Does the fear of being on a long flight hold you back from booking the trip of your dreams? They shouldn’t. I actually prefer longer flights to cross-country since you actually have time to rest and reset your internal clock to a new time zone. But if you’re not traveling first class, there are still a few discomforts to work around. Here are my tips to make a long flight more enjoyable.
Tips For A Long Flight
1 – Pack An “Essential Comforts” kit.
I have a kit that I bring with me everywhere I go, whether it’s flying to a new destination or just in my purse for everyday needs. Pictured above is my actual plane kit with essentials I take with me everywhere. Get a vinyl easy-to-wipe-clean toiletries bag and fill it up with the following:
- hand lotion
- lip gloss and lip balm
- mini perfume sample
- facial hydration spray (this feels awesome in a dry air cabin)
- ear plugs and eye mask
- Aveda Blue Oil Roll-on (Good for headaches. You can also just bring peppermint oil)
- a nail file
- tooth brush and tooth paste
- hand sanitizer
- Giovanni cleansing wipes
- eye drops
- face moisturizer
- your favorite tea
- ibuprofen and allergy meds (if you travel internationally, pack these in their original labeled container)
It’s everything I need to sleep, stay healthy, and get refreshed upon arrival at my new destination. If it’s a really long flight, I will sometimes throw in a few make-up items too such as mascara and face powder (I have a small homemade travel make-up kit too). I also throw in my earbuds into this pack for watching movies or listening to music.
TIP: Next time you shop at a department store, don’t ask if they have any “travel sized” items available (because they’ll sell them to you). Instead, just ask for a few free samples of your favorite perfume, cologne, lotion, or face creams. These little things are perfect for travel and will make you feel pampered, even in tight spaces such as planes.
Read This: 8 Healthy Snacks You Can Bring On A Plane
2 – Wear the right clothes and bring a pillow.
Lets Talk Travel Pillows: In addition to the eye mask and earplugs above, bringing along a pillow and warm fuzzy socks will get you into your comfort zone for snoozing. I know, neck pillows seem like a bulky extra to pack along. But being well rested when you arrive makes it worth the hassle. Plus, they’re making them smarter now. The newest versions are made of a squishy memory foam so that you can conveniently stuff it into a small travel bag that will make it more compact and keep it clean. Or you can bring an inflatable pillow if you really want to save packing space. I picked one up at the airport on my way to Hong Kong, but you can probably find them cheaper online if you search ahead of time.
TIP: Soft cozy socks keep your feet warm when the cabin gets chilly. But please, put on shoes to go to the loo. Wet bathroom floors and bare socks are gross.
Compression Socks: In addition to fuzzy slipper-like socks, I’ve also gotten into the habit of wearing compression socks or tights for long flights. As a runner, I’ve got several pairs of compression socks in fun colors as well as a variety of compression leggings. Since leggings are in style right now, it’s easy to pair these up with a loose fitting shirt or sweater. You’ll feel like you’re going to yoga, have the stretchy comfort of being able to cross your legs in your seat, and look fashionable to boot. Compression socks or leggings are also really important as an aid to prevent deep vain thrombosis or blood clots from sitting too long.
How To Make It Extra Cozy: If you’re flying in economy or coach, I’d get a little packable “foot swing” too. You can slip these easily over your seat tray and adjust the hight to where you need it. It’s a perfect packable footrest and definitely helps make a coach seat more comfortable.
Read This: TSA Friendly Travel Make-up
3- Pick an aisle seat or emergency row for more wiggle room.
My first really long flight was 16 hours from New York to South Africa (JFK-JNB-CPT), and I learned some valuable tips from David with the Visit South Africa tourism board. Since he flies this route frequently, his first tip was to stay awake as long as you can, then sleep the last 6 to 7 hours of the flight. That way you arrive rested and with your internal clock set on local time. Plus, staying awake until the wee hours of the morning leaves you tired enough to fall into a deep sleep on a plane.
