How Do You Survive Long Flights?

How Do You Survive Long Flights?

With a couple of six-plus hour trips coming up in the next few months, I’ve been taking notes on how to survive long flights. It’s been a few years since I’ve been on an international trip, and while I was able to nap for more or less the whole trip in university and high school, I have a sneaking suspicion sleep won’t come as easily this time.

This post from The Wall Street Journal has some good advice (I’m particularly interested in the first seating recommendation, though I’m not sure I’m crazy about sitting all the way in the back, right by the bathroom), but I’m curious: What are your tips for surviving long flights?

Right now, I’m planning on:

  • Listening to podcasts (any recommendations?) and music with noise-cancelling, Bluetooth headphones
  • Reading a book
  • Journaling
  • Sleeping

I also have a collection of travel-sized moisturisers and balms to make sure that my skin doesn’t dry out, and, because I’m a generally antsy person, a plan to periodically stretch and walk around the cabin.

What else am I missing? How do you manage long flights and the jet lag that’s sure to accompany them?


  • I wrote my first two books almost entirely on long haul flights.

    Now with internet on most fights I just get a head start on getting my email to 0.

  • The best thing you can do is fly premium economy or business. However, that’s not always a practical option.

    The biggest thing is to not be worried or concerned about how long a flight is.

    6 hours is not at all a long flight you need to be overly concerned with. Still add a sleep mask because if you are tired, that helps to isolate yourself. Also make sure the noise cancelling headphones are comfortable enough to wear all the time, even if napping.

    A neck pillow was a game changer for me and sleeping on planes in economy. Get one that connects at the front, so it doesn’t slip off.

    I tend to load up TV shows on a tablet.

    As far as podcasts, Find something short and gripping. Something like “Dirty John” would fit the bill. It’s a handful of episodes, it’ll keep your attention and you’ll want to binge it. If you’re doing podcasts which are an ongoing format, find ones with long episodes with a guest you find interesting. The last thing you want are podcasts with meaningless chatter.

    Audiobooks are another good option.

  • Yeah, there are loads of lists out there and everyone has tips.

    6 hours isn’t that long so I wouldn’t worry too much.

    It depends a little on what time you’ll leave/arrive – i.e. will these be day or night flights.

    Day flights are mostly about not getting bored. Most airlines have pretty good IFE options, so unless you’re really picky there shouldn’t be much need to take loads of media/content. By all means take work if you like, but flights are a good excuse to be off-line and the hypoxia at altitude causes some people to struggle with concentration.

    Night flights are mostly about trying to get some sleep. Blocking out light/noise with earplugs, headphones, eye-masks, etc helps. As does bringing a travel/neck pillow (wear it back-to-front vs what you’d think, i.e: the thick bit under your chin). Drugs work for some people (try before flying to avoid unpredictable effects).

    Regardless, hydration is important. Take an empty water bottle through security and fill it before and/or after boarding. Water is normally doled out in tiny rations on planes but most cabin crew will happily refill bottles – make up a phony medical condition if they seem reluctant.

    Finally, dress for comfort not style. Beyond cultural norms, airlines don’t enforce a dress code. Avoid anything constricting and aim to have footwear off most of cruise (except when going to the toilet).

    • good excuse to be off-line

      Exactly. And some good advice there. I concur from my limited experience

      I used to enjoy the disconnect associated with travel – the announcement “please turn off all electronic devices” (I swear that was the rule just a couple of years ago?).

  • Using a neck brace instead of a travel pillow has been one thing I’ve started to do recently and its been a life changer. The key benefit is that a neck brace prevents your chin from falling to your chest when you fall asleep. No more sore neck or nodding in and our of sleep.

    Additionally, they are way smaller that a travel pillow and thus can be folded up packed away far more easily. They are also cheaper and easier to find, as most chemists sell them.

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