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Traveling to far-flung destinations is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but few of us enjoy taking long-haul flights. Whether you’re afraid to fly or not, no one likes the thought of being holed up in a stuffy aircraft for hours on end, but there are ways to ease your anxiety.

You don’t have to dread traveling long distance. With a few home comforts and a little planning, there are plenty of ways you can learn to cope with (and actually enjoy) flying long haul.

Here are four tips to make your next long-distance flight more manageable.

How to Cope With a Long-Distance Flight

Make It Enjoyable

How often does life grant you eight-ten hours to just sit and relax? Seize the opportunity to do so while you can, and try to make it enjoyable.

Bring your iPad loaded with movies you’ve been meaning to watch, wear your most comfortable clothes and stock up on paperbacks and snacks at the airport.

You should also reserve a good seat in advance, preferably one with extra legroom. Yes, you will have to pay more, but if you’re prone to claustrophobia, then you will appreciate the extra space.

Stay Comfortable

No one needs to look glamorous on a plane, so it’s best to save your new clothes and jewelry for your holiday. Wear something you’ll be happy to be sat down in for ten or so hours and stick to loose layers that you can take on and off.

You don’t want to be too warm on the plane, but all that air conditioning can leave you chilly, so don’t forget to pack a cardigan and some slipper socks.

A small cushion and an eye mask can also make you more comfortable if you plan to sleep on the flight.

Flying plane airport travel traveler

Focus on the Destination

Long distance flying is one occasion in life when you should focus on the destination rather than the journey, so make sure you have somewhere pleasant to stay when you land, like one of these beautiful Ibiza villas.

Picture yourself sunbathing with a refreshing mojito in hand, and try to focus on that image while you fly. On the return flight, think about how good it will feel to return home and sleep in your own bed, or arrive at a new and undiscovered destination.

For those of us who don’t like flying, the actual travel aspect of traveling is often something we have to grin and bear to get to the good part.

Sleep It Away

If all else fails and you really can’t face sitting through a long haul flight, ask your doctor for a mild sedative you can take while you travel.

If you’re flying alone, make sure you don’t take anything too strong, as you will need to be aware when you arrive. Anti-anxiety medications can also be good for inducing drowsiness and helping you relax, so research herbal remedies or medications you can try.

If you plan on taking pills on the aircraft, make sure you alert your flight provider beforehand to find out their policy on prescription drugs and bring a note from your doctor just to be sure.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.

    

    37 Comments

  1. Pills and alcohol!

    • Haha that’s definitely one way! As long as there’s no hangover once you land!

  2. I’ve stopped buying paperbacks at the airport, mainly because they take up so much space when it’s much better to stock my kindle before the flight withas many trashy novels as I possibly want. I do however sometimes sneakily make my way out of the airport lounge with some of their magazines :D

    • Very true Lorene – I usually download books onto my iPad too – they definitely take up a lot of space, I don’t know how I used to fit leisure reading + travel guides when I went on a trip!

  3. I’m waiting for virtual reality to be released on a commercial scale – it’d be great to just sit back, throw a headset on, and think you’re sitting at the beach for 10 hours!

  4. Totally agree that comfort is key – there’s nothing worse than being stuck in a seat for 20 hours in restrictive jeans. I’ve learnt that the hard way.

    • Yes I usually fly in yoga pants – so comfy! :D

  5. “No one needs to look glamorous on a plane” – each to their own ;)

    • Haha go for it! I usually pack a change of clean clothes and then you can freshen up at the end of the flight or in the bathrooms between the tarmac and immigration if you need to :)

  6. I’m all up for sleeping it away if I don’t wake up with a bad neck. But I find it happens more often than not when I sleep on a plane … for long haul I’ll use points to upgrade to business because you can actually sleep comfortably.

    But for poor souls stuck in economy, I would highly recommend drinking a lot of water … water keeps your joints and discs hydrated which in turn reduces stiffness and decompression of your spine. Yes, it makes you have to go to the toilet more often, but that keeps you mobile during the flight, which also very good. It increases circulation and helps prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis, while reducing stiffness in the joints and tightness in your muscles.