My second big tip from David was about choosing seats. I had noticed that all the journalists on the trip were in an aisle seat in the middle of the plane. Thankfully, no one booked the center seats (who would?) so we all had some extra room to spread out and get comfy. It also helps to be able to get up to stretch or walk without having to squeeze your way over the lap of another sleeping passenger. And if you follow my final extra tip, you’ll be getting up a lot.
TIP: Drink more water than you think your bladder can handle. Keeping yourself well hydrated will help with the dryness of recycled cabin air as well as combat jet lag and fatigue.
Read This: Ultimate Packing Guide & Tips
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My must-pack essentials includes Say Yes to Carrots lotion, pepto (I get anxiety tummy), Burt’s Bees lip balm, my fuzzy Steelers socks, a scarf, and enough hand sanitizer to swim in. But the most important thing lately is nasal saline spray. I’ve found I’m less prone to catch a cold with that than Emergen-C. Now if I can figure out how to sleep on a 5-6 hour flight to Dublin that leaves too early to really get any real sleep…
Oooh! Pepto is a good one. I usually keep some ginger chews in my bag too, but I didn’t realize I was out until you mentioned the Pepto! LOL! I’ll have to add some back to my kit.
Thanks for this post! 🙂
Now, however, that I fly with a toddler – most of the time I wish I had time to get bored or uncomfortable during my flight, but here are some tips from me :))
My must pack also includes a light-weight sleeping bag which keeps me warm and gives me a little bit of home way better than blankets they give you.
For a week or two before the flight I tend to pass on the movies, books and magazines I’m dying to watch and read and take them on the flight. That way I can truly enjoy at least the first several hours.
Also I always bring a pen and a little notebook and do whatever – write down weird stats about people on the plane, draw, make lists of all the movies I liked, people I’ve known etc. 🙂 Sounds boring but really that’s something that kept me entertained.
Beth Hobart says
GREAT advice for traveling. Thank you for all the useful info!
You’re welcome! Sooooo … what are your “must haves” when YOU travel? Common … divulge the contents of your purse. 😉
Hemarie @ I Sweat Pretty says
I love this. I’m bookmarking this for my next long trip!
It’s been a while since I flew anywhere that took longer than 3 hours, so my list is a bit simpler: jacket or scarf (I almost always get cold on the plane), my little makeup bag with lipstick, liner and a sample perfume (for some quick beautification at my destination), my iPod shuffle (in case I need to drown crying/snoring/screaming out),magazines and a book, a bottle of water and a snack for the flight.
Oooh! iPod! I bring mine too. I usually load it up with music themed to the destination. 🙂
You were chosen via Random.org for the free pair of compression tights! See the instructions above. Congrats!
Aw! I am really going to get good wear out of these!!
I have to check their site with sizing info and will follow up with an email soon! Thanks so much!
I tried doing the whole stay up as long as you can so that you can sleep on the plane. Our pick up time was 4:30 am and I thought I could stay up all night and still get up in the morning and get the family up. That was almost a fail! Good thing our cab driver waited for us. We rushed around and were off to a great family vacation. I did have my travel pouch ready to go with most of your items. But my MUST is my light weight cashmere sweater. It is neutral enough to wear with what I pack on vacation. Even if we go to a warm destination, the AC is always on too high for me.
Agreed on the sweater! I live in Florida, and I can tell you that even in the middle of summer you’ll need a sweater here since most of the buildings have the air cranked down to 65 degrees. Layering up always helps with changes in temp throughout the day. And cashmere … ooooh that’s a soft and cozy luxury. 🙂
Thanks for sharing!
