Are you about to embark on an epic vacation and unsure how to survive a long flight in economy? Here are some tips to help you enjoy our trip!
I am typically a person who gets very bored and ansty on a flight longer than 3 hours. But I recently booked a trip to South Africa… a dream for me!… and included a 15-hour flight from Atlanta To Cape Town. 15 HOURS!
There were so many things running through my head before my flight. Will I get bored? hungry? Uncomfortable? Anxious?
Every article I read said to book an upgrade to be more comfortable but this flight already cost me $1900… no way could I afford a first-class seat! So was I just doomed to be uncomfortable for 15 hours straight because I was flying economy?
I didn’t want to dread the flight that would take me on one of my most significant bucket list trips, so I did everything possible to ensure I had a great flight.
These are my tips on how to survive a long flight!
10 Easy Ways To Survive a Long Flight in Economy
If you can’t afford first class but want to actually enjoy your long flight, follow these tips!
1 – Choose Your Seat Wisely
This could be different for everyone. If you plan to sleep a lot on the plane, then you might prefer a window seat. I love window seats because sometimes just viewing the scenery out the window can help pass the time too.
If you use the bathroom a lot or plan to walk around and stretch your legs frequently, then an aisle seat might be your best bet.
TIP: Oversea flights are rarely fully booked. Immediately prior to boarding, check the airline’s app (or with the boarding agent) to see if there are any rows that are fully empty for you to move to. Extra seats mean more comfort!
2 – Dress For Comfort
Comfort is key for surviving long flights in economy! I typically dress in very relaxed clothing such as leggings or sweatpants and tee shirts. You’ll want to wear comfortable shoes as well that come off and can be put on easily.
Not only for going through security but at your seat as well. It’s good to spend time walking around the plane but you will definitely be more comfortable with your shoes off at your seat. I like to bring a comfy pair of slippers to put on when I’m in my seat.
I also highly recommend you dress in layers. Some planes can be pretty toasty and some can be freezing. You cannot rely on the thin airplane blankets so I like to make sure I’m prepared for either temperature.
I love zip-up hoodies since they are easy to take on and off, and the hood part helps when Im trying to sleep. I’ll even bring a small pashmina because it can be used as a small blanket or as a scarf.
Just think of what makes you the most comfortable in your home and do your best to replicate that on the plane. I personally love cozy socks so I always make sure to pack some in my carry-on for long-haul flights.
3 – Bring Comfort Items
Now that you are dressed comfortably for your long flight, it’s time to think about what items you would want to bring with you!
If you plan on trying to sleep well during your flight, you might want to consider bringing a small pillow or blanket with you. Maybe even a sleep mask.
I always change into a comfortable pair of slippers as soon as I get to my seat, as well as some cozy socks.
Look into getting a foot hammock… these crafty little items are a lifesaver to your legs and help take some pressure off your lower back when sitting for long periods of time.
4 – Hydrate
Being dehydrated can make you feel tired and even ill. Airplanes are notorious for being very dry so make sure you keep yourself nice and hydrated throughout your flight.
I like to bring this collapsible water bottle with me when I fly because it’s easy to pack but can be filled with water and kept close by when I need it.
You really should try to avoid alcohol and caffeine as they do tend to dehydrate you. I can sometimes be a nervous flier so I might treat myself one to glass of wine when it’s time to get some sleep, just don’t overdo it!
Trust me, staying hydrated can really make a difference when you are trying to survive a long flight in economy!
5 – Bring All The Right Essentials
Being stuck on an airplane for 15 hours straight was not a place where I wanted to forget anything! So make sure you keep a list of items you will want for your long-haul flight.
The most important being your chargers! The worse thing to happen would be for you to pack an iPad, a Kindle, and your phone… and then have them all die in the first few hours of your trip. (I always bring a regular book to read just in case my electronics all decide to malfunction on a flight).
Things like noise-canceling headphones can be ideal when you want to either watch a movie or try to get some sleep.
For more tips on what to bring on a flight, check out this list of Travel Essentials. I never go anywhere without this complete list!
