7 Tips For A Comfortable Long Haul Flight

Program Development Manager Nancy Richardson recently traveled to Sydney, Australia with our High School Honors Performance Series at Sydney Opera House. Now that she’s back in the United States, she’s sharing her best tips for how to be comfortable on a long haul flight. 

“How long is that flight?”

This question often followed after I told someone I was traveling to Australia. The flight is nearly 24 hours end-to-end. To get to Sydney from the east coast, I flew to LAX, then took a long-haul 14-hour flight to Sydney. Here are my tips on how to maximize your comfort, pass the time, and arrive at your destination feeling refreshed on a long haul flight.

Pack Smart: Bring a good carry on. Most airlines allow passengers a carry on and one personal item. I like backpacks personally as they have lots of pockets, hold a ton of stuff, and are comfortable. I put my passport and any boarding passes in an internal pocket so they’re secure and store my liquids, as well as my chargers, in a small external pocket for quick access. Be sure to check baggage allowances with your airline ahead of time!

Drink Up: Hydration is key! Flying is dehydrating, so one of the best ways to ensure you’re comfortable on the flight and feel good when you land is to keep your body hydrated. After I pass through security, I buy the biggest bottle of water I can find. I also try to snag a bottle of coconut water as it’s hydrating and full of electrolytes. You can also bring an empty water bottle through security and fill it before boarding the plane.

Comfort is Key: Wear comfortable layers since the cabins can be a bit chilly. I also pack compression socks for any flight over four hours. Compression socks are knee-high socks that help blood circulation in legs, ankles, and feet. I put them on as soon as I get seated and take them off when the flight lands.

Binge Watch: Most long-haul flights offer in-flight entertainment – movies, television shows, games, and music. I bring noise cancelling headphones and pick a few movies to watch. I also make sure my iPad is loaded with TV shows and movies that I’ve downloaded. Streaming services like Amazon and Netflix allow users to download full TV episodes and movies to watch offline or in airplane mode. Don’t forget to download content before you head to the airport!

Window or Aisle?: If you have a seating preference, select your seat type when booking your ticket. Additionally, most airlines allow you to change your seat after check in using their mobile app. Download your airline’s app and have your flight reservation information handy. You will likely need your Confirmation Number or Airline Reference Code.

Catch some Zzzs: Avoid staying up the night before your flight with the hopes that you will sleep on the plane. Doing so will likely only make you more tired upon landing. If you’re on an overnight flight, the airline will provide a small pillow and blanket. I usually bring a neck pillow for extra support.

Quick Change: I pack a few things in my carry on that help me reset upon landing. Once I’m through customs, I go to the restroom to brush my teeth, wash my face, and change clothes. Both of my long flights landed in the morning and it felt really nice to put on clean clothes after flying all night!

Ultimately, long-haul flights are what they are – they’re long. If you pack well, take care of yourself, and get in the right mindset, they aren’t so bad. Besides, the destination is worth the journey!

Have a great long-haul flight tip? Share it with me in the comments!

Article written by Jessica Shein

Jessica Shein
Jessica tell stories, finding new angles and cultivate content for WorldStrides and for our media partners. She has a passion for studying societies and cultures. When she's not in the office, you can find exploring nature and the great outdoors with her husband and two kids.