it after the flight without having to wait for the people behind you to deplane before you can grab your bag.

Putting luggage in the overhead bin.

One of the keys to really relaxing and enjoying a flight is the ability to block out airplane noise to enjoy your podcast, music, or movie. Because of that, having noise-canceling headphones is a great way to make your flight more enjoyable.

No, we aren’t suggesting you need to brush your teeth on that quick flight from Chicago to New York City, but brushing your teeth on long-haul flights or flights where you’ll be sleeping can really make a difference in how refreshed you feel. Be sure to pack your toothbrush and travel-sized toothpaste (or even a disposable product like Colgate Wisp ), and don’t forget to use bottled water.

While this should come easily to many people, it bears repeating. Be polite and respectful to the flight attendants. They are there to ensure your safety and to help you have a comfortable flight and they deserve your respect. If you’re having a bad flight or don’t like a policy, don’t take it out on them.

If you think you’ll need extra attention from the flight attendants during your trip, consider bringing a small, edible gift like a piece of chocolate or a cookie (prepackaged, store-bought) as a gesture of thanks.

Flight attendant on airplane

While airplane cleaning standards have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began, things like tray tables are not necessarily cleaned between each flight. According to Forbes , airplane seatback tray tables are the dirtiest part of the airplane , so be sure to pack some disinfecting wipes and clean your tray table before using it.

Be sure to drink plenty of water during your flight to stay hydrated. While you might not like it, it’s best to avoid alcohol on planes, since it can speed up dehydration and could lead to a fuzzy start to your vacation. It’s also best to avoid carbonated drinks as the bubbles combined with changes in air pressure can cause discomfort for some people.

Alaska Airlines Crew Member Serves Boxed Water

There’s a definite art to sleeping on a plane, and unless you’re one of those lucky people that can fall asleep anywhere, you’ll need all the help you can get. Use a  sleeping mask and earplugs to block out light and sound, and bring along a comfortable travel pillow to give your head and neck some support. Choosing a window seat can also make sleeping easier since you can lean up against the side of the plane.

Another trick to help you sleep on airplanes is to wear a jacket or sweatshirt with a hood . Putting up the hood will help keep you warm but will also cover your ears and part of your face, giving you more of a sense of comfort and privacy. Some hoods are big enough to pull down to cover your eyes, too.

Airplanes can often be freezing… unless they are way too hot. The problem is, you never know which temperature extreme your plane might suffer from until you are on it, so it’s best to dress in layers so that you’re prepared for anything. Always bring a jacket in the summer and wear a t-shirt under your sweater in the winter.

Hot Tip: If you bring a jacket but don’t need it on the plane, you can roll it up and use it as extra lumbar support.

If you’re wearing sandals on your travel day, bring a pair of socks to wear on the plane. Your feet will stay warm and your seatmate will appreciate not being up close and personal with your bare feet.

If your feet and legs have a tendency to swell, consider bringing compression socks onboard to wear during your flight. They will help reduce fluid retention and swelling, and may even reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Post-flight Airport Hacks

The travel hacks don’t stop when your flight lands. Use these tips to travel like a pro.

Many bags can look the same, so it’s smart to use a unique luggage tag or tie a brightly colored ribbon around your checked bags to make them easily identifiable in the baggage carousel. Alternatively, you can buy luggage in a variety of colors and patterns that are easy to pick out of a crowd.

woman with red suitcase

Did you know that some airlines offer bonus points if your bags are late ?

Delta Air Lines offers the “Bags On Time” guarantee. If your bags take more than 20 minutes to reach the baggage carousel after any domestic flight, you’re eligible for 2,500 bonus miles by completing this form .

Alaska Airlines offers a $25 discount code for future travel or 2,500 bonus miles when your bags take more than 20 minutes to reach the baggage carousel. To make a claim , you need to visit the Alaska Airlines baggage desk at the airport within 2 hours of your flight’s arrival.

If you travel internationally even just once or twice a year, Global Entry can save you tons of time. This program allows members to speed through customs upon re-entry back into the U.S. Instead of waiting in the long customs lines, Global Entry members scan their passports and enter customs information at a kiosk before heading to baggage claim.

Bottom Line: Global Entry is a great program that will help you speed through the airport after international flights. It costs $100 to apply and the membership lasts 5 years. The great news is that many travel rewards credit cards come with a credit for the Global Entry application fee .

If you’ll be taking a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft from the airport, make sure you download the app before you need to use it. It will be easier and quicker to get a ride if your account is already set up, and you’ll have time to see if any of your credit cards offer discounts or bonus points . Be sure to add your credit card to your account and activate any bonus offers, if needed.

We think flying is fun and we hope that by using some of these amazing plane and flight hacks, you will, too! Also, be sure to check out our best hotel hacks to get the most out of your next hotel stay. If you’ve got additional travel hacks ideas, share them in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best airplane hacks for sleeping.

If you want to sleep on your next flight, here are a few hacks that can help you out:

  • Book a window seat so you can lean on the side of the plane
  • Pack a neck pillow
  • Bring earplugs and a sleeping mask to block out light and sound
  • To stay warm, bring a jacket or large scarf that can be used as a blanket; wearing a hooded sweatshirt or jacket can also help cover your ears and eyes and keep you warm so you can catch some shut-eye

What are the best airplane hacks for toddlers?

If you’re traveling with a toddler, be sure to bring plenty of snacks and things to keep them entertained. A new toy is a great way to keep them occupied as are gel window clings if they’re sitting in the window seat. If all else fails, bring a tablet and kid-friendly headphones to keep them entertained and quiet for the trip.

What are the best airplane hacks for comfort?

There are a few things you can do to make your next airplane flight more comfortable. Wear comfortable clothes in layers so you can adjust based on the temperature of the plane. To help ease back pain, you can use a rolled-up jacket or scarf for extra lumbar support. If you’re wearing sandals, bring socks to keep your feet warm, and consider compression socks for long flights to help reduce swelling.

What are the best airplane hacks for long flights?

To make a long flight more comfortable, try these hacks on your next trip:

  • Wear comfortable clothes that you can sleep in
  • Dress in layers so you never get too cold or too hot
  • Wear compression socks to help reduce swelling
  • Brush your teeth before you go to sleep and once you wake up (but be sure to use bottled water)
  • Download plenty of entertainment before the flight and bring a portable charger so your devices don’t run out of batteries
  • Use airline miles to book a business or first class flight

What are the best packing hacks for flying?

