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how to survive long haul flights

A lot of people know it. Wanting to go to a destination, but not wanting to go on another horrible long haul flight. I actually love flying and it is never a bad flight with my way of flying.

Plane wing with clouds and sun

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Booking the right flight

Alright, this is actually an easy one. There are different flight you can book. Cheap ones with a transfer. The transfer can be somewhere between 2,5 hours to 30 hours. But you can also book a direct flight that may be a bit more expensive.

I always make the decision on a couple of points.

  • How long would the direct flight be?
  • Is the transfer on a useful point?
  • What is the price difference?
  • Am I traveling alone or with someone else?

How long would the long haul flight be?

I think there is a difference between 8 hours and 16 hours. But I guess that is a difference for everyone. I would hate it to have a transfer on an 8-hour flight. Because I would finally be asleep or totally comfortable and then I would have to get out and do it all again.

On a 16-hour flight, it can be nice to get out of the plane for a while and stretch your legs. And eat something normal. I do not like plane food. It also gives a chance that the plane will be emptier than the first flight. On my last trip to Thailand, the first flight was almost totally empty (I had 3 seats to myself!) and the second one was full.

Is the transfer on a useful point?

So I live in Europe. There are quite some airports within an hour. I will never choose a transfer after an hour and then another 13-hour flight. If I book a flight with a transfer, it has to be halfway. This way you have a 6-hour flight and a 7-hour flight. It is a good time to stretch your legs and to sleep or watch a whole movie on each flight.

What is the price difference?

Alright, so for €100,- I am not choosing for a stop. Because if you get a drink and some food at the transfer airport, you have already spent half of that.

If the difference is more than €200,-, I will choose for the transfer. I don’t mind waiting a few hours to get the possibility to stay a day longer. For €400+ I will even wait longer than 5 hours. So, for me, it really depends on what the difference is and what you can get for it.

Inside of a plane

Am I traveling alone or with someone else?

So, I travel alone but also with family and friends. If I travel with my grandmother, I would never book a transfer for longer than 3 hours. She already does not like flying, so I would rather pay a bit more and keep her happy, than watching my wallet.

I would do the same if I was traveling with small kids or babies. When I travel alone, I do not mind and look at all the other points more.

Preparing for the long haul flight

Alright, So I booked my long haul flight and now I just have to survive it. My trick is actually quite easy. Make sure you have some series or movies on your phone or tablet, have a power bank with you, good earphones, a book or e-reader, and a sweater. Why? To get some me time in otherwise lost time.

With just some small things, the time will fly by. And don’t forget that you can also use this at the airport itself. But then you still have wifi or data, so you can use your social media. Still, it is always good to have something to do with you.

Series and movies

A lot of people have Netflix, Amazon Prime (Get a free month!) or something that looks like it nowadays. I am always watching a show, so I make sure I download at least 10 episodes, so I can watch them without wifi. Of course, the plane has an entertainment system, well most of them do. But I like to watch my own shows, even though I always check the entertainment system also! Find some great shows and enjoy!

Plane wing by sunset

A power bank

Most of the planes have a USB port, so you can charge your phone. I have had 2 flights already, that it did not work. So then you are happy that you have a power bank with you! Just have it in your carry on.

I have the Anker Powercore 20100 and it is quite expensive for a power bank. But I never had one that could charge my phone this quickly and 6 times. So I am sold.


I always bring my own headphones. I studied tourism and heard from some flight attendants that the earphones just get resealed, but are not new. So I always use my own. As my headphones are Bluetooth, I also bring earphones for the entertainment system.

I have the JBL T450BT headphones and I love them! They are still pretty cheap but cancel a lot of noise and the sound is great. My ears normally hurt by headphones, but these are okay. They are wireless, so you can not connect them with the entertainment system.

A Book / E-reader

I love reading, so why not use this time to catch up on my favorite books? When traveling, I always bring my e-reader. This way I have 100 books with me without all the weight. Finds some great books!

Make sure it is charged or bring your power bank again. You can actually read a book or two on a flight. Well, if you do not fall asleep.

I personally have the KOBO Aura H20. One of the cheaper ones, but it is great. It does everything you need. I just got a new one, but with my old one, I survived 4 years with at least 100 books a year. So I really use it a lot.

A sweater

Bring an extra sweater. It is not only cold in the air, but it also doubles as a pillow. I put it on backward and put the hood over my head. This way it will be dark and you can put the fabric into one corner to lean onto.

I like this more than a travel pillow because you can also use it during your holiday, instead of carrying extra weight. Well, this depends on your destination of course!


A lot of people can not handle the change in height during the takeoff and landing. This can get really painful and annoying. A very easy thing to fix this, of at least make is less painful, is chewing gum.

Somehow that opens up all your airways (your ears are connected with your nose and mouth) and helps them stay ‘open’. This way it won’t hurt that much or maybe not at all.

How to survive the long haul flight?

So with all these preparations, it will be really easy to survive your long haul flight. You will have something to do and the perfect way to sleep. Of course, there are some more tips you can use.

