long haul flight tips

I’m sharing my long haul flight tips to help you arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and ready to go. Have you ever thought that having a well thought out plane travel routine is just as important as packing your suitcase with all your ‘essentials’?

It’s one thing to be organised before you depart on your well-deserved holiday. I have friends that have their suitcases packed one week prior to departure! Others, like my mum, is still packing at midnight for a 6am flight.

But your long haul flight routine doesn’t stop at packing. Now you need to prepare for a relaxing, enjoyable and stress free flight journey. Here are my tips of what I do that you might find helpful.

First flying tip - Start adjusting your time clock

six clocks showing local times of six different cities

Before you even think about going to the airport, start getting your body’s time clock ready for the destinations time zone.

  • The day before you travel, check out the time zone and time difference between where you are and the destination.
  • Adjust your watch immediately to the time zone of the destination.
  • Now follow that time. So if your watch shows it is night time, try to get a couple of hours sleep and slowly train your body into the new time zone.  If its meal time at the destination, then eat your meal now.

Now I know that this isn’t always practical. Some people are working right up until they are due to fly. In that case, simply start the time zone body retraining once you’re at the airport.

It might mean you have to manage to go to sleep once you board the flight and miss the first meal, but you will feel so much better when you arrive at the destination feeling refreshed with little jet lag.

Jetlag Eliminator

Here’s another little tip that I use once I’m on the plane. I use a ‘tapping’ or acupressure technique to reset the body clock. Basically there is a pressure point on our body for each 2 hour period of the day that is more energised than other points. So you start tapping on the pressure point for the current destination time and continue following the clock by tapping the other pressure points until you get back to the current destination time.

You can find more details on how to use this system and download your own copy of the Jetlag Eliminator diagram at my blog how to avoid jetlag.

In this tapping process, you are starting to trick your body into the new time zone. I also used this method everytime I had to swap from day shift to night shift for my job. I found that my body adjusted much quicker than if I left it to do naturally. 

What do you wear?

I’ve tried the ‘lets get dressed up so we can score an upgrade to business class’ and dressing for the destinations weather – I wore shorts and tank top for my flight to Bali but froze on the plane 🙁

But after hundreds of flights, I eventually learnt that comfort is king. Who cares what I look like. Plus I have only ever scored one free business class upgrade and that was because the flight was overbooked (and I was wearing my backpacking gear!).

The essentials are:

  • Loose, comfortable clothing. Especially around the waist – no tight jeans or tight elasticised waistbands. It’s important not to cut off the blood circulation, especially on long haul flights.
  • Layered clothing. Some flights can be freezing and usually there are not enough blankets on board to cater for everyone. So either wear a t-shirt, short sleeve short or a light long sleeve shirt and bring a light jacket with you. Then you can cater for all plane temperatures.
  • Easy slip off shoes. I find that my feet do tend to swell a little while flying and when they are in tight, constricting shoes I get quite restless. So now I take shoes off and put socks on. Easy slip on shoes avoids the hassle of trying to tie or buckle up your shoes in those tight seat spaces – unless you’re in business class of course!

Look after your skin

It is well known that flying in planes dehydrates your body and skin. But I wonder how many people do look after their skin while on a plane.

You can keep your face and hands hydrated by the following ways:

  • Pack with you a miniature tube of face moisturiser and hand cream.
  • Refresh and hydrate the skin by using a facial spray or hydrating mist. Again, you can easily buy miniature/travel size packs that fits easily into your cabin bag.
  • Drink plenty of water. Especially after coffee, tea and alcohol.

Flight playlist

inside a plane cabin, looking down the aisle from the rear

Flight entertainment is quite limiting. Sometimes there is a small selection of music channels, which don’t always suit your taste in music. Some of the cheap, no frills airlines don’t offer any music entertainment or charge you for it.

Your best bet is to download your favourite music onto your phone, ipod/mp3 player or tablet. You may want soft, gentle music that will help you sleep, or perhaps loud, upbeat music to keep you awake. Meditation music is a good one for relaxing on a plane.

Whatever your tastes or aim, a week before you depart create your own playlist and download it onto your device of choice. Remember to pack your earbuds with you!

