How To Survive A Long-Haul Flight - The Viking Abroad
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How To Survive A Long-Haul Flight

How To Survive A Long-Haul Flight

29 Aug How To Survive A Long-Haul Flight

Long-Haul flights are exhausting. If you haven’t travelled outside of your own continent it is not easy to know how to prepare. After taking a lot of long-haul flights through the years, I have learned the hard way of what to do and what not to do. Here are my best tips on how to survive a long haul flight.

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Book early

Depending on where you go but, long-haul flights are usually cheaper the earlier you book. Between 6-3 months before departure. Everything is cheaper the earlier you book, especially if you decide to add another luggage. On my last flight, I wanted to add another 20kg luggage few days before it ended up costing almost $300. So I skipped it and needed to decide on what not to bring.


Select a seat

It sucks sitting in the middle with people that sleep all the way and you need to wake them up because you need to go to the toilet. I personally like to sit in the aisle because I can get up at any time and walk around as much as I want. You might be able to assign the seat while checking in at the airport. But if you want to be sure you get an aisle seat, window or near the exit, you should assign it beforehand on long-haul flights.

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Add extras to your booking

Low-budget airlines often don’t offer free meals of entertainment on your flight and you need to add it to your booking. Once flying from Norway to the US. I didn’t add meals beforehand. And I needed to buy a sandwich while flying, which was a lot more expensive and just one meal. You can, of course, bring your own meal, but make sure it lasts all the hours and it might not be a lot cheaper. Some airlines have premium meals that are better than the basic ones. 

How To Survive A Long-Haul Flight

Stay hydrated

Bring your own water bottle, many airports have water fountains to refill your bottle with cold water. Bring an empty bottle to the airport as you can’t bring liquids through the security check. This will save you the money on buying water at the airport. Don’t be afraid to ask the flight attendants for water during the flight.

Be comfy

Make sure you pack extra shift like underwear etc. Bring your normal daily essentials like face wipes, antibacterials, and your favourite snacks. It is no point of being uncomfortable just because you are on a plane. Skip the bra and skip the eye make up is my best tips on being comfortable on such a long flight. Use comfortable clothes that you can also sleep in. If you can, adjust to the new hours in terms of when to eat and sleep.

How To Survive A Long-Haul Flight

Respect others

Even though you should stay comfy you need to respect staff and the people around you. Don’t hit your screen, have your feet reaching the one in front of you or scream at the flight attendants. You are all under the same roof and are gonna spend some time together. Stay cool.

Bring your own entertainment 

Most of us bring a laptop in the hand luggage. It is a good idea is to save some movies on it or something else to do like editing photos, writing blog posts etc. I love the idea that Netflix had made it possible to download to watch it on your phone/pad with the app, all of this is offline of course. The only downside with this is that it takes lots of space on your phone. I only got to see the half of season of Orange Is the new black because I didn’t have more space on my phone.

Mark your bags

Even though they put stickers on your suitcase it can get lost. Once I took the wrong bag and that person took mine because it was the same type of bag. Luckily I marked it with my phone number so he contacted me right away before I went home with the wrong bag.

How To Survive A Long-Haul Flight

Hand luggage

After travelling with a huge backpack with lots of camera stuff I have learned that a heavy backpack is not a good idea as a hand luggage. Why? because if you have many stopovers you need to carry it on your back, many airports don’t have a trolley for hand luggage and also not many places to sit. On another hand, all airports are suitcase friendly. Instead of using a backpack it is better to use a small suitcase as hand luggage.

Bring an extra small purse within the hand luggage 

You might not use all the stuff you have in the hand luggage, like camera lenses etc. I pack my most important stuff in a smaller purse like headphones, travel pillow, lip balm, sleep mask and earplugs. This makes it easier where you don’t have to open the head lockers all the time.

 How To Survive A Long-Haul Flight

Short layover after a long-haul flight?

On my last flight to Ecuador, I had only 70 minutes to make my flight. Including closing time on the gate, it was basically only 30 minutes. I was prepared before I arrived at Frankfurt airport and I knew which terminal I would land at and the one for departure, checking what gate it was the day before for the same flight. I saved a map of the terminal and was ready to run. Knowing it was a huge terminal.

This is risky if you book all the tickets individually. If you book it all in one with a company you are ok. They will put you on the next flight if there are cancellations. That doesn’t mean you can sit down and eat with a clear conscience. If you have two hours between flights you are secure. You can’t gamble that it will be on the same terminal. Many airports are huge, especially in Europe or the US. 

If your booking has a very short layover and you are concerned, you can always ask the flight attendants on the flight before. They have info on who and how many are going to catch connected flights. With delays, they can contact the airport workers on the ground to get a people to pick you up and get you to the next flight. If you miss your flight and you have bought it together, just contact the airline at the airport and they will get you on the next flight available. When flights are delayed more than 3 hours you can get compensation. For more, check out this article. 

Hand luggage must-haves for a long haul flight

Apple iPad Air 2

Luxury Patented Sleep Mask

Chin Supporting Travel Pillow 

Panasonic ErgoFit In-Ear Earbud Headphones 

Reversible Paisley Pashmina Shawl 

Travel Kit 3-In-1 Toothpaste

Have you been on a long-haul flight? How was your experience?

