Long haul flights can take you to amazing places around the world and connect you with continents you never thought imaginable, but travelers will need to know how to survive a long flight. Some of the world’s longest flights can now connect Australia to England, New Zealand to the Middle East, and the United States to Southeast Asia. These long haul flights can exceed 18-hours. This means 18 hours of cramped conditions, 18 hours of crying babies, and 18 hours of potential dehydration. Before we embark on our own 18-hour flight from Los Angeles to Singapore, we wanted to share our air travel advice for how to survive a long flight.
How to Survive a Long Flight: Timing and Sleep
From the moment you board the plane, set your watch to the time at your final destination. For example, if I’m taking off from Los Angeles at 12 pm and flying to Tokyo where it’s 4 am, I now have to get into the mindset that it is 4 am. To the best of your abilities, eat, sleep, and drink like you would if you were in your final destination. In order to combat jet lag and survive a long haul flight, do this from the moment you board the plane (or even earlier if you have the time to start adjusting to your new time zone).
To help you fall asleep on airplanes, we always recommend bringing a neck pillow and wearing earplugs or listening to white noise on your headphones. We always bring a sleep mask with us to block out light and we love the weighted sleep mask from Gravity Blankets. This sleep mask uses deep pressure stimulation. It lightly touches pressure points to soothe you to sleep plus it blocks out ALL of the light!!
How to Survive a Long Flight: Hydration
At 30,000 feet in the air, the desert-like conditions on an airplane can feel like you’ve landed in the middle of the Sahara. The Aerospace Medical Association recommends that travelers drink an 8 oz. glass of water for every hour you’re in the air. Hydration is key when planning how to survive a long flight.
Nutritionists and specialists will all recommend staying away from alcohol because it dehydrates you. While I agree with these scientific facts, I also understand that travel is often a celebration of life and therefore, sometimes warrants some celebratory champagne. (Seriously – I can’t imagine an 18-hour flight without a few bubbles to kick things off!) If you’d like to have a nice glass of champagne in first class or start things off with a special brew then go ahead. Be sure to limit your alcohol consumption and always match each adult beverage with a glass of water. We also ALWAYS pack our own water bottles.
How to Survive a Long Flight: Diet
While long-haul flights will always offer meals to travelers, they’re rarely nutritious or delicious. We always travel with healthy options to keep us satiated in case we don’t love the food options. We always pack high-fat, low-sugar protein bars as well as a mixture of nuts: cashews, walnuts, and almonds. These two snack foods aren’t exactly meal replacements, but they are great options for long haul snacking.
We also try to adhere to the Argonne anti-jet-lag diet or versions of it. We try to stick to a ketogenic diet while traveling, which limits blood sugar spikes and crashes. This means that we eat healthy fats, proteins, vegetables, and fruits or we fast on travel days. We stay away from simple sugars and carbohydrates, which can cause mood swings and drowsiness. The only time that we want to eat a carbohydrate rich meal on travel days is if we’re trying to sleep.
For example, we flew from Stockholm, Sweden to Los Angeles, California, which have a nine-hour time difference. We took off from Stockholm in the morning, which means that it’s the middle of the night in Los Angeles. Since we were on Sweden time, we ate a carbohydrate rich meal on the plane. Then we went to sleep for the majority of the flight, landing in Los Angeles in the morning. Once we landed, we adhered to a ketogenic diet, rich in vegetables, proteins, and fats, which helped us stay awake for the entire day.
How to Survive a Long Flight: Movement
It is of the utmost importance to get up and move every few hours while you’re on a long-haul flight. At least once every 2-3 hours (unless you’re sleeping), get up and walk the entire length of the plane. This circulates blood to your legs. If you can, book a business class seat so that you can elevate your legs. When you’re on a long-haul flight, you have 3x the risk of getting deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, a potentially deadly blood clot in a deep vein.
While you’re in your seat, you can promote circulation by pumping your feet as well as extending and bending your legs. Without congregating in the galley, try to do some simple calisthenics such as toe touches, good mornings, lunge stretches, and air squats. We love watching physical therapist Kelly Starrett’s tips for surviving the airplane seat and his airplane back survival tricks.
