4 Essential tips to survive a long-haul flight

Oh, yay! You’re going on a holiday! How great for you, you must be so excited. Where are you going? Vancouver, wow, all the way from Sydney. So, you’re going to be jammed into an aluminium tube with 500 strangers, confined to a 76cm x 91cm space for 18 hours, sounds peachy. Your chances of scoring an exit row seat are very small and you won’t get one of those nice seats behind that wall thingy, with all the extra leg room, cos that area is for babies and babies need their space, don’t you know!

Okay, so your holiday in Vancouver IS going to be great. You’ll eat lots of Tim Horton’s and meet a heap of friendly Canadians and their pet moose, but first things first, you have to survive your long-haul flight.

I always forget about the flight part, I book my holiday and get all excited, then I show up to the airport and all of a sudden I remember how shit it is to sit on a plane for five million hours, which is the exact flying time from Brisbane to Japan, as I learned recently. But this isn’t my first time at the rodeo, kids, oh no. I’m not saying there’s any way to avoid jet lag or make your flight a breeze, but there are things you can do to make flying easier and I’m going to share my tips and tricks with you.

1. Hydration

Do not get drunk and do not carried away with all the free soft drink and juice they’re offering you. The main contributor to jet-lag is dehydration, so it’s very important you drink a lot of water while flying. Whenever you see the flight attendant, ask for another bottle, have water with your meals and snacks too. You’ll notice a huge difference between flights where you’ve gotten wasted and flights where you’ve drunk water consistently throughout, and it won’t just be the in-flight hangover.

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2. Sleep

You ain’t sleeping, homie, so just embrace it and accept your fate. The position in which an aeroplane seat puts your body is not a natural position and it is not conducive to creating a soothing sleep environment. So, what can you do about it? BYO pillow, that’s what. Don’t get one of those stupid U-shaped pillows from the airport, all that does is thrust your neck forward and make you sleep with your mouth open like a loser. Pack your own pillow from home and carry it on the plane with you.

If you’re lucky enough to get a window seat you’ll be able to push it up against the wall and nestle into it. If you get stuck in an aisle or middle seat, you can use it as a buffer between you and the stinky stranger next to you. Alternatively, you’ll be able to clutch it to your chest and let your chin rest on it. Either way, it gives you a lot more support and comfort than those crappy little U-shaped pillows or the tiny ‘fun-size’ pillow the airline supplies.

3. Comfortable clothing

An 18-hour flight is not the appropriate environment to be wearing your Olivia Newton John ‘Let’s Get Physical’ outfit or your Kylie Minogue gold hot-pants and midriff top. It’s not a fashion show, it’s a long-haul flight that will test the limits of your mental and physical endurance, so take it seriously. Football players don’t show up to the Super-Bowl wearing tight jeans and a leather t-shirt, they show up in their game outfit, ready to bring it and so should you.

My favourite flying outfit is full-length Lorna Jane tights, sneakers and socks, a t-shirt and a very baggy, very comfortable jumper. You need to choose an outfit that allows you to move comfortably, keeps you warm and does not dig into your body anywhere. Don’t be ashamed to wear your favourite track suit or sweats or get changed into your pyjamas after the flight takes off.

Skating Singapore's East Coast Parkway 

4. Routine and hygiene

Just because you’re crammed into an airborne sardine tin, doesn’t mean you let your personal hygiene slip. When flying, I stick to the same routine I would if I were at home and visit the bathroom at regular intervals to freshen up. This keeps me feeling fresh and clean, which helps you cope mentally and psychically with being stuck in the same spot for so long.

Things I keep in my travel kit are:

Toothbrush and toothpaste – a small tube of extra minty Colgate and my toothbrush, to use before I ‘sleep’ and when I ‘wake up’. Note: there will be no sleep.

Face wash/cleanser and moisturiser – a small tube of cleanser and a non-greasy moisturiser, I prefer the Body Shop, to use before I attempt to sleep and when I ‘wake up’ feeling like death warmed up. Nothing compares to the layer of scunge that builds up on your face during a long-haul flight.

Hair brush – to use throughout the flight to stop me looking like Gary Busey.

Lip balm – a tube of paw-paw ointment to use throughout the flight to stop chapped lips.

Deodorant – an aerosol can with a lid or heavy-duty roll-on to keep you smelling and feeling fresh the whole way.

Mints or lollies – a pack of eclipse mints or hard boiled lollies to stop your ears from hurting during take off and landing.

Eye drops – a bottle of Visine eye drops to clear and relieve red eyes, just helps you freshen up after such a long time on the plane.

Medicines – paracetamol, ibuprofen, decongestants and allergy/hay fever tablets, because you never know what might happen while you’re up there and, should you find yourself in the real life version of ‘Lost’, you don’t want a nasty headache slowing you down.

Face wipes/Wet ones – in case you can’t get to the bathroom or just need an in-seat refresher, you can use these to wipe your face and neck and give you a quick freshen up, they just smell so good!

So there you have it, my tips on how to survive a long-haul flight. Do you have any in-flight travel hacks or things you bring with you to make flying easier? I’d love to hear your tips, share in the comments below or on the Little Grey Box Facebook page.

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Little Grey Box

I'm a writer and presenter and my husband Matt is a videographer. Together, we run Little Grey Box; an award-winning travel blog and YouTube channel.

38 thoughts on “4 Essential tips to survive a long-haul flight

  1. Very good tips! I always try to stay hydrated and drink a lot. But you know… Well… You need to use the bathroom a few times and the people sitting next to me aren’t always very happy. My heart says window seats but my brain tells me aisle seat 😀


  2. Great post Phoebe! A lot of people are convinced getting drunk is the best way to ease a flight and fall asleep but it never works! I think planning your entertainment e.g. downloading a few films in advance etc can make all the difference- in flight entertainment never cuts it!


  3. Hey I loved your post! I use the majority of your tips but I also have a few other comments if you don’t mind. The majority of my trips consist of 12+ hour flights so on occasion, I like to chat up the flight attendants. They gave me some valuable tips like do not drink at all during the flight (same reason) but in order to beat jet lag, it is better if you adjust your meals to your designated time-zone. Flight attendants are also under appreciated and one of the best comments you can give them is, “your whole team was great”. If you want to make the comment more meaningful, it is great to seek out the chief attendant; that way, she will communicate that to the whole team and enhance the team chemistry.


    1. Thanks so much for sharing Eduardo 🙂 I loved reading your tips! Two of my family members are flight crew, so I always try to smile at the attendants on my flights and let them know I appreciate all their hard work! It always pays to be polite to people 🙂 Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.


  4. Always double dose my Krill oil a few days before so I am all internally hydrated – it also helps with circulation and to prevent blood stagnation!

    ALSO, i have to say it but when I fly I AVOID Lucas Paw paw. It is so bad for you and actually just petroleum with the tiniest amount of paw paw (even though the packaging makes you think otherwise – check out their website for the actual ingredients). Petroleum doesn’t hydrate, it just creates a barrier. This is why I am addicted to Suvana – organic, contains coconut oil and paw paw thus super hydrating and protecting. Sorry, i am a bit of an anti-Lucas paw paw crusader. That is all 🙂

    Luc x
    http://www.thewanderlustscout.com || http://www.skeeterandscout.com


    1. Oh man! I had no idea about Lucas paw paw!!! Thank goodness for beauty bloggers 🙂 thanks Luc. Love the tip on Krill… Ill have to try it next time. And will have to get my paws on this Suvana you speak of!


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