I have a secret; I hate flying and often look for some tips for long flights. I wouldn’t ever say that I love long-haul flights, but they are a necessary part of my job, so I have developed some long flight tips to know before flying. Despite having traveled to over 80 countries, running a travel blog for a living, and taking countless flights flying gives me anxiety.
The anxiety ranges from thinking I will miss my flight and failed security screenings to mini heart attacks every time there is a small bump in the air – in short, my brain runs wild during the process.
Since I travel full-time for a living, I have to overcome these feelings and board the next plane. I take several strategies to ensure a smooth travel experience when I fly long distances. Whether it be your first flight or your 50th, I hope these long haul flight tips will help you the next time you fly.
Long Flight Tips To Know
1. Wear a Sweatshirt
If you’re wondering what to take on a long-haul flight, a sweatshirt, fleece, or jacket should be of most importance. Don’t forget a coat or sweater when getting on any flight. I’ve noticed the temperatures in planes range from insanely hot to insanely cold.
There’s only so much you can do if it’s hot, but a sweater will help you with any chills. Airplanes often don’t have extra blankets if you’re on a full flight. So if you arrive without something to keep warm and the plane is freezing, you’ll be snuggling up with your seatmate and one blanket.
2. Pack What You Need to Be Comfortable
This is one of my top long haul flight tips. When getting on any long-haul flight, I make sure I have everything in my carry-on to be comfortable for the entire trip.
My long-haul flight essentials are typically a charged phone, sweatshirt, lotion, a toothbrush with a small tube of toothpaste, my glasses, chapstick, my computer to work, and noise-canceling headphones.
Say what you want about yoga pants, but they are my go-to on long-haul flights. If I’m getting on a 10-hour flight, my main priority is my comfort, not looking fashionable. I’m not saying you should go looking like a dirty vagabond, but it’s unnecessary to fly in heels and a dress if you don’t want to.
My perfect long-haul flight outfit is black yoga pants, a cute shirt or oversized sweater, and my Allbirds. Avoid belts and excessive jewelry as they will hold you up at security. Cameron suggests a sweater, t-shirt, Vaha pants from prAna, and Vans sneakers for men.
Other long haul flight essentials to stay comfortable:
- Travel-sized deodorant
- Face cleansing wipes
- Lip Balm
- Eye Mask
- Hand Sanitizer
3. Order Vegetarian
One of my top long-haul flight tips is to request a vegetarian meal. If you’ve ever been on a flight offering food, you may have noticed some people get their food before everyone else. That’s because when booking they selected a special meal. This could be vegan, kosher, vegetarian, or other options.
We always order vegetarian when we are booking because we eat mainly vegetarian and because that means we get our meals before everyone else! I’ve also noticed that the special meals are often fresher and more specialized than the typical meal. The first step to having an enjoyable long-haul flight is to be complete and happy.
4. Invest in TSA Precheck
We love our TSA precheck and I can’t believe we waited so long to get it. If you travel more than a few times a year in the United States, TSA precheck is impressive and a great time saver. It makes the whole check-in and security process at the airport much less stressful.
We don’t have to take off our shoes or pull out our laptops, but the real advantage is the time you save in line. It’s so lovely (especially when we are running late) to hop in the precheck line and breeze past the main security.
If you are a Chase Sapphire Reserve or Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card cardholder, your card will reimburse you $85 for your TSA precheck application or $100 for Global Entry. One of the many benefits of having a travel credit card!
5. Bring Your Own Headphones
Most long-haul flights have in-flight entertainment and will provide you with their headphones free of charge. However, these headphones are typically the cheapest and most uncomfortable earbuds ever, so one of my top tips for long flights is always to have your own headphones.
I always have a pair of excellent headphones in my carry-on backpack that is adequate to have in/on my ears for hours on end.
6. Bring Backup Entertainment
We’ve been on a few long-haul flights that don’t have any entertainment. Let me tell you; those can be brutal if you don’t have a backup source of joy or a way to pass the time. So one of my top long flight tips is to bring something for entertainment.
Want to know how to spend time on a long-haul flight? Whether it be a book, kindle, iPad, phone, or laptop, make sure you have something on you, or it could be a very long flight. Have your book or download your movies beforehand.
7. Don’t Forget a Water Bottle
My water bottle is always on me so I save plastic and money when traveling. Bring a water bottle on board the plane with you so that your flight attendant can fill it once and not waste a plastic cup or keep coming back to refill. Check out a few of our favorites here.
