Tips and tricks for surviving long haul flights from a seasoned traveller…
On average, I fly over 40 times a year – and a lot of those flights are five hours or longer. Which means I’m getting pretty good at surviving long haul flights. I thought I’d share my top tips and tricks to help you stay healthy when travelling.
I seem to suffer from every flying-related issue imaginable when I travel. But for the longest time, I just thought of the discomfort of long haul flights as being something you have to put up with to get to another continent.
Over the years, though, I’ve picked up dozens of long haul flight tips and tricks that help 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…
- 5 Tips for Staying Healthy and Comfortable on Long Haul Flights
- How to Protect your Ears and Avoid Ear Pain During Flights
- 5 Skincare Tips for Surviving Long Haul Flights
- 14 Allow Time to Recover After your Long Flight
- My Long Haul Flight Survival Kit
5 Tips for Staying Healthy and Comfortable on Long Haul Flights
1 – Stay Hydrated when you Fly
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 at your destination looking as fresh as possible.
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!
Top tip: Although the TSA liquid limit is 100ml, you are allowed to take an empty bottle through airport security. So empty your bottle before going through, then find a place to refill before boarding the plane!
2. Consider Rehydration Tablets
Speaking of hydration, on a long-haul flight you might want to consider a rehydration vitamin tablet. There are several oral rehydration solutions designed for flying.
I’ve tried both Uppy! and Phizz before and have found them to be a great little pick-me-up towards the end of a long flight. But don’t take them too early – as they can sometimes have a bit of a gassy/bloating effect! The vitamin mix contained supports rehydration and helps reduce tiredness and fatigue, among other things.
3. Try Compression Socks
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. They keep you comfortable, prevent your legs from 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, achy 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.
4. Wear a Wireless Sports Bra
Picked this fab tip up recently and it might be my best-ever discovery. I tend to bloat out a little when I’m flying and my bra feels tighter. Plus, no one wants to sleep in their bra! But I hate going braless, especially because it’s pretty noticeable when I do. Swap yours for a padded, non-wired sports bra and you’ll be super comfy without having to worry about any, err, visibility issues!
5. Keep your Eyes Fresh on a Long Haul Flight
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.
How to Protect your Ears and Avoid Ear Pain During Flights
6. Clear Your Ears Before Flying
Air travel can cause ears to pop due to the air pressure changing. But did you know this can also lead to ear infections and a greater risk of producing excess ear wax?
It’s a great idea to remove excess earwax before and after a flight to help keep your ears and healthy. But don’t reach for a cotton bud – as these can actually push wax further in, creating more problems.
Instead, use an ear drop like Earex Ear Advance Ear Drops, which will soften earwax and disperse hardened wax deposits.
7. Try Ear Plugs
One of my top tips for surviving long-haul flights is to pick up a set of noise-cancelling earbuds from Auritech. Although they can’t quite shut up that screaming baby, the Auritech Travel earbuds (£19.95) do muffle quite a lot of the background noise from a plane. They contain ceramic plates which are designed to remove background noise whilst still allowing you to hear surrounding conversations.
Better than that, they can also help reduce the pressure that makes your ears hurt when flying. I’ve always suffered from this, and it’s awful, so I was more than sceptical about how effective some small plastic earplugs might be.
But they genuinely seem to make a difference! I use them during take-off and landing for around an hour, and also while I’m sleeping on really noisy flights. Bear in mind that it’s not good for your ears to wear earplugs for too long, so only use them when necessary. And remember to clean them after every use!
8. Opt for Over-Ear Headphones instead of Earbuds
In-ear headphones can act as a stopper in your ears, causing wax to build up. They can also increase the number of bacteria in your ears by up to 700 times.
So opt for over-ear headphones on flights to help protect your ears from getting blocked. These are normally more comfortable to wear over a long period, and also usually better at cancelling noise from the outside world.
If you’re thinking over-ear headphones are too big and bulky for your carry-on, think again. I love my 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.
5 Skincare Tips for Surviving Long Haul Flights
9. 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 years 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.
10. Combat Dry Skin by Avoiding Makeup when Flying Long Haul
One of the worst things about flying is how that tinned air-con 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 the other passengers on my flight again; and c) it just makes my skin worse. If the air is already drying me out, I don’t need anything sitting on top of my skin.
11. Take a Face Oil on your Flight
Step two is to keep your skin moisturised during a long flight. 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.
Face oils are fantastic for flights as they come in tiny bottles and are super moisturising. Pop some on before you take a nap and you’ll wake up feeling fresh as anything!
I love the Midnight Recovery Oil from Kiehl’s, which I use every night before bed and now always carry on a flight with me. A cheaper option which I also love is the Dr Organic Moroccan Argan Oil Facial Oil. The 30ml bottle is the perfect size for a carry-on kit – and it’s 100% natural.
12. Face Mists are Great for a Quick Refresh
Another thing I almost never fly without is a small bottle of face mist. Not only are these great for a quick burst of hydration for your skin – but they can also help cool you down and make you feel a little refreshed, too.
Look for serum a face mist that contains hyaluronic acid as this ingredient is super hydrating. My current favourite is the E.L.F. Hydrating Coconut Mist – it’s super light and refreshing, and it smells amazing.
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 keeps skin hydrated during a flight. I keep mine in my handbag all the time now and use it whenever I need a boost!
13. Use a Sheet Face Mask on a Long Flight
Another top skincare tip for surviving long-haul flights is to use a face mask. Be warned, though, you’ll probably attract some funny looks. I love to use a super indulgent sheet face mask while I’m on a flight. It’s a great way to replenish dried-out skin, meaning you’ll arrive at your destination looking fresh and ready instead of tired and puffy!
14 Allow Time to Recover After your Long Flight
After you land, give your 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 some recovery time when you arrive.
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.
If your eyes are still feeling dry, puffy, or simply tired out, try a cooling eye mask to recover. 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 or freezer to chill it (or use a bucket of ice from room service), or heat it in a microwave (you might be able to ask your hotel to do this for you).
When cold, this mask is perfect for puffy eyes and headaches (I find it really soothing after long flights), while the hot eye mask is great for dry eyes.
My Long Haul Flight Survival Kit
A few of my favourite products for surviving long haul flights:
Some (not all) of these products mentioned above were sent to me as free gifts. But all of the products mentioned in this post are ones I really use and genuinely recommend. 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!