To pack like a pro, you’ll want to follow these simple tips. Keep your luggage organized by using packing cubes. If you’re packing more than 1 person in a single suitcase, get a different color of packing cube for each person to keep everything separated. Use a toiletry bag or a simple Ziploc bag to pack your bathroom essentials. If your products leak, the spill will be confined to the small bag and won’t get all over your clothes. If you’re checking suitcases for vacation, always pack what you’ll need for the first day in your carry-on so you can start your vacation right away, even if your bags are late.

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About Katie Seemann

Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure, Forbes Advisor, and Fortune Recommends.


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Long Haul Flights Essentials Tips For How to Survive Long Flights by

Long Haul Flight Essentials: 30 Tips To Survive Long Flights

Welcome to JetSetting Fools, here you will find our best travel tips for destinations worldwide. Some of the links on this site are Affiliate Links and if you use them to make a purchase, we may earn a commission. For more information, read our Disclosure Policy .

Long haul flights are a source of angst for many travelers. However, with the right essentials for a long-haul flight, even a 15-hour plane ride can be pleasant – or, dare I say, fun . We love long flights (and actually prefer them over short stints in the air), but only because when we board the plane, we are armed with our Long-Haul Flights Essentials that makes traveling by plane a breeze!

Why Long Haul Flight Essentials are a Travel Necessity

Preparing for Australia: Spending the entire day at the airport isn't so bad with passes to the Club and views of the planes

Any plane journey over 6 hours is considered a long haul flight – and 6-plus hours is a long time to sit in a seat surrounded by strangers. While first class seats are, without a doubt, the most comfortable way to travel, the high price is a hindrance for most passengers.

Don’t fret! Travelers can experience comfort in economy seating by packing the essentials for a long haul flight.

We are covering the details of our Long Flight Essentials List that covers everything from clothing to entertainment – and even a few little luxuries – that will make the experience just a touch better.

Creating a List of Travel Essentials for Long-Haul Flights

To be honest, it took me some time to hone my skills to create a master list of essentials for long haul flights. On my first plane ride from the United States to Europe, I had made no effort to seek out long-haul flight tips…and I was woefully unprepared. It was a miserable plane trip – and when we landed in Paris I was grumpy and jet-lagged.

Determined not to make that mistake again, on subsequent plane trips I sought out the best long-haul flight tips and refined my list of flight essentials. The more we flew, the better prepared I was.

Now, as a full-time traveler, I don’t even think about how to survive a long-haul flight. With my travel hacks for long flights, I only look forward to enjoying the ride.

How To Survive Long Haul Flights

Sunrise on Leg 3 of our Epic Travel Day

Surviving a long-haul flight is not a difficult task if you have the right travel essentials for long flights. What I have learned in my travels is that long haul flight survival is not just limited to what you bring on long flights. It is equally important to consider what to wear on a long-haul flight.

It is these 2 things together – what to wear and what to bring – that ultimately make up our list of Long-Haul Flights Essentials.

Our list highlights the long haul essentials that you will want for your plane trip. Want a printed list? Get your FREE Printable Long Haul Flight Essentials list here !

Pro Tip: With only a few variations, this list can be used for long haul bus travel as well!

How To Survive Long Flights


Deciding what to wear on a long-haul flight is one of the key elements to enjoying the journey – so before we get to our list of Must Haves for Long Flights, let’s talk about clothing first.

Comfort Clothing: Long Flights Essentials

As you prepare for your plane journey, above all, your long-haul flight outfit must be comfortable. That said, outfits for long haul flights can be stylish – but comfort comes first (and, if you are most comfy wearing pajamas on a red-eye flight, some airlines provide them in First Class!).

Outfit Tips for Long Haul Flight

Because what you wear has such a big impact on your comfort, we have quite a few outfit tips for a long haul flight.

#1 Wear Layers

Wearing layers is one of the top tips on how to survive long flights in economy – or in any seat on the plane, to be truthful! Planes can be hot…and planes can be cold, and then hot again. And you, as a passenger, have no control over the thermostat.

Therefore, one of the best travel hacks for long flights is to wear layered clothing so that you are able to stay comfortable regardless of the stifling heat or cold air con. 

#2 Elastic Waistband or Loose Dress Tips for Long Flights

It is common for most people to experience some swelling while flying – especially on long haul flights – so it is best to combat the swelling by wearing loose-fitting clothing or pants that offer a little stretch.

I prefer dresses on airplanes – over shirts and pants – because they are not binding. However, if you wear pants, I recommend that your long-haul flight pants have an elastic waistband for more comfort.

#3 Long Flight Hack for Women: Dress and Leggings Combo

One of the best Long Flight Hacks for outfits for women is to wear a loose dress – and leggings under the dress. The stretchy material of leggings makes it easy to move around the plane, stow luggage in the overhead compartment and get situated in your seat.

Furthermore, wearing leggings under a dress can help to keep you warm if the plane is frigidly cold…but if it gets too hot on the plane (which is often does during a flight), you can remove your leggings layer (possibly without even getting up from your seat!) to help you regulate your body temperature.

#4 Wear Things for a Long Flight that Add Style

An easy way to create a stylish long-haul flight outfit without sacrificing comfort is to add a simple accessory. Dress up your casual clothing with a colorful scarf or jewelry (but avoid rings that may feel too tight with swelling).

BONUS TIP: My Best Outfit for Long Haul Flight

I, personally, like to wear a loose-fitting dress as my long-haul travel outfit. Typically, when I fly I wear a loose casual dress (preferably with short sleeves). To complete my outfit, I layer it with leggings under the dress, a thin hoodie over the dress and sandals or slip on shoes.

Pro Tip: Read more about travel footwear in our article breaking down the Best Travel Shoes !

Subscribe for a free Long Haul Flights Checklist


Qantas Long Flight Airplane, Brisbane, AU

Now that you know what to wear, let’s chat about long flight carry on essentials. These are all of the long-haul flight accessories that you will want to pack in your hand luggage – things that will make surviving long-haul flights a lot easier!

Additional Clothes for Long Haul Flight

We already discussed the best outfits for long-haul flights, but there are a few more clothing items you should bring on your flight. In addition to the clothes that I wear as my outfit for long haul flight, I also pack a wrap, clean underwear and compression socks in my luggage that goes under the seat in front of me.

#5 Top Tips for Long Haul Flight Clothes: Bring a Wrap

My wrap is one of the most versatile items I travel with – and it is one of my must-haves for long haul flights. In flight, I can use it as a pillow, blanket, scarf, head cover or seat cover. It is one of the favorite items on my Packing List !

