How to survive a long-haul flight

Photo by Social Cut

How many times have you booked the cheapest ticket your found, and then instantly regretted it when boarding the flight wishing you could fly business? – cuz same – 

I also always fly alone, either visiting friends, my husbandwhen we were doing long distance -, going back home to France or traveling alone. And flying by yourself can be even more exhausting than being with someone else. You can’t rest at airports during layovers because you gotta watch your luggage, you can’t sleep on your partner’s shoulder, truly, it’s bad.

After 6 years of flying alone, I’m fairly confident I mastered the Starter Pack to survive a long-haul flight in economy. The best part? It works if you travel solo, with someone, or even with a group!

  1. Be ready to get comfortable
Photo by Aleksei Zaitcev

But really. Ditch the mentality “I gotta look somehow put together because that’s what social media makes me think I should do, and because I could be upgraded to business class with a pretty outfit”. Sorry to break it to you, but the chances of that happening are really slim. 

Instead, come prepared. Here’s the list of what I always have with me on a long-haul flight :

Warm and cozy socks: it can get crazy cold on a flight and having cold feet – literally – will make you in the worst mood and will prevent you from sleeping.

Comfy outfit: my go-to is sneakers, jogging pants or leggings, a sweater with a shirt under – sometimes it gets hots, sometimes it gets cold -.

Comfy shoes: you can even bring slippers, to be honest!

Be mindful of how you wear your hair: I personally lose my hair quite a lot and since it’s curly and voluminous, the elevation makes it even bigger and I absolutely hate flying wearing it down. I either straighten it before a flight or wear a braid – or two -. That way, my hair doesn’t bother me at all!

An extra outfit: if your packing allows it, bring an extra outfit and change it mid-flight. You’ll feel so much refreshed. 

BONUS: take your shoes off and put your coat away – or pro tip: use it as an extra blanket -.

2. Don’t forget the sleeping essentials

Sleeping during a long-haul flight will help you beat jetlag upon arrival, and will pass the time much faster. But sometimes, all the conditions are united against you: a crying baby – be nice to the parents, they probably are even more annoyed and stressed as you are -, a turbulent flight, a loud person on the seat next to you, too much light, and so on.

That’s why I always bring my sleep essentials. Trust me, if you follow this list, you will sleep for hours! 

Sleeping pillow: get a memory foam one and wear it sideways! The goal isn’t to have the same feeling as having a pillow, but to support your neck so that you won’t wake up because your head suddenly drops – the worst feeling ever, right? – and your neck won’t hurt when you wake up either.

Sleeping mask: this one is literally a must! I don’t care how dumb you think you’ll look while sleeping with one. It was literally invented for flights. No light and it keeps your eyes closed. I personally make super cute and comfy ones: check out my sewing Instagram and DM me!

Earplugs: nothing will ever fully cover the noises that come with being on a flight – the machines, the people – but earplugs will seriously make it smoother.

Warm socks: as explained above. No need to repeat myself, it’ll only bore you and honestly, me as well.

Audiobook or sleeping playlist: This could help you fall asleep faster and relax your mind.

Melatonin: Usually, I take a melatonin pill right after the first meal.

3. Bring snacks, but not too much

Photo by Erik Mclean

I’m speaking from experience! WAY too many times, I was somehow afraid of starving (???) on a flight and brought too many snacks. I never ate a quarter of them and they took too much space in my bag for no reason. They are simply not needed. Any long-haul flight will serve at least one full meal. Bringing too many snacks will only make you carry more things. But if you’re truly hungry, get up and ask a crew member, they’ll give you free snacks. 

So: pack some snacks, but not too much. 

Your own water bottle: stay hydrated while flying because your body loses so much water.

A fruit: I like to bring a couple of apple sauces because it’s easy to carry around and you don’t risk them being thrown away at TSA.

M&Ms or PB sandwich or granola bar: something with protein and healthy fats to keep you full and energized.

That’s it. You don’t need more. I know we are usually tempted to treat ourselves when traveling because it should be a time of celebration. But I found that drinking alcohol and eating junk food in-flight makes me sick. 

PRO TIP: I highly recommend bringing bloating relief pills with you on a plane. My favorites are from Hilma: 100% natural and very efficient! – again, not sponsored -.

4. Order a special meal online.

Photo by Kevin Wolf

Speaking of eating, you need to start ordering a special meal online prior to your flight. Most airlines don’t charge anything for requesting one. I usually choose vegetarian, Indian or gluten-free. Airplane food usually makes me sick, and I found that being a little more mindful about it goes a long way. 

Pros of requesting a special meal online:

• Your food is usually fresher.
• You usually have more fruits.
• Your stomach will thank you for it.
• You get served before anyone else.

If you have any dietary restrictions, allergies, intolerances, or are simply following a specific diet, you will probably find what you’re looking for. 

5. Pack a refreshing kit 

I personally always have my self-care essentials in my backpack when I travel. About an hour before landing, or whenever I feel gross during a flight, I lock myself in the bathroom and freshen up. I started doing that when I was traveling twice a year from Europe to Hawaii to visit my fiancé and wanted to look somehow good when I saw him – ahah -. It might seem like a lot but I just bring a little kit with travel sizes of my favorite products.

I linked some of my favorite items below – this post is not sponsored by any brand -. Feel free to use your personal favorites. 

Wet wipes.
• Hand sanitizer.
• Pads or period protection.
• Travel toothbrush & toothpaste.
Hand cream.
Lip balm.
• 2 reusable cotton pads.
Travel size cleanser.
Moisturizer.
Deodorant.

NOTE: Do not wear contact lenses on a flight if you want to avoid dry eyes and irritation. 

That’s it. That’s my Ultimate Starter Pack for a long-haul flight, all you need to know and bring in order to survive a long journey.

Once again, thank you SO much for reading me and letting me share my writer’s voice. Let’s connect on Instagram and be friends! 

Published by Romane Drake

French 24 year-old living abroad in Las Vegas, Nevada. I teach others to take the leap of faith and live their most extraordinary life. My mission is to guide you and inspire you to travel, get out there and explore.

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