17 Tips To Surviving a Long Flight

We recently flew on a direct flight to Italy, meaning 10 hours + in flight! I’ve actually never traveled in a plane longer than 7 hours and so I did a ton of research beforehand to make sure I would be as comfortable as possible on the long flight. I can thankfully report that my flight was a success thanks to the tips below 🙂

Below lists my top tips for surviving a long flight – and maybe even enjoying it!

1. Bring a good book

Reading is a great way to pass the time, and is also good for your brain! Download a book or two on your phone or iPad so that you have something good to read.

2. Download something to watch

Download a movie, documentary, or TV series that you’ve been wanting to watch – there is literally no better excuse to watch a show then when you are confined to a seat!

3. Bring work to do

The good thing about being on a plane for a long period of time is that there is only so much that can distract you. This makes it a great time to focus and to get some work done.

4. Make a good playlist

Having good music to listen to is key on an airplane – you never know if you will have a crying child right behind you! Listening to your favorite tunes also makes you feel good and can put you into a positive mindset.

5. Drink tons of water

Riding an airplane can be super dehydrating due to the changing pressures, so make sure you load up on fluids. Drinking lots of water is also key to helping to prevent jet lag and lethargy after a long flight and time zone changes.

A good rule of thumb is to drink a glass or bottle of water every hour – the more the better.

6. Pack healthy snacks

It is always a good idea to have healthy snacks on hand – and pack them before you get to the airport because airports will double or triple the actual price of the food item. This will prevent you from getting so hungry that you have to make unhealthy choices.

7. Bring on a healthy dinner

Most airports have great restaurants, so pick up something that you can have for dinner a few hours into your flight. Avoid getting a meal that could become soggy quickly, and go for foods that are not too saucy or greasy. You can do this by asking for all sauces to be on the side, or to ask the restaurant to not use oil or butter.

8. Get up from your seat every hour

If you are drinking tons of water then this should be easy 😉 Getting up from your seat and walking to the bathroom will help to stretch out your muscles and to promote blood flow throughout your body. Sitting for long periods of time causes blood to pool in the lower extremities which can make you susceptible to blood clots.

9. Bring a sleep mask

Even just a little light can throw off your sleep. Plus you never know who might have their reading light on which could prevent you from being able to get to sleep. Find a mask that completely covers your eyes and is comfortable.

10. Bring a neck pillow

This is a definite must if you want a chance at getting some sleep. There are a ton of neck pillow you can find that should help to keep your head secured so you can attempt to sleep.

11. Fill up on magnesium

A few days before travel, start eating more foods that are high in magnesium such as almonds and avocado. Magnesium will help with sleep and also help to relax your muscles that are clenched up in your seat. It will also help with constipation that can happen with air travel.

If eating foods high in magnesium doesn’t seem to help, then I recommend taking 400 mg or more daily of magnesium a few days leading up to your travel as well.

12. Boost melatonin

Melatonin is a natural hormone in your body, that when activated, will promote sleep. Certain foods contain melatonin which may help to boost your natural levels. Foods high in melatonin include tart cherries, goji berries, tomatoes, almonds, and raspberries. Consider eating some of these high melatonin containing foods before your want to go to sleep. You can also take a supplement of melatonin, which you should take an hour before you want to go to sleep. I recommend 1 gram or less if you do decide to take a supplement.

13. Wear comfortable clothes

There is a time and place to wear your favorite outfit – the airplane is not one of them. I recommend wearing some comfy jeans, a loose fitting T-shirt, and sneakers. Comfort is key here and you want to avoid anything too constricting.

14. Avoid crossing your legs

Crossing your legs can cut off blood flow in one area of your body and increase pooling of blood in another, which is a risk for blood clotting. Crossing your legs can also throw off your lower back which can leads to aches and pains after your flight.

15. Avoid rounding your back

Back pain after a flight is one of the most common conditions I would see working in primary care. To prevent back pain after your flight, aim to sit straight up and/or lean the chair back. The worst thing for your back is to slouch slightly forward which rounds your back and puts a ton of pressure on the lower back in general.

16. Do some yoga before your flight

Practicing yoga before a flight will help to enhance blood flow and stretches your muscles before you are about to cramped in a seat for the next several hours.

Aim for at least 20 minutes of yoga the morning of your flight. If you have a very early flight, then aim to do yoga the night before.

17. Move your body as much as possible before your flight

Go for a run, get your 10,000 steps, do yoga as discussed above. The point is to tire your body as much as possible so that it will feel good to sit and rest your body for several hours.

Main takeaways…

I tried all of the above with my long flight and I have to say all of the above greatly helped me to feel more comfortable on the flight and made the time go by fast. Try these next time you have a long flight ahead.

About the author: Sarah-Kate Rems is an Ivy-league trained Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner licensed in California with an expertise in preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet. Sarah-Kate is also a co-founder of The Mindful Tech Lab

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