My “must have” is quite simple: I bought about 1.5×2.5 yards of cotton fabric (kente as it’s called here) in Ghana a little while ago. And it’s awesome: it’s a blanket to lie on or sleep under, a shawl, a towel, a skirt, a dress,… You dampen it in hot tropic nights or wrap it around you in colder ones. Simple, but very useful…
My must pack essentials are a spritz made up of 10 drops of essential lavender oil and water, i mist my chest area and face, it works as a sanitiser and keeps the bugs away, never fails, and on long flights i re spritz every few hours, nice and refreshing and helps for relaxation. A wrap similar to Carola’s description, so handy and compact, tights, warm socks and a travel pillow as already mentioned. For packing my suit case i roll everything, keeps the wrinkles down and mades items easy to find, it is worth the little trouble, i got this tip 20 years ago from a well travelled friend and works every time.
I love the idea of the compression tights. Dressing fashionable but comfortable when I fly is a challenge.
I always pack a small pillow bc if the seat is uncomfortable I can put it behind my back for support. I also pack socks if my feet get cold & a thin beach towel to wrap around me. I sometimes can’t get the blankets they pass out on the flights.
Another ‘must pack’ is my airborne & some healthy snacks along with tissues, hand sanitizer & reading material and suduko!
Airborne is great! I either use that or Emergen-C for a big dose of vitamins while I’m on-the-go. Seems to keep me germ free! (knock on wood)
Mitch Russo says
Great tips overall. I have a few additions which have helped me on many long flights.
– Melatonin which helps me get restful naps in the cabin and doesn’t have the knock down effect of Ambien.
– Aspirin which I take every 4 hours to keep blood thin, avoiding the possibility of nasty clots.
– Bose (over the head) noise canceling headphones which I wear even when not listening, because they neutralize the low level engine noise.
– Acidophilus which I start taking a week before and keep taking 2x a day while away. I have watched as everyone around me got sick and I never did, I attribute my iron constitution to this miracle.
As a photographer I am constantly battling the urge to bring just one more lens. I carry a briefcase with my computer and my camera bag. The computer bag can carry everything else I take on the plane, the headphones, toiletries and 2 weeks of vitamins. The camera bag must fit in an overhead so it’s small but heavy. In my briefcase I carry a folding cart. I don’t always use it bue it’s great when I have a long walk to a connection in a foreign airport. It saves my back and allows me to move fast.
Anyway, thanks for a great post!
Mitch, these are all great additions! I’ve taken melatonin before and got out of the habit. I’ll have to bring some with me again on my next trip! 🙂
Thanks for the tips! I will use many of these for my next long plane ride to Italy (Honeymoon). Before a long flight I purchase a big bottle of water after going through airport security because I can never get enough water from the flight attendants while on the plane.
Also, if I remember, I bring a magazine for the “no electronic devices” time during the flight.
These are great tips! I will have to add a few of these gems in my bag for my flight from Budapest to Florida. Thanks!
That’s a long flight! I think the facial spray is my ultimate life saver for those long flights. It gives just a hint of humidity that makes it slightly easier to breathe cabin air for so long.
Jean | DelightfulRepast.com says
These are great tips – several items I hadn’t thought of! But I cringe every time I see a mention of perfume on such lists. So many of us have fragrance allergies or sensitivities, and in the close quarters of an airplane with no way to get away from it, people really should refrain from wearing fragrance (and that includes lotions and other products as well as perfume itself). It can cause life-threatening reactions in some people. Also, it makes people who are prone to motion sickness even moreso; so you might find yourself next to a vomiting traveler! Just food for thought.
Congrats on the People magazine article!
Wendy Allen Duvall says
Thank you for that comment. I am very sensitive to fragrances of all kinds and even scented hand sanitizer set me off. I wish every product was fragrance free.
Great tips! I always choose an isle seat because, as you say, there’s more wiggle room, but also because I don’t have to bother anyone when I get up to use the bathroom (small bladder!). Question: Where is your vinyl toiletries bag from? I LOVE it.
Hey! Sorry for the late reply. :/
The toiletries bag actually came from the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival. It’s made out of their recycled banners from previous years. I love it!
