How to prepare for a long haul flight in 10 easy steps

Since moving nearly 5,000 miles away from home, and thanks to my healthy obsession with travelling the world, 10-12 hour long flights, layovers and jet lag have become fairly standard. I'm definitely not complaining...but I know first hand that long journeys, while very exciting, can be uncomfortable, tiring and for some people very scary! On top of that there there’s often little time to rest on arrival as you want to start exploring, there's hosts waiting to entertain you, or you have more travel still to come, so I thought I’d share some tips and tricks for getting to your destination as refreshed and relaxed as possible! 

1. Make packing a priority 

Don’t leave work and packing to the last minute. The last thing you want before a long-haul flight is a late night and that’s exactly what you’ll end up with if you’re doing laundry and stuffing clothes in a bag hours before you travel. Thinking that you’ll get a good nights sleep on the plane is a mistake and you’re far better off going into the journey feeling rested.  Try to get a full 8 hours the night before you fly if you can.

2. Load up on vitamins 

It’s no secret that planes are a germ fest – re-circulated air makes it easy for pesty bugs to spread among passengers so load up on vitamins and make sure your immune system is nice and strong to fend off unwanted illnesses. I start taking echanacea a few days before I travel and keep taking it for the whole time I’m away from home as new environments have a knack of sending your body off kilter. A Berroca or similar supplement will give you a good boost too if you're not too keen on the plant science.

Top Tip – during the flight, spread a little Neosporin (antiseptic cream) around your nostrils. The cream or gel will help keep nasties out of your nose and keep your skin from drying out as an added bonus!  


3. Stay hydrated 

Take a bottle of water on board so you don’t have to keep asking for it from the cabin crew. It’s easier to avoid spillages if you have something with a cap on and you’ll have it on hand when you wake up with a dry mouth if you fall asleep - the WORST! Most people like to enjoy an alcoholic drink or two to get in the holiday spirit or to help them drift off to sleep and that's totally fine, but make sure you match each alcoholic drink with an equal sizes dose of H2O. Nothing worse than starting your trip with a hangover. 

4. Be clever with carry on

Make sure you have the items you're want on the plane close to hand, not above your seat. Your book, headphones, water bottle and pillow should all be at your feet. Don't overpack your handbag either - you don't want to have to empty the contents of your life onto the floor every time you want a tic tac. 

5. Bring toys

Keep boredom at bay with movies and music pre-loaded onto fully charged devices, and plan for delays on the ground with a traditional pack of cards you can play at the airport bar. 

6. Dress not to impress 

Keep it comfy and breathable. Remember you're going to have to go through security at least once on a long journey so the fewer accessories you have to remove each time, the easier you'll find it. Slip on shoes can be whipped off to go through the scanner rather than wasting time dealing with laces. I sometimes wear jeans through the airport and then change into leggings for the flight - a change of clothes can help you relax and settle into a good nights sleep. 

Don't forget that on long flights the cabin temperature will fluctuate so layer up. If you're in an exit row you may feel a draft from the door so an extra pair of socks, jumper and scarf you can snuggle up in can come in handy.

7. Sleep aids 

Sleeping sitting upright isn't comfortable for anyone so give yourself as much chance as possible of getting some shut eye with the following:

  1. A good neck pillow - something that will really support your head and stop it from rolling forward and waking you up with a jolt. I use this one and it's super comfy although not as portable as the inflatable ones. Most large international airports will have a shop that sells them so leave time to grab one before you depart!

  1. Earplugs, or noise cancelling headphones, or both! Try to make the night as peaceful as possible

  1. Melatonin, or other natural sleeping tablets.

8. Say no to stinky

Travelling has a nasty way of leaving you feeling grotty and desperate for a shower. Having a supply of face wipes and a small deodorant in your wash bag will help you fight the plane grime. A mini tube of moisturiser is also a good ideas as your skin will dry out during the flight and a lip balm in essential! 

9. Stock up on snacks

You may not fancy the plane food, or miss one of the meals all together if you're sleeping, so throw a couple of granola bars in your bag for a healthy snack if you're feeling peckish. There's nothing worse than trying to sleep on an empty stomach! Mints to keep your breath feeling fresh and sweets to pop your ears on takeoff and landing never go amiss either! 

10. Take your time  

Arrive at the airport early to avoid rushing, stressing and sweating! There is nothing worse than having to sprint through an airport to make a flight. Leave ample time to check in, get a good seat, browse the shops and get any last minute supplies before heading to your gate. Try to board as early as possible so you can get the best spot for your carry on and make sure it's close to you. Check for any issues with your seat or entertainment system so they can be sorted before take-off. Then sit back and settle in for the journey! 

Airport travel trips

I hope that helps anyone who is planning an adventure soon. If you travel regularly, what are your top tips for a long flight?

Top tips for flying long haul