How to Survive a Long Flight

I love love love visiting new and far away places. I know, I should have warned you to brace yourselves, right? Huge shocker since I write a travel blog and am a travel writer. I’m just full of surprises. What actually is a surprise is that I actually enjoy the long flights I take to reach exotic destinations like Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Hawaii and Buenos Aires. Why do I like long flights? Because I have nowhere to go and no one to bother me. My phone doesn’t ring and all I can do is watch movies and read books, uninterrupted.

As Kristen Wiig said in Bridesmaids, “I’m Reeaaaaaady to Paaaaaaaaaaaarrrrtyyyyyyyyy!”

What should you know about me? I am a spoiled little traveler. Five Star hotels are my favorite. When we travel to a friend’s weddings and the hotel is not of the Five Star variety I am worried. I am willing to spend my money on hotels. I think that’s half the enjoyment of a vacation. I am not relaxed if I am uncomfortable at my hotel. I am not though willing to quadruple my airline ticket price to get business or first-class. I just can’t do it. To pay possibly thousands extra for something I will only enjoy for a few hours would pain me. So I’m usually stuck back in Coach with the rest of the peasants. No free drinks, no fully reclining chairs, just trying to sneak a quick peak behind the First-Class curtain, but I make it work. Here’s how I survive long flights squished in between my fellow disadvantaged neighbors.

Rest Easy (…err Easier)

Just because my seat doesn’t turn into a glorious bed (sigh) doesn’t mean I can’t get a decent night’s sleep. Bring a sleepmask, earplugs, a neck pillow and blankie for your trip (especially if it’s an overnight flight). I also don’t leave home without a prescription sleeping pill. You’ll be so much happier if you’ve gotten at least 5 hours of shut-eye in. However, please don’t take your sleep-aid for the first time when you’re soaring mid-air. If you break out in hives or have an adverse reaction, the last place you want to learn about it is over an ocean at 30,000 feet.


Check out the movies offered during your flight before you leave and plan accordingly. I use long flights to catch up on all those movies I always wanted to see but didn’t. Bring along your iPad or Laptop loaded with all those shows you’ve been wanting to see. Don’t settle for airplane TV if you’re not going to be happy with it. I’ve been known to squeeze entire television seasons into a plane ride. Nothing was better than my plane ride to Hong Kong, I took out Season 1 of Downton Abbey and the ride zoomed by.

Snacks and Sips

If you’re like me you don’t want to eat a bunch of junk on a plane and get off feeling like a heffer. My favorite plane snacks are nuts, fruit, hummus and crackers, and avocados (weird I know). Instead of guzzling soda and booze, and taking down processed snacks I bring my own snacks and dole them out every few hours. I also bring lemon slices and my own tea bags. I turn the plane into my own personal zen spa. There is nowhere to go and no one to bother me, I flip on some soothing music and sip my tea. Sometimes I’ll even try to meditate. Finally, a place with no distractions.

Skip the Germies

When I step onto a plane I rip out my anti-bacterial wipes and wipe down my seat. It just makes me feel better since planes are essentially cesspools of germs. This also makes your seat feel more comfortable to me and let’s me relax better feeling like it’s my own personal space. I also make it a point to drink my healthy tea with freshly squeezed lemon to keep me healthy for the duration of the ride.

Where to Sit

If it’s just you and you don’t have to go to the bathroom often like me, then snag a window seat so people aren’t climbing over you and disrupting your sleep. Otherwise if it’s you and a spouse, try to snag the side rows where there are only 2 seats and you won’t have to deal with anyone else’s BS.

Get Up Out of Your Seat

Make sure you get up and exercise a little. Even though it’s tempting to sit on your rear for the entire flight be sure to get up and do a couple laps around the plane, stretch, move your body around and get your blood flowing. This ensures a safer flight and also helps you feel better.

Bring Medicine, Don’t Be a Martyr

If you know you get a sore back after a few hours, bring the appropriate pain reliever. I try not to take medicine often but now is not that time. I always make sure that I have Advil to pop the second my back starts to ache. It just makes for a more comfortable and enjoyable flight.

Do you have any secrets for how you get through a long flight? We’d love to hear ’em! Let us know in the comments!


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