Skip to main content
5 min.

Tips to happily survive a long haul flight, I post I needed to write!

Traveling is something more or less everybody likes, for the pleasure of discovery and adventure or to relax in the sun even out of season, but what people tend to like much less is a long-haul flight, especially when you don’t have a budget for a first-class private cabin on Emirates. Still, only for a random uncomfortable and narrow economy seat … it might be a nightmare.

Actually, I have never considered the problem, probably because I was – to my great joy – “shipped” to Argentina from an early age and the pride of traveling “like an adult,” but much more spoiled by the hostesses. The happiness to spend time with my granny and aunt, I never thought about the hours I spent on board.

In 2005, however, I experienced terrible pain getting my eardrum pierced while landing in Zanzibar, and a few years later, I had a problem with my legs caused by the pressure and started to deal with the long flights with more serious concern.

In general, I tend to learn almost only by making mistakes, but not everybody needs to ass through bad experiences to understand life’s details! So here’s a short guide to help you better face a long intercontinental flight.

Post personal bad experience tips for a long haul flight

How to face a long haul flight: cabin luggage

First of all, you should start by organizing your cabin luggage, thinking about everything you could need during the flight. Mine is always roughly the same, and these are the objects that I need to survive the flight:

  • hygienic wipes for baby, very comfortable when you don’t have a bidet, but also to freshen up and wash hands during the flight
  • my beloved Canon with its charger
  • iPhone with charger, waterproof case, and earphones (those supplied by air companies are usually extremely poor)
  • my fantastic 3G Kindle Paperwhite, just in case the scheduled movies onboard aren’t that interesting and to check my travel notes
  • USB power bank
  • pen and notebook
  • energy bars and snacks in case the food onboard is not to my taste
  • clutch bag with toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, lip balm, moisturizer, Amuchina gels, and medicines I need
  • an extra pair of socks to walk barefoot on the plane
  • pillow, eye mask, and the fantastic seating system Back-Up by Nada Chair I bought in the States

In my post with practical tips for a super lightweight suitcase, you can find the complete list of what I put in my backpack – which I keep strictly under the seat in front of me – and many other useful ideas.

Once the cabin luggage ready, pick comfortable clothes for the flight, and regardless of the season, do not forget a sweater because the air conditioning on board is always a killer!

In-Flight Health

As mentioned at the beginning of the post, a few years ago I got very close to phlebitis back from Tokyo and since then also after a very short flight my feet and legs hurt and gets to look like huge sausages… this happens surely because my blood pressure by itself is not that fantastic, but also because the pressurization in the cabin during the flight is equivalent to the one you get at 2500 meters above the sea level and this enhances both cardiovascular and hearing problems!

So, to sum it up, this is how I face in-flight cardiovascular problems:

  • the day of the flight, while still lying in bed, I wear those absolutely horrendous elastic compression stockings purchased at the pharmacy and take them off only several hours after landing
  • upon takeoff I take off my shoes and replace them with my extra socks
  • every hour I do some simple gym (heel-toe exercises, rotating the ankles, lifting the legs, etc.). Do not worry because since a few years ago, all companies must remind you to do so and suggest what you should do…
  • I drink a lot of plain water, and consequently, I get up often to go to the bathroom, but it is only good (though I hate going to the toilet on airplanes!)

To face the problems related to hearing, that generally you only have during landing and when having a bad cold or ear infections:

  • I take an anti-inflammatory  before embarking and again about one hour before landing
  • I take the Sudafed, an excellent decongestant
  • I pack my special earplugs and if you don’t have any, report the problem to a hostess to be able to live a surreal experience like mine. During the return flight after the eardrum perforation, they provided me with some cotton soaked in hot oil and sandwiched between two plastic cups that I had to hold on my ears! Aside from my tragicomic aspect at that moment – which luckily no one immortalized – this surreal superstructure compensates, and you literally feel the air coming out of the ears 😀
  • chewing ordinary chewing um also helps

I’ve never experienced it (I do not wish to get extra misfortunes!!!), but it seems that even the toothache is significantly amplified during the flight, then don’t forget your pills!

Another bitter enemy in flight, especially when you embark beautifully tanned after the holiday, is the air conditioning that not only freezes you but dehydrates you as well. So, drink a lot, moisturize your skin and lips, and personally, I also add some eye drops and wear glasses instead of lenses.

And if you suffer from airsickness, do not forget the tablets! You can even buy some last second at the pharmacy in the airport.

Breve guida per un volo a lunga percorrenza

Practical tips for selecting the seat on the plane

Until a few years ago, I preferred the window not to be disturbed by anyone, but now I have to move as much as possible. Then I opt for the aisle, and I always ask if they can assign me a seat with free places around it so I could lie down, and traveling out of season, I often get it.

That said, these are some information to help you choose the seat that suits you:

  • the first row is not my cup of tea because I’m not allowed to keep my bag at my feet, but it is ideal for stretching the legs and also disembarking quickly when you’re in a hurry
  • the seats by the emergency exits have much more space, but again, no bag at your feet
  • in the foremost section of the engine, noise is less annoying
  • near the wings, you feel less turbulence and for those who are scared of flying is a good location, but no cool views here…
  • the seats near the toilets are inadvisable because you never relax cause of the never-ending queue standing next to you
  • avoids the last row in economy class because it is truly the most uncomfortable and in some older aircraft seat is also completely blocked even during long-haul flights

Well, have a nice flight and enjoy your trip!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Silvia's Trips

Hi there! My name is Silvia and after 15 years between the Paris Opera and the Palau de les Arts in Valencia I now run a boutique hotel in Cinque Terre, deal with tourism management and blogging, sail, horse-ride, play guitar and write about my solo trips around the world. For more info about me and my travel blog check my full bio.