Take Supplements Before Long Flights
While air travel can be exciting, it also exposes you to a high amount of radiation.
We always load up on antioxidants to combat free radicals and radiation. We also choose supplements that naturally work as a UVB absorber. To combat the harmful effects of air travel, prior to taking off, we take glutathione, CoQ10, and turmeric.
To help with sleep, we spray Melatonin Mist from Gravity The mist uses transdermal delivery to allow a deep, restful nights sleep up in the air.
Skincare for Long Flights
The airplane is a time machine to dehydration. First and foremost, hydration comes from the inside so make sure to drink plenty of water.
For in-flight skincare, it’s important to start by removing all face makeup. After this, I use a sheet mask (I love these ones from Peach & Lily) to hydrate my skin. I leave the sheet mask on for 20 minutes. Then, I follow up with an overnight hydration mask to lock the moisture in overnight.
The “hydrating hand soap” in the bathroom always seems to leave my hands cracking so I always bring a hand moisturizer with me. I regularly apply this to my hands so that they feel hydrated.
Best Clothing for Long Flights
When it comes to what to wear on a long flight, it’s important to start with compression socks. Compression socks will help promote circulation in your legs and reduce the risk of blood clots.
It’s also important to wear loose fitting clothing so that you’re comfortable on the flight. Pack layers in the form of sweaters and scarves as temperatures can dip down during flights.
Good for a flight: compression socks. Bad for a flight: alcohol.
How to Survive a Long Flight: Entertainment
Air travel is like the Wild, Wild West; Nothing is guaranteed and you have to fend for yourself at all times. We always bring books and journals and we download an overabundance of movies and TV shows. While most airlines will provide some form of entertainment, we’ve been on cross-country flights where the entertainment system wasn’t working at all. We’ve also been on international airlines that had limited selections of films in English. Don’t rely on the airplane to provide you with entertainment.
To keep us stimulated on a long flight, we listen to the Audible Romance Package. This package has dozens of steamy, romance novels, Best Sellers, and Audible Original books for you to sink your teeth into. These naughty morsels are so good that you won’t want this long flight to end.
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This has got to be the ultimate advise i have seen on how to survive a long flight during your travel.
Love these tips! The best part about taking long flights like this is that when you do something short-haul, suddenly 4 or 5 hours doesn’t seem that bad! Your point about compression socks is absolutely key. We recommend it to all our customers before they take a long flight. Keeping good circulation while you’re sitting for so long is key for having an enjoyable flight and feeling good when you land. Thanks for the awesome post!
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Yes, Bringing Books and general during flight is a great source of Entertainment if you read this. because we get entertainment but also knowledge from novels and journals.
Yes, bringing books and novel is a great source of Entertainment if you read this. because we get entertainment but also knowledge from novels and journals.
I never tried flying long trips but I have taken down important tips and notes to be remembered. Thanks for sharing!
Hi, Scott and Collette. The tips are all amazing! I can relate to everything that you said. If only I have read tips like this years before, then I don’t have to get irritated to my long flight. Anyway, with experience, I learn that do’s and don’ts of a long flight. Water is very essential and clothes. I also entertain myself by reading books and watching animes. Thanks for this.
I hate long trips. Last Holiday, I traveled around 14 hours. As we landed, I feel like my body is about to collapse (good thing is my husband is with me). I’ve learned that day that food and hydration are very important. In my next trips, I will also invest in the right clothing to be comfortable during the entire trip. Thanks for this.
Long trips are always boring. But, it seems it was a great moment from the pictures. Smart ideas…Thank you!
In my last flight, I stay awake for more than 24 hours. This is due to flight cancellation, delays, and etc. I survived by drinking gallons of water. Hydration is the key. I was afraid I might collapse and not arrive on my destination. But thank God I am whole. Xoxo.
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Hey Scott & Colette! I have had long flights and never tried using a face mask to moisturize my skin. I’d definitely bring masks on my next long flight 🙂 Great ideas, thank you for putting this all together. Cheers!
Hi ,thank you for sharing your blog post…It so helpful!!! give me some advice.I will wait for your reply
Thanks for all the great advice especially the one about the skincare which I didn’t know.
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