#6 What To Pack for a Long Haul Flight: Underwear

Packing clean underwear in a long-haul flight carry on is one of the hacks I picked up as a novice traveler. If you are going to check luggage (and the majority of your clothing), then packing a pair of underwear into your carry on luggage assures that you will have a clean pair…even if your checked luggage gets lost by the airline. 

However, I often change into the clean pair of underwear in the plane bathroom before touching down (or in the airport bathroom on arrival). It just feels so much cleaner to start off in a city with a fresh pair! 

Pro Travel Tips: Use my Packing Hacks for tips on the best way to pack – and get our top advice on ensuring your luggage doesn’t get lost by the airline!

#7 Extra Outfit: Best Long Flight Hacks

While a fresh pair of panties is one of my carry on essentials for long flights, for ultra long flights that are 12+ hour journeys, I like to pack a complete outfit change.

Donning a clean shirt, pants and undergarments feels so much better at the end of a long flight! I also advise freshening up – and I share my list of essential toiletries for long-haul flights a bit later in the article.  

#8 Compression Socks are Long Flight Must Haves

It makes sense to pack socks for long haul flights for when cabin temperatures are too cold. However, regardless of the temperature, I think wearing compression socks is a necessity.

As unattractive as the long-haul flight socks may be, they have substantial health benefits, like reducing swelling and preventing blood clots (both of which can more easily occur on long haul flights). Plus, they will keep your feet warm.

Pro Tip: I wait to put my compression socks on until right before I board the plane. This way, I am wearing a clean pair of socks for the journey – and I even use a wet wipe (more about those later) to clean my toes before I put the clean socks on my feet. 

#9 What To Take on Long Flights: Slippers

I think slippers are one of the Ultra Long Haul Flight Must Haves. Cozy plane slippers that have a rubber sole and are machine washable are ideal.

This way, you can keep your feet warm while on the plane – and you can still get up and walk around in the slippers during the flight. Plus, because of the rubber sole, you can wear them into the plane bathroom.

Airplane Essentials for Long Flights to Stay Healthy

Let me start off by saying that I am not a doctor, it is best to seek health advice for long haul flights from your medical provider. Bearing that in mind, there are a few things that I do for the benefit of my personal health while traveling on airplanes (and when traveling, in general).

Hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes and a small medical kit are items that are in my long-haul flight hand luggage (and I use the wipes before I even sit in my seat!). Disposable toothbrushes come in handy on flights to keep your teeth and mouth clean as well.

Additionally, even though most planes are equipped with HEPA air filters that are tested to be 99% effective against viruses, a face covering may still be required for travel, so it’s a good idea to pack at least one (but it’s better to have two).

Top Tip: Find out more in our article, How To Stay Healthy While Traveling .

#10 What To Take on Long Flights: Antibacterial Sanitizer and Wipes

Traveling with antibacterial sanitizer and wipes just makes good sense – and it is one of our top Long Haul Flight Health Tips, too.

In fact, anti-bacterial hand sanitizer and wipes are plane essentials for long flights.

We have always used wet wipes to clean and disinfect our seats. Not only do we wipe down the entire seat and head rest, but we make sure to clean the arm rests, seat buckles, touch screen, seat back pocket and the tray table.

Pro Tip : Invest in a Long Flight Survival Kit that includes everything you need! An airplane germ-fighting kit is a great gift for travelers who will be taking long flights. For more travel gift tips, use our Top Unique Gifts for Travelers !

#11 Mini First Aid Kit is a Must Have for Long Haul Flights

A small med kit is also part of our long-haul carry on essentials. In our kit, we carry travel-size tums (for Jet Bloat), anti-diarrheal (just in case), pain relievers (like aspirin) and a few Band-aids – because, in general, these are just good items to have on hand.

A few other items that might make your Just In Case list of long flight necessities are tissues , nose saline and eye drops.

Pro Tip: I used to wear contacts – and quickly learned that bringing a pair of glasses on board is one of the long haul flight travel essentials for contact wearers! In fact, it might be best to take your contacts out prior to boarding and plan on wearing your glasses for the duration of the long flight.

#12 Disposable Toothbrushes are Good Things to Take on a Long Flight

Keeping my teeth and mouth clean during a flight is important! That said, taking a toothbrush and toothpaste into a germ-filled plane bathroom is not ideal (and the water is usually not potable!).

Instead, I use a convenient disposable toothbrush – which is designed as a one-time use toothbrush to be used without water, so I can brush and toss. If my only row mate is my husband, I can even brush my teeth right in my seat!

Because I like my mouth to feel fresh, I use several throughout the flight (after meals, before I fall asleep, when I wake up and before I disembark).

Additionally, flossers are good things to bring on a long flight so that you can even better clean in between your teeth.

Long Haul Flight Beauty Essentials

Having a beauty regime on a flight is one of the best tips for long haul flights…one that your skin will thank you for! My top beauty essentials for long haul flights are simple: lip balm and moisturizer. I think they are the two best items for long flights to help your skin. That said, there are many beauty essentials for a long flight and I highlight those, as well.

#13 Long Haul Flight Tips for Skincare: Lip Balm and Moisturizer

The dry air on airplanes can wreak havoc on skin, which is why lip balm and moisturizer are necessities. I carry a small hand moisturizer that can be used on my face, too – and I apply both the lotion and the lip balm liberally throughout the flight.

#14 Hydration Beauty Travel Essentials Long Flight

A hydrating face mist – like the one by Mario Badescu – can help your skin feel fantastic, even on a long flight. The facial spray is infused with aloe, herbs and rosewater to aid in rejuvenating your skin.

Another popular facial mist is the Evian Water Spritz . The micro-droplet mist hydrates your skin with pure Evian water. As with all liquid products that you take on a plane, be sure to bring the TSA approved travel size! 

Dry sheet face masks (like the 111Skin Rose Gold Brightening Facial Mask ) or the Summer Fridays Jet Lag Face Mask cream are other long-haul flight skin care products that travelers use in-flight.

#15 Long Airplane Trip Essentials for Freshening Up

Some of the best items for long haul flights are the ones that revive and refresh you – even after a long redeye flight. We already talked about brushing teeth, but there are a few more things you can do to feel refreshed.

Waterless cleansing wipes ( like these !), underarm deodorant wipes and travel sized deodorant are freshening-up necessities for long flights.

