Vacation is the one thing everyone looks forward to, especially when you’re lucky enough to travel to faraway parts of the world you’ve never visited. But before the fun begins, foreign travellers have to contend with the long-haul flight ahead of them.
Travel experts define “long-haul flights” as any plane ride of six hours or longer. And if those aren’t exhausting enough, many intrepid travellers go on journeys with a 12-, 15-, or even 18-hour flight time with no breaks.
Spending that long stuck on an airplane is a chore, but it’s the one thing separating you from a new world of relaxation and excitement. So below, we’ll walk you through how to survive your long-haul flight and return flight and turn commercial airline travel into a breeze.
1. Spend Extra on Luxury if Possible
Unfortunately, the most effective way to make long-haul non-stop flights more enjoyable is also the most expensive. But if you have extra cash or travel miles to upgrade from economy seating to premium economy or first class, you’ll avoid the hours of cramped discomfort that haunts so many long-haul flyers.
First-class and premium economy seats are more plush and supportive. They also have more leg room than economy seats, limiting joint pain and discomfort. And on a long-haul flight, every luxury you get makes a world of difference.
If you don’t want to splurge on premium seating, you can bring mild luxury to economy by booking your tickets early. Buying your ticket before anyone else lets you choose exactly where you want to sit, so if you have a favourite row or preference between the aisle and window seat, you can secure it and avoid the dreaded middle seat.
2. Pack for Comfort
Even in premium economy seating, staying comfortable on a multi-hour plane ride is impossible without the right tools. And while many long-haul airlines provide pillows, eye masks, and other comfort items, bringing higher-quality ones from home that you’re familiar with can improve the long and exhausting journey.
In addition to sleep gear, you might want blankets, scarves, noise-cancelling headphones, and whatever other comfort equipment you have at home that brings serenity to your section of the commercial airplane. Even if you don’t plan to sleep on the plane, having the gear you need for a good night’s rest on hand will help you relax through your journey.
3. Don’t Forget Entertainment
The novelty of flying thousands of feet above your home wears off quickly during a long-haul flight, so packing items that hold your attention is vital to make it through the boredom of commercial air travel.
Packing headphones and downloading plenty of songs and podcasts to your mobile device is essential for airplane travel. Bringing laptops, notebooks, portable movie players, and video game devices on the plane makes the journey even easier.
While you should avoid overpacking, bringing at least two different forms of flight entertainment is the best way to fight boredom. For example, you’ll want your notebook and supplies onboard if you’re an avid artist, but if your pencil breaks or your inspiration isn’t hitting, you’ll need something like a movie or video game as a fallback.
4. Keep Your Carry-On Light
You’ll need at least some carry-on luggage to make it through your long-haul flight, primarily your comfort and entertainment items. But while having a full entertainment system or soft blanket to get through your flight sounds nice, bringing too many carry-ons limits your already cramped airplane space, leading to hours of unavoidable discomfort.
Try to pack everything you can live without for a few hours on your checked luggage and store your entertainment and comfort essentials in a small bag you can comfortably keep at your feet. Emphasizing items like facemasks, journals, headphones, and portable movie players or compact game systems will help you reach your space goal.
5. Dress for Comfort
In the past, people used to dress up in business casual for air travel, but avoiding that tradition and dressing down in your most comfortable attire will make your journey more manageable.
Wearing the loose-fitting t-shirts and sweatpants or shorts you put on to lounge around the house helps ease your mind during hours of commercial flight while keeping you physically comfortable. Additionally, loose clothes give you more mobility when stretching your limbs.
If you get cold easily, you’ll want to bring extra comfortable clothing layers in your carry-on. It’s impossible to control your airplane seat’s temperature completely, but having a loose sweater or additional shirt helps avoid chills.
6. Start a Small Project
Entertainment items are great for getting through long, boring flights, but they can get boring quickly if you feel like you’re wasting time rather than engaging in them with purpose. But you can use those items to start or work on meaningful projects with an end goal to work toward rather than just treading water until the plane lands.
Laptops are great tools for airplane productivity that let you respond to outstanding work emails, take care of personal projects like setting a monthly budget, or even plan a schedule for your vacation. But airplane projects don’t need to be boring, either.
Using your devices to finish an art project, catch up on a podcast series, or beat a difficult video game level are great ways to sink time into something meaningful.
7. Get Some Sleep
There’s no better way to kill time on an airplane than sneaking in a nap or a full night’s sleep. Of course, falling asleep while sitting upright in an uncomfortable airplane chair isn’t as easy as doing it at home, but it takes hours off the time you need to focus on remaining comfortable and entertained if you pull it off.
Falling asleep on a plane is easier when you follow some of the earlier steps. If you pay extra for a comfortable seat, bring your relaxation items from home, and dress comfortably, you’ll have everything you need to get a full eight hours of rest.
Sleeping on the plane also helps you avoid jet lag, especially on a long-haul flight of 12 hours or longer.
8. Bring Your Own Nutritious Food
Beginner travellers don’t always realize that even though you spend most of the long-haul flight sitting in place, extended airline trips are exhausting. Staying hydrated and eating on your regular schedule are vital to keeping your energy up.
Commercial airlines offer snacks and meals on long trips, but their options aren’t as nutritious as what you can buy at grocery stores, and relying on their food can drain you even more. Bringing your own food and drinking water regularly to stay hydrated and energized will keep your spirits up and prevent exhaustion from making your journey feel even longer.
9. Stay as Active as Possible
While you won’t have the space to complete a full exercise routine, staying active on your long-haul flight with light stretching and an occasional walk across the cabin will keep you comfortable, energetic, and healthy during the journey.
Any movement you can manage keeps your limbs from cramping, aching, and falling asleep while trapped in tight airplane quarters. Additionally, while a six-hour flight might not sound like much, sitting still for that long puts you at a higher risk of forming blood clots. But some mild stretching will keep your blood flowing, ensuring your health while giving you a slight energy boost.
10. Use Your Time Before the Flight Wisely
If you have any meditation, stretching, or yoga routines that put your mind at ease that you won’t have space for on the plane, try doing them at home or at the airport before your flight.
That mindfulness can carry over and put you in good spirits throughout your journey. And if you have any travel anxiety, a meditation routine immediately before getting on the plane can lower your stress.
11. Keep Your Eye on the Prize
It’s easy to forget that you’re just a few hours away from something far more exciting and restful while stuck on a long-haul flight. So if you feel your patience waning and your entertainment items failing to do their job, take a minute to think about where you’re going and everything you’re looking forward to doing.
Though it might not sound like much, a mental reset can renew your energy and remotivate you to spend your time on the long-haul flight wisely.
Comprehensive Travel Insurance for Canadian Vacationers
Travelling outside the country presents several unique stressors, and figuring out how to spend time on your long-haul flight shouldn’t have to be one of them. If you pack light, stay energized, and bring essential comfort and entertainment items, your journey and return flight will fly by in a flash.
And for the other stressors, losing your luggage, unexpected cancellations, and medical emergencies, Insurdinary has you covered. At Insurdinary, we compare rates from several trusted Canadian travel insurance providers and send you the best offers with the most comprehensive coverage.
Complete our online form to get a quote today.