Three days ago, I completed my 40th flight of the year so far and my longest direct flight ever. An overnight for 15 hours from London to Jakarta, including an annoying delay once we’d boarded. But surprisingly, it was also one of the best long haul flights I’ve ever taken. I actually got some sleep, and I landed feeling ok.
Despite the fact that I fly a lot and suffer with every related issue imaginable when I do (everything from the most agonising ear pains to frequent nosebleeds), I’ve never tried to do anything about it. I always thought of the discomfort of long haul flights as being something you have to put up with to get to another continent. But it doesn’t have to be like that! Over my past few flights, I’ve tried and tested some new products and tricks that have helped make the whole experience much less painful. If you’re wondering what to take on a long haul flight, I have the answers. Here are a few of my tips for surviving long haul flights…
Updated May 2017 to add some of my favourite new finds!
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Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Drink water. Lots of water! Staying hydrated is definitely one of the best things you can do to combat fatigue, stop your skin from drying out, and arrive looking as fresh as possible. And whilst it’s always tempting to treat yourself to a mini bottle of wine from the trolley, it’s best to avoid alcohol if you can. It never tastes as good in the air anyway – pressure does funny things to flavours, especially in wine. So skip the booze, and avoid caffeinated and sugary drinks too. Stick to water and stay super hydrated!
Speaking of hydration, I’ve discovered a little product that can help give you a boost. I picked up a free sample of Uppy! at the TBEX blogger’s conference earlier this year, and used them on my Indonesia flight. They are awesome! They’re little vitamin tablets that dissolve in water, similar to Berrocca, but they’re designed to combat the effects of flying. The vitamin mix contained supports re-hydration and helps reduce tiredness and fatigue, among other things. I took one after my in flight nap and I definitely felt an effect; despite a severe lack of coffee I was feeling much more alert and like myself than I normally do.
This is without a doubt one of the best products I’ve come across for flying. These noise cancelling ear buds were designed by Auritech, who also make plugs for motorcyclists. Although they can’t quite shut up that screaming baby, the Auritech Travel ear buds (£19.95) do muffle quite a lot of the background noise from the plane. Particularly that annoying engine hum you can never quite ignore. They contain ceramic plates which are designed to remove background noise, but still allow you to hear surrounding conversations. Teemed with my Flite Headphones they cancel out pretty much all sound, leaving me in a nice, undisturbed little bubble.
Better than that, they also help reduce the pressure that makes your ears hurt when flying. I’ve always suffered from this, and it’s hell, so I was more than sceptical about how effective some small plastic ear plugs might be. But they really work! Normally, I’d still be moaning three days later about how much my ears hurt – even sometimes feeling dizzy thanks to whatever it is that goes wrong inside them when I fly. But right now I have almost no issues thanks to using the Auritech Travel ear buds. I’ve used them on the last few flights I’ve taken and the pressure in my ears has felt nowhere near as bad. Check prices on Amazon now.
Really Decent Headphones
The headphones airlines provide you with have always been rubbish, and these days a lot of airlines don’t even give them out anymore. So if you want to watch the in-flight entertainment, or just get a break from the noise of the plane, you need to bring your own.
I recommend over-ear headphones, because they’re more comfortable to wear over a long period of time. They’re also usually better at cancelling noise from the outside world, which is not only nicer on a plane but also healthier for your ears!
If you’re thinking over-ear headphones are too big and bulky for your carry-on, think again. I love my new Everlite headphones from the new Philips Flite range. They’re super light and thin, and fold flat, which means you can store them in your bag without taking up too much room. Better still, the flat cable is tangle-proof and has added strain relief which means they can better survive being stored in a backpack. My last few sets of headphones died because of the cable getting yanked or tangled so these are the perfect solution.
I also just love the way they look! The Everlite headphones come in sexy black or white with rose gold trim. They’re really slim and look fab – and they’re so so comfy. On a flight I team them with my ear plugs, whack on some calming music, pop my padded eye mask on… and I can sleep through anything! Check prices now.
Fellow travel blogger Bethaney from Flashpacker Family recommends using compression socks to stay comfortable long haul flights:
“Travel compression socks are one of my essentials for a long flight. The keep your comfortable, prevent your legs swelling and help minimize the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)… flying is a more comfortable experience as the socks help to counteract some of the effects of sitting for long periods of time on the plane. You’ll arrive at your destination without swollen, achey legs.”
