Survival guide for long flights

Even the most seasoned of travelers will tell you long flights aren’t for sissies. From dry cabin air that cracks your skin and lips to sitting for 14 hours with only an in-flight movie to entertain you, long flights can take their toll. Luckily, there are ways to make a lengthy flight more tolerable. Here are a few tips to survive your next long-haul flight.

Ask for a better seat

First-class seat on Korean Airlines (Image: Danny Choo used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

First-class seat on Korean Airlines (Image: Danny Choo used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

Before booking your flight, use a site like SeatGuru to determine which seats to book and which to avoid. SeatGuru provides seat maps for most airplanes, including notes on which seats have extra legroom, which don’t recline and which are particularly noisy.

If you want to sleep through your flight and don’t plan on getting up much, book a window seat. On the other hand, if you’re someone who can’t sit still for hours on end, booking an aisle seat may be your best bet.

When checking in, it doesn’t hurt to ask the ticket agent if there are better seating options available. While it’s a long shot to get upgraded to first class for free, you might get lucky with a complimentary upgrade to a seat with extra legroom or a seat in the emergency row.

If it turns out your flight isn’t full, there may be empty rows in the back where you can stretch out during your long flight. After boarding, ask a flight attendant if you can move to the back after takeoff.

Drink plenty of water

The dry cabin air makes you more likely to become dehydrated, so drinking plenty of water is a must. This is especially true if you’re going to indulge in a few in-flight libations. Bring a refillable bottle (you can bring it through the security checkpoint as long as it’s empty) or buy a large bottle of water after passing the security checkpoint; this way, you’ll be sure to have plenty of water during the flight.

Get comfortable

During a long-haul flight, you want to dress for comfort rather than style. Loose clothing isn’t just more comfortable – it also helps prevent your veins from constricting in-flight, which can lead to deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Layers are also a smart idea to weather multiple climates, whether it’s a chilly cabin or a tropical destination.

Travel pillow (Image: DanaK~WaterPenny)

Travel pillow (Image: DanaK~WaterPenny)

While a travel pillow and eye mask may not be the most fashionable travel accessories, they’re certainly some of the most beneficial if you’re planning to sleep during your flight.

Stay entertained

Crossword puzzles, sudoku books, an iPad filled with movies or a well-stocked Kindle – whatever your in-flight entertainment weapon of choice may be, don’t forget to pack a few items to keep you occupied during the flight. Traveling for business? Bring your work on board and enjoy some distraction-free time to get down to business. And whatever you plan on bringing, don’t forget your headphones.

Bring toiletries to refresh

Toiletries (Image: javajoba)

Toiletries (Image: javajoba)

After 10 or more hours on a flight, you may feel the need to refresh a bit. You can pack a few toiletries in your carry-on (in a zipped plastic bag, of course) to help you freshen up before touching down in your destination. Think essentials like a toothbrush and travel-sized toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant and lotion. You may also want to bring facial wipes, lip balm and eye drops since the cabin air can dry out your skin, lips and eyes.

Do you have a tip for surviving long flights? Share in the comments below!

(Main image: Daquella manera)