  • Download your favorite Spotify playlist – otherwise, you can not listen to it. You can also use Amazon Music(with a free 30-day trial!)
  • Make sure you have something to do that does not any others (please do not do karaoke or strip poker or something?)
  • If you do not like plane food, make sure to take some cookies with you. If you bring a closed package, you can take it behind security.
  • Don’t forget to drink. You will need more water than you normally drink in the air because you will dehydrate.
  • Do not drink too much alcohol. Because you are in the air, it will be stronger than you think and no one likes drunks on their plane.
  • Take a walk sometimes, your legs and back will thank you. just walk a bit in the aisle or do some weird yoga pose. It may look weird, but it will help.

With all these tips, your next flight should be easy. Maybe you will even start to like flying! I know it helped with me. So survive your long haul flight and share to help others!

Please pin it to help others and comment your best tricks!

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  • Arunima Dey

    4 February 2019

    I agree with you on most of the things. And on what I didn’t was simply because I never thought about them. So I will try some of those out the next time like downloading my Spotify list. I think a crucial point that I keep in mind when booking is what kind of an airline and/or what kind of passengers generally fly on that airline. This is because especially from India, you have a lot of blue-collared, semi-educated people who travel to the middle East for labour work. I am not a horrible classist person. The sad reality is that these men have almost never flown before, and can’t seem to handle the whole ‘a single woman travelling alone’ very well, if you know what I mean. Of course, there are creepy and pervy (mostly Indian) men too on supposedly ‘good’ airlines who are supposedly well educated and come from middle/upper class. I have had run-ins with all kinds of men, regardless of their class. But I get rather uncomfortable when I am hugely outnumbered by them, which happens all the time on Saudi Airlines flights between India and KSA. I flew with them once and the experience was sheer, never ending torture. Also, the Saudi airports are absolutely rubbish. You can fly very cheaply with Saudi A from India to South Africa, and I am like nope never again.

  • 4 February 2019

    This was a very good read and some fantastic advice for long-haul flights! I hear ya on the Netflix thing. On my last long flight I watched the whole first season of Breaking Bad, haha. Another thing I like to do is download a load of podcasts as well – I find it helps with getting me to sleep.

  • Sydney | A World in Reach

    4 February 2019

    Great tips! I have a 14 hour flight to Tokyo in May that I’m not looking forward to. I can never sleep on planes so I’m always looking for ways to occupy myself! My last long flight (12 hours to Shanghai) was miserable and my seatmate kept falling asleep on my shoulder lol. I’m glad my boyfriend will be with me this time – it’s nice to have someone to talk to!

  • Federica Provolenti

    4 February 2019

    I consider myself a pro when it comes to traveling on the planes but I still remember the four hours long journey when I forgot my sweater and on the aircraft the crew members were unable to offer me a blanket. Worst error ever! So great reminder in your post!

  • 5 February 2019

    Super helpful when planning for a long flight! Having that downloaded movie or episodes is so important to remember… it can really help pass the time faster! I am always cold when flying and that comfy warm sweater can make all the difference! Cheers!

  • 5 February 2019

    Great post! We’ll be taking our longest flight with our boys this summer (to Hawaii) so this is all really useful. They are great fliers- but this will definitely be the longest they’ve been in the air. Think positive thoughts for us!! We’ll be using some of these tips for sure!!!!

  • 5 February 2019

    Great list. I did basically all of these things on my 20 hours flight to NZ (with a break included). I downloaded apple music instead of spotify, but otherwise your tips were all right on!

  • alison netzer

    5 February 2019

    Great list. I always bring extra sweaters as I am always cold!! I also carry plenty of extra batteries as I travel with kids and if their electronics go out with no where to charge, I am doomed. Great tips on picking the flight too.

  • 6 February 2019

    Not only for flights, this post is a great checklist for any long journey. Wonderful tips to follow for my weekly long journeys too ❤

  • 6 February 2019

    This will be very useful at the end of May! I’ve recently noticed that I’m losing patience even for 3 to 4 hour flights. What I do now is deprive myself of sleep prior to the trip so I can sleep through the entire flight. Sometimes, though, that doesn’t work. So I either read a lot or… play warlings with my fiance. :))

  • 6 February 2019

    Great post! I love to take extra care of my skin when traveling and put on some night mask on and leave it on for the flight:) also, definitely think a transfer half way can be nice some times! Stretching your legs is so good after a couple of houth.

  • 8 February 2019

    What a wonderfully detailed post on how to select and endure the long haul to get somewhere. I especially appreciated you outlining how you valued time and money when deciding on flights. I need to check out that power bank. My power bank is becoming my new best friend so I feel guilty about looking to upgrade. But a girl’s gotrta binge sometimes. Haha. Seriously though, flying has never been the same since I Netflix downloads.

  • 9 February 2019

    Fabulous tips and ideas on long haul flights I already do some, but will be adding to my list after reading this. Thanks for sharing bookmarked to remind me what I need to do.


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