8 Tips For Surviving A Long Flight

Going on vacation is the best, but getting there can be a total snooze fest. And on long-haul flights, boredom can turn into discomfort, which can turn into feeling like you're going to go insane. But if you take some precautions, long plane flights don't have to be so bad.

It can be hard to wrap your head around just how long you'll be in the air, so here are some numbers to put it into perspective. According to, a flight from California to Australia is almost 17 hours, and a trip from New York to Thailand is almost 18 hours. That's longer than you're likely to be awake in any given day. And in that time frame, you could drive from New York City to the middle of America.

In short — 18 hours is a long time.

Being cooped up in the air for that long can have a serious effect on our body, from cramps to dehydration to feeling utterly exhausted. And it can really take a toll on you mentally as well (who hasn't freaked out a bit when you realize the flight isn't even half over yet?).

Maybe flying is totally your thing, but if it isn't, don't let getting to your destination ruin your journey. Here are some tips for surviving a long flight without going totally crazy.

1. Show Up Well Rested

We've all had that horrible moment when you realize, for whatever reason, that you're not going to get any sleep on the plane. It could be too loud, too cold, or just plain uncomfortable. When that happens, all that's left to do is to stare, red-eyed, out the window for the next ten hours. And that's why you shouldn't rely on your flight time to catch up on sleep. As Ed Hewitt notes on, "As attractive and intuitive as it seems to get on a long-haul flight extremely tired, hoping to sleep the whole way, you are in for a world of hurt if you can't sleep for any reason." So nap if you can, but don't expect to catch up on a full night's rest.

2. Pack An Entertainment Survival Kit

Unless you want to read SkyMall all the way to Australia, you're probably going to want to bring your own entertainment. And the more you bring, the better. According to Parker Janney on, you'll want to find more to keep you entertained than the $6 cocktails (although those don't hurt). As Janney notes, "Bring several books and magazines to keep you entertained for the duration of your flight. Variety is key. Perhaps you won't feel like reading that mystery novel once you're ready for take-off. Bring some backups to ensure there will be something that holds your attention." Also load up on podcasts, movies, and busy work (knitting? coloring?) to help the hours pass by unnoticed.

3. Moisturize Your Bod

The air on a plane is anything but fresh, and that's why a long flight can leave your skin feeling crispy and dry. So make sure you moisturize your entire body before getting dressed, suggests Taryn Adler on And use an unscented lotion, since a strong perfumed kind may lead to air sickness.

4. Try To Upgrade Your Seats

Of course this is easier said than done, especially if you're traveling on a budget. But if you have some frequent flier miles, cash those puppies in for an upgraded seat. As Hewitt notes, " ... I enlisted the help of my travel agent to find flights on which I could burn up all of my Continental miles to upgrade my entire trip. It meant catching puddle jumpers to my final destination in Japan ... but a couple of short extra flights were a small price to pay for 27 hours of first-class legroom, fully reclining chairs, edible meals, entertainment, and breathing space." If you're going to be crossing oceans and spending a full day of your life at 36,000 feet, best to upgrade if possible.

5. Get To Know Your Seat Mate

You two are about to spend a lot of time up in each other's business, so you might as well make nice. Listening to their entire life story for an hour may be worth the rewards, such as feeling less awkward later on when you tell them to move their elbow rest. After all, you're friends now, right?

6. Dress Up For The Occasion

You know when you have the flu, but you get out of bed anyway and put on real clothes? It kind of makes you feel better in a way, doesn't it? The same goes for long flights. By all means, dress as comfy as you want. But I suggest throwing a little style into the mix lest you feel like something that crawled out from under a rock instead of a traveler enjoying the wonders of flight. As Hannah Bae on notes, "I am opposed to dressing like a schlub while traveling. I usually go with a sweater dress or jersey dress that feels just as comfy as a giant T-shirt, only way more put-together. I'll pair that with leggings, slip-off shoes and socks ... Leave constricting clothes (rigid blazers, skinny jeans, anything with a tight waistband) in your suitcase." This also helps if you plan on starting having fun immediately after debarking in your location.

7. Take Care Of Your Health

Planes are totally germ-ridden, so go ahead and be the obsessive with the antibacterial gel (you won't be the only one.) Also make sure you eat well, and drink a lot of water. According to Hewitt, "If you think hydration is a concern on a cross-country flight, try tripling or quadrupling your time in the air; you might as well spend 15 hours lying on the desert floor." So stock up.

8. Get Up And Move Around

If you're on a short flight, it's fine to tuck yourself up with a blanket and stay put for the duration. But if you're going to be in the air all day, make sure you get up and stretch. As Bae notes, "Sitting in a cramped seat for hours is literally a pain. That's what makes stretching an all-important step. When you have to be seated, remember to occasionally twist your torso and look behind each shoulder. Just rolling your head back and forth a few times will help alleviate a stiff neck. And when the seatbelt sign is off, take walks to the bathroom area to stretch your legs and hips."

Long plane flights are boring at best, and downright awful at worst. Since the trip will probably last you a whole day, be sure to plan ahead so you're not too bored, uncomfortable, or tired, and you'll be set to jet.

Images: Carli Teteris/Stocksy; Giphy (8)