I think it’s fairly safe to say that nobody truly looks forward to a long haul flight, especially if you are like most of us and travel in economy, or at best, economy plus. Look forward to the destination and end result- yes, but the flight itself? Nope. But with the holidays right around the corner, and many of us planning to visit our friends and families, some of us are bound to have a long haul flight (or two) in our very near future. They don’t have to be quite so bad though and today I’d like to share a few of the things I do to make those flights just a little more bearable so I’ll arrive happy, instead of haggard. Or, as I call it, like something the cat dragged in.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure policy here.
The Right Seat…For You
In my opinion there is no right or wrong seat on a plane, but there is a right seat for you. What is one person’s favourite seat another person will complain endlessly about. You need to find what works for you and that might not even be the same seat from one flight to another.
For example on overnight flights I much prefer a window seat. I have yet to get one of those wonderful seats that will allow me to lie flat (I’m afraid I’ll never go back to economy if I do!) so a window seat is a must so I can at least try and sleep. I have splurged a couple of times for an economy plus seat but most of the time I’ll just go for the back row.
Some of you are now probably thinking I’m nuts for choosing the back row of all places but there is a method to my madness. I figure it gives me easy access to the bathroom (especially while the food trolley is out and blocking the aisle), close to the galley so I can stretch my legs and get a drink, no weaving back and forth and bumping people (or tripping over their feet!) in the middle of the night, plus nobody else seems to want to sit there so there is a chance the seat beside me will be empty. Score! Except wait- now I’ve just let my secret out of the bag and everyone will want to sit there too. Darn it!
For day flights I’d prefer the aisle. Since I know I’m not going to sleep anyway I like to be free to come and go as I please and I don’t really mind if people on the inside need to get out several times. If I get an aisle seat in the group of three seats in the middle of the plane there is also a chance that the two people beside me are together and they’ll then just bother each other for their umpteen trips to the toilet. Score again! See method, madness. I’ve got this down to a science now. :-)
Now with this said if someone would like to give me a business/first class ticket or some wonderful airline would like to upgrade me to one of those cabins…well let’s just say I won’t be picky if it’s a day or night flight and you won’t hear a peep out of me about my economy seat choosing prowess. *See picture above for my “dream seat” if you’re my fairy godmother and in the mood to do some wish-granting today.
For those of you that aren’t quite on board yet with my seat choices a really good site to visit for getting reviews of the seats on all types of planes is Seat Guru. Just enter your flight or the type of plane you’ll be flying and it’ll show you a map with colour-coded seats to show you the good, the bad, and the ugly. There are even some photos of the interiors of the planes so you can get a good feel for the plane prior to selecting your seat. Just remember to read the reviews, instead of solely relying on the pretty coloured map of the plane, because only you know what you’re willing to accept or not in terms of comfort.
Dress for Comfort
While some people seem to wear essentially their pajamas on an airplane, I prefer to look somewhat put together yet still be comfortable. The key is dressing in layers, especially on overnight flights that tend to get quite chilly.
I prefer slacks instead of jeans with a t-shirt, cardigan, scarf, slip on shoes, and an extra pair of cozy socks in my bag. Then I’m ready for whatever in-flight weather conditions come my way.
Yes, most flights now have in-flight entertainment for you, but there is always a chance it won’t work. If this happens then sitting for 10 hours staring at the back of the seat in front of you, shopping the Sky Mall catalogue, or reading the airline magazine for the 25th time (that the person on the flight before you has already done the Sudoku and crossword puzzle in, darn them!) just isn’t going to cut it. Even if you can learn your way around every major airport in the world by memorizing their handy dandy maps. For times like this it pays to be like a Boy Scout and be prepared.
My carry-on bag is well stocked (and doubles as my foot rest) with my Kindle (lots and lots and lots of books!), a reading light, my phone (for a few games or audio books), my tablet (to do a little blogging if I feel ambitious), headphones and, of course, the chargers for all of these gadgets. Many planes now have USB ports, electrical sockets, or both, so I can keep my gadgets charged and ready to entertain me into the wee hours of the morning. If no charging options never fear! My trusty Kindle gets me through the night. Those puppies can hold a charge for weeks!
I have yet to actually try any kind of sleeping pill so I can’t make any suggestions in that department. I am also one of the poor souls who gets, at best, a couple of hours of sleep on an overnight flight yet struggles not to doze off before the cabin door closes on an afternoon flight. Figures eh? I have acquired a few goodies that seem to be helping me get a little more sleep each time. Really though I think I just need to let it go that yes, I’ll likely snore with my head at that weird angle but oh well, everyone else is too.
My little bag of sleep goodies now includes a travel pillow (must be firm enough to actually hold my head up and I prefer inflatable ones), an extra blanket (that I use in addition to the one they give me because I get so cold at night), a sleep mask which really helps keep my eyes feeling heavy during the night so they want to close, and noise cancelling headphones (thank you L!) with extra batteries so when they go dead at 37,000 feet I’m back in business in mere minutes. I’m thinking a little spritz of lavender on the face mask might help to promote the ZZZ’s too. Must give that a try on the next flight.
After a long flight, especially overnight, bed head, bad breath, and a just plain feeling of yuck is inevitable. Some wet wipes, deodorant, toothbrush, paste and mouthwash, moisturizer, and a hair brush can go a long way towards making me feel human again. Plus if my sweet L other is waiting for me in arrivals I need to be ready for the hello hug and kiss right? :-)
At the end of the day though, the thing with flying is what gets one person through a flight may not work for someone else. As I have flown more and more I’ve found what works and what doesn’t work for me and have come up with a carry-on bag that has just exactly what I need. No more, no less. And if all else fails I try to remember, eventually the flight will end. Even if I just sit and watch my plane on the flight tracker screen for nine l.o.n.g. hours- eventually I’ll be able to get off.
What are your best tips for making the best of long haul flights? Please share your recommendations in the comments.
Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission but this does not affect the price to you. Please read my full disclosure policy here.