So you want to explore more of the world and see far-away lands like Bali or Thailand, but in the back of your mind you’re thinking…”that flight tho!” As someone who spent over 6 days in the air last year 😱, I’m well acquainted with the long-haul flight. While I won’t lie to you and say a 16-hour nonstop flight is easy, I’ve mastered the art of making it through a long-haul flight feeling and looking refreshed!
Long flights can be difficult on your body if you don’t take proper precautions. However, by incorporating these tips into your travel plans you can arrive at your destination feeling as good as possible and also reduce jet lag & sluggishness. Take it from me, I had NO JET LAG after spending one month in Asia! It is very rare that I suffer jet lag now that I’ve become more mindful of my flying wellness routine.
Here are the 10 tips I’ve compiled to survive your next long-haul flight feeling your best:
- Get a FULL night’s sleep the night before your flight. I used to be the serial last-minute packer who stayed up late the night before to tie off loose ends. This left me heading to the airport exhausted. I know many people believe not sleeping beforehand makes it easier to sleep for the flight, but it just means you didn’t give your body the rest it so desperately needed in a HORIZONTAL bed.
- Eat a healthy meal before you board. Unless you’re lucky enough to score a first-class flight/upgrade, airplane food doesn’t come close to fine dining. It’s typically high in sodium and fat, highly processed and generally not high in quality. The last thing you want is an in-flight stomachache! You want to ensure you’re filling up on quality foods that will energize your body & not make you feel sluggish when you finally touch down.
- Pack healthy snacks. See above lol. My favorite snacks for a long flight are pistachios, peanuts, Skinny Pop™️ White Cheddar popcorn, sunflower seeds, or fresh fruit.
- Drink WATER often! Staying hydrated is so important when you’re flying. The air at high altitudes is very dry meaning your body is rapidly losing moisture, which increases your risk of dehydration. Not drinking and retaining enough water can lead to you feeling fatigued, headaches, nausea, and more. I recommend you bring your own large water bottle so you’re not dependent on the flight attendants doing their rounds in order for you to hydrate. Due to the elevation, you should be drinking even more water than you ordinarily would if you were on solid ground. My rule of thumb is to drink at least 8 ounces every 1-2 hours.
- Invest in a quality travel pillow & blanket. The Cabeau memory foam neck pillow is my favorite travel pillow I’ve used so far. I love the ergonomic design and the fact that it has an adjustable neck tie so you don’t wake up with your pillow on the floor. I recommend having your own blanket because I honestly don’t trust most of these airlines to provide you with a clean blanket and the airplane GERMS 🦠 are REAL! Here’s a great deal on a compact travel blanket currently on sale for less than $10!
- Avoid alcohol and sedatives. I know it’s tempting to drink alcohol and pop pills to aid with sleep–especially since it’s free on international flights–but this is one of the worst things you can do for your body during a long flight! Alcohol dehydrates your body and the high altitude is doing the same at an accelerated rate. If you have to drink, stick to just one drink and avoid hard liquor.
- I also recommend avoiding sedatives because you’re less likely to wake up to stretch when your body needs it, increasing your risk of complications. Also, because you are sedated you’re not able to hydrate & are not aware of how your body is feeling, so you can’t heed any pain signals. Sleep when your body feels tired and keep busy when you’re not asleep. Airplane sleep is not very restorative anyway, so it’s not worth risking your health. I personally only consume water or hot tea on long flights. I arrive feeling great with my skin glowing & ready to explore!
- Pack a book & journal. Long flights are a great time to catch up on some reading & to reflect on your life. I always bring a book & journal on my travels and try to capture notes about my thoughts before and throughout my travel experience. In those moments when you can’t sleep, consider journaling and reading to pass the time. Grab a book from the 2020 Alignment Guide Reading List to get you through your journey!
- Wear compression pants or loose-fitting clothing. Airplane seats are notoriously uncomfortable and cramped, so making sure you’re not wearing constricting clothing is incredibly important. I tend to stick with soft fabrics and avoid any pants with a zipper. I highly recommend compression pants, yoga pants or sweatpants for long flights. On my 2nd trip to Asia, I opted for these compression leggings to improve my circulation and I felt so good when I landed! I also love that they look like thigh-high socks & are super affordable!
- Opt for an aisle seat, exit row or bulkhead row seat. Extra space and ease of mobility is the name of the game on long flights. If you can get a bulkhead seat, you can end up with a ton of room without the first-class price tag. On my last flight to Asia, I had them book me in the biggest bulkhead seat and I had enough room to do all my stretches and completely stretch out and then some. I advocate for aisle seats so you can get up whenever you want without having to bother others who may be sleeping. I probably got up 15 times to stretch and walk around on my 16-hour flight to Hong Kong and I could do so without feeling guilty about disturbing others.
- Get up, walk around and stretch often. I cannot stress this enough!!! We all know that sitting for long periods of time is no good for our lower back, circulation, and mobility. It is even more important to get up and move around on a long flight. The high altitude plus sitting for long periods of time on a flight puts you at risk for blood clots called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). DVT can be deadly in some cases, so I don’t take this lightly and neither should you. Here’s more information on DVT from the CDC.
Check out some stretches I recommend during a long flight:
Long flights aren’t fun, but the experience and memories you’ll make are absolutely worth it! Never be deterred from seeing the world based on the length of a flight. If you follow this guidance, you can absolutely make the best of a long flight and arrive feeling ready to explore beautiful new destinations! Happy & healthy flying!!!✈️
What are some of your tips for surviving a long flight? Share them in the comments!