In Holidays, Travel & Adventure


Mention the words, “Long Haul Flights” to me and my heart begins to beat faster.

long haul flights graphic

I love them, loathe them, dread them and look forward to them in equal measure.

Long Haul Flights

They promise excitement, adventure, family reunions, and time to sit back relax and be waited on. But they also require planning, as well as fortitude – because who doesn’t hate it when the plane begins to shiver and shake due to turbulence above some desolate desert just south of Timbuktu?

To tell you the truth I’ve lost count of the number of long haul flights I’ve taken. We’ve lived in 11 different countries and holidayed ‘back home’ many times during our expat years. We’ve also been supremely lucky to visit many exotic and not so exotic destinations all around the world during the course of Dave’s career, and my blogging.

I’m often asked, “What do you take with you on long haul flights?” along with, “What tips do you have to stay sane for 11 or so hours at a stretch stuck in a seat hemmed in by people you might not know?” And “What do you wear for comfort and style?”

Long Haul Flights, Frankie4 shoes

On long haul flights wear shoes that are expandable, like these FRANKiE4 sandals which have velcro straps across the toes.

In no particular order, here are 21 tips which work for me. I hope they might help make your long haul flights just a little bit more tolerable too.

Long Haul Flights, what to wear.

Wear something that is smart but really comfortable. I favour stretchy, non crease clothes, and shoes that are expandable such as FRANKiE4 sandals.

Tips for long haul flights.

  1. Take an empty water bottle with you, and ask the flight attendant to fill it up, so that you can keep your own stash of water in your seat pocket for any middle of the night thirst quenching.
  2. Avoid paying for water – if you have to change planes, ask the flight attendant to fill your bottle up just before you disembark, so that you have water in the airport terminal if you have to wait for your flight connection.
  3. Don’t drink coffee just before you board, because if you’re like me, coffee will make you want to pee even before the plane takes off.
  4. Have a light meal before the flight at your normal meal time. Dont eat for the sake of it because you’ll most likely be fed within an hour of getting on the plane. Also, if you’re not hungry then don’t eat just for the sake of something to do on the plane – you’ll probably feel better for not eating.
  5. Wear layers. Planes can be hot and cold, so can different airports.
  6. Wear smart clothes to the airport and for checking in – you never know, you might get an upgrade. Either way, it pays to look reasonably smart. I’ll often wear a stretchy, no iron jersey dress.
  7. If you prefer trousers, then in your hand luggage take a lightweight, baggy, pair of long trouser pants. Just before your plane is due to take off go to the more spacious loos at the airport and change into them so that you’ll be comfortable on the flight. When you arrive at your destination you can change back into your smart pants while you’re waiting for your luggage to appear on the carousel.
  8. On long haul flights I generally wear a soft cardigan or lightweight fleecey over a (coloured – not white!) T-shirt and also take with me a soft and luxurious Pashmina to snuggle around my neck and shoulders if necessary. If I’m flying to a chilly destination I might also take a lightweight coat to put in the overhead locker for arrival.
  9. Take a pair of long socks in your hand luggage. I always take my shoes off on  long haul flights in an effort to feel more comfy, but I take a long pair of socks for two reasons. Firstly, because I feel that long socks might help circulation just a little as my feet and ankles tend to swell and secondly because I’m pernickety and don’t like the thought of padding in and out of the loos either barefoot or in the socks I’ll be putting back into my shoes on arrival. My plane socks go into a plastic bag and straight into the wash when I get home! I realise this could be a bit obsessive compulsive!
  10. Wear shoes that expand a little. There’s nothing worse than trying to squeeze your shoes back onto swollen feet after a long time in the air. My go to travel shoes are FRANKiE4 Sandals.
  11. Alcohol really does dehydrate you on a plane, so avoid it if you can. I must admit to enjoying a glass of wine with an aeroplane lunch or evening meal but no more than one.
  12. Onboard I try to moisturise my hands each time I visit the bathroom, and I generally have a small tube of basic moisturiser in my bag to use on my face (as part of my liquids and gels allowance declared at security checks, so it has to be a tiny demo-sized moisturiser).
  13. Your eyes can also dehydrate, I sometimes take eye drops with me to relieve tired or gritty eyes at that moment on a long haul when you really feel you’ve had enough and want to get off into the fresh air. Don’t forget though that eye drops are considered part of your liquids and gels allowance, and also need to be in a sealed plastic bag to go through security checks.
  14. Yes, it is important to get up and stretch during the flight. Despite the fact that I feel like a fool, I can often be found at the back of the plane or by the bathroom bending and stretching, doing figures of eight with my knees to stretch and rotate my hips, and pretending as if I’m picking apples off tall branches to stretch my torso.
  15. In my seat I make sure to rotate my ankles and lift my knees up and down every now and then to keep the circulation going – and I don’t care what the person next to me thinks I’m doing.
  16. Say Hello to the person sitting beside you because you never know, you might end up having a nice chat. If you don’t like them or you think they are going to be the type of person who might chat the hind leg off a donkey, then simply smile, put your ear phones on, watch a movie, listen to some music or tell them you’re tired and want to sleep.
  17. Take a good book to read, something easy and gripping – or take your iPad or Kindle with your bookstore already loaded.
  18. Turn your phone and electronic devices off when you’re told to do so and enjoy a little digital detox for a few hours.
  19. Do sit back, relax and enjoy being waited on. This is ‘you’ time. No driving, no food to buy or cook, and hours to read, dream or think.
  20. If you wear glasses, don’t forget to take some lens cleaning wipes in your hand luggage.
  21. Take some chewing gum to chew during take off and landing to help prevent your ears from popping.