    • Thanks for the tips and advice Stephanie :) Totally agree that it’s important to stay hydrated and take care of your body throughout a long flight. I’m one of those poor souls always stuck in economy lol :D

  7. I like the idea of focusing on the destination. I usually bring guide books with me to read on the plane and then I have a good understanding of the city or place when I land. I also try to source out popular novels which have been set in the place I’m going – makes exploring a lot more fun when you have read stories which were set there.

    • Thanks for sharing Jenny, I love the idea of reading fiction novels about the country you’re heading too – I have a particularly active imagination, and would love imagining myself in the pages of the book I had just read. Cool tip!

  8. I never make it to the cinema, so the inflight movies are my chance to catch up on new releases :)

    • I do the same :D I watched Disney’s Frozen on repeat one flight though when there weren’t that many good movies out lol

  9. We always choose seats at the back of the plane and find that more often than not we have free seats next to us, which is huge for making yourself more comfortable. They tend to fill the plane from the front first, but even if it’s a full flight and you do get seated next to someone, the back seats mean you can recline that little bit more, and won’t have any-one’s legs pressing into your back, or a screaming child grabbing your hair (it’s happened!).

    • Great minds must think alike – we do the same :D

  10. I am a list maker and try to be really prepared before I depart. I have a small medical kit just incase I get sick on the plane and have my accommodation booked at the other end with transport if possible.With added jet lag, you don’t want to be trying to book accommodation on arrival. I get on that plane knowing I have done everything possible, (within reason.) I sit back, relax, watch the movies and eat. The best thing is I don’t have to cook or wash up.

    • There’s nothing worse than that feeling that you’ve forgotten something, and nothing worse than having that type of anxiety on a long haul flight! So I love your approach to making lists and making sure you’re fully prepared :)

    • I am heading to Ethiopia in September and have already started “The Africian List.” As I get my jobs done, I just tick them off, such as the Yellow Fever vaccination tomorrow. It means something less to consume my brain power. On my last trip to India, I realised I had left my passport in the photocopier at work and it was a huge effort to then get someone to unlock the office after hours and on a weekend. Yes, even my list sometimes fails! After that little problem was solved, I felt nothing could rattle me as I sat in the airport and waited for my departure.

    • Wow Ethiopia will be an incredible trip for you, I’m hearing that it’s on its way to become the newest big African hub. Oh no re leaving the passport at work!! So glad you managed to pick it up though – goo approach though, that if you can solve something like that, you can solve anything! Have an amazing time in Ethiopia :)

  11. We have a 10yo,so we choose flights that allow us to spend the entire night in the sky so that he sleeps and doesn’t complain about being bored. The rest of the flight time is then spent watching some movies and playing video games.

    • A fabulous approach Rhonda! We usually try to do the same, mainly so I’m not grumpy and bored lol but it’s an especially clever approach when traveling with kids :)

  12. If it’s an early flight I pull an all nighter, half out of fear from over sleeping. Then I enjoy a few free drinks and try to sleep most of the way. Then hopefully when I arrive my clock has changed and no jet lag.

    • We stayed up late for a 1am flight last year man it was hard lol fell straight asleep when we got on the plane though! I usually set 10 alarms at 5 minute intervals when I have to wake up for an early flight :D

  13. When you are having a long flight then you must wear comfortable cloths otherwise you will get irritate, actually I have faced that problem 😆😆

    • Absolutely – the worst is when you have an annoying tag on your shirt which is irritating you – and because you obviously don’t have access to scissors on a plane to cut it off!!

  14. I have a completely different routine. I travel with some 50 pounds of unread journals and three plastic bags.
    I settle into my seat (usually with a glass of wine) and read to my heart’s content. (I also rip out those articles that I may need for work- which will be scanned and saved later).
    Oh, I also hand over the filled plastic bags to a crew member for disposal.

    • Clever way to utilize the inflight time to power through some work :)

  15. I always get a window seat, pack healthy snacks, and drink loads of water. It helps if there is a great movie selection too!

    • Great minds must think alike – we have a very similar routine. Love my new releases!

  16. Stay at home instead is my solution 👍

    • Haha that’s one approach!

  17. I’m flying to Singapore and then on to Sydney next year from Canada. God help me.

    • Fun trip! You’ll forget all about the crazy long flight after you get there :D … Singapore was fabulous, we totally fell in love with it. And Sydney is such a fun city too :)

    • Want to branch out. Hoping for Melbourne as well. Will be about this time of year in fact, so I know it will be cooling down a bit.

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