Handling More Than 12 Hours on a Plane?

Editor Gina is getting ready to board a transpacific flight to the other side of the world this evening, but the prospect of being sealed in a tin can for 13 hours straight freaks her out. While she'll have a laptop loaded up with movies and music, a few good books, and perhaps even some nighttime cold medicine, she wants to know: what's the best way to deal on extended flights without going crazy? If you have any suggestions for making half a day on an airplane bearable, let us know in the comments (and she'll stop talking about herself in the third person and shamelessly using you for her own purposes). Photo by S. Baker.


    My tip would be to sleep as little as you can prior to the plane flight... that way you can sleep as much as you can on the plane, that way less time actually in that confined space.

    Also make sure you take noise cancelling headphones, you will need it... kids and flights, and crying.. i almost went insane on a 2 hour flight trip when I forgot my headphones at home. Or you could pack some nice inexpensive ear plugs from the chemist.

    Also just enjoy yourself as much as you can with music, and also puzzles that take time and make you think alot so you can get lost in your mind and not focus on how many hours left of the trip you have.

    Having just flown from Florida to Sydney (via Dallas and LA) with a total travel time door to door of 30+ hours I can relate to Gina's travel anxiety.
    I found the best way to make it through the flight is to mix up your distractions. If you spend the first six hours watching movies you end up brain fried and your eyes don't feel like reading any more.

    I suggest using the movies as a fallback option. Read a book and listen to some tunes, do a sudoko or a puzzle of your choice and when you tire of that try a movie or game, when the movie is over go back to the book for a while before watching another movie.

    Other sanity saving possibilities include:
    * Making friends and chatting with the people around makes the time go much faster (although this can backfire spectacularly on occasion :p).
    * Get up and walk around... amazing what snacks come your way when you hang around the galley and make friends with the right people ;)
    * Best sanity saver is of course to sleep as much as possible... but only do this if it suits the timezone you are heading too... otherwise the jetlag pain is deferred to a time when you would rather be working/playing.

    Treat it as several days of your life: plan them and don't waste them.

    When else this year are you going to have several blocks of 4h hours uninterupted by phone calls, email or meetings?

    Now short flights (

    As soon as you get on board try and grok when meals will be, and when 'dark' times will be.

    Then adjust your plan to suit - remember it is your sanity you're preserving. So have 'heavy weight' and 'light weight' parts to your plan - pack some extremely light reading along with That Novel.

    Just like anyother long, uncomfortable day when you can't sleep and are craving fresh socks you mood will swing much more than on the deck.

    For me, the worst bit is waaaaiting for the plane to push back on my umpteenth flight since I last slept in a bed - I really, really need some distraction at that time.

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