6 – Bring Snacks
When on a long flight, airlines will supply you with a meal or two. But dont ever rely just on that. Sometimes the meals might be pretty small or just not that tasty. If you dont have a backup, it will be a really long flight!
I like to pack some snacks that travel well. Nothing cold. A couple of protein bars, some crackers, and peanut butter travel well and can be a filling snack. Nuts, cereal, and rice cakes are some of my other favorites.
It’s always better to have too much food than not enough when on a long flight.
7 – Walk Around
When sitting for long periods of time, you have an increased chance of getting blood clots in your legs. To make sure this doesn’t happen, it is essential to get up and walk around every other hour or so.
A good pair of compression socks will help with this too! Not to mention you tend to get swollen feet and legs when flying for long periods of time. Compression socks will help with this so you don’t arrive at your destination looking swollen.
I tend to have lower back stiffness and soreness when I sit for too long of a period, so getting up and walking around the airplane cabin helps stretch my body out.
I also counteract back pain by getting a chiropractor adjustment the day before a long flight and making sure I stretch both the night before and in the airline terminal before I board.
8 – Refresh Yourself
Giving yourself a little refresh here and there throughout your flight helps not only pass some time but makes you feel more human again.
I try to stay on a similar schedule with my skincare and teeth brushing as I would at home. So before I go to sleep on the plane, I’ll go and wash my face, put on some moisturizer, and brush my teeth. I’ll do the same several hours later when I wake up.
I also like to take a little time to do some self-care on the flight. This again helps pass the time but also helps with my flying anxiety.
I’ll bring a face mask and sometimes even some hand masks too. Some eye de-puffers and lip masks are also a great way to relax and feel super refreshed when you land!
My self-Care refresh items:
9 – Get Some Sleep
Sleeping is an obvious way to pass lots of time when trying to survive a long flight in economy!
If you are not a great sleeper on airlines, plan ahead and find a good sleep aid that will help you get some sleep. I tend to use Benedryl as it makes me nice and drowsy and is easily sold over the counter. But Benadryl can make some people drowsy for hours after they wake up as well.
Melatonin is another great option you can get over the counter that aids in sleep.
I always recommend testing any medication several times before your actual flight. It’s rare, but some people can have the opposite reaction to things like Benedryl and it can actually make them hyper.. which would be awful for your long-haul flight!
10 – Fight Jet Lag
Long flights can often lead to jet lag after you land. This means your first day or two of vacation can be ruined if you don’t take the time to properly fight your jet lag!
Biggest tip of all! As soon as you board your flight, set your time to the time you land at your final destination. Then try to keep on that schedule throughout your flight.
So sleep when it’s nighttime at your destination. Eat when it’s meal times, and try to stay awake during the daytime hours of your final destination.
The more you can stay on the time schedule of your destination, the easier it will be to fight jet lag. Staying hydrated and eating well during your flight will help as well.
11- Stock Up On Things To Do
Don’t rely on the airline to keep you busy and entertained. One time when flying, I planned to watch the movies they offered on board. But the system was broken and our screens were blank the entire flight. Thank goodness I brought my iPad with some movies already downloaded!
I use this great IPad case that comes with a keyboard so I can also get some work done when I fly.
Several months before any long flight, I try to download as many movies and TV shows as I can to keep me occupied during my flight.
I also bring my Kindle with several different books downloaded in case I finish one.
And when I feel like I’ve had enough of electronics, I’ll keep myself busy with some fun adult coloring books and markers. It can be really calming to use these and really helps pass the time as well.
12 – Get To Know Everyone Around You
When trying to survive a long flight in economy, try to get to know the people around you.
On smaller flights, I like to enjoy my quiet time and tend to not engage with other passengers. But on long flights, getting to know your fellow row mates can be very helpful. Not only talking to them can help pass tons of time, but then they tend to be much nicer when you need to get up and walk around during the flight.
Get to know your airline stewards too! Creating a relationship with them off the bat can help lead to upgrades, extra food, blankets, or even just tips for a better flight.
How To Survive a Long Flight in Economy
Being stuck on a long flight in economy doesn’t have to suck! With these helpful tips, you can arrive at your destination refreshed and ready to explore!
You may even find you enjoyed your flight!