Check out her guide to the best compression socks for travel for more info, and reviews of the top 5 options on the market.
Look After Your Eyes
My eyes tend to really suffer on flights. The cabin air dries them out, and I’m usually straining them a lot more than normal by watching a tiny screen very close up, or reading in the dark.
I have a couple of tips. First, switch off that screen and pop a sleep mask on for at least an hour – even if you’re not taking a nap. It’s just good to give your eyes a break. Listen to some music or an audiobook, or chat to the person you’re travelling with. Just take a break from screen-time and your eyes will thank you.
On my last flight, I also tried using eye drops. I was sceptical about how much good they’d do, but a couple of drops of my Bausch and Lomb Rewetting Drops over the course of the flight did help keep them moist. I definitely didn’t suffer that normal dry-eyed feeling when we’d landed. Originally created for contact-lens users, these rewetting drops contain hyaluronic acid which is known for its powers of retaining moisture. The 10ml dispenser is perfect for frequent flyers, but if you’re only going on one trip this year there are some single-dose packs which might be a better alternative. Both are the perfect size to slip into your hand luggage.
Tackle Those Under Eye Shadows
I get nasty bags under my eyes when I’m tired, but especially when I travel. My eyes also get tired and puffy too. A few months ago, I bought an eye cream on a whim from Duty Free, and it turned out to be one of the best accidental purchases I’ve ever made. I love my Loreal Revitalift Eye Cream! The metal applicator tip is always cool, so the effect of applying the cream is really soothing – perfect for tired, stressed eyes. And it’s super moisturising so it really helps combat black bags and puffiness. It’s definitely worth carrying one in your hand luggage.
Combating Dry Skin When Flying
One of the worst things about flying is how that dodgy tinned air can dry you out. I suffer from dry skin anyway, so flying can be a nightmare for me. There are lots of things you can try, but here’s what I do to combat dry skin on flights.
Number one – I don’t wear makeup. None at all. I know this is some people’s worst nightmare, but I’ve just learnt over the years that a) I don’t need it, b) I’ll never see these people again, and c) it just seems to make my skin worse. If the air is already drying me out, I don’t need anything sitting on top of my skin.
Number two – moisturise. I always take a moisturiser on board with me and use it a couple of times throughout the flight, just to keep my skin hydrated. This time, I took a sachet of Ila face oil and used it before I took a nap. It’s pretty oily so I had to sit looking like a shiny mess for a couple of hours, but it really left my skin feeling great after the flight. Worth it for the moisturisation on my skin.
A fab new product I’ve discovered is the gorgeous Goodness and Tonic face mist from Rosalena Skincare. All their products use a range of luxurious and effective botanical ingredients with no nasty parabens, synthetic fragrances or other unnatural ingredients. The face mist is a light, refreshing spritz that works brilliantly as a pick me up for tired skin – and it smells incredible. It’s cooling too so it’s ideal for travel, and woks brilliantly to keep skin hydrated during a flight. I keep mine in my handbag all the time now and use it whenever I need a boost!
Allow Time to Recover
After you land, give you body time to get over what it’s been through. It might be “just a flight”, but the air pressure, stress, air conditioning, timezone shifts, and hours of uncomfortable sitting can really take their toll on your body. Make sure you plan in some recovery time.
Get to your hotel, take a shower or a bath, and chill out for a few hours. I like to use a hydrating face mask and some more oil before bed, to give my skin one last blast of moisture. If I’m travelling light, I’ll slip a couple of single-use sachets into my washbag for the first night, rather than pack a whole bottle.
Bausch and Lomb also have a fab eye mask to compliment their rewetting drops. The Therapearl Eye-ssential Eye Mask contains little pearls that retain temperatures to give you a cool or hot eye mask. Pop it in a fridge of freezer to chill it (or a bucket of ice from room service), or heat it in a microwave (you might be able to ask the hotel to do this for you). Cold, it’s perfect for puffy eyes and headaches (I find it really soothing after long flights), while the hot eye mask is great for dry eyes.
Flight Survival Kit
A few of my favourite products for surviving long haul flights:
Disclaimer – some (not all) of these products were sent to me as free gifts. But all of the products mentioned in this post are ones I really use and genuinely recommend. Some of the links used in this article are affiliate links – although this never effects my honesty or the price you pay. As always, all words and opinions are 100% my own.
Do you have any great tips for what to take on long haul flights, and how to survive them? Scroll down to leave a comment!