Wondering what to bring on a long haul flight for your hair? Try a Dry Shampoo that will absorb oils and grease for a fresh-washed look. 

Bonus Travel Beauty Tips Long Flights: No Make Up

One of the top long-haul flight beauty tips that some travelers find difficult to get on board with is to fly without wearing makeup. But, trust me, your skin will appreciate it! A made-up face will not likely last the duration of the long flight anyway.

Rather than wearing any makeup in-flight, I stop at the airport bathroom on arrival and – after I change into fresh underwear and clothes – I can wash my face and apply minimal makeup (so be sure to keep that in your carry on luggage, too!)

Long Haul Flight Essentials by

How To Survive Long Haul Flights in Economy Comfortably

Everyone knows that economy seats on a long flight are a bit uncomfortable (okay, maybe more than ‘a bit’). However, with the right economy essentials for a long haul flight, the ride can be so much more pleasant. As full-time travelers – with limited luggage space – these are not items that we personally use. However, I have to admit that when I notice my row mates using them, I am panged with jealousy.

#16 Airplane Hacks for Long Flights in Economy: A Seat Cushion

A memory foam seat cushion can make all the difference in a standard economy plane seat. This seat cushion is designed with travelers in mind – and is not only comfortable and supportive, by breathable and compact. 

The Therm-a-Rest self-inflating seat cushion can also be used for long plane journeys – and it weights just 4 ounces.

#17 Best Travel Items for Long Flights for Comfort: Foot Hammock

Riding in economy on long-haul flights can by a struggle. That said, there are a few travel hacks – like the tray table foot hammock – that can exponentially increase your chances of surviving a long-haul flight in economy.

An on-board foot hammock helps to elevate your feet for a more comfortable flight…even in cramped spaces. The foot sling is also designed to prevent swelling.

#18 Fun Things for Long Flights

Want a first-class experience in economy seating? Upgrade your flying experience with a fun in-flight cocktail kit (these contain no alcohol and you must follow your airline’s on-board rules!).

The mini portable kits allow you to create a tasty cocktail so that you can enjoy an exceptional drink (in a much less expensive seat).

Long Plane Ride Essentials for Sleeping

Sleeping on a plane can be difficult, but not if you are prepared with the best long-haul flight accessories! For us, the best way to get sleep on an airplane is to eliminate light and noise – and we do so by using sleep masks and ear plugs – but we have several sleepy time travel tips for long flights.

#19 Long Haul Flying Tips for Sleeping In-Flight: Wear an Eye Mask

When it comes to sleeping masks, there are thousands to choose from. That said, for airplane sleeping masks, contoured sleeping masks that block out 100% of the light are ideal. The PrettyCare Sleep Mask comes in a set of two, is affordable and gets rave reviews from fellow travelers.

#20 Ear Plugs are the Best Things for Long Flights

We usually use cheap earplugs on flights – but light sleepers may benefit from noise canceling silicone sleeping ear plugs, like these .

Additionally, when my allergies cause congestion, I like to use Earplanes . Not only do they reduce cabin noise, but they are specially designed to relive air pressure and the resulting discomfort.

#21 What To Take on a Long Haul Flight: Travel Pillows

Most airlines offer pillows (and blankets) to all passengers – even those in economy – for longer flights, so you don’t necessarily need to bring your own pillow for plane travel. That said, a good travel pillow can be the difference between peacefully sleeping on a plane and struggling to fall asleep.

Luckily, I can sleep anywhere – so flight pillows for long haul flights are not an item we carry.

However, if you are looking for a long-haul flight pillow, there are a few the come highly rated by fellow travelers – like the trtl Pillow that earns rave reviews.

#22 Sleep Remedy Long Flight Tips

Many travelers sing the praises of taking a sleep remedy in order to get a little shut eye on a long haul flight.

A natural sleep remedy, like melatonin, or prescribed pills by your doctor might help you get the sleep you need on a plane. Before deciding to take anything on a flight, however, check with your doctor first. And, never try taking any remedy for the first time on an airplane.

Pro Tip : Lavender essential oil aromatherapy is also highly touted to help people get a few zzz’s on a flight – but, like with any fragrance on a plane, consider your neighboring passengers.

#23 White Noise or Meditation Apps for Long Distance Flight

Meditation and white noise apps are must haves for long plane rides – especially if you are a light sleeper! Coupled with a good pair of headphones (which we get to in the next section), you can enjoy pure bliss on your flight.

We recommend finding the right app long before your scheduled flight – and even try it out a few times to ensure it will help lull you to sleep. Make sure the app is downloaded to your phone and ready to go before your flight.

Long Flight Travel Essentials for Entertainment

Landing at SFO Airport, CA, USA

When it comes to long haul travel essentials, on-board entertainment is the thing that passes the time. Kris is happily entertained if he has a window seat, but I need something more directly engaging.

Thankfully, most long-haul airplanes are fitted with Seat Back Entertainment – thousands of movies and television shows at the touch of the screen. Utilizing the provided in-flight entertainment is an obvious choice when it comes to being entertained on a flight – but I never solely rely on it because it is not guaranteed.

Not all airlines offer seat-back entertainment – and a few low-cost carriers charge to use it. Sometimes the movie selection is not to my liking. And, in one case, my screen was broken (and – of course – it was on a totally full flight when there were no open seats I could switch to).

Therefore, it is essential to be prepared with things to do on long haul flights that don’t involve the provided in-flight entertainment.

#24 Long Haul Travel Tips for Entertainment: Noise Canceling Headphones

Earphones are travel essentials for long haul flights. In fact, I always bring two pairs…just in case one breaks or somehow gets lost.

Noise reducing headphones are an absolute dream on planes and definitely worth the upgrade if you don’t already have them. If you use wireless headphones , remember to bring the charger (and a back up wired pair, too, as you may need them to utilize the seat back entertainment options).

#25 Best Apps for Long-Haul Flights

We already covered using apps to help you sleep on flights, but there are a few other apps that we think are long plane trip essentials.

Two fantastic apps that should be downloaded and set up prior to take off are Audible (for audiobooks) and Spotify (for music).

That said, perhaps the very best apps for long flights are for the airline carrier you are flying. When you download the free flight carrier app, you typically have access to all of the movies and other digital entertainment options offered by the airline while in flight. Plus, you will have access to other pertinent flight information – like time left in flight, route maps and meal info.