8. Be Kind to Your Eyes
One of my top long flight tips! I would highly recommend prefilling a contact lens case with contact solution before any long-haul flight for my fellow contact and glasses users. We all know that feeling when you fall asleep with your contacts in and wake up with them glued to your eyeballs.
9. Board the plane last
I learned this long-haul flight tip from a fellow passenger I was chatting with on a flight to Costa Rica. He told me he always tries to be the last person to board the plane.
If he doesn’t like his seat, he can sit somewhere else (assuming it’s not a full flight) and pretend it was his original seat. If you do this and have a special meal, tell the flight attendants to avoid confusion at mealtime.
10. Pick Your seats Before your Flight
When you book your flight, select the seat you want. Whether aisle or window, it’s essential to choose one randomly instead of being assigned one.
Some handy long haul flight tips I’ve gathered over the years:
- Don’t pick a seat in front of an exit row. The chairs often don’t recline.
- Don’t pick seats right next to the lavatory or it could be a smelly ride with people always lined up near you.
- When we travel as a pair we try to choose the window and aisle of a row, leaving the middle open. At best no one will choose that middle seat and you will have the row to yourself. At worst the seat will get filled and 99.9% of the time the middle seat will switch with you to avoid the middle.
- Enter your airplane model into SeatGuru to see which seats and considered the best and worst.
- Recheck your seat map the night before your flight to see the occupancy levels and if you can switch to better seats.
- Seats towards the front of the plane will experience less turbulence.
- When checking in ask the gate agent how full the flight is and if you can change your seats.
11. Check In Beforehand
When the 24 hours before your flight time hits, you will likely get an email prompting you to check in. This is great if you are flying carry-on only, but if you have bags to check, you will still have to get to the airport and either check-in with a ticket agent or print your bag tags out and self-drop them off.
So allow extra time for that, and if you already checked in online beforehand, be prepared to do it again anyways.
12. Don’t Go Overweight on Baggage
This is one of those long-haul flight tips that seem simple, but I see it almost every time we go to the airport. Passengers go over their weight allowance for their checked bags and then scramble to open their luggage and readjust their items while others are trying to check-in.
I have done it a few times, and it always creates unnecessary stress at the airport and makes everyone else in line wait on you. Before you pack your bags, pay particular attention to your weight allowance.
Once you are packed up, weigh your bags on a scale to ensure you are within your airline’s allowance. Most airlines allow 23 kg or 50 lbs for checked baggage; however, low-cost carriers typically only allow 20 kg for checked baggage.
13. Pay for Baggage When Booking
Pay attention when booking and see if checked bags are not included in the price of your airline ticket or not. Most US domestic flights do not include checked baggage, and low-cost carriers never do. However, most long-haul international flights have one to two checked bags included in the price of the ticket.
Always check the specifics on checked bags when booking your flights. You will want to pay for your baggage during the online booking process, or you could pay extra at the airline counter.
14. Bring a Travel Pillow
A good travel pillow can make a long-haul flight more endurable. I prefer ones that wrap around my entire neck and provide good support for when my neck ultimately slumps to one side.
If you are flying international on an overnight flight, the airline will typically provide you with a blanket and a small pillow, but don’t expect quality here. If you are flying a low-cost carrier – like WOW Air, Spirit, Norwegian Airlines, or Jetstar don’t expect comfort items to be readily available for free.
15. Enjoy a Glass of Tea or Water
It’s essential to stay hydrated when flying long haul. Don’t drink too much alcohol and instead stick to water or tea. Typically the airlines only have one type of generic tea, so I usually make sure I have a few extra handy nice flavored tea bags and ask the flight attendants for hot water.
Chamomile tea is excellent when flying to soothe your nerves and muscles. If you fear flying, you can try taking melatonin to help zonk you out if you have anxiety – but don’t get too zonked out.
16. Set Your Clock to Your new Time Zone
One of my top tips for long flights is to set your clock before you land! Chances are you will switch time zones on your long-haul flight.
When I board the plane, I like to set my clock to the time in my new country. I then set up my internal clock to my new time zone. It helps with jet lag!
17. Pack Some Snacks
Even if your long-haul flight has food onboard, it may still be worth it to pack a few snack items. Things like Clif Bars, dried mangos, nuts, and apples hold up well on a plane and can curb your appetite. I often find airplane food to be pretty crappy, and I love being able to control what I eat with pre bought snacks.
18. Carry On All Electronics
When we travel, we have two bags – our checked luggage and a backpack. The personal bag holds our computers, camera, lenses, kindle, and cords.
We never check electronics for three reasons. One – they are fragile and could easily break. Two – because you never know who is going through your bag! Three – because we want our electronics to work and entertain ourselves when on the flight.
