Guys. I just flew 40 ish hours in 4 days (including layovers because those are the worst). One flight was 11 hours.
11 hours!

However, seasoned pro that I am, I did not feel like complete death when I got off my flights. I was able to adjust fairly well to the times on either end-crucial as it was a short stay. I attribute it to the system that I have established when making these long haul flights.

Than I figured, hey, this is a travel blog, I should forward these thought on to you!

When you travel great distances, the chances are that you have made both financial and personal investments. Therefore, when you hop off that plane, you need to be prepared to make the absolute most of your time!

So here you have it: The Newlyfleds guide to surviving your next long haul flight!

1.) Assimilate quickly

Get oriented with the time zone you land in as soon as you deplane.
If it is mid afternoon, do not go back to your hotel and take a nap. Jump in the shower to get that airplane smell off of you and get outside. Mentally set yourself into that time zone. When you are exhausted at 6PM, push through until your normal bedtime-even a bit later if you can. This will make the next day easier.
You will, most likely, wake up early despite your exhaustion, because your brain is still in another time zone. Do your best to stay in bed, until a reasonable early hour. And then take advantage of it! Get up and start exploring! (Be advised that most of Europe does not wake up as early as the States. Stores-including coffee shops, may not open until 9. But who doesn’t love seeing a city wake up?)

2.) Do as they say

While it is best to try and fit in with locals, in this case I am talking about the flight attendants.
Eat when they give you a meal, even if you are not particularly hungry. They basically feed you to death on these flights, but it helps get your body onto the right time zone. If you are landing mid morning, they will feed you breakfasts
right before, even if you had lunch right after take off.
Sleep when they tell you to sleep. They set the mood in the cabin depending on what you are supposed to do: dim lights and shut curtains? Go to sleep. Lights on? Stay awake. Generally, on flights from Europe to the States, stay awake. From the States to Europe, sleep.
I know they have all sorts of awesome movies these days, so what I usually do is pick one, watch it during the meal service, and then knock out as long as I can. A lot of people take a melatonin or a sleeping pill, but usually the one glass of wine is enough for me.

3.) Hydration Station

Which brings me to point #3.
I know, I know. Getting free booze is the most exciting thing ever. As Americans, we think we have won some sort of in-flight lottery. Europeans think we are weird because it is all the same as ordering a Coke or coffee.
But really, you should be drinking water the entire time.
Buy a bottle in the airport before take off and bring it on board. Ask the attendant for water. A lot of flights are now supplying water bottles in your seat. Drink all of it.
You may have to use those terrifying airplane bathrooms a few more times, but you will feel 100 times better when you land.

4.) Mini Pharmacy 

I always pack a mini pharmacy in my bag, just in case. Basics that I suggest include:
Eye drops- because the air in those planes ain’t the best.
Sudafed/ Nasal Spray- because I am prone to sinus infections and you haven’t felt pain until you cannot clear the pressure in your ears during a decent.
Vitamin C/Airbone- because breathing everyone else’s air for 11 hours is gross.
Ibuprofen- because 7 hours in the sky with a headache is terrible.
Tums/Zantac/Acid Reducer- because sometimes those airplane meals don’t sit the best
Hand lotion- because you are going to smell and feel gross when you land, so at least your hands will be pampered.
Toothbrush and toothpaste- so you feel like a human again before you land.

5.) Accessorize Appropriately

Aside from packing your bag well (Including the pharmacy, entertainment, headphones, etc) make sure you accessorize well.
I like to travel with a large blanket scarf either for use as an extra blanket or pillow. I usually put my neck pillow on, wrap a scarf around it and put in my headphones.
Wear shoes that are easy to take off, (and maybe some extra socks, in case your feet aren’t all that sweet) You will really hate those adorable knee-high boots around hour 5 when your feet have swelled up.
Maybe opt out of earrings and accessories, not just for getting through security, but also because things tend to get lost on these flights. And sleeping in awkward positions is worse when you have earrings poking you.
I try not to wear my hair up, as it always hits the neck rest wrong.
Jimmy and I have these memory-foam neck pillows that squish down into bags (courtesy of his parents for Christmas!) I keep an eyemask and earplugs in there as well for when I am really serious about sleeping. I used to mock the neck pillow, but these days, I am all for it-they really do help.

What are your tips or tricks for long flights! It seems like everyone has their own system! Please, share below!


1 Comment on Traveling: Surviving the Long Haul Flight

  1. megneve
    October 29, 2015 at 2:32 pm (4 years ago)

    Remind me of this post when I’m packing for Paris! I do a few things when flying too-
    – maxi skirt, to continue the blanket effect begun by the scarf
    – wear sandals or flats, but pack big thick socks, so you can kick off your shoes and keep your feet warm.
    – compression stockings for really long flights. A blood clot at 20,000 feet is a serious buzz kill
    – Tea bags: chammomille and green jasmine. It makes me sleepy or feel less disgusting.

    And please everyone pack Sudafed and nasal spray. Amy speaks the truth about your ears not opening during descent. It’s hell. 14 years later and my ears are still extremely sensitive to elevation change and I barely have a sense of smell again after this exact thing happened to me. Don’t let this be you!


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