#26 What To Bring on Long Flight: Power Bank and Chargers

One of the absolute essentials for long haul flights is fully charged devices. You do not want to board a flight without fully charged phones, tablets or laptops.

Even with a full charge, however, power cords are long haul plane essentials. Many seats now have USB ports where you can charge your device. (Check on SeatGuru to see if your seat has one, but keep in mind that things – planes and seats – can always change).

Just in case, however, we recommend bringing a portable charger on board, too (it’s not supposed to be in your checked luggage anyway).

As we already mentioned, make sure you download any music, books or apps that you will want to use in-flight prior to arriving at the airport.

#27 Non-Digital Hacks for Long Flights

Non-electronic entertainment is another one of our long-haul essentials. I usually have a book (an actual, paper book) that I can read, but sometimes I will opt for a newspaper or magazine. ( Love with a Chance of Drowning and The Yellow Envelope are two excellent travel books!)

Puzzle books – like Word Search, Crosswords and Sudoku – can provide hours of entertainment. For the sake of space, we recommend buying an all-in-one activity book that includes a variety of puzzles.

The quiet time on a plane also provides an excellent opportunity to journal, sketch or draw. As I always carry a notebook and pen, sometimes I write or jot down notes about my trip (but these cool travel journals are good for trips, too).

If you have travel companions, playing cards are good for long-haul flight entertainment, too. War and Rummy are two easy card games to play in flight – and, if you are flying solo, you can always play a game of Solitaire.

Playing cards are an everyday item that we recommend travelers pack for their trip. Find more tips for Everyday Items for Travel !

Long Haul Flight Snacks and Water

Food is one of my long-haul flight must-haves! Regardless of whether the airline serves included meals during the flight, I bring my own snacks and a water bottle on the plane.

#28 Long Haul Flying Tips: Food that is Healthy

While I am not a traveler that snubs my nose at plane food (I actually usually like it!), there are some instances where the offered dish is not to my liking…or simply not filling enough. To stave off any hunger pangs during the trip, I bring a few healthy snacks in my carryon.

 Almonds, apples and granola bars are my go-to things to bring on long flights, as they are easy to pack and more filling than greasy, salty chips. (That said, some airlines do provide snacks – check what is available in the galley.)

#29 Best Hacks for Long Flights: Candies and Gum

Gum, mints and hard candies are something else we carry with us on flights. Chewing gum and sucking on hard candy can help to equalize the pressure in your ears (because swallowing opens the Eustachian Tubes) – so we like to have a piece of gum or candy on the descent.

Furthermore, gum and mints can help freshen your breath after a long flight!

#30 Water is a Must Have for Long Flights

Staying hydrated can help make plane travel a lot more comfortable (both during the flight and especially after!).

Drinking water is available to passengers throughout the flight (although some budget airlines might charge for it!) – but I still prefer to bring my own water bottle.

Having a closed container of water is much more preferable to the tiny cups of water many airlines provide (as I can tuck it into the seat back pocket). A collapsible water bottle is great for travelers! Once through security, fill up your bottle before you board your flight. Throughout the flight, you can ask the flight attendant for refills, too.

Long Haul Flight Survival Guide by

More Long Haul Flight Hacks

Flying over Indonesia on Malaysia Airlines during our Epic Travel Day

Now that you have your travel outfit selected, your list of things to bring for long flights and advice for what to do on a long-haul flight, we have a few more long-haul flight tips and tricks!

What Bag To Pack for Long Flight

Our tips for a long-haul flight include the best items that will make plane travel more comfortable and pleasant. However, when determining what to pack for a long haul flight, it is just as important to consider your actual packing strategy – as in, what bag to stow at your feet and how to pack it.

The items that we listed as long flight essentials should be within reach – even when the seatbelt sign is illuminated. Because they need to be easily accessible, it is best to pack these items in a good day bag that is stowed at your feet under the seat in front of you.

Carry On for Long Haul Flight Tips

With all of the cords and gadgets for long haul flights, carry on luggage can get messy…and things can get lost.

Because space is limited, it is best to use a bag that can easily be organized with multiple compartments and pockets.

We recommend that you organize your belongings with a Grid It Organizer so that you can easily find what you need in your bag during the flight.

Pro Traveler Tip: Want more luggage tips? Find out why love Packing Cubes and prefer traveling with a Backpack vs Suitcase ! 

Make a Personalized Flight Essentials Kit

Packing for a long-haul flight can be a daunting task. However, if you have a pre-packed long-haul flight survival kit, it will make the chore of packing an absolute breeze. To create your long-haul travel kit, start with your long-haul flight checklist (or get ours here !).

Identify all of the items on your list that you can leave packed in the long-haul flight kit (things like earplugs, sleep mask, water bottle, extra charging cords, etc). Gather them in a bag or storage box and check those off your list. Then, as your next trip approaches, all you need to do is grab the items already set to go from your long-haul flight travel kit – and then gather and pack the remaining items from your list.

Long Flight Tips for Exercise

Long haul flight exercises are a good way to fend off the unfortunate side effects of long-haul flights.

One of the best exercises for long haul flights is to simply get up and walk around. But you can also do easy in-seat exercises – like rolling your ankles, wrists, shoulders and neck – for better circulation.

Money Advice for Long-Haul Flights

While most commercial airlines include food, beverage and seat-back entertainment in the price of the ticket, low cost carriers that fly long-haul routes do not. If you are flying with a budget airline, cash and credit cards is one of the things to bring for a long flight!


What To Do on Long Flights to Avoid Jet Lag

It is likely that your long haul flight will cross time zones – which often results in dreaded jet lag on arrival. However, there are a few ways to avoid it!

Stay hydrated and avoid drinking alcohol on the flight. Before you start to snooze, adjust your sleep cycle to coincide with your arrival city. You can use an app, like Timeshifter, to help time out your sleep schedule.

Herbal remedies, like No Jet Lag pills , can also help – but talk to your doctor first.

Travel Insurance 

Whether taking a long haul flight or making a short trip to the state next door, trip insurance can come in handy if things go awry. If you haven’t already booked travel insurance for your next vacation, check the affordable rates and robust coverage at World Nomads . 


Get our advice on booking cheap long haul flights, How To Book the Best Flights !

Start packing and planning your next trip ! Search for the lowest airfares , the best accommodations and fun things to do …then start packing ! Want more travel advice? Head over to our Travel Planning Page for more tips on traveling – and for country-specific information, take a look at our Travel Guides Page !