Lithium-ion batteries in electronics are prone to fire in rapid temperature shifts. For the plane’s safety, it’s best to keep large batteries on your person in the pressurized cabin.
19. Get a TSA Friendly Suitcase
The Transportation Security Administration is pretty notorious for having bad service and practices. Things like broken locks or missing/damaged items are common occurrences for passengers. Then there are countless videos showing airline employees rummaging through suitcases in search of valuables.
While you can’t completely prevent something from happening to your belongings, you can minimize the risk and get a TSA Friendly suitcase.
These locks mean you can secure your belongings and know that no one can enter your bag besides the TSA. I travel with the eBags Hardside spinner and love it! It features a Flush-mounted TSA-recognized 3-dial combination lock for safe packing, and I haven’t had any issues yet. You can see our favorite hard-side luggage pieces here.
Side note: Many travel credit cards and travel insurance will reimburse you for any lost or damaged luggage.
20. Remember Your Phone Charger
Many of the long-haul flights I’ve been on recently have USB ports to charge your phone, so remember to bring your charging cable to be fully charged when you land at your destination.
These days it’s a valuable tool as it holds all of our reservations, maps, currency calculators, and ride service applications.
21. Pack a Pen
You will want to have this simple item in your carry-on bag, but it’s often forgotten. If you are flying internationally, filling out the customs form on board the plane will save much time at immigration.
However, it always seems like no one ever has a pen, and I wouldn’t count on asking the flight attendants. Travel with one in your bag to stay ahead of the game.
22. Bring a Yoga Mat
I travel with my travel yoga mat to practice yoga in countries worldwide. Sitting on a plane for hours is uncomfortable and unnatural for the body, and it’s essential to take time and care for your limbs when you can. I love to stretch before and after the flight I reach my destination.
23. Consider Priority Pass
A Priority Pass membership may be worth it if you are a frequent traveler. We have been Priority Pass members for years and will never go back. It has made traveling around the world so much more enjoyable. Priority Pass is a membership that grants members access to many airport lounges worldwide. It is convenient if you have long layovers or arrive at the airport early.
We have been granted many of the lounges access our top-notch with great food and drinks, free WiFi, and comfortable places to sit. (However, a few have been shoddy, cramped, dirty, and not much better than the terminal.)
We received a complimentary Priority Pass membership as Chase Ultimate Reserve cardholders. The card has a high $550 annual but tons of perks that have paid itself tenfold.
Just think about all the money you spend on food and drinks at the airport. With membership in airline lounges, you can knock those costs out as they often have free food, drinks, and coffee – some even have full bars. This has been a game-changer for us regarding long-haul flight tips as we find hanging out in the lounges is far more relaxing and comfortable than spending hours in the terminal.
24. Plan for Your Landing
If you are changing climates, pack what you need to be comfortable in your new home. You don’t want to arrive at a snowy destination in flip-flops or be wearing a parka in a dream beach destination.
25. Invest in Airtags
I’ll finish this list of tips for long flights with a very important one. Post pandemic travel has been busy and chaotic. It seems there are more travelers than ever and not enough employees. Often the airports don’t know how to handle the influx of people leading to delays and plenty of lost luggage. In 2022 we invested in Apple Airtags, and they have more than paid off as airlines have lost our luggage a handful of times.
Thankfully with the Airtags in our luggage we are able to see exactly where are luggage is. If it made it on the flight, or if it didn’t…
They are a cheap investment if you travel a lot, considering the peace of mind they can give you always knowing where your bags are. Don’t have an iPhone? Check out Tile.
Above all, sit back and try to enjoy your long-haul flight with these tips for long flights and get excited about an epic trip! Want to see what all to take on long haul flight? Check out our flight essentials list here.
Plan For Your Trip
- Protect Your Trip: We don’t travel without travel insurance, nor should you. You never know what can happen while traveling, so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Find Cheap Flights: Sign up for Going (formerly Scotts Cheap Flights) to get notified when prices get low.
- Book a Rental Car: We use Discover Car to book all our rental cars! You can also read our top tips for renting a car abroad here.
- Travel Adapter: Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land. Purchase one here.
- Travel Backpack: We like the Nomatic Travel Backpack for our travels. Check the price here.
- Our Favorite Travel Shoes: Our answer to this question is always ALLBIRDS! Check them out on their site!
- Get a Travel Credit Card: We travel worldwide for free because we have leveraged our spending into points. See why you should get a travel credit card and how you can do the same with our favorite travel credit cards.