Better Air Travel: 9 Tips for Surviving Long & Overnight Flights

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Want to have a better, more relaxed plane flight? Trying to get some restful sleep on your overnight flight? Nervous about the logistics? With these 9 tips for long haul flights you’ll be a flying genius.

1. Pack as light as possible & focus on your carry on

If possible, pack as lightly as possible for your travels. Having less luggage to, well, lug through the airport makes your whole experience much less stressful. We try to go with one checked bag and one good carry on.

Speaking of the carry on, it’s a very important bag! The carry on is what you’ll have with you throughout your whole flight experience. Make sure it’s a comfortable bag, case, or backpack that meets the airline size requirements. In your carry on, pack all your necessities for the flight: books, laptop, snacks, tissues (and more we’ll get into later).

In addition, we suggest keeping all important travel documents on your person inside your carry on. It’s also wise to pack a full outfit, in case your checked baggage gets delayed or lost. Check out this helpful list of carry on on bag essentials.

2. Make sure all your devices are 100% charged before your flight, and take advantage of those airport electrical outlets.

Plan for power! Nothing is worse than boarding your 8-hour flight and realizing you forgot to charge your phone. While some airlines have fixed this issue (and you can stay charged via USB port), it’s best to assume there won’t be an opportunity to charge inflight. 

If you do need to use your laptop or phone, look around for some handy airport outlets. However, sometimes these are almost impossible to find. A good tip is to grab an airport meal as occasionally restaurants and cafes will have available plugs. Starbucks is usually pretty good for this.

Even better, invest in a portable power bank. These are light and easy to pack, and have been lifesaving for us several times on long trips. Most can handle 2-4 full charges. 

3. Dress in comfortable, layered clothing.

The airport is not a place to be worrying about fashion. During your flight, especially a longer or overnight flight, you will want to feel comfortable. Loose clothing is advisable so you can stretch out and sit cozily in your airplane seat.

When flying, Nathan usually wears a loose pair of jeans or sweatpants, a t-shirt and sweatshirt, and shoes that are easily slipped off. I wear leggings, a tank top, a sweater, and slip on shoes. Layering your clothes is important to account for the vast temperature changes you’ll undoubtedly experience going from airport to airplane and possibly, from destination to destination.

Don’t forget to pack a pair of comfortable socks in your carry on. I don’t know about you, but my feet are always freezing on airplanes! One other note about dress is that comfortable, easy to manage clothing is best for going through security. Without annoying belts and heavy boots to remove, you’ll pass through airport security in a jiffy.

4. If traveling on an overnight flight, get fully ready for “bed”.

One of the best tips we ever received about long, overnight flights, is to prep yourself for bed when you plan to sleep. Go to the bathroom, wash your face, brush your teeth, and put on anything that makes you feel more cozy, such as those fluffy socks you’ve wisely packed.

Performing this evening “ritual” will trick your body into thinking it’s your normal bedtime and help you feel more tired and ready for a restful sleep. You might not be getting ready to sleep in the amazing mattress you’ve got at home (psst: Sleep Advisor can help you find the most awesome one) but your body will be ready for those ZZZZs!

5. Bring a packet of facial wipes in your carry on.

For me, I always start to feel a bit icky after sitting on a flight for a few hours. I bring a small packet of facial wipes, as they are light and easy to pack. And because they’re not liquid, you don’t have to worry about issues at security. Face wipes are excellent for freshening up. You can use them on your face, neck, and even your hands for a quick rejuvenation.

6. Be wise with your seat selection.

Personally, I always select an aisle seat when traveling, as I don’t want to have to clamber over sleeping bodies every time I need to use the bathroom. When traveling as a couple, one smart idea is to book the window seat and the aisle seat, and leave the middle one free.

Typically, a single traveler is less likely to select a center seat, and you’ll wind up with an unbooked chair and an aisle to yourselves. In the event that the seat is booked, you can easily slide over to give the solo traveler the aisle seat, which they’ll likely prefer anyway.

7. Stay moisturized and hydrated.

Have you ever noticed how dry your hands get while flying? Airplane cabins are an extremely dry environment. Keep your body refreshed inside and out by remembering to stay hydrated and moisturized—this will help you beat jet lag, too. For hydration, drink water frequently throughout the flight and go easy on the alcohol, as this dehydrates the body.

Bring a tiny travel-sized bottle of hand lotion or moisturizer and use as needed on your hands, arms, face, and legs. As a bonus, spreading lotion on your legs not only keeps your skin feeling soft and happy, but helps promote circulation in the legs, vital for those long periods of immobility. 

Here are some single-use lotion pods that can make it even easier to bring some moisturizer on the plane.

8. Pack your snacks.

Even if your flight will offer a meal service, it’s highly suggested to pack some of your own snacks. Bringing your own food ensures you can fuel up whenever you choose, and guarantees you’ll have foods you’ll actually enjoy.

On certain airlines, food and snacks may not even be complimentary. Instead of shelling out for overpriced, stale sandwiches, prepare ahead of time by bringing along delicious, healthy items of your choosing.

9. Discover your personal methods.

One of the best tips we can give you is to figure out what works for you personally when flying. Once you know what works, you can do that every time and you’re likely to have a good experience.

I have a tough time falling asleep on long flights, but I know it is necessary to make the hours go by and to make sure I feel good when I arrive at my destination. When I board a plane,  I have one nice drink, pop a quick Benadryl, and it’s off to dreamland. 🙂 But I’m not a doctor, and this should not be construed as medical advice! 

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4 thoughts on “Better Air Travel: 9 Tips for Surviving Long & Overnight Flights”

  1. Great tips guys, love the tip about theseat bookings & having the spare seat between. Im in the process of packing now so will pack an extra set of clothes for us all.

  2. I love your point about finding out what works for you. Everybody is different when it comes to jetlag and it takes a little while to figure out your own best method. Great post and thanks for linking to our jetlag post as well :).


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