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26 Long Flight Tips to Make A Long Haul Flight Feel Short

We’ve gathered our best long flight tips to help you get comfy and cozy before you reach your destination.

Let’s face it: flying isn’t the most relaxing part of any journey that involves it. From the long lines at check-in to getting your bag out of the overhead bin, the experience for most people is just something to get over with so they can finally enjoy their vacation. In between are the worst-case scenarios: cramped seating, crying infants, questionable airline meals, and the prospect of not being able to sleep through all of it. Even worse than those? Your phone runs out of juice, so you sit there reading the emergency procedure handout very slowly, rationing the words out like it’s the last book on Earth. Been there, done that.

That said, it’s not like you’re completely helpless in the face of these flying-related woes. As usual, the key to minimizing the hassle of flying is preparation, which is why we’ve compiled a list of long flight tips we’ve gathered over the years. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this list of what to do on a long flight!


Before you board

  • Grab that upgrade: Flying in economy class? Cramped seating is one of the main reasons why long flights are so tough. Fortunately, there’s a travel hack for that. Try snagging a flight that you know will be underbooked. It may mean adjusting your travel dates, though, you’re more likely to be given a free upgrade to a higher class. That said, you’ll have to ask the agent (and remember to ask them nicely ).
  • Take note of your sleep schedule: Keep timing in mind when booking your flight. We recommend overnight flights so that you can use the time to get some shut-eye. After all, you don’t want to spend your waking hours on the plane, only then to sleep as soon as you hit the hotel.
  • Choose your seat wisely: It’s the age-old question: aisle or window seat? Unfortunately, there’s no right answer, just a cop-out: it depends. For long flights, we recommend taking the window seat if you don’t want to be disturbed while you’re sleeping or watching in-flight entertainment. If you find yourself needing to use the restroom often, then take an aisle seat for easier access.

Geometrical Pocket Tripod Pro | Using the tripod in Detroit

Bring Entertainment

  • Charge up devices: Dead electronics are just expensive paperweights, so remember to top them off before you leave home. This includes your power bank, which will let you charge your devices again in case they run out of juice during the flight. In terms of capacity, a 10,000 mAh power bank is the sweet spot for a long flight. It’s big enough to charge a Max-sized iPhone twice but small enough that the TSA agent won’t raise their eyebrows.
  • Download your favorite podcasts and shows: In-flight Wi-Fi and movies are hit or miss depending on which airline you’re flying with. We recommend downloading your music, shows, and podcasts beforehand so you have your own personalized entertainment. We particularly like podcasts because they don’t take up too much storage space for the amount of entertainment we get out of them.
  • Pack noise-cancelling earphones: Of course, to get the most out of podcasts, you’ll need a good pair of headphones or earphones. We go a step further and use ones with active noise cancellation so that we can block off cabin noise and focus on what we’re listening to. Bonus points: wearing a pair of these is a subtle cue for people not to disturb you.
  • Play some games: Download some game apps on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop before you take off. However, keep in mind that process-heavy apps can suck a lot of power from your battery. So instead of graphic-intensive games, go for 2D puzzles and simple side-scrollers. They won’t drain your devices as quickly, and they can be just as entertaining if you find the right one.
  • Catch up on some reading: Video games not your jam? That’s okay; use this time to binge-read something on your TBR. And no, it doesn’t have to be a super-long novel. Reading up on your destination’s customs, landmarks, and upcoming events is a good way to learn what to do and what not to do once you arrive. After all, you don’t always get the luxury of fully fleshing out your plans (especially if you’re traveling for work).
  • Go analog: If your devices run out of juice for one reason or another, it’s always good to have an analog backup—like a good ‘ol deck of cards. If you’re traveling alone, maybe ask your neighbor to play with you. If you’re alone, though, we wouldn’t recommend building a house of cards (for obvious reasons).
  • Channel your inner Hemingway and journal: Sometimes simply writing what’s on your mind can result in hours of relaxation. A bit of reflection or expressing what you want to experience on your trip can be an entertaining exercise all on its own. Maybe you can even doodle yourself surfing or sightseeing if you’re feeling a bit artsy on your long flight—it’ll be just as precious as the photos you take.

Osprey Fairview Small Zipped Pocket

Keep Gear Close

  • Mind your foot space: The kind of personal bag you take with you matters. If you plan on taking something small enough to fit under the seat in front of you, be sure it doesn’t take up the entire space. You’ll want a bit of wiggle room so you can move your feet around, especially if you’re on the tall side.
  • Personal item vs. carry-on: It’s quite tempting to pack most of your gear in your carry-on since, as its name suggests, you’ll carry it with you in the cabin. However, you’ll either have to put it in the overhead bin or under your seat—tight spaces that are hard to reach. Decide early on what items you’ll want easy access to and keep them nearby.
  • Consider a sling: At the time of this post, you’re allowed to wear a sling during takeoff and landing, which means you can keep your items even closer. Once you’re at cruising altitude, leave it on or hang it from the tray table in front of you.

BIRKENSTOCK Arizona Essentials EVA Review

Dress Comfortably

  • Wear casual, comfortable clothing: Can’t decide what to wear on a long flight? Dress casually and save the fancy clothing for later. Casual shirts and comfortable jeans or joggers will let you settle in your seat easier than bulky clothing. You can also pack your PJs in your personal bag and change into them later once you’re in the sky—it just depends on your opinion of pajamas in public.
  • Avoid bulky footwear: Leg room is precious real estate when flying, so you don’t want to waste it on excess rubber and leather. Sneakers are generally less bulky than trainers, so that’s what we prefer. You can also pack some flip-flops and slip into them before you go through airport security. You won’t be asked to take them off, and they’re much more comfortable than their closed travel shoes .
  • Use your toiletries: Long flights mean plenty of time for odor and dirt to build up, so pack a few toiletries in your personal bag. Wet wipes are particularly handy for keeping yourself clean without having to get up from your seat. Then again, there’s nothing quite like a splash of water to keep yourself freshened up, so don’t be shy if you want to use the restroom. There you can rinse your mouth, wash your hands, do your ones and twos, and get a good look at yourself in the mirror.


  • Be polite to flight attendants: This should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: be polite to the staff. It’s going to be a long flight, so you’ll want to establish a good, albeit temporary, relationship with the flight attendants who will be assisting you throughout the flight (and that includes emergencies). A simple raise of the hand here, a smile there, and a once-in-a-while “thank you” will go a long way to making their job easier and, thus, the journey smoother.
  • Be considerate to your neighbors: This politeness and courteousness should also extend to your neighbors next to you and in the nearby rows. Put your phone on silent (apps and alarms might still ping you even if you’re in airplane mode) and ensure that your earphones aren’t bleeding too much noise. Watch your elbow too. As a rule, we like to keep elbows within the armrests to make sure they’re not disturbing anyone else.