Great Article! Thanks for the helpful advice.
Thank you for al the great tips!! I’m planning another trip to Hong Kong and I’m very interested in trying the compression leggings, as my last flight there I had extreme shooting pains in my legs..:(
I was wondering what compression leggings do you have? the 15-20 mmHg or 20-30 mmHg?
Thanks for the advice and recommendations. What annoys me on every trip I have to carry a laptop, but it can not be avoided.
Rachelle Lucas says
Me too! I think I’m finally going to break down and get an Air this Christmas. I just need something light/compact.
I would live to try a pair rejvahealth tights. Thanks for the great advice!
Famous Ashley Grant says
I wish I had thought of compression socks before my first international flight last year. Wow! What a great tip!!! Love this post and all the great ideas for an emergency “me” kit. I’m bookmarking this for reference for my next international flight for sure! I love love love anything that helps me feel like me again quickly and easily 😀
Rachelle Lucas says
They’re a must for me. I was wearing compression socks with my Birkenstocks on my flight home yesterday from Paris and got dirty looks … but I don’t care. They’re the best! LOL!
ivy kriste says
Really great tips….thanks for sharing
Rachelle Lucas says
Holiday Travel says
Great tips! However, I life to to use specific camera bag instead of regular bag.
Dan - Muita Viagem says
I think the best way is to become really friend of a cabin crew… (I used to be one, and trust me, I know) =)
Anna Walters says
I have long legs and need compression socks (for long flights), 17″ from heel to right under my knees. I’ve tried to order compression socks online, but they did not stretch to just under my knees. Recommendations would be recommended.
Rachelle Lucas says
I’d check out http://www.rejuvahealth.com and take a look at their size chart. It looks like their L goes up to 17″ and they have quite a few styles to choose from. I can’t live without my compression socks on long flights. They make a world of difference.
Maureen DeGrio says
Heidi’s Mastectomy in Duluth, MN has lots of compression socks. They mail all over the world.
I like to carry a case that fits under my seat . Not only does it keep my electronics and other necessities handy but I can pull it out a bit and use it as a footrest. This bag also has a built in battery to keep my electronics charged if I find myself without an outlet.
Peaches and Screams Sexy Lingerie says
Thanks for sharing this. The right travel clothes will do wonders.
I had no idea they made compression socks for runners and in fun colors. I’ll definitely have to check them out the next time I fly. The typical compression socks make me feel like a grandma!
Rachelle Lucas says
Yes! Hop into your local running store for compression socks! Lots of fun colors. They also make calf sleeves too, but I like to have it cover my foot.
First I want to tell you that I loved your recommendations, but please DONT bring or recommend ANYTHING with PEANUT OR TREENUTS, such almond butter etc, by bringing this you could be putting someone’s life at risk, my son is allergic and that is my biggest concern in any trip.
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Jean | Delightful Repast says
Rachelle, great tips, as always. The one thing I hate seeing on packing lists, though, is perfume. A lot of people are sensitive, at the very least, to fragrances; and some are made very ill–even deathly ill–by it. So the confined space of an airplane is not the place to indulge in perfume or fragranced products. I would love to see travel bloggers address this topic. I’ve never tried compression socks, but can’t wait to try them on my next flight.
Good info. On long international flights I take one thing that gets me through it. Ambien. Thats why I don’t care about anything after that. No screaming kids, lousy food, noisy planes, idiots in front or back. bad service, lousy weather, etc. I fly international a lot and this is the best way of dealing with problems.
I love that toiletry bag! Where can I get one?
Rachelle Lucas says
The pink one? It was from the EPCOT Food and Wine festival. They made it out of recycled festival banners.
Great tips and comments but to those with mail files and clippers , please do this in the bathroom. There is nothing worse than nail clippings flying into your neighbours tea!
Rachelle Lucas says
Ooooh Ginny! I agree about clipping nails on a flight.That should definitely be done in the bathroom.