Next step: How to avoid jet lag. 

  • Megan Jerrard
    Posted at 23:30h, 29 August Reply

    Fantastic tips – no matter how many times I fly, it’s always difficult – I’m from Australia, so almost every flight for me is a long haul one! But I usually aim to choose my seat at the back of the plane as they seem to fill from the front first, and often if the plane isn’t very full, I’ll have the row to myself, which is a huge help 🙂

    • thevikingabroad
      Posted at 17:06h, 30 August Reply

      I know how it is. I studied in Australia for 3 years and when I went back to Norway it took FOREVER. Luckily I usually flew with Ethiad, Singapore airlines and Emirates which are the best 😀

  • Sandy N Vyjay
    Posted at 01:10h, 30 August Reply

    Practical and sensible tips. Long haul flights are definitely a little bit of a challenge and one can never get used to them. Staying hydrated is so important and yes sleep masks are so important to get some shut eye. Also a bit of walking around is good to keep the circulation going.

  • Iuliana Marchian
    Posted at 05:41h, 30 August Reply

    When I first started to travel more seriously and constantly I was scared of these long haul flights. After flying all night long and night layovers in different airports, I learned that I would sleep in any situation if I am tired and my body gets its minimum hours of sleep. I still avoid long haul flights but I know that the experiences I will have are more important. The funny things is that I always have travel pillow, sleep mask and ear plugs but I have never used them on the plane. But I will carry them anyway.

    • thevikingabroad
      Posted at 17:02h, 30 August Reply

      good, you get to sleep. I struggle to sleep in transit :/

  • Susan R
    Posted at 06:53h, 30 August Reply

    Ha ha, I always sit in the aisle too as I hate the idea of not being able to get to the toilet! Sometimes my hubby and I take the risk of booking the aisle and window and hope that no one will book the middle seat so we get the whole row to ourselves ;-). These are very handy tips, and bringing an extra purse within your hand luggage definitely makes sense.

    • thevikingabroad
      Posted at 17:01h, 30 August Reply

      I know, hate the feeling of bothering the other person. the extra purse is so handy 😀

  • Ambuj Saxena
    Posted at 11:18h, 30 August Reply

    You have offered really useful set of travel tips. I was not carrying my eye mask on a long haul flight and I can assure you, I wasn’t comfortable for the next 2 days after reaching the destination!

    • thevikingabroad
      Posted at 17:00h, 30 August Reply

      ah really. I try to use that and close my eyes at least some hours even though I can’t sleep. xD

  • Patricia
    Posted at 13:31h, 30 August Reply

    Great tips! Long haul flights are always difficult for me. I have gotten good at making sure I have enough food to get me through them, most of the time. Like you, I prefer the aisle seat, even when that means that I’ll have to get up for the other people in my row. I just feel trapped otherwise. Now I want that pashmina! It looks so cozy, and perfect for wrapping up when the air conditioning on the plane gets a little too frigid.

    • thevikingabroad
      Posted at 16:59h, 30 August Reply

      aisle seat is a must for me 😀 Thank you for stopping by 😀

  • Paige W
    Posted at 16:19h, 30 August Reply

    These are wonderful tips. I think being respectful of others is a HUGE way to make flights more tolerable for everyone – GREAT TIP. As far as things to do for yourself, staying hydrated and being comfy are my top two! I never get all dolled up for long haul flights because I want to be able to relax and (hopefully) sleep as much as possible! P.s. that sleep mask is darling!

  • candy
    Posted at 17:17h, 30 August Reply

    I love traveling, but those long flights are so dreadful! These tips are spot-on. I always take my own snacks just in case the flight runs out of food that I like. For example, one time they ran out of chicken and only had seafood left and I am not a fan of reheated fish 🙁 I also really like that chin support pillow. That seems far better than the other types of pillows.

    • thevikingabroad
      Posted at 18:53h, 30 August Reply

      That happened to me too, it is awful. Definitely a good idea to bring snacks.

  • Colby
    Posted at 20:35h, 30 August Reply

    These are all such great tips for surviving a long-haul flight. I’d have to say selecting a seat is the biggest for me. On long hauls I like the aisle seat so I can get up and move around as I please and not have to worry about disturbing other passengers. On shorter flights I prefer window seats. I also agree with having a smaller purse for small items.

  • Cat
    Posted at 22:58h, 30 August Reply

    My biggest trouble about long haul flight is being comfortable. Usually, the seat is so tight to sleep well. I try to bring my own socks, pj pants and travel pillow. And as you suggested, I try not to wear makeup too so my face won’t feel too dry!

  • David Astley
    Posted at 12:16h, 05 October Reply

    The hardest decision I have to make when taking a long haul flight is choosing between a window seat and an aisle seat – because I love to take photos from the air. But as you say, the aisle seat is really the best on long hauls as it enables you to get up and stretch whenever you feel like it, and to go to the toilet without disturbing sleeping passengers during the night. But if I’m going to be arriving at a destination that I’ve not been to before, and the flight will be landing during daylight hours, I will give serious consideration to taking the window seat.

    • thevikingabroad
      Posted at 14:42h, 05 October Reply

      I know what you mean. I would say if you don’t walk around that much or go to the toilet every hour. Window seat is good 😀

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