Best Sleep Mask for Travel | 9 Eye Masks To Help You Sleep Anywhere

Find Your Quiet Place

  • Set your clocks: Hold up! We don’t mean setting up your alarm; that’s a terrible idea unless you want all eyes on you. Instead, set your clock to your destination’s time zone. This way, you’ll be able to keep track of when you should take naps during the flight to minimize jet lag. Better yet, see if your smartphone has a dual clock option (most do) so you can also keep track of time at home. The more in tune you are with your time zone, the easier it’ll be to anticipate your tiredness.
  • Use a pillow: Catching Z’s during a long flight is tricky for a multitude of reasons, but one specific side effect we all want to avoid is muscle pain. The solution? Travel pillows . These come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from your usual toilet seat-shaped cushions all the way to inflatable ones. The latter takes up less space than the former, so that’s our usual go-to whenever we travel. Alternatively, you can bunch up a long scarf or use a packable jacket to rest your head.
  • Keep warm: You never know how cold the plane’s cabin is going to get, so it’s a good idea to pack a blanket. A lot of long haul flights will include one, though there’s no guarantee, and you likely won’t know until you actually board. There are travel blankets that are designed to be thin but good at insulating, so we suggest checking one out. However, we find bringing a few extra clothing layers just in case does the trick.
  • Sleep with earplugs: While noise-canceling earphones do an awesome job at blocking noises, they’re not necessarily designed to stay in your ears while you sleep and are at risk of falling out mid-nap That’s where earplugs come in. There are tons of different kinds out there, so find a comfortable pair and get some shut-eye.
  • Block out bright lights: Unlike the lightbulb in your room, the lights in an airplane cabin sit pretty close to your eyes and can be hard to ignore. Sure, you can turn off those at your seat, but probably not the nearby rows. Fortunately, an eye mask will block off any incoming light that’s going to stop you from falling asleep, regardless of where it’s coming from. However, make sure to use one that doesn’t fit too tightly. Otherwise, you’ll wake up with the back of your ears irritated. Pro tip: We find that a neck gaiter works just as well and is more functional once you reach your destination.
  • Don’t forget to stretch: After you take a nap or come out of REM sleep, it’s always a good idea to stretch out your muscles. As counterintuitive as it sounds, sitting around all day can be just as tiring as standing. Stretching will help keep the blood in your muscles flowing and relieve pressure or swelling in sensitive areas of the body.

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  • Have snacks at the ready: Airline food is relatively expensive, especially the snacks like chips and chocolates. Skip those entirely (as tempting as they are) and instead pack your own snacks like granola bars, nuts, dried fruits, and trail mix. They’re our go-to travel snacks because they’re quick sources of energy and aren’t too messy to eat. The only thing you have to worry about them is the crumbs they leave, so you better get every bite in your tummy. Also, keep in mind that your seatmate may have allergies, so be courteous if they ask you to put your food away.
  • Drink plenty of water: The other thing to keep in mind about certain snacks is how thirst-inducing they are. However, like snacks, beverages can be expensive and come in disposable PET bottles. Instead, bring your own insulated bottle that you can infinitely reuse during the trip, and just top up on water at the airport drinking fountain.

So, did you get all of that? Awesome! Now you’re a bit more prepared for your next long flight. Hey, maybe these long flight tips even made you look forward to flying. It doesn’t have to be a taxing experience from start to finish. With a bit of preparation and good spirits, you’re bound to make hours just fly by!

May 16, 2023


Author: Jude Miguel De Leon

Miguel loves road trips and actively takes the scenic route to make things interesting. When he's not behind the wheel with a trunk full of gear, you'll find him tinkering with a computer; a hobby he picked up while watching tech reviews starting at age 12. You'll never see him consider a product without being armed with plenty of product research & testing first.

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11 Travel Hacks You Need To Know To Survive a Long-Haul Flight

Alina Wang is a staff writer at Cheapism covering travel and personal finance. Prior to joining the Cheapism team, Alina worked as a U.S.-based correspondent for Vision Times and interned for several media outlets during college. She currently lives in Colorado.

Tips for surviving a long flight

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Tips for surviving a long flight

Long-Haul Luxuries

While traveling offers incredible opportunities to become immersed in new cultures, cuisines, and experiences, getting to these destinations can be daunting and exhausting. This is especially true if you have to hop on a long-haul flight that spans several time zones and continents. The discomfort and fatigue associated with extended periods in the air can detract from the anticipation of the adventure ahead. 

But by having the right strategies, you can transform the traveling part of your journey into a more enjoyable experience. Here are 11 essential tips for surviving long-haul flights and making them as comfortable as possible.

Airplane seat

1. Choose Your Seat Wisely

The seat you choose on a flight can significantly impact your flying experience. If you prefer more legroom, consider booking an exit row seat. For those who like to walk around or need to use the bathroom frequently, an aisle seat may be the better option. Some airlines and sites  offer detailed seat maps  to help you decide which seat is best. 

Young beautiful girl in a white hoodie posing. Warm oversized hoodie with an hood. Stylish trendy hipster bow. Trying on clothes in a store. Youth subculture. Fashion clothing advertising

2. Dress Comfortably

While traveling, it's best to wear loose, comfortable clothing and layers that you can easily remove in case the temperature aboard is too warm or too cold. Compression socks  can help reduce the risk of blood clots  and swelling in the legs. Be sure to also choose shoes that are warm, comfortable, and easy to remove and put back on. 

Woman drinks water during her flight in an airplane

3. Stay Hydrated

Cabin air is notoriously dry , so it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before and during the flight. Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine, as they can dehydrate you further and mess with your sleep. Bringing a refillable water bottle can be a convenient way to ensure you stay hydrated throughout your travels. 

Healthy Snacks

4. Pack Snacks

Airplane food may not always cater to everyone's tastes or dietary needs — in fact, it's usually pretty gross after being reheated . To avoid this predicament, pack your own snacks that you know you'll enjoy. Opt for healthy, non-perishable snacks like nuts, dried fruits, and granola bars to keep your energy levels stable, and be sure to stash them in an easily accessible spot in your carry-on. 