Avoid movie marathons

This is my favourite part of flying. I seem to find that I catch up on missed movies on the plane. I pick out all the movies I had wanted to see at the cinema but didn’t get a chance and binge watch them all on the flight.

This is particularly good on short haul flights or where there is a minimal time difference.

But on long haul flights, I still schedule in my sleep time as per the destination time zone. My first time flying from Australia to London, the jetlag was horrendous. Since doing time zone body retraining has helped heaps – no matter how good the movie is.

To drink or not to drink

If we are talking about water, then YES, definitely drink lots of water. As we mentioned before, the pressurised cabin contributes to body dehydration. I hear that ginger beer is great too.

If we are thinking alcohol, then NO, because alcohol dehydrates your body further. Ooops, I can see all the shocked faces with their piercing eyes shooting me down! Please know, that I do love my wine, but not on the plane.

But I cannot make everyone stop drinking alcohol on a plane. That’s ultimately your choice. If you enjoy your alcoholic beverage on a flight, then back it up with a glass of water in between. Your body will thank you for it.

Stretch and Flex

Sitting for long periods can reduce blood circulation flow which can result in numbness, tingling, cramps and even pain. Therefore, its important to keep the body parts moving while sitting on a long journey.

You may argue that its not so easy on a plane, bus or train, however, there are simple things we can do that helps:

  • Roll the ankles - clockwise and anti-clockwise
  • Roll the wrists - clockwise and anti-clockwise
  • Flex the ankles – stretch your legs out in front of you as much as you can (depends what aircraft you’re on!).
  • Knee lifts – raise each knee towards your chest as much as you can. If the legroom is woeful, then lift each knee as much as you can for 5 seconds.
  • Shoulder rolls - forwards and backwards.
  • Shoulder stretch – link your two hands, invert them and then raise them to the ceiling. A good stretch for your shoulder blades.
  • Neck stretches – gently roll your neck forwards and backwards, and turn left and right.
  • Back reset -  arch your back away from the backrest and hold for 5 seconds. This is a good one to do every hour as we tend to hunch forward a lot, even while sitting.
  • Spinal flex – sit upright in your chair with hands on your knees.  While you keep your head and neck still, roll the shoulders forward and hunch your spine and you breathe out, then roll your shoulders backwards to the upright position while you breathe in.

These are just a few examples. Why not get creative!

Carry-on luggage essentials

long haul flight tips showing a toiletry bag with images of essential travel items

A week before packing, create a checklist of what needs to be in your carry-on luggage to make your flight journey as comfortable as possible. So when it comes to that stressful time of packing your suitcase (especially if you have left it to the last minute), you can calmly check off your items on the list and enjoy your plane trip.

Here’s a few items to get you started in creating your list:

  • Passport
  • Tickets
  • Cash/credit cards/money cards
  • Devices – phone/mp3 player/tablet/laptop
  • Noise cancelling headphones (awesome to help you sleep or watch the movies without the background engine noise). Alternatively, use ear plugs.
  • Toiletries in travel pack size – toothbrush, toothpaste, face moisturiser/hydrating mist, hand cream, lip balm.
  • Reading material. I usually have my Lonely Planet travel guide – the easiest time to do trip planning and preparation is on the plane.
  • Neck pillow. Nothing worse than waking up with a kink in your neck.

Remember not to make your carry-on luggage too heavy!! Each airline has its own weight restrictions.

What are your long haul flight tips

There are many different techniques that help different people.

Comment below to share any long haul flight tips that work wonders for you? It may help someone else have a better and more pleasant flight.

Start planning your trip now with the following helpful links:

Hotels - find hotels on any budget at booking.com
Car rental - use Rentalcars to compare all the car rental companies on the one page
Tours - pre book your tours and activities at Viator
Attractions - save up to 55% on top attractions and museums with a Go City Pass.
Travel guides - get 10% discount on Lonely Planet guides and books.

Book your own holiday online using the most trusted travel websites.
 Download the "Best Travel Websites Guide" today.

About the author

Lisa is a travel gypsy by heart, having already been to over 70 countries and still counting. Founder of Travel Groove, to share travel tips, tricks and knowledge with other travellers.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
    front cover of a guide book on how to find cheap flights with a photo of a plane wing and tip in the sky

    Get this Free E-Book

    Discover now the 13 different ways to find cheap flights online.