Don’t Worry Be Happy!

Most of all – Don’t worry, be happy! Remember you are one of the very privileged minority in the world who are able to be geographically mobile and long haul flights are most likely leading you to an exciting adventure!

Long Haul Flights keep me Lovin’ Life!

Have you any tips to add – please share them in the comments section!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links from which I stand to earn a small commission at no cost to you. Lifestyle Fifty is also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

So without further ado, it’s onto this week’s Lovin’ Life link up.

The Lovin’ Life Team

Kathy from 50 Shades of Age
Deb from Debbish
Leanne from Deep Fried Fruit
and oh yes, Me! at Lifestyle Fifty

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Showing 20 comments
  • Anwar

    Thanks! Definitely some useful tips here especially with water bottles. I dont know I’m always afraid to have one figuring they would tackle me thinking there was water in it at security 😉

    • Johanna

      Yes, me too Anwar. I make sure to get rid of every last drop of water just in case!

  • Reply

    I’ve only done a couple of long haul flights, but even so I can definitely agree these are great tips!!!! Oh and I also agree with this line: I love them, loathe them, dread them and look forward to them in equal measure. Just quietly, I’m hoping there’s plenty more long haul flights in my future 🙂

    • Johanna

      I hope there are many more long haul flights in your future too, Janet 🙂

  • Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

    We do so many long haul flights. These are great tips.

    • Johanna

      Thanks Leanne 🙂 Happy travelling 🙂

  • Deborah

    Great tips Jo. I haven’t been on a long flight for at least a couple of decades but recall finding them really tedious.

    • Johanna

      After a while Deb, with family so far away, long haul for us has become a necessary evil to see loved ones. But yes, if I could tele-transport instead, I would!

  • Lyndall @ SeizeTheDayProject

    Love your tips Jo. Unfortunately long haul flights are a fact of life when you live in Australia. I’m hankering for another trip to Europe, but I’m put off by the thought of another long haul flight (it was the only negative on our last trip!). We are thinking of going premium economy to get a little more space and wider seats …. 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

    • Johanna

      Now THAT would be the way to go Lyndall! Anything for a little more space and breathing out room!

  • Shamara Williams

    Great tips Jo! I concur with them all. Did a few long haul flights last year on a four month holiday that included Morocco, 2.5 months in Europe, Cuba and Mexico. Great fun but ohhhh that loooong flight home to Australia! Now we’re trying to live with less For the rest of the year and my blog link is
    Also on Instagram look for (or #thejoyofless ) to follow our journey.

    • Johanna

      Hello Shamara! Nice to hear from you 🙂 Wow, you’ve had a wonderful trip! Yes, that long flight is horrid, but the travel has to be worth it 🙂 Going to pop over to your blog now 🙂

  • writeofthemiddle

    Those are great tips Jo! I’ll have to keep them in mind for if I EVER do a long haul flight! The longest flight I’ve been on was around 8 hours to Singapore from Brisbane. Hoping to get to the UK and Europe one day and I’d really like to see Canada. We shall see! #TeamLovinLife

    • Johanna

      Ahh Min, I hope you get there too one day 🙂

  • Mystery Case

    Great tips. I’m sorting my passport this week for our trip to Singapore in May. If that goes well then London and Athens are next on the list.

    • Johanna

      Fantastic Raychael! Keeping fingers crossed for you 🙂

  • Kathy Marris

    Anything to make the pain of long haul flights a little easier I say! I despise flying for hours cooped up in the confines of a narrow seat with no leg room in front of you. It really can be uncomfortable. However all of your tips are extremely sensible. I always take my u-shaped neck cushion with me as I find it supports my neck whilst I sleep (if and when it happens, which is rare!).

    • Johanna

      Hi Kathy, yes a neck cushion is a good idea. Some people love them. I gave up taking mine as it used to make me all hot under the collar (so to speak!) and in fact funnily enough I find I do better without it now.

  • robjodiefilogomo

    Great tips, Jo—I’m not a great flyer. Not that I’m scared, but the seats are uncomfortable. Needless to say we are taking a short trip this weekend, and I’ll be layering galore!!
    Great idea about the water bottle—we usually just buy one once we are through security–why didn’t I think to take an empty bottle instead?

    • Johanna

      Oh Jo aren’t the seats uncomfortable. Tell me about it! Saving money on water is one of my little wins! Hope it’s a good tip for you too!!

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