Related:   10 Things You Should Never Eat on an Airplane

Girl leaving airplane's passenger cabin

5. Move Around Every Now and Then

Sitting in one position for too long can lead to stiffness, back pain, and overall discomfort. To avoid this, consider getting up from your seat to take occasional walks down the aisle every hour or so. Light stretching and leg exercises  while in your seat can also help improve circulation to avoid muscle cramps and blood clots. 

For more travel tips and other savvy life hacks, please sign up for our free newsletters.

Girl uses a neck pillow and eye mask to sleep while traveling on an airplane

6. Create a Cozy Sleep Environment

Bring a travel pillow , earplugs, and an eye mask to help you create a relaxing space and hopefully get better sleep on the plane. Try to adapt to the time zone of your destination by sleeping according to its local night hours. Limit screen time before attempting to sleep, as the blue light from devices  can disrupt your sleep cycle.

Related:   Sleep Experts Dish On the Best Products To Help You Sleep

Best Places to Travel After Christmas

7. Bring Entertainment

To avoid hours of mind-numbing boredom, be sure to load your device with movies, music, audiobooks, or podcasts that you enjoy before boarding the plane. While many airlines offer in-flight entertainment, having your own selection ensures you have access to content you like in case the plane's system is outdated, malfunctioning, or lacks options that interest you. 

Cosmetics permitted in hand luggage

8. Stay Fresh

Refreshing yourself during the flight can make a significant difference in how you feel upon arrival. Consider packing a small toiletry kit  with essentials such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, face wipes, lotion, and lip balm. Freshening up is also a great way to reset your body and mind, especially before landing.

Get Some Sleep

9. Adjust Your Sleep Schedule Before Departure

To avoid jet lag, consider adjusting your bedtime  and wake-up time a few days prior to your trip by going to bed earlier and waking up earlier if you're traveling east, or doing the opposite if you're heading west. This gradual shift can help acclimate your body to the new time zone ahead of time and make the transition smoother once you arrive.

Young Man Listening To Music

10. Bring Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Investing in a quality pair of noise-cancelling headphones  can transform your in-flight experience. By drowning out the constant hum of the aircraft and noise from fellow passengers (ahem, crying babies), you can relax or sleep more easily. Plus, they enhance the sound quality of your music or movies to make your personal entertainment more enjoyable. Just remember to charge them fully beforehand. 

Handsome Businessman Sleeping in Plane

11. Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation

Since long flights can be stressful, it’s important to find ways to relax your mind and body. Consider downloading apps  that guide you through deep breathing, meditation, or gentle stretching. Listening to calming music or engaging in relaxation exercises can also help reduce anxiety and make your flight experience more enjoyable. 

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Long-Haul: Hacks To Survive The Long Flight And Actually Enjoy It

The relaxation actually starts before ever even boarding the plane and once you do, here are some ways to enjoy the airtime.

Long plane flights can sometimes feel like a prison sentence when it comes to plane anxiety. Even without the extra added stress of feeling anxious on a flight, most people get a bit antsy and restless when they're sitting in a cramped seat for ten hours or more. While nothing can fully take away the flight frustration that comes with being stuck in one place for hours at a time, there are some things that can pass the time a little more smoothly.

Even if travelers only commit to one of these things, they're sure to make a flight slightly easier. If nothing else, they'll prepare a traveler both mind and body when it's time to buckle that seatbelt for lift-off .

Before The Flight Even Begins, Splurge On The Lounge

It can be an expensive option but when it comes to sitting in an uncomfortable waiting room seat vs. a luxe lounge (complete with WiFi and snacks), the choice is obvious. The airport has these executive lounges available for a reason and fliers do not need to be executives - or anything close - in order to take advantage of them. A swipe of a credit card can gain travelers entrance into some of the most elite lounges in the airport, and if you've got frequent flier miles, those can sometimes be used, too .

In some airports, lounges will allow guests simply because they have a specific card (such as American Express, which is the most popular), or for a fee. In exchange, travelers can look forward to:

  • Comfortable, private seating with personal workspaces
  • Vending machines, food vendors, or a bar
  • Restrooms belonging strictly to the lounge area
  • Free WiFi, complimentary coffee or tea, and even free snacks

Related:  You Can Expect A Good Pilot To Make The Following Announcements On A Flight

Avoid Sleeping On Shorter Flights, Bring On The Zzz's During Longer Ones

The reason that sleep should be avoided on shorter flights is that when a person goes lights-out, the human body does not automatically regulate pressure. This means that taking a nap on a short flight is a surefire way to wake up with clogged or popped ears, which can be painful and will definitely be uncomfortable. Therefore, if the flight is shorter than the length of a nap, it's best to keep one's eyes open and chew gum or drink water to maintain relatively normal ear pressure.

During longer flights, there's less chance of a passenger sleeping through take-off or landing, which means a nap might be just what's in order. This is quite possibly the best way to pass the time besides watching a movie or TV show, and these are some tips to get there:

  • Pack some earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to drown out the noise.
  • Create a sleepy playlist prior to boarding the plane to help lull you off to sleep (rain or ocean sounds are great for this).
  • Read a book to help get the brain and eyes tired enough to fall asleep.
  • Pack some chamomille tea in your carry-on and ask for hot water from the flight attendant.
  • Pack your coziest layers, beanie hat, fuzzy socks, and comfy shoes, along with a neck pillow, to optimize comfort.

Pack A Podcast And Stay Awake From Sugary Drinks

The combination of carbonation and air pressure usually isn't a good one. While it doesn't happen to everyone, in some cases, carbonated drinks can lead to painful gas that's only intensified due to the rising air pressure in the cabin of the plane. Therefore, any soda or tonic drinks should be avoided. Sugary drinks will only serve to dehydrate a traveler while also keeping them awake - which can be bad for anxiety. The best option is water, which is free, and in high supply on planes; just ask the flight attendant .

For those who can't fall asleep on planes (and there are definitely those of us who are incapable), a podcast is most certainly the way to go. Sometimes, it's nice to just zone out or close our eyes while listening to the soothing voice of an audio episode that we love. A week or two before the flight, be sure to avoid listening to any new podcasts, saving them for the time spent on the flight. Or, if there are no podcasts currently in the rotation, take some time to find one! There's truly a podcast for everyone and even if it takes some time to find one that's enjoyable or interesting, it's worth it. If nothing else, passengers can create an in-flight playlist that has soothing or distracting songs.

Next:  Bored While Traveling? These Travel